Why should you care about the Weeks Act? What does it have to do with hiking? Well, this law was created to allow the Federal Government to purchase land to protect water sheds/streams and the ability to navigate through them. This was already being done in the West but the Eastern forests were being clear cut causing erosion, fires and the rivers to alter their course. On March 1, 1911 Congressman John W. Weeks, born in Lancaster, NH helped to make this bill pass. The bill set aside $9 million to purchase 6 million acres East of the Mississippi. Later on the law would be altered to include non-watershed land such as forests and mountains and was made even easier for private land to be purchased.
This law allowed the formation of many National Forest's including the White Mountain National Forest, Green Mountain National Forest, Pisgah National Forest, George Washington National Forest, and Ottawa National Forest.
Much has changed, forests have grown back, river's are healthy and flowing freely, animals have re-inhabited the forest's and people are able to enjoy the serenity that comes from vast, unaltered and un-touched forest land. Controlled tree cutting, quarrying, mills, tourism/economic growth, camping, hiking, walking, fishing, bicycling, skiing, snow mobiling, and so on are all enjoyed in sync. And so we give thanks to John Weeks and all those who had a part in this endeavor. And to those who continue to carry the torch to ensure these lands stay protected for all time! Thank you! Happy 100th :)