Drawing Lines in the Forest

Creating Wilderness Areas in the Pacific Northwest

Kevin R. Marsh
Foreword by William Cronon

  • Published: 2007. Paperback 2010
  • Subject Listing: History / Environmental History; Environmental Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 256 pp., 18 illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books
  • Contents

Drawing boundaries around wilderness areas often serves a double purpose: protection of the land within the boundary and release of the land outside the boundary to resource extraction and other development. In Drawing Lines in the Forest, Kevin R. Marsh discusses the roles played by various groups-the Forest Service, the timber industry, recreationists, and environmentalists-in arriving at these boundaries. He shows that pragmatic, rather than ideological, goals were often paramount, with all sides benefiting.

After World War II, representatives of both logging and recreation use sought to draw boundaries that would serve to guarantee access to specific areas of public lands. The logging industry wanted to secure a guaranteed supply of timber, as an era of stewardship of the nation's public forests gave way to an emphasis on rapid extraction of timber resources. This spawned a grassroots preservationist movement that ultimately challenged the managerial power of the Forest Service. The Wilderness Act of 1964 provided an opportunity for groups on all sides to participate openly and effectively in the political process of defining wilderness boundaries.

The often contentious debates over the creation of wilderness areas in the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington represent the most significant stages in the national history of wilderness conservation since World War II: Three Sisters, North Cascades and Glacier Peak, Mount Jefferson, Alpine Lakes, French Pete, and the state-wide wilderness acts of 1984.
Kevin R. Marsh is associate professor of history at Idaho State University in Pocatello.

"By focusing on grassroots activism and the politics of boundary lines, Kevin Marsh has written a compelling case study of the postwar wilderness movement in the Pacific Northwest that will challenge scholars to rethink wilderness history more broadly."
-Paul Sutter, University of Georgia

"Drawing Lines in the Forest offers insights that are relevant to all regions of the United States, and that arguably change the way we should think not just about wilderness, but about the much larger project of American land conservation in general."
-William Cronon, from the Foreword

Foreword: God and the Devil Are in the Details by William Cronon
Introduction: Bringing Wilderness History Back to the Land
1. The Three Sisters, 1950-1964
2. The North Cascades, 1956-1968
3. Mount Jefferson, 1961-1968
4. The Alpine Lakes, 1958-1976
5. Returning French Pete to the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, 1968-1984
6. Picking Up the Pieces, 1977-1984

"Carefully researched and well written, the book offers a detailed look at issues surrounding wilderness creation and encourages its readers to think more broadly about land conservation in the United States."

"This is a very fine book, and I recommend it to all interested in environmental and wilderness history, as well as those who love the Cascade Range."
-Pacific Northwest Quarterly

"Drawing Lines in the Forest is masterfully researched, sharply argued, and skillfully written. Following his lead, other scholars must reassess wilderness battles in other places and pay close attention to boundaries."
-Western Historical Quarterly

"Kevin Marsh's book is a valuable addition. . . . [Drawing Lines in the Forest] offers an excellent case study of a very complicated process. The details of the story provide insight into how committed people transformed the American wilderness system from idea to reality."
-Montana: The Magazine of Western History