Devoted conservationist, environmentalist, and explorer Robert Marshall (1901-1939) was chief of the Division of Recreation and Lands, U.S. Forest Service, when he died at age thirty-eight. Throughout his short but intense life, Marshall helped catalyze the preservation of millions of wilderness acres in all parts of the U.S., inspired countless wilderness advocates, and was a pioneer in the modern environmental movement: he and seven fellow conservationists founded the Wilderness Society in 1935. First published in 1933, The People's Forests made a passionate case for the public ownership and management of the nation's forests in the face of generations of devastating practices; its republication now is especially timely.
Marshall describes the major values of forests as sources of raw materials, as essential resources for the conservation of soil and water, and as a “precious environment for recreation” and for “the happiness of millions of human beings.” He considers the pros and cons of private and public ownership, deciding that public ownership and large-scale public acquisition are vital in order to save the nation's forests, and sets out ways to intelligently plan for and manage public ownership.
The last words of this book capture Marshall's philosophy perfectly: “The time has come when we must discard the unsocial view that our woods are the lumbermen's and substitute the broader ideal that every acre of woodland in the country is rightly a part of the people's forests.”