USDA celebrates landmark legislation anniversary
August 15, 2011 | 10:39 pm CDT

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack signed a proclamation today recognizing the beginning of the centennial celebration of a landmark piece of environmental legislation that led to the creation of nearly 20 million acres of new national forests in the eastern United States.

The Weeks Act provided the foundation for the creation of national forests in the East as well as the cooperative relationship with states, tribes and individuals to protect and enhance forests, grasslands and watersheds from fire and other threats. About one-fifth of the nation’s clean drinking water has its origins in forests preserved under the Weeks Act.

“The Weeks Act is one of the most significant natural resource conservation achievements of the 20th century,” said Vilsack. “This Act reminds us of the importance of past conservation efforts that shape our ability to sustain our national forests today, and to keep them healthy for the future. The Weeks Act has given us significant economic and environmental benefits, but it’s done more than that. The Weeks Act ensures that all Americans have access to some of the most beautiful places in our country.”

During the last 100 years, the Weeks Act has led to the creation of 52 national forests in 26 Eastern states, and the addition of 19.7 million acres on national forests and grasslands across 41 states and Puerto Rico.

Posted by Michaelle Bradford

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