The Pemigewasset Wilderness, circa 1910. Photo from AMC Archives.
captionThe Pemigewasset Wilderness, circa 1910. Photo from AMC Archives.
AMC and the Weeks Act

Compiled by Kevin Breunig

AMC Outdoors, March 2011


Click here to view a slideshow of photographs related to the Weeks Act.

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At the beginning of the 20th century, AMC members were already concerned about the damage inflicted on the White Mountain region by harmful logging practices. For the next decade, and beyond, the organization was intimately involved in developing a plan to protect the area—a process that culminated with the passing of the Weeks Act in 1911.

Under Chairman Allan Chamberlain, AMC's Department of Exploration changes its name to the Department of Exploration and Forestry, in part to deal directly with the preservation of the White Mountain forests, so that "the Club may become a potent force for forest reform through the agency of this department." Chamberlain would use his position as an editor at the Boston Transcript to popularize the notion of protecting the White Mountains.

January 2, 1900
AMC and the newly formed Appalachian National Park Association send a letter to Congress asking that measures be taken to preserve the forests of Southern Appalachia.

AMC, the New Hampshire Forestry Commission, and the newly formed Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF) help draft a bill for the creation of a forest reserve in the White Mountains.

April 26, 1904
The AMC Council approves a national reserve in New Hampshire, a promising step in the preservation of the White Mountains. AMC members are urged to exert influence on Congress, particularly members from states outside of New England, in support of the measure.

January 20, 1906
Five hundred people attend a meeting organized by AMC at which U.S. Forest Service Chief Gifford Pinchot delivers an address in support of forest reserves in the East.

July 1906
Philip Ayres, forester of SPNHF, is invited to AMC's annual Field Meeting, held at the Crawford House, to give the presentation "Forestry Conditions in the White Mountains."

AMC stages an equipment and forestry exhibit at the Boston Sportman's Show, in part to educate the public about protection of the White Mountains.

The first edition of AMC’s White Mountain Guide, then known as the Guide to Paths in the White Mountains and Adjacent Regions, documents the devastation caused by indiscriminate logging in the Whites:

" the present writing, 1907, a very large proportion of the forest has been destroyed. This has resulted in either damaging or destroying many interesting paths on Mts. Madison, Adams, and Jefferson.... The logged area extends for more than 2 [Miles] up the mountain sides from the Randolph-Jefferson highway, and in some cases to a much greater distance. As a result, the Castle Path is denuded of forest.... Lowe's Path is in timber cuttings as far as the Cascades; King Ravine has been stripped of its forest; the Air Line has been logged for 2 [Miles]; the Madison Path has been cut over for nearly 2 [Miles], with the exception of the AMC reservation along the banks of Snyder Brook."

April 10, 1907
A joint meeting of the AMC, Massachusetts Forestry Association, and Twentieth Century Club is held in Boston. In attendance are Congressmen from New Hampshire and Vermont, Representative John Weeks of Massachusetts, Gifford Pinchot and William L. Hall of the U.S. Forest Service, and Philip Ayres of SPNHF. Pinchot reports the Forest Service will be prepared by year end to provide estimates of the costs of proposed Southern Appalachian and White Mountain forest reserves, and a report on the importance of these reserves to industries in the East.

April 25, 1908
A delegation of citizens from Massachusetts appears before the Committee on Agriculture of the House of Representatives, which is holding hearings on the issue of a forest reserve in the East. Harvey N. Shepard testifies on behalf of AMC and the State Board of Trade.

November 24, 1908
An AMC delegate attends a hearing in Washington on the Appalachian National Forest Bill.

January 3, 1911
AMC forms a committee on the preservation of Crawford Notch Forest, with the goal of preserving the Forest in cooperation with SPNHF. This area would eventually become Crawford Notch State Park.

March 1, 1911
President Taft signs the Weeks Act, named after Congressman John Weeks of Massachusetts, which provides the legal basis for the White Mountain National Forest.

April 7, 1911
The AMC Council appoints a committee in connection with administration of the Weeks Act.

November 26, 1911
The AMC Council appoints a delegate to urge Washington to make land purchases in New Hampshire under the Weeks Act.

January 18, 1916
The AMC Council appoints a delegate to appear at an Agriculture Committee hearing in support of further government acquisitions in the White Mountain National Forest.

The second edition of AMC's Guide to Paths in the White Mountains documents progress in land acquisition by the Forest Service, but also lists damage caused by forest fires:

"Forest fires following logging operations in the valley of the East Branch of the Pemigewasset have destroyed much of the vegetation on the eastern slopes of the [Franconia] range, and in some cases have overlapped the ridge on to the western slopes.... Large areas of Mt. Garfield have been burned over. Landslides, due to the cutting of the forests and the fires which have followed, have occurred on the steep faces of the range at a number of points, those on Mts. Liberty and Flume being prominent landmarks."

February 13, 1917
AMC Council passes a resolution in support of purchases in the White Mountains by the National Forests Reserve Committee. Urges Congress to make appropriations to support these purchases.

January 8, 1919
Philip Ayres is elected president of AMC.

November 23, 1920
The AMC Council supports an increase in federal funds for acquisition of forest lands in the Eastern mountains.

January 13, 1921
The AMC Council votes to send a delegate to hearings to support a bill for forest reservations in the White Mountain National Forest.

November 8, 1927
The AMC Council approves raising subscriptions, in cooperation with SPNHF, for purchase of Franconia Notch, laying the foundation for Franconia Notch State Park.