Samuel Hays, one of the pioneers of conservation history, has written another gem. Wars in the Woods examines the growing conflict over forest management in the United States between 'traditional, commodity forestry' and 'ecological forestry,' paying special attention to the role of state and regional issues. If you want to better understand American society's increasingly contentious views of its forests, read this book.
Wars in the Woods examines the conflicts that have developed over the preservation of forests in America, and how government agencies and advocacy groups have influenced the management of forests and their resources for more than a century. Samuel Hays provides an astute analysis of manipulations of conservation law that have touched off a battle between what he terms “ecological forestry” and “commodity forestry.” Hays also reveals the pervading influence of the wood products industry, and the training of U.S. Forest Service to value tree species marketable as wood products, as the primary forces behind forestry policy since the Forest Management Act of 1897. Wars in the Woods gives a comprehensive account of the many grassroots and scientific organizations that have emerged since then to combat the lumber industry and other special interest groups and work to promote legislation to protect forests, parks, and wildlife habitats. It also offers a review of current forestry practices, citing the recent Federal easing of protections as a challenge to the progress made in the last third of the twentieth century. Hays describes an increased focus on ecological forestry in areas such as biodiversity, wildlife habitat, structural diversity, soil conservation, watershed management, native forests, and old growth. He provides a valuable framework for the critical assessment of forest management policies and the future study and protection of forest resources.
Hays's focus in Wars in the Woods is the emergence of new actors in forest debates—particularly the grassroots reform organizations—and the resistance of traditional actors, such as forestry schools, forestry organizations, and state programs, to new ways of practicing forestry. Most original is Hays's analyses of certification and conservancies. The material on procedural changes under different presidential administrations is quite eye-opening.
The combination of scholarly analysis and personal reflection makes this volume unique and highly valuable. Unlike most historians, Hays lived through, and was personally involved in, most of the events profiled in the book. He has the deep knowledge and authority of an embedded eyewitness, as well as the analytical perspective of a renowned scholar of environmental policy and conservation history.
Very thorough, extensively researched, meticulously referenced, and well-written. Highly recommended.
This work maintains [Hays'] high standard of scholarship while presenting a history of a previously unexamined area, ecological forestry.
Critical, hard-hitting, and feisty. The book's most important contribution is its comprehensive and critical portrayal of interactions among political actors in forest policy making and management at federal and state levels.
Deftly clarifies a great deal of complicated and changing forest politics. . . . Hays has given us a utility-versus-preservation redux, but one that is updated and enriched.
A remarkable accomplishment for a scholar whose public and professional career span the period from the end of World War II to the present. . . . The strengths of this book are its efforts to incorporate wide-ranging and diverse issues across vastly different forested landscapes and the many accounts of citizen activists from all points of the nation who forced public land managers to acknowledge the importance of ecological principles in forest management.
Samuel P. Hays was University Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Wars in the Woods: The Rise of Ecological Forestry in America; Explorations in Environmental History; Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency: The Progressive Conservation Movement, 1890-1920; and, with Barbara D. Hays, Beauty, Health, and Permanence: Environmental Politics in the United States, 1955-1985.