How Rogue forest began
January 30, 2005
By PAUL FATTIG
The deeper roots of what is now the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest go back to 1893.
The seed was planted by President Grover Cleveland when he created the Cascade Forest Reserve, including land that would become the Prospect and Butte Falls districts as well as the east side of the Ashland Ranger District, according to Jeff LaLande, historian and archaeologist with the forest.
Cleveland also established the Ashland Forest Reserve in 1893, including all federal lands in the Ashland Creek watershed, he said.
But it would take years of nurturing and adjustments before the present forest emerged in its current shape, he said.
“Like today, there were consolidations and all kinds of processes going on to make it more efficient to manage,” he said.
“Of course, this was taking shape all over the national forest system,” he added. “There were a whole bunch of national forests that were proclaimed that disappeared or were consolidated.”
In southwestern Oregon, several forest reserves and national forests came and went as Uncle Sam fine-tuned management areas, he said.
“There was a lot of consolidating, a lot of gerrymandering,” he said of the early years.
LaLande and fellow agency archaeologist Janet Joyer have researched the history of both the Rogue River and Siskiyou national forests, whose administrative staffs were consolidated last year.
President Theodore Roosevelt followed Cleveland’s pioneering footsteps by establishing the U.S. Forest Service in 1905, as well as the 1.1 million-acre Siskiyou Forest Reserve.
In 1906, Roosevelt expanded the Ashland Forest Reserve to include what is now the Applegate Ranger District.
The following year, when Congress changed the term “forest reserve” to “national forest,” the southernmost portion of the Cascade Forest Reserve became Cascade National Forest-South.
The Siskiyou became a national forest in 1907. Also that year, Roosevelt created the Ashland National Forest, which is now the Ashland Ranger District.
The Cascade National Forest-South was renamed the Mazama National Forest early in 1908, becoming the Crater National Forest in July of that year.
The Ashland forest was absorbed into the Crater forest.
“By 1908, what would become the Rogue River National Forest had really taken official shape,” LaLande said.
However, it wasn’t until 1932 that the Crater forest became the Rogue River National Forest, he said, noting that people were confusing the forest name with Crater Lake National Park.
When the U.S. Bureau of Land Management was created after World War II, large sections of the lower elevation lands on the Rogue River forest were transferred to the BLM, LaLande said.
In 1999, the Forest Service placed the Rogue River and Siskiyou forests under one forest supervisor. The agency administratively combined the Rogue River and Siskiyou forests in 2004. Although only Congress has the authority to physically create one forest out of the two, the agency chief has the authority to combine forest administrations.