Albert F. Potter

Albert F. Potter diary
Potter diary [click to enlarge; click again to browse all pages]
(Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections and Archives General Book Collection;, 920 P851.)

By the early 1900s, heavy logging and overgrazing had damaged the Bear River Range watershed. The mountain slopes had been denuded of both timber and ground cover and, as a result, could not hold moisture. After rainstorms and during spring runoff, rivers filled with silt and debris, and during the hot summer months when water was most needed, mountain springs and streams ran dry. By the winter of 1901–1902, angry water users in Cache Valley petitioned the federal government to protect the Bear River Range by setting it aside as a forest reserve. That summer, Gifford Pinchot sent chief grazing officer Albert F. Potter to Logan to inspect the Bear River Range and determine whether it should be protected. From July 1st to July 18th, Potter rode the range, documenting what he saw as well as his conversations with locals. Potter’s diary reveals both environmental conditions on the Bear River Range as well as locals’ perceptions about land stewardship, conservation, and forest management.