Excerpted from chapter 4, “Confronting Treelessness,” in Plant Life: The Entangled Politics of Afforestation by Rosetta S. Elkin. Published by the University of Minnesota Press. Copyright 2022 by the Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.

The Timber Culture Act (1873) was a radical means to secure resources in otherwise treeless environments. Its stated claim provided entry “for the cultivation of timber which are prairie lands or other lands devoid of timber.”1 Its passing mobilized the protocols and promises of affidavit to deed land across the prairie states. The act was followed by land entries and land patents, the final steps in securing land that had already been peopled for thousands of years by hundreds of Native American tribes.2 Nebraska—a prairie state—took the lead in land entry numbers, tallies, and acres, which frames the itinerary of tree planting as a form of land tenure predicated on afforestation because Nebraska is principally a dry prairie grassland.3 Therefore, the Timber Culture Act sanctioned the substitution and deletion of dryland ecology, in this case both the extant prairie biome and the skillful cultivation of its inhabitants. A quick review of the associated institutional language makes evident the use of authority, hinged on administrative tasks. It further implicates the individual farmer as a developer, invested in the act of swapping thick grassy cover for individual tree units in order to establish an enterprise.

Google Earth imagery of forest plantation in the Nebraska Sandhills.
The first artificial national forest, planted by hand across the Nebraska Sandhills. Image from Google Earth (2016)

Where 160 acres are taken, at least five must be plowed within one year from date of entry. The following, or second year, said five acres must be actually cultivated to crops or otherwise, and another five acres must be plowed. The third year the first five acres must be planted to trees, tree seeds or cuttings, and the second five acres actually cultivated to crop or otherwise. The fourth year, the second five acres must be planted to trees, tree seeds or cuttings, making, at the end of the fourth year, ten acres thus planted to trees.4

A “tree claim” could be filled in by anyone, and in return no more than 160 acres was acquired, with the specification that 40 acres of the claim must be tree planted, an effective means to ensure settlement. According to one claimant, “the section of land specified in my said application is composed exclusively of prairie lands, or other lands devoid of timber; that this filing and entry is made for the cultivation of timber and that I have made said application in good faith.”5 Units coalesced local and regional affairs, advancing federal and legislative ambitions. But the cost was only refined in the fine print, which specified that no fewer than 2,700 tree units could be planted on any ten-acre block.6 It was a staggering number that led to copious tallies, monitoring programs, and the need for reportage. Each territorial procedure (survey, reportage) reinforced the hopelessness of the task: water was scarce, winds were strong, erosion seemed erratic, and the quantity of units could not be sustained.

To plow and maintain 160 acres with a mix of crops and trees was a challenge that took hold for very few claims.7 Managing 675 living trees on each acre was akin to owning a product, and growing trees was the best way to hold onto your land and avoid the cancellation of your claim. The number of entries made under the Timber Culture Act records area in acres, although territory could only be claimed if individual tree units were calculated and submitted for approval. This kind of accounting leaves out more than it includes, marking both the beginning of afforestation-linked landscape management and the rise of incentive-based policy maladapted to drylands.

In Nebraska alone almost nine million acres were claimed under the act, but final proof was only made for trees planted across two million acres.8 Since alterations to the land were less predictable than imagined, the gradual accumulation of expertise was necessary to further instill confidence in afforestation. The newly formed federal government certainly did not want western expansion to be deemed a failure.

Not surprisingly, this tension between success and failure required expertise, which arrived in the form of technical manuals, suitable species lists, and machinery types: the index of expertise. In the radical ecology of afforestation projects, the concept of failure is critical to the vocabulary of management, whereby catastrophe becomes a claim made by a specialist rather than a circumstance of ill-aligned biotic and climatic association. From a different angle, this means that expertise reinforces ecological projections through a series of calculated procedures rather than distinguishes, decodes, and evolves through direct experience with plant life. In fact, the plant really had nothing to do with it. Thus, failures in tallying units set the stage for the assimilation of expertise, which was equally an opportunity for the emerging business of arboriculture to become the science of forestry.

