Saturday, March 5, 2011

Centennial Celebration at Bent Creek Experimental Forest

This year the U.S. Forest Service is celebrating the centennial of the Weeks Act, a landmark piece of legislation that led to the creation of our national forests.

To help celebrate this significant event, the USDA Forest Service is inviting everyone to a Spring Forest Festival at the Bent Creek Experimental Forest on Saturday, April 2.

Kids of all ages are invited to attend the special event dedicated to commemorating and sharing the many benefits provided by national and experimental forests of North Carolina. The event is free and open to the public. The Forest Service is conducting the celebration as part of the 100th anniversary of the Weeks Act, which led to the creation of Pisgah and other national and experimental forests in the East. The event will feature fun, educational activities, interpretive programs and presentations, a tour of Bent Creek and special guest Smokey Bear. The USDA Forest Service National Forests of North Carolina, Bent Creek Experimental Forest, and the Southern Research Station are hosting the event.

The event will be at the Bent Creek Experimental Forest at 1577 Brevard Road in Asheville, on Saturday, April 2, 2011, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The Weeks Act was signed into law in 1911, after a decade-long debate about the role of the federal government in protecting forest lands. The Weeks Act, named after Massachusetts Congressman John Weeks, allowed the use of federal funding to purchase forest land for conservation. The Weeks Act appropriated $9 million to purchase 6 million acres of land in the eastern United States.

The success of the Weeks Act and its contribution to the conservation of natural resources in the eastern United States has been enormous. During the last 100 years, The Weeks Act led to the creation of 52 national forests in 26 Eastern states and the addition of 19.7 million acres on national forests and grasslands across 41 states and Puerto Rico.

For some additional historical background, check out the "Heritage Restored" video on the Forest Service website. This 14-minute film was developed in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Weeks Law in 1961. There's a lot interesting old footage in here, as you might guess.


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