Weeks Act Celebration
On July 29, 2011 the White Mountain TrACS team participated in the centennial celebration of the Weeks Act. The team helped set up and take down portions of the festival and explored the numerous activities that took place during the day. The Weeks Act gave birth to all of the eastern national forests including the White Mountain National Forest in 1911, and 2011 marked the 100th anniversary of the act. The celebration took place in a large open field at the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road.
To commemorate this important anniversary numerous organizations/groups joined forces to celebrate the Weeks Act Centennial. A few of the organizations that had booths were as follows: The SCA, Appalachian Mountain Club, NH Department of Resources and Economic Development, Weeks State Park Association, and the White Mountain National Forest. In addition, there were numerous museums and historical societies, conservation and environmental organizations, various businesses, schools, camps, youth groups and community clubs, as well as artists and artist groups that were present at the festival as well. The festival had lots of activities that took place. Over the duration of the day there were ongoing interpretive, educational events and field trips being put on by the Rangers. There were trail construction/woodwork demos being put on by the AMC and UNH, and there were Q/A sessions with historians, conservationists, travel agencies and others who have helped to shape the history and culture of the White Mountain region.
A brief history of this important day began with the act being signed into law by President William Taft. The Weeks Act, named after Massachusetts Congressman John Weeks, would allow the federal government to purchase private land in order to protect the headwaters of rivers/ watersheds in the eastern United States. The Weeks Act appropriated $9 million to purchase 6 million acres of land in the eastern United States. The Weeks Act has been one of the most successful pieces of conservation legislation in U.S. history. To this day there are around 20 million acres of forestland that have been protected by the Weeks Act. This protected land provides pristine habitats for hundreds of plants and animals, recreation space for millions of visitors each year, and economic opportunities for numerous local communities around the area. This law has allowed the eastern forests to return to the United States after almost being wiped off the face of the planet in the early 1900’s!