The Timber Culture Act mobilized substantial takings across drylands, revealing that trees were valued as an important natural resource before forestry emerged as a discipline. At the time, forestry was a colonial economy, a means to import and spread viable European plants across the American continent and send New World novelties back to Europe.9 The botanical studies and the natural sciences were far too remote from the actual efforts of farming, explicated by the disparity created between increasing knowledge of plant parts in botany and the transmission of their application into common use, through horticulture. The more practical “cultures”—including the planting of trees in cities, crops for a homestead, or flowers for public display—were the domain of arboriculture, horticulture, or agriculture, for instance. Botanical studies were firmly indifferent to practical endeavors in much the same ways as farmers or ranchers are indifferent to scientific study. Botany’s elevated status ensured that it did not labor, and its scientific status protected it from ever having to do so. So long as these two practices (botany and horticulture) remain entirely distinct and in organized separation, a summarized reading of plant life is multiplied into the space of physical, earthly matters.

Imagine a world of individual farmers working across vastly differentiated territories. Each effort represents a struggle to hold boundaries across a landscape without trees. Consequently, the failure to establish trees compelled professionalization. Failure was pinned on individual farmers and expertly manipulated as a means to assert more control over territory.10 It was not attributed to the ill calibration of species, quantity or the insistence of inserting trees into a vast, treeless landscape. Rather, lands beyond the hundredth meridian look empty from the shady groves of the East Coast.

Timber and crops were needed to support a growing population, and the prairies represented a blank canvas. As a result, tree culture across the Plains was predicated on the need for protection from the harsh climatic conditions, which offered a correspondingly reduced description of the grassland biome.11 In order to increase agricultural production by sheltering farmlands from strong winds, each belt, break, or wall represented more than local shelter, firewood, or fuel: it was an opportunity to nationalize timber. The replicable model of planting a shelterbelt catalyzes the farmer as an agent of the federal economy by suppressing indigenous practices and local acquaintance. The language of this authority eliminates conjecture through levels of survey, reportage, and authoritative lists that impress with calculation. Of the total area (Great Plains region), some 56 percent lends itself to shelterbelt planting, about 39 percent is difficult to plant, and 5 percent is entirely unfit for planting.12

According to this federal explanation, there is nothing essential, intermediary, or material to constrain the accumulation of units. This description instrumentalized efforts to liberate the vacant spaces between meridians.

Settlement necessitated clearing and cutting forest to make space for cultivation, as the character of cheap nature ultimately supported expansion. Both tree planting and tree felling were exploitative regimes that consolidated control across the American continent. As we have seen, the difference was contextual; trees were cleared to make space for cultivation along the arborized East Coast, and trees were planted as pioneers moved west into the treeless prairies to cultivate land. In both cases, trees with clear human advantage were selected, while plants that grew of their own accord, or spontaneously, were overlooked and rarely stabilized in the procedures of index. It took decades of energy, planting, and felling before allegiance to the spontaneous plants was described by Charles Sprague Sargent:

Many years ago, when I first realized the difficulty of obtaining any true knowledge of the trees in this country, I formed the plan of writing a Silva which should contain an account of all the species that grow spontaneously in the forests of North America.13

The study of trees as spontaneous organisms with indigenous characteristics was described inThe Silva of North America (1891), a work of botanical inquiry that detailed 412 species, with reference to growth habit linked to illustrated maps that indicated distribution.14 Most significantly, Sargent, the director of the newly established Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, made some notes on the characteristics of wood. The breadth of Sargent’s ambition is explained in the preface to the first edition, including his most pressing articulation of plant life, through engagement with “living states.”:

To be really understood, they must be studied in the forest; and therefore, since the plan of writing this Silva was formed, I have examined the trees of America growing in their native homes from Canada to the banks of the Rio Grande and the Mountains of Arizona, and from British Columbia to the islands of Southern Florida. I have watched many of them in gardens of this country and in those of Europe and there are now hardly half a dozen of the trees which will be described in this work which I have not seen in a living state.15

At the time, Sargent held the position of professor of arboriculture, which ensured that his tenure at the arboretum would be focused on applied engagement with the landscape, with “plants in a living state.” Sargent valued the associations between the individual tree, and its necessary relationship with soil, climate, and human codependency. His treatise provided a careful account of spontaneous woody plants, distinguishing between rainfall patterns and elevation, factors that limit tree growth at the hundredth meridian. This is the boundary of aridity that reveals the prairies as dryland.

