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John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
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As to the importance of having a national policy for conservation or as it became in the '60s, environmental protection, I think in my own mind, and probably in my own writing to a considerable degree, I began thinking this way relatively early. And I think it certainly was reflected in my columns in the '50s about legislation that dealt with national policy for or against environmental protection. I believe in the '50s I must have begun talking about conservation as a matter of national policy, surely by the very early '60s.

In fact, I even remember -- oh, yes -- I wrote editorially about reorganization of the Forest Service. There was a big problem, a reorganization of the Department of Agriculture and Department of the Interior into kind of a natural resources department, which was proposed by a commission headed by none other than former President Herbert Hoover. This was, I'm sure, no later than the middle '50s. I only mention this because I was very interested -- I wasn't on the commission -- but I was very interested, and I remember reading a great deal about it and certainly writing about its recommendations, too. And in this particular issue that I remember most strongly -- although it was perhaps only a minor issue with the Hoover Commission report -- but the issue in this context that I remember being extremely interested in and I'm certain I must have written about, either editorially or in the column -- maybe both -- was the proposal to make the Interior Department in effect a department of environmental protection, a recommendation that would have brought the Forest Service out of the Agriculture Department and into a department that was responsible for all natural resources. The Forest Service, being in the Agriculture Department, has been one of the great anomalies that started back I don't know when, in the late nineteenth century, I guess. It shouldn't be there, and it has led to a lot of problems, pitting conservation and wise use of the national forests against reckless and subsidized exploitation.

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