Fire and the U.S. Forest Service
The threat of forest fires helped propel the U.S. government to set aside national
forest reservations to protect watersheds, and future timber supplies. The U.S.
Forest Service gained control of these lands in 1905, and in 1910, faced devastating
forest fires in Idaho and Montana. Based on that experience, the agency began to
establish fire policies. The Forest Service developed ways to forecast fire behavior, inform
citizens about fire prevention, extinguish the flames, and provide federal aid to
state and private landowners for fire protection.
The Forest Service Headquarters History Collection contains numerous documents on fire research,
smokejumping, fire lookouts, pioneers of forest fire science, controlled burning,
and large wildfires where lives were lost. Please contact the staff if you need help retrieving
documents found in the collections database.