Ashley National Forest first forest supervisor
The thought has been advanced to me that mayhaps some of the experiences of the early Forest Service men that weren't graphically recorded might be of valuable historic interest. Since I have often thought along that same line and since too, I happened to be among the first Forest Administrators, I am going to briefly narrate some of my personal observations and experiences, hoping that it might be of interest to someone.
One of the first Forests to be created, if not the first, in the year 1897 was the Uintah, in northeastern Utah and southwestern Wyoming. For several years it was administered by the Interior Department, the officers being for the most part retired army men. I was born and raised in the small town of Kamas, Utah, which was quite centrally located to the Uintah Forest and was for some time the headquarters town. As a boy, growing up, I worked with my Father on our farm or ranch and too, we did considerable lumbering, since my Father was more or less expert at that work. We began to come into contact with the forest men in 1898 and 1899. The first one I remember was Col. May, from Denver, Colorado, who came to a logging operation that I was employed on and spent three or four days in the bunkhouse playing sluff. At that time we didn't have to pay for timber or cut it under any kind of rule, except that Col. May must be subsidized to his satisfaction. This experience carried on with me until 1905 and it was general knowledge that about the only collector was the, at present, presiding officer. In one instance, the people of Vernal, Utah, had a very fine saddle made and presented to the Supervisor.
In 1903, I think, the Forest Service or Bureau was transferred from the Interior Department to the Agricultural Department, and the methods of administration began to get better; that is, as we people viewed it. I remember very well, however, of my going home one night in early July, 1905, and telling my Father that Dan Marshall, the Forest Supervisor, wanted me to take the examination for Forest Ranger. Father said, "Well, why don't you try it. You don't seem to be satisfied here any too well." I remember I was surprised because, as I knew, my Father was very conscientious and honest. So I said to him,"Surely you don't want me to get tangled up in that crooked outfit, do you?" He answered, "It won't always be that way and if you go straight, you will come out all right anyway."
So I did take the Civil Service examination which, by the way, included much more of a showing of forest knowledge and outdoor ability than it does now. On August 5th, 1905, I was detailed to help Mr. F.E. Joy and Forest Guard, Morgan Park, to establish the inside boundary line of the area that in 1905 was taken from the Ute and White River Indians, and added to the old Uintah Forest. My title was Forest Guard also. In the marking of the boundary line, we learned very decidedly that the general opinion of the people, as well and the Indian Department, was adverse to any kind of forest control. We started marking boundary line between the forest area and the Indian lands on August 16, 1905, and on August 18th, we found that the Indian department had contracted with some private timber men to cut yellow pine timber on the forest lands. The man, F. E. Joy, a competent surveyor, was sort of in charge of our party; however, he had had little or no experience along any other line, so he proposed to me that I take the initiative in matters of forest administration. He proposed that if I would do that and impart to him my knowledge of timber species, various grasses and methods of administration as I thought it should be, he, in turn, would teach me surveying. This agreed, I made a trip to the logging camp that was established on the Uintah River, about 3 miles inside the forest boundary. I found the foreman of the camp and tried as best I could to explain that he was cutting timber without permission from the Forest Service, an act that constituted trespass, and that I must insist that he stop at once. He said that he wanted to do only the right thing and that he would make a trip to the Indian Agency and find out what the agent said. About 2:30 that afternoon, while I was at camp, shoeing a horse, two soldiers from Ft. Duchesne rode up and informed me that the Indian agent had instructed that I be arrested and taken in to the agency. I hardly knew what to do. Joy and Park were out on survey. I argued with the two officers that we were right and tried to show them our authority, and further, I promised that if they would wait until the next day, we would come to the agency and see the agent. This they refused, saying they had come for me and were going to take me in. They were both armed and at the time I wasn't. I stepped into the tent for my hat and gloves and incidentally, I buckled on the long forty-one Colt that was usually hanging on my hip, and during that time I made up my mind that I wasn't going with them this time, or until we were all there at least. I came out of the tent and said,"Did the agent send just two of you to take us?" Receiving an affirmative answer, with some punctuations that didn't set well, I then remarked, "Well, If you two think you can cut the mustard, either start at it or get going." I didn't go down that night. When Joy and Park came to camp, I told them about the incident, and I also told them that I expected a squad would be up to get us in the morning. After deliberating on the matter during the night, Joy decided that we would go to the agent early the next morning. He met the squad of eight soldiers midway to the agency and went on back with them. It took about sixty days to get the matter straightened up, but finally the timber cutting was stopped by order from Washington. In the meantime, I insisted on marking the trees for cutting and scaling the logs cut, intending that they should be paid for, but I don't think they ever were. On the other hand, I think I was laughed at for being too zealous, although my Supervisor, Dan Marshall, complimented me for my stand in the matter.