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As It Was: Crater National Forest Establishes Policies in 1908

The establishment of the Crater National Forest on July 1, 1908, influenced national forest policy for
years to come.

The first park supervisor, C.J. Buck, had offices in Medford, Ore., where he directed rangers and guards in a district stretching from Applegate to Fort Klamath, Ashland, Butte Falls, and the Upper Rogue.

Rangers began building ranger stations in between fighting fires, arranging timber sales, investigating homestead claims, issuing grazing permits, building telephone lines, and surveying boundaries.  For this work they were paid $900 a year, the equivalent purchasing power of $2,729 today.

Fires were a constant summer problem.  In 1910, 37 fires burned over 60,800 acres, killing 250 million board feet of merchantable timber. The Forest Service blamed “perhaps a majority” of fires on careless hunters and campers.   

“Unfortunately,” a Forest Service bulletin said, “the open season for game in Southern Oregon begins on August l and brings many persons into the mountains when the fire danger is greatest.”

The park built several new ranger cabins the following year, most with the luxury of a telephone, but not running water.  Families joined the rangers in the 540-square-foot cabins.

Source: Brown, Carroll E. "Chapter 4, Crater National Forest." History of the Rogue River National Forest, Volume 1, 1893-1932, National Park Service, 15 June 2012, npshistory.com/publications/usfs/region/6/rogue-river/history/1/chap4.htm.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.