Forest Service historian talks forest future

On May 31, Lincoln Bramwell, chief historian and member of Research and Development’s Knowledge Management and Communication staff, gave a presentation to the National Forests in Mississippi.

Each year, the forests host a Unity Day to bring together staff from the administrative unit made up of six formerly separate national forests. This year, the forests invited Bramwell to address how history connects with their mission of improving lives today.

In a talk titled “The Eastern National Forests: Working to Improve Lives,” Bramwell recounted how the creation of the national forests in the eastern United States came at the request of the state and its citizens, who lobbied for legislation to allow the willing sale of private land for public forests.

In Mississippi, most of this land came from private lumber companies that had clear-cut their holdings. Thus began one of the largest forest restoration projects in the world. Today these regenerated forests still provide their communities measurable benefits in extracted products, jobs, recreation, and ecological services. Explaining to his audience that “by understanding history we make sense of today and are less fearful of the future,” Bramwell brought lessons from the agency’s past to inform the continuing work of the forests in Mississippi toward a sustainable future.