Utah: The secret role women played in the early years of the US Forest Service

  • Source: KSL-TV NBC 5 Salt Lake City
  • Published: 05/31/2019 12:00 AM

When it comes to the history of the nation’s vast public lands, what’s often missing from the narrative is the role women played during the early years of the U.S. Forest Service, and the increasing role they have played in overseeing the lands for the past five decades. “For most of its existence, the Forest Service has had a reputation as a 'good ol’ boys' organization, due in large part to its reliance on a male workforce,” said Richa Wilson, an architectural historian for the U.S. Forest Service. During a presentation at the Utah State History Archives Wednesday, Wilson showed early clippings of advertisements seeking men to enlist in the Forest Service. She also shared the contact between correspondents of those who worked behind the scenes because they were practically secret employees. One early advertisement read, “Men wanted! A ranger must be able to take care of himself and his mules under very trying conditions; build trails and cabins; ride all day and all night; pack, shoot, and fight fire without losing his head. All this requires a very vigorous constitution. It means the hardest kind of physical work from beginning to end. It is not a job for those seeking health or light outdoor work. Invalids need not apply!”


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