The Forest Reserves, now called national forests, were initially set aside from the public domain to correct the devastation that was occurring to these high-mountain watersheds. Excessive logging, devastating wildfires and unregulated livestock grazing were negatively impacting the watersheds.
Over a 60- to 70-year period, it took a diligent effort by the newly established U.S. Forest Service to restore the national forests to a productive state where the watersheds were stabilized, resulting in productive forests and variety in the resource.
In the past 40 years there has been a plethora of legislative efforts directing agencies on procedural requirements, and now the forests have come full circle. The forests of the interior West are again experiencing landscape-level changes. They are in a state of disrepair, with millions of acres of dead, dying, red and gray forests that have been ravished by insects and large, excessive wildfires, impacting the watersheds. Why?