Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sandwich Range, looking south from Carrigain, August 2008

At the beginning of the movement that created the national forest system remember that what was being proposed was a means to “secure favorable conditions of water flows.” This was a more tactful way of saying “we need to buy the water rights to all important streams and rivers to keep them in the public domain (part of The Commons) and out of the hands of the logging industry”. Even saying “securing favorable conditions’ was a swipe at the logging industry of the late 1800s that had no such credo to protect watersheds. But the emphasis on water is important. When the Weeks Law was passed in 1911 the main thrust of the National Forest system was still the protection of the headwaters of naviagable rivers. For the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) that meant, principally, the Merrimack and Connecticut River systems through there several tributaries with headwaters in the White Mountains with names like Pemigewasset and Ammonsuc, By the 1960s the term “Multiple Use” was a favorable way to interweave the diverse purposes of the WMNF, real and potential, and all the stakeholder in it and the other national forests. That‘s a small part of the social history of water in the White Mountains and is a bridge to studying the enormous role water has in the natural history of the forest.

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