With perhaps the sole exception of Gifford Pinchot, no administrator from the highest levels of the agency has penned a more compelling, honest, and forthright account of historical change in the Forest Service.
-- Kevin Marsh, Dept. of History, Idaho State University, in Ecology
Jim has written a powerful, passionate, and engaging book about his lengthy and distinguished career in the US Forest Service. In truth, this text tells us as much about his evolving perspectives as it does about the federal agency and the shifting landscape, natural and human, in which it has operated since its founding in 1905.
-- Char Miller, Pomona College, W.M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis
An outstanding read. The writing is tight, engaging, and accessible. Jim is honest and open and humble.
-- Jerry Ingersoll, Siuslaw National Forest Supervisor
Furnish's page-turning memoir tells two parallel stories of his and the U.S. Forest Service's transformation from timber beast to guardian of our national forests. The book's virtues are several. Jim can flat out write, a rare skill for an agriculturally-trained forester. Jim was the Forest Service's Forrest Gump, witness to and protagonist in each major crisis that beset the Forest Service. His accounting of the within-the-ranks battle for the heart and soul of this once-proud land management agency will interest students of organizational behavior and public administration. His most enthusiastic audience will be readers who share Aldo Leopold's land ethic, which guides Jim's maturation into an agency leader
-- Andy Stahl, Executive Director, Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics
This book is a great read of the transition taking place in the Forest Service. Jim is doing for the Forest Service what Michael Pollan ("Omnivore's Dilemma") did for the food industry, except it tells the story from an insider's perspective. Jim tells the story of his own personal journey for seeing the forest beyond mere timber harvest and how it parallels the same transition in the agency. His experience on the Siuslaw National Forest in Oregon demonstrates how progress can be made from crisis (the spotted owl controversy) by pulling together the Forest Service, the public, and the timber industry. It's refreshing to read about how hard problems can be resolved by bringing in ALL sides.
-- Jessica Berke, Minnesotan
EXCELLENT!! A great read and fantastic chronicling of the tumultuous changes that the Forest Service went through in the last decades of the 20th century leading to the present window of today from which the public views the agency.
-- Scott Stouder, Trout Unlimited, Idaho ~ Read Stouder's review in Trout magazine
So it was fascinating to read Jim Furnish’s memoir about his career in the Forest Service, “Toward a Natural Forest”. Furnish started as a company man in the “timber is king” era of the 1960s and slowly evolved a new land ethic, ending his career at the pinnacle of the agency as an iconoclast—and outcast—for his unconventional ideas and style, pushing for the embrace of ecosystem management.
I recommend this book as a contribution toward understanding a tumultuous period of land management in the United States with unique insights into the Forest Service organization and some of its key players.
-- Teri Cleeland, A New Century of Forest Planning ~ Read entire review here
Whither the U.S. Forest Service? Jim Furnish, whose 34-year career with the agency culminated in one of the most important public-lands protection measures in the nation’s history, has grappled with this question throughout much of his life. In his engaging new memoir, Toward a Natural Forest, Furnish outlines how the Forest Service transitioned from a can-do operation with a clear mission — getting out the cut — to an agency striving, and largely failing, to find new reasons to justify its existence.
-- Matt Rasmussen, High Country News, Colorado ~ Read entire review here
Furnish concludes his bare knuckled memoir with his “green manifesto” and a discussion of the challenges the Forest Service faces in the coming years. Well written and clear eyed, the book is a good insider’s account of how the Forest Service struggled to implement ecosystem management on the national forest level.
-- Jamie Lewis, Editor of Forest History Today