Excerpt from Forests and Forestry in the American States: A Reference Anthology
Forestry as a matter Of public policy is scarcely over 80 years old in America. As a profession, it is barely over 65. As a definitive science it is about 50.
Forestry came to the United States in several distinct stages. Born as an idea in the minds Of a few men and women, it sprang into adolescence as a political movement in the last decades of the nineteenth century. It matured as it grew into a profession Shortly after the beginning Of the twentieth. It is now, as a science, just entering its prime, its finest years still ahead.
American forestry grew up pragmatically in the same way that its parent, the American political system, ﬂourished. An idea was tried. If it worked, it was retained. If it did not, it was cast aside. This trial and error approach to national policy is uniquely possible in the United States because of the country's political structure.
Because the states of the Union have retained large areas Of sovereignty to themselves, the American nation is much like a network of great laboratories with a wide range Of social, economic, and political experiments going on all the time. In no field has this trying and testing been more appropriate than in the field of forestry.
Woodland conditions vary so radically from one part Of the continent to an other that a national plan for forestry, even if it had been politically possible, would probably have been impossible technically during the infant years of the science. Instead the diversity of political and physical conditions in the states led to a healthier, more ﬂexible, and more appropriate set Of American forest policies than any centralized approach could have produced.
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