The first study focused on the history of the Black Hills National Forest, its centrality to life in the region, and its preeminence within the National Forest System, Black Hills Forestry is a cultural history of the most commercialized national forest in the nation.
One of the first forests actively managed by the federal government and the site of the first sale of federally owned timber to a private party, the Black Hills National Forest has served as a management model for all national forests. Its many uses, activities, and issues—recreation, timber, mining, grazing, tourism, First American cultural usage, and the intermingling of public and private lands—expose the ongoing tensions between private landowners and public land managers. Freeman shows how forest management in the Black Hills encapsulates the Forest Service's failures to keep up with changes in the public's view of forest values until compelled to do so by federal legislation and the courts. In addition, he explores how more recent events in the region like catastrophic wildfires and mountain pine beetle epidemics have provided forest managers with the chance to realign their efforts to create and maintain a biologically diverse forest that can better resist natural and human disturbances.
This study of the Black Hills offers an excellent prism through which to view the history of the US Forest Service's land management policies. Foresters, land managers, and regional historians will find Black Hills Forestry a valuable resource.
High Plains Horticulture explores the significant, civilizing role that horticulture has played in the development of farmsteads and rural and urban communities on the High Plains portions of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming, drawing on both the science and the application of science practiced since 1840. Freeman explores early efforts to supplement native and imported foodstuffs, state and local encouragement to plant trees, the practice of horticulture at the Union Colony of Greeley, the pioneering activities of economic botanists Charles Bessey (in Nebraska) and Aven Nelson (in Wyoming), and the shift from food production to community beautification as the High Plains were permanently settled and became more urbanized. In approaching the history of horticulture from the perspective of local and unofficial history, Freeman pays tribute to the tempered idealism, learned pragmatism, and perseverance of individuals from all walks of life seeking to create livable places out of the vast, seemingly inhospitable High Plains. He also suggests that, slowly but surely, those that inhabit them have been learning to adjust to the limits of that fragile land. High Plains Horticulture will appeal to not only scientists and professionals but also gardening enthusiasts interested in the history of their hobby on the High Plains.
Persistent Progressives tells the story of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union’s evolution from an early movement against monopolists and wholesalers to a regional trailblazer for agriculture ideologies built on social democracy, the family farmer, and cooperative enterprises. As a continuing advocate for saving the family farm, the Farmers Union legacy provides a unique window into the transformation of the agriculture and rural communities in Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.
Using data spanning decades, author John Freeman covers the founding of the RMFU in 1907 until the present, demonstrating how members continually sought to control the means of production and marketing by forming cooperatives, providing consumer services, and engaging in politics. Powering this evolution was a group of “practical idealists”—the Farmers Union leaders and titular persistent progressives who shaped the organization’s growth and expansion. Initiated by Jim Patton, who brought the organization out of its oppositional roots and into its cooperative advocacy, the RMFU passed to John Stencel and then David Carter, joining hands with agricultural conservationists and small organic producers along the way to carry the torch for progressive agrarianism in today’s urbanized world. Shaken but undeterred by some notable failures, its leadership remains convinced of the efficacy of cooperatives as a means to achieve justice for all.
Discussing the broader social, economic, political, and environmental issues related to farming, ranching, and urbanization, Persistent Progressives seamlessly blends regional history with ongoing issues of agricultural and economic development.