With the signing of the Weeks Act on March 1, 1911, President Taft helped preserve forest lands east of the Mississippi River.
The Act allowed the federal government to purchase public land in order to protect the headwaters of rivers as well as their watersheds. It also called for fire protection efforts through federal, state and private cooperation.
Nearly 20 million acres of forest land have been protected to date, providing habitat for hundreds of types of plants and animals, recreation opportunities for millions of visitors and economic opportunities for countless local communities. All of the forests are managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).
In Mississippi, the Bienville Forest, Holly Springs Forest, Homochitto Forest and DeSoto Forest were authorized in 1936. The Tombigbee Forest was added in 1959. Delta National Forest was one of the final two forests to be created under the Weeks Act, authorized in 1961 by President Eisenhower.
The Nature Conservancy often partners with USFS to monitor species, contribute to best management practices including prescribed fires, and support protection of these important areas. Click here to learn more about our Camp Shelby staff and their efforts to improve the DeSoto National Forest.
In May, Conservancy staff joined USFS and other agency personnel in a celebration of the Weeks Act in Jackson, Mississippi. The Conservancy's Mississippi State Director, Jim Murrian, participated in a panel discussion and Terrestrial Program Manager Becky Stowe shared the Conservancy's efforts at a temporary exhibit at the Jackson Convention Center.