Wednesday, August 23, 2006
The Forest Service is truly an extraordinary institution. A lot of people, seeing the word 'forest' in the title, assume it has something charming to do with looking after trees.
In fact, mostly what the Forest Service does is build roads. I am not kidding. There are 378,000 miles of roads in America's national forests. That may seem a meaningless figure, but look at it this way - it is eight times the total mileage of America's interstate highway system. It is the largest road system in the world in control of a single body. The Forest Service has the second highest number of road engineers of any government institution on the planet. To say that these guys like to build roads barely hints at their level of dedication. Show them a stand of trees anywhere and they will regard it thoughtfully for a long while, and say at last, "You know, we could put a road here." It is the avowed aim of the U.S. Forest Service to construct 580,000 miles of additional forest road by the middle of the next century.
This week; illustrations selected to accompany short passages from A Walk in the Woods © Bill Bryson 1997.