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“Exploration of the Sierra Nevada” (1925)
by Francis P. Farquhar


The United States Forest Service

The Sierra Forest Reserve was established by act of Congress February 15, 1893, after eight years of effort on the part of its advocates. The reserve embraced most of the High Sierra not already included in the national parks. As in the case of the parks, the first problem was to teach individuals that the forests were the Property of the nation and that they must be administered for the beat interests of the nation. By act of Congress February 1, 1905, the forest reserves were transferred from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Agriculture and have since been known as the National Forests, administered by the Forest Service. The Sierra National Forest was divided by presidential proclamation on July 2, 1908 into two administrative units, the northern section retaining the name Sierra National Forest, the southern being designated as the Sequoia National Forest, Further subdivisions were made later.

The administration of the national forests brought a new element into the exploration of the Sierra. Trails were built, grazing and timber areas were investigated and plotted on maps, and many other beneficial activities were carried on. The names of the forest rangers and supervisors who carried On this work would make a long list and only a few of the more prominent can be selected here as representative: Sam N. L. Ellis, Charles H. Shinn, A. H. Hogue and Richard L. P. Bigelow.

The engineers of the Forest Service, Walter Leroy Huber and his successor Frederick Hall Fowler, made thorough examinations of the water resources, supplementing the work of the Geological Survey and Other engineers, for the purpose of passing on applications for water supply and power sites; and the regulation of water risen. The development of hydroelectric power in the Sierra Nevada has been summarized in a comprehensive treatise by Fowler. 109

In recent years one of the important contributions of the Forest Service to Sierra exploration was the assistance rendered to the State Engineer in surveying the route and supervising the construction of the John Muir Trail. In this, the knowledge and enthusiasm of Supervisor Paul G. Redington, now United States District Forester, were an important factor. Sedman W. Wynne located the route over Junction and Shepherd passes. 110

On July 6, 1911 the Devil’s Postpile, one of the finest instances of columnar basalt formation in the world, on the Middle Fork of San Joaquin River, was proclaimed by President Taft a national monument under the administration of the Forest Service. 111

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109 Hydroelectric Power Systems of California, by Frederick Hall Fowler, U. S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 493, Washington 1923, pp. xlix, 1276.

110 Sierra Club Bulletin, 1916, X, 1, pp. 96-92; 1917, X, 2, pp. 221-226.

111 Sierra Club Bulletin, 1912, VIII, 3, pp. 170-173.


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