A Normal Agency in Abnormal Times: The Forest Service in the World Wars Open Access

Naftalis, Jordan Michelle (2014)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/7w62f840s?locale=en


This paper examines how the United States Forest Service grew and strengthened its position within the American bureaucracy in the first half of the twentieth century. After being founded in 1905 the agency underwent a period of consistent growth derived not only from its work maintaining the system of National Forests, but also from its participation in two special projects designed to aid the American effort in each of the two World Wars. In the First World War the Forest Service assembled a regiment of foresters and lumbermen, the 20th Engineers (Forestry) Regiment, that went to France and produced from the French forests the wood products necessary for use by the American troops. During the Second World War the bureau was responsible for the facilitation of the Emergency Rubber Project in Salinas, California; this measure was implemented in March 1942 with the goal of producing a domestic supply of natural rubber derived from the guayule shrub. These two efforts resulted in opposing outcomes: the Twentieth Engineers were successful in rapidly producing ample wood for use by the American Army in France, while the Emergency Rubber Project and its guayule crop were ultimately liquidated after having been overshadowed by the explosive emergence of synthetic rubber. Both projects came as a result of abnormal wartime circumstances and allowed the Forest Service the opportunity to use its expertise in order to contribute to the national war effort. While completing both projects the agency attracted attention from the federal government and from the public, and its response in these times of crisis helped it prove its importance to itself, to the federal government, and to the nation.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Forest Service in the American Bureaucracy............1

Chapter 1:"We're not much on drill, but we're hell on cutting down trees:" The Forest Service Goes to France in World War I............17

Chapter 2: "This country was practically rubberless. And we needed rubber:"The World War II Emergency Rubber Project............48

Conclusion............89 Appendices............95

Bibliography ............101

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