The variable edge is endowed with a watercolor-like transparency that emulates this bond between climate and plant life. Armed with the notes on “wood producing capacity,” Sargent’s treatise would go on to become the first technical forestry report of the newly created Division of Forestry in the Department of Agriculture in 1886. The Silva of North America elevates claims in drylands, as forestry reaches into scientific study to nurture its advance. Of note is that while the profession of forestry is confirmed in the United States in the European tradition, it expands to include planting in order to secure extractable resources. The varied institutional settings between botany as a science and forestry as a profession entangle the study of plant life in the discrepancies and difficulties reports, as forestry read gaps in the maps and botanists read their extents. Rather than carefully consider the findings of Sargent’s botanical fieldwork, remote structures deployed the literal blank space of his mapping efforts as a means to recontextualize the prairies as a tree-planting endeavor, converting biomes and replacing thick, fibrous rhizomes with woody plant units.

The appropriations of forestry transformed Silva into an operations manual—or a masterplan—which begins to explain how vast quantities of grassland expanse and ancient reserves of pastoral acreage become the jurisdiction of federal foresters. The map was “empty,” a curse of drylands the world over, but it was an opportunity for the industrious. The insertion of trees infused meaning into New World expansion in the prairie states, as demand for ownership lines and boundaries enabled land claims hinged on tree planting. Afforestation emerges as forestry (not botany) and disseminates plant life as a “tree unit,” transferring knowledge of resource  management to each small-hold farmer. In this way, particularly profitable and predictable plant species are endorsed over others, superimposing units on extant plant life.

New World Forest Problems

  • 1891 published. The Silva of North America (Sargent)
  • 1901 renamed. Division of Forestry becomes the Bureau of Forestry
  • 1905 renamed. Bureau of Forestry becomes Forest Service
  • 1910 published. The Fight for Conservation (Pinchot)

In the American consciousness, the origins of environmentalism are tied to the ethics of conservation, first recognized as forest conservation. The lineage of conservation, like many historic accounts, is entirely dependent on the narrator. For instance, ecological thought in America was first affirmed as plant ecology, the study of plant life in the environment. What is worth bearing in mind is that despite its significance, plant ecology did not proceed as the science of consequence in the grassland biome. Rather, forestry administered and studied the prairie formation. The reasons for this odd fragmentation of knowledge are slippery to pin down, but it is worth noting the role of Gifford Pinchot (1865–1946). Pinchot was more of a politician than a forester, and he acted as the first head of the newly established Forest Service in 1905. Under his leadership, forestry progressed from a division within the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to a separate bureau responsible for forest policy across the whole land surface of the United States. The Forest Service emerged—not coincidentally—as the nation demanded unprecedented quantities of timber for fuel and construction. Charged with a simplified problem statement, Pinchot pushed forest conservation into unchartered territory.

The influence of George Perkins Marsh (1801–82) motivated Pinchot’s interest in the debates of con- servation. In Man and Nature (1864), Marsh determined that humans were a major geologic influence, famously asserting that “man is everywhere a disturbing agent,” a landmark statement in both ecological and conservation studies.16 Marsh was neither forester nor plant ecologist but articulated an unparalleled understanding of the role of plant life in preserving the landscape, in how a plant’s connection to the soil maintains the substrate and prevents or reduces erosion. According to biographer David Lowenthal, the success of Marsh’s rhetoric is found in his caution concerning impending disaster, by addressing what he termed “New World” forest problems. Marsh challenged the general belief that human impact on nature was generally negligible, explicating a global tendency toward wasted natural resources. Armed with Man and Nature, Pinchot adopts conservation as forest policy. In a sticky exchange of authority, conservation and forestry coalesce as both ethic and science, alternatively sanctioning felling and planting trees regardless of context.

Despite Marsh’s warning, the Forest Service appropriated conservation as a “solution” to  forest devastation, seizing upon Marsh’s warning of old-world forest decline as a motivation to enforce national policy. Conservation policy progressed through extant forests and forest plantations, as plant ecology evolved as a scientific discipline in the prairie states. Remarkably, the difference was not correlated, although ecology revealed the role of plants in forming the territory and conservation uncovered the role of human agency over the territory. Rather, conservation was annexed to the profession of forestry, authorizing the Forest Service to oversee the planting of grasslands, prairies, agricultural lots, deserts, urban centers, and high mountains, concealing their extractive procedures in the outlines of conservation.

Tree-planting projects begin to materialize in the millions of acres as the soil is planted, replanted, aplanted, seeded, fenced, and labeled. The landscape is objectified, appearing and disappearing through measurement and calculation. In this way, felling and planting develop synonymously, rendering the environmental messages of Man and Nature were translated as generalized statements with gross ecological miscalculations. For instance, the notion that tree planting would bring rain to the arid West was appropriated to encourage settlers to move to ever-dryer lands.17 The assumed property that followed tree planting is a clever disguise for afforestation. As Lowenthal’s biography verifies, Marsh’s message was pillaged for such “proof” that rainfall and prosperity followed tree planting. This nexus between national forest policy and conservationist thought is repeatedly stressed in Pinchot’s The Fight for Conservation (1910): “As a forester I am glad to believe that conservation began with forestry, and that the principles which govern the Forest Service in particular and forestry in general are also the ideas that control conservation.”18

The fight for conservation was taken up by the Forest Service, exploiting the growing concern over forest devastation in order to plant and thus control more federal land. Tree cover emerges in the lexicon of conservation. Land, absent “cover,” is manipulated into land that can potentially receive cover. Tree units add up, when acres of “cover” are procedurally converted by the practices of forestry, as tree planting is sanctioned in non-treed environments. Consider the following passage:

The crown has more to do with the life of the tree than its other parts, for the most important processes in the reproduction of the tree and the digestion of its food take place in the crown. For this reason, and because we can control its shape and size more easily and directly than that of the roots or trunk, the crown is of special interest to the forester. It is almost exclusively with the crowns that he has to deal in tending a crop of trees and preparing the way for succeeding generations. As they stand together in the forest, the crowns of trees form a broken shelter, which is usually spoken of as the leaf canopy, but which may be better called the cover.19

Land, absent “cover,” represents millions of acres of potential federal territory. The conversion of “crown” or “leaf canopy” into “cover” had a number of spatial consequences that will be addressed further. For now, the consequences are especially poignant because the root system is set aside in the first pages. Regulators, policy makers, and the forest service administrators intentionally reduced the growing plant to standing timber. The consequence is that the federal government had no use for the nascent scholarship of grassland science or the complications of plant ecology. The hidden intelligence of rhizomatic formation could not reaffirm exploitation or capital return, one of the most fundamental reasons why canopy continues to prevail in carbon-capture calculations. This is what professional expertise does when it lays claim to fact and asserts the power of disqualification instead.

Pinchot’s use of the term cover not only left out the aliveness of plants; it delineated the absence or presence of trees. The social implications and the negligence toward practical knowledge or public intelligence were already a form of expert persuasion upon which the profession of forestry is established: treeless lands can be conserved by planting trees. This raises another question: What are the spatial—and thus social—consequences of such abridged problem statements?

If Marsh explicated the “problems” of human action, Pinchot clarified that forestry had solutions, a defense strategy that he claims as a “virile evolution of the campaign for conservation of the nation’s resources.”20 Conveniently, the solution relies on the interrelated goals of national expansion and resource extraction. By associating tree planting with conservation, Pinchot appealed to President Teddy Roosevelt, who pioneered land conservation armed with Pinchot’s treatises.21 Thus, a fragmented translation of Man and Nature is interpreted by statistical proof in Pinchot’s The Fight for Conservation.

At the time of Man and Nature’s publication, federal regulations had already secured the first Forestry Service in the federal Department of Agriculture, established a forestry program at Yale University, and set aside more than 150 national forests as reserve areas. Such policy and regulatory potency have lasting spatial repercussions. Particular to the success of forestry was the reduction of national geography to manageable units, as conservation became a capital project.22 Thus, the terms of conservation mitigated the affiliation between planting and felling, but conservation was fortified by yield management, the precision of index. This is significant to the ways in which management and development continue to prosper through the invention of crisis.

Specification in Units

Afforestation hides in the manipulation of specifications, loudly advocating for tree planting while quietly converting biomes: cut here, fill there or fell here, plant there. The cyclical arrangement is wedged between industrial and ecological intentions, necessitating expertise in both analyzing extant lands and constructing entirely new ones. Not surprisingly, the interdependencies between forest and field mobilize the need for more and more units as a primary measure of converting biomes, or planting trees to secure timber. The forester does not deal in individual trees destined for a purpose but on masses of tree units, because the individual tree has value only as part of the whole.

At the same time that Weaver was excavating earthy workshops and painstakingly detailing the depth and intricacy of the prairie formation, the character of American expansionism was emerging in tree units, as domesticated plants balanced settlement. The accumulation and distribution of homogenous units triumphed over the diverse, interconnected, spontaneous, and multiple, preventing any expression from unscientific worlds and erasing the intimate aspects of daily life where social, cultural, environmental, and plant life mingle. Armed with an antidote to treelessness, forest policy worked its way across 170 million acres of American dryland by stabilizing a sanctioned list of tree varieties, despite the warnings that cycles that transform forest to field to plow flatten diversity and destroy soil by field wash at both an unprecedented scale and an unprecedented speed due to plow and policy. The Timber Culture Act confirmed that only the most reliable, predictable plants could be confidently inserted, so these updated lists confirmed only trees that could persist in prairie soil. To facilitate planting, the specification of tree units was linear, and in the American context catalyzed the shelterbelt typology.

