Wild Forests and Landscape Amnesia

The Aug. 2008 The International Journal of Wilderness has a fine article by George Wuerthner.

Most of the rural East has become reforested as agricultural has shifted and these relatively marginal lands for cultivation have grown back into forests.

It may appear the old forest has now been considerably restored, but Wuerthner argues we hardly even know what the orginal forest was like. The new forest is something quite different, and “mere sticks and ghosts compared to past glory.”



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  1. montucky Avatar

    That was an outstanding article! Thanks for the link to it! I have many of the same thoughts as I travel through the roadless area here in western Montana and see the real old growth forests.

  2. MP Avatar

    The Eastern forests are always the new forests. The eastern forests receive big rainfall-snowfall every year to continually regenerate the eastern forests. Drought occurs infrequently.
    The West are just the opposite. The West has recurring drought. The last 30 years in the interior West is a story of recurring drought. For example, in the hot dry summers of 1988, 2000, and 2007, forest fires raged out of control in Central Idaho, Western Montana, and Yellowstone National Park of W. Wyoming. Firefighting these fires is an insurmountable task. The Forest Service spent multi millions of dollars just to protect structures and forest towns inside the forests, let alone trying to stop the raging fires in the big back country. These raging fires finally come to an end when rainfall-snow arrives in September.
    Yes the new forests of the East are the new forests of the East.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan