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The Weeks Act of 1911 Led to the Establishment of the White Mountain National Forest

WASHINGTON – Last night, a resolution authored by U.S. Senators Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Weeks Act (S. Res. 679) was approved by the U.S. Senate.  In addition to celebrating the law’s centennial anniversary, the bipartisan resolution provides deserving recognition to the law’s author, John Weeks, a Massachusetts Congressman born in Lancaster, New Hampshire.  It also recognizes that the acquisition of the first 7,000 acres of White Mountain National Forest was made possible using the authorities provided by the Weeks Act.  Lastly, the resolution acknowledges the work and cooperation of local conservation groups, businesses, industrialists, and the tourism industry to ensure passage of the original law, and encourages further collaboration and continued support for the White Mountain National Forest.

Senator Gregg, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, stated, “Like many New Hampshire citizens, I am proud to recognize and celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Weeks Act.  It was the single greatest law for the protection of forests in the eastern United States and one of the most important moments in land conservation history.  Passage of the Weeks Act led to the establishment of the White Mountain National Forest, a truly special place in New Hampshire that draws millions of visitors yearly.  It is my hope that remembrance of this important law can encourage ongoing collaboration among federal, state, and local governments, as well as business, tourism, and conservation groups, to continue preserving the many benefits of the White Mountain National Forest so that future generations can appreciate its unique areas just as we have.”

“The importance of the Weeks Law to New Hampshire is difficult to overstate,” said U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen.  “Without it, the White Mountain National Forest and the other eastern national forests as we know them might never have come into being.  Today, the Weeks Law remains a source of inspiration for its foresight, the spirit of cooperation in which it was conceived, and the vast tracts of national forests it preserved for future generations.”

“I want to thank both Sen. Gregg and Sen. Shaheen for recognizing the importance of the Weeks Law and introducing the Senate Resolution that celebrates its 100th anniversary,” said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, which was founded in 1901 in part to help build support for the Weeks Law and the creation of the White Mountain National Forest. “Far more than a mere historical footnote, the Weeks Law represents a turning point in the stewardship of New Hampshire’s forestland. Passage of the Weeks Law in 1911 acknowledged at least three critically important points—that we can and should protect our public water supplies by protecting the forests around them, that national forests should not just be a feature of the American West but should be part of the more developed eastern United States as well, and that the federal government has a key role to play in establishing and managing those forests for multiple uses.”

“The Weeks Act was born in the heart of the White Mountains, inspired by the passion of the people, and pushed ahead by a coalition crossing many segments of society,” said White Mountain National Forest Supervisor Tom Wagner. “The Forest is proud to be the evidence of this historical movement and we look forward to the next 100 years as we continue to work with our partners and friends on the environmental and social challenges facing the White Mountain Region.”

Andy Falender, Appalachian Mountain Club President, stated, “I want to thank Senator Gregg and Senator Shaheen for recognizing the significance of the Weeks Law to the history of conservation, and specifically to New Hampshire, given its role in leading to the establishment of the White Mountain National Forest.  The Weeks Law was the result of collaborative citizen action and is a lasting example of what people can accomplish when they work together toward a common goal.  AMC is proud of its role in helping to pass this legislation almost one hundred years ago, and we look to the upcoming centennial of the Weeks Law as an opportunity to reflect on that historic success and to continue working together with our many partners to help steward a healthy and well-managed national forest well into the future.”

Throughout his career in the Senate, Senator Gregg has championed the stewardship of forests in New Hampshire and across the country.  A strong supporter of forest conservation initiatives, such as the Forest Legacy Program, he has worked to protect forestlands including 13 Mile Woods in Errol, Trout Pond in Freedom, Ossipee Pine Barrens, Crotched Mountain, Rossview Farms in Concord, and Willard Pond.

In 2006, Senator Gregg co-authored legislation that established more than 34,000 acres of new wilderness in the Sandwich Range and the Wild River areas of the White Mountain National Forest.  Over his career, he has worked to protect and preserve more than 337,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land throughout New Hampshire.

Senator Shaheen has been a staunch supporter of protecting New Hampshire’s forests for current and future generations to enjoy.  As Governor, Shaheen led efforts to establish the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) which provides grants to protect New Hampshire’s natural, cultural and historic resources.  Since 2000, LCHIP has helped to conserve over 220,000 acres of land in 107 New Hampshire communities.

In the Senate, Shaheen has led efforts to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and the Forest Legacy Programs, two of our country’s most important land conservation programs.  These programs were used to help protect additional forest lands in the Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, along the Appalachian Trail and the Quabbin to Cardigan Initiative, which spans one hundred miles from the Quabbin Reservoir northward to Mount Cardigan and the White Mountain National Forest.