Dryland shelterbelts are additive, unlike the shelterbelts in Europe or those found in the American East, which are primarily composed of remnant forest. Such belts are the residues of clearing, burning, or grading procedures. The plants that remain intact are often called hedgerows or windbreaks, and are registered vertically through a prolific, enduring accumulation of biota that remain deep in the rhizosphere. In other words, the trees, shrubs, and herbs of the former landscape are unbroken, and continue to thrive in diversity and habitat. As a network of accretive forces and biological activity, they are extremely effective at slowing erosive forces. The subtractive force of clearing land produces an increase in mounds and layers within the hedgerows, as branches and rocks are thrown into piles and endure. Each mature specimen also maintains vigorous seed banks and robust sprouting stumps.

Shelterbelt of Siberian elm in Nebraska. Photograph courtesy USDA archives

When a plant is inserted as an individual organism, copied and pasted in neat rows, it has limited ability to produce relations in the soil. This is due to the constitution of the rhizosphere, in which a process between microorganisms, fungus, and soil biota is stratified in cooperation with other neighboring organisms. Plants, left behind with their major root systems and mycorrhizal relationships intact, continue to provide reliable growth patterns. The connection of each remnant to the soil advances the entire network, an interdependent and persistent spatial structure, which pulses through the soil. In contrast, shelterbelt protocols in drylands insert plant units into flattened, cleared, turned, and exposed soil. Plants—treated as objects—are forced to instigate each belowground relationship anew before any achievement can be registered aboveground.

The shelterbelt is a formal typology, but displays variability as plant life adapts to soil, spacing, and resources. Photographs courtesy USDA archives

A shelterbelt not only has behaviors, domains, and unknowns; it has a spatial geometry that often necessitates two landowners, as it straddles property lines. Further, this geometric configuration not only extends a thickened line and extrudes a height gradient; it extends the root zone in both the horizontal and vertical dimensions. The roots require irrigation, nutrition, and time in order to assert aboveground effects. As a result, local disputes escalate along with the behavior of any trees that display significant mobility, as some plants spread more quickly than others. While a shelterbelt is designed to grow in height and girth, it is certainly not expected to migrate or move. If a shelterbelt is “successful,” it is only because the plant evolved persistent root morphology and reproductive capacity, a feature that cannot be rendered visible or valuated economically. Yet conflict arises if the plant is successful enough to be found encroaching beyond property lines, or into productive farmland.23 For instance, the behavior of some woody roots will outcompete annual crops for resources such as moisture and nutrients, which makes them a nuisance to farmers. In shelterbelt culture, trees are deemed beneficial only if they provide undeviating protection, and are deemed a menace if they overcome specifications.

The correlation between additive and subtracted spatial geometry illuminates the friction between developers and their environment during this period. Tree planting in the Plains exemplified this struggle, as failure to adapt was decidedly unacceptable and un-American.24 Resolve only increases in the space between dying and trying, a feature of most developers bent on return. But it was the lack of consensus between investments that finally led to the appeal for government support.25 Just as the American pioneers resisted treelessness, they could not cooperate on investment between property limits. Ownership is a personal discipline, as the contested fence and neighbor relationship suitably explicates. In a large-scale planted system, these thresholds prove mutually beneficial. Yet the owner who initially broke ground, transplanted, or seeded the rows tended to be the one to water, manage, and maintain it, despite shared outcomes. Effort was the developer’s investment, and resistance has the power to affect the system it endorses.

Simultaneous to the decades when professional forestry, sedentary agriculture, and public acquisition were determining the American landscape, conservation collapsed neatly into agencies, services, institutes, and organizations. Political agendas merged with development strategies through the protection or abuse of natural resources, so that access and recreation became the most salient features of the vistas, lakes, peaks, and other wonders of natural beauty.26 Forestry lurks in the background as the landscape becomes a cultural and social construct, devoid of individual life-forms beyond the human.

