Conspiracy of Optimism
War II, private forests provided 95 percent of the nation's wood
products; from 1945 to 1960, the timber industry turned away from
its overcut land to publicly owned trees on the national forests.
Confident in their talents and technology, Forest Service managers
embraced clearcutting over selective harvesting and built 65,000
miles of road to accommodate logging trucks. In A Conspiracy of
Optimism: Management of the National Forests Since World War II,
Washington State history professor Paul Hirt tells why clearcutting
prevailed and why it failed as a sustainable practice. Readable and
well-documented, Conspiracy is a gutsy undertaking for an untenured
history professor at a land-grant institution. But he also targets
the public. "Congress and the Forest Service reflect the values
shared by American culture in general. You can't really blame them
for giving us what we asked for."
Nebraska Press, 312 N. 14th St., Lincoln, NE. 68588-0484
(402/472-3581). Hardcover: $40. 400 pages.