Forest Service kicks off centennial in Pleasant Twp.

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton Forest Service Land Surveyor Joe McGraw sets a new marker for Corner 1, Tract 1 - designated the “start of the forest” - during an event Friday off of Chapman Dam Rd. in Pleasant Township.

This year marks the centennial for the Allegheny National Forest.

Federal officials along with a group of surveyors went back to where it started — Tract 1, Corner 1 near Chapman State Park in Pleasant Township — to replace that initial corner survey marker Friday afternoon.

And it’s in the exact spot where a 1.5 inch iron pipe, hemlock post and stone mound were placed a century ago.

It’s the kickoff to the centennial celebration for the Forest Service.

Forest Service Land Surveyor Joe McGraw explained that the Weeks Act of 1911 paved the way for the federal government to examine and purchase land in areas where timber had stripped the landscape.

An up-close look at the new marker.

The goal was to protect watersheds — the Allegheny in the case of what would become the ANF.

Tract 1, he explained, was 32,000 acres in total and came to the Forest Service from the Central Pennsylvania Land Company, which sold the property to the government for $2.50 per acre.

Those 32,000 acres were spread around the first in Warren, Elk and Forest counties. The same company also sold land to the ANF later in McKean County.

At the time, McGraw said what we now know as the ANF was referred to as a “brush patch” because of the degree that timber operations had stripped the forest and wildfires were prevalent and a persistent problem.

As a result, that $2.50 an acre constituted fair market value.

The piece of Tract 1 in Pleasant Twp. where Corner 1 is located was about 1/3rd of the 32,000 acres of Tract 1.

Corner 1 wasn’t exactly the first piece of land purchases but the forest’s founding fathers “designated” that corner as the “start of the forest.”

From there, the forest grew quickly. Half of what we now know was the ANF — about 245,000 acres — was acquired in the first three years and 97 percent of the current forest was in place by the 50th anniversary.

McGraw, who has been in his role since 2016, said he’s only been involved in two property acquisitions over those years — a 2.5 acre acquisition as well as a 500 acre tract along the Clarion River. He said that acquisition today is now mostly the result of land and boundary line management issues.

Congress approved funds for the “Allegheny Purchase Unity” in 1921, which set the stage for a survey to be completed. Later that year, the individual who would become the first forest supervisor was transferred here to start securing deals with landholding companies.

The ANF as a national forest was created by presidential proclamation by Calvin Coolidge on Sept. 24, 1923.


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