The symmetrical competition between growth and yield, or materializing and subtracting, currently calculates carbon credits through additive operations and timber volume in deductive increments. At once, local populations are led to believe that “billion tree” campaigns and “great green walls” are pronouncing progress, but growth statistics and depletion metrics are isolated from accountability and context. These flip-side tactics benefit from quick rotations that leverage tree planting as a means to elevate control through yield, in a world troubled by ongoing crisis. When dealing in units, the authority of forestation selectively neglects the less visible attributes of plant life, including individual plant behavior, symbiotic relationships, and the concealed roots and rhizomes that form and deform the soil within which biomes are produced. Because of aboveground visibility, development budgets, and technical encouragement, projects that eagerly plant trees under the rubric of afforestation continue to garner international funds and approval despite the haunting conspiracy of replacing biomes and commercializing plant life. The prowess of progress that celebrates biome conversion creates as it destroys, a central tenet of afforestation.

Remnant shelterbelt of eastern redcedar in the Sandhills today. Photograph by Rosetta S. Elkin

Like the shelter belts of the Great Plains, other large-scale tree-planting projects analyzed in Plant Life: the Entangled Politics of Afforestationfrom Africa’s Sahel to China’s Three Norths Shelter System—fail to treat arid lands as vital ecosystems. Elkin explores the tangled politics and often devastating ecology of these projects, and challenges us to understand landscape as living thing.

This excerpt ran in the Fall 2022 issue of Arnoldia, pp.40–49.


Endnotes

1. The full Timber Culture Act is available in Thomas Donaldson, The Public Domain: Its History, with Statistics (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1884), 1093.
2. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (Boston: Beacon, 2014).
3. For more on Nebraska as a “tree-planting state,” see John F. Freeman, “Trees for High Plains,” in High Plains Horticulture: A History (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2008), 19–32.
4. Donaldson, The Public Domain, 1092.
5. Donaldson, 1094; Timber Culture Act, application October 3, 1878, Individual Claimant, NB.
6. Benjamin H. Hibbard, A History of the Public Land Policies (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1965), 422.
7. Accounts of individual claims are covered in relation to the landscape in Charles Barron McIntosh, The Nebraska Sand Hills: The Human Landscape (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996).
8. Everett Newfon Dick, Conquering the Great American Desert: Nebraska (Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, 1975).
9. Philip J. Pauly, Fruits and Plains: The Horticultural Transformation of America (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007).
10. C. B. McIntosh, “Use and Abuse of the Timber Culture Act,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 65, no. 3 (1975): 347–62.C. B. McIntosh, “Use and Abuse of the Timber Culture Act,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 65, no. 3 (1975): 347–62.
11. In a description of the region, an introductory study by Raphael Zon of the Forest Service explains that “the climatic conditions become less favorable for plant growth from east to west.” Lake States Forest Experiment Station, U.S. Forest Service, Possibilities of Shelterbelt Planting in the Plains Region (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1935), 3.
12. Lake States Forest Experiment Station, 7.
13. Charles Sprague Sargent, The Silva of North America: A Description of the Trees Which Grow Naturally in North America Exclusive of Mexico (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1891), v.
14. See also Charles Sprague Sargent, Sixteen Maps Accompanying Report on Forest Trees of North America (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Office, 1884).
15. Sargent, The Silva of North America, v.
16. George P. Marsh, Man and Nature (New York: Charles Scribner, 1864), 14.
17. On the embrace of Pinchot’s policies by Americans, see Michael Williams, Americans and Their Forests: A Historical Geography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 393–411.
18. Gifford Pinchot, The Fight for Conservation (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1910).
19. Gifford Pinchot, A Primer of Forestry (Washington: Govern- ment Printing Office, 1903), 7.
20. Pinchot, The Fight for Conservation, iv.
21. David Lowenthal, George Perkins Marsh, Prophet of Conservation, Weyerhaeuser Environmental Book (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000), 9.
22. Lowenthal, 10–12.
23. Office of Information, U.S. Forest Service, Prairie-Plains Region Shelterbelt Project (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Forest Service, 1946).
24. Wilmon H. Droze, Trees, Prairies, and People (Denton: Texas Woman’s University, 1977), 30.
25. Droze, 22.
26. There is tremendous literature on the history of conservation. See, for instance, George Perkins Marsh, Man and Nature, ed. David Lowenthal (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1864); and Douglas Helms and Susan L. Flader, eds., The History of Soil and Water Conservation (Washington, D.C.: Agricultural Society, 1985).


Rosetta S. Elkin is associate professor and academic director of landscape architecture at Pratt Institute, principal of Practice Landscape, and research associate at the Arnold Arboretum.