There are many organizations and sites interpreting the history of the U.S. Forest Service. Why do we need a National Conservation Legacy and Education Center?
Over the course of the Forest Service’s first century, there has never been one central repository where artifacts could be stored, preserved and displayed. There has not been one central exhibition hall where the stories and lessons could be shared with the public. And there has not been one central monument where the leaders, partners, and people whose stories are our history could be recognized and honored. The National Center, managed by the NMFSH, is that place.
Why is the Center in Missoula, Montana?
The U.S. Forest Service’s deep roots in Missoula date back to 1905. In 1908, the first USFS District Office was established. Known today as Region 1, the northern region is home to many Forest Service employees, families and retirees. Defined by ridgelines and rivers, the region hosts an array of spectacular national forests, national scenic and historic trails, designated wilderness areas, and is home to the USFS Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory and the headquarters of the Smokejumpers.
Missoula is home to the Boone and Crockett Club, founded by Theodore Roosevelt, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, two significant sportsmen’s organizations that have played a leading role in conserving and stewarding our national forests and grasslands. Representatives of many of the U.S. Forest Service partners and cooperators from the forest products, mining industries and the ranching community are also based in Montana.
How will the Center reach out to the public across the nation ?
The Center’s Traveling Exhibit Program will design interpretive displays and programs to be showcased in Forest Service Visitor Centers, museums and cultural institutions throughout the nation. The Center’s collections and educational and interpretive materials will be available to the public via the internet.
How long has the Center been in the works?
The National Museum of Forest Service History was established as an independent non-profit organization in 1988. The site for the Center was selected in 1993. Since that time, the NMFSH organization has worked to build its collection, develop the building and exhibit plan and reach out to communities, Forest Service sites and Forest Service cooperators. In just the past three years, the NMFSH’s Collection, Archives, Research and Education (CARE) Program has reached every part of the country providing services in 47 states. The NMFSH currently manages its own collection of approximately 20,000 objects, photographs, documents, books and research reports. Through a Memorandum of Understanding with the Forest Service, the NMFSH also manages the Forest Service Collection, comprised of an additional 20,00 objects. To date more than 21,000 objects have been catalogued and are available to researchers and for exhibits by request.
The building and exhibit plans were unveiled in September 2009. The site has been prepared for construction and the grounds now feature an authentic ranger cabin and a fire lookout constructed by volunteers based on 1930’s era plans. Once ground is broken, the construction will take about 12 months.
What are the plans for the Center?
The Center will feature 24 tall timbers from national forests, private tree farms and a State Forest, each with a story to tell. The facility will include a 3-D object theater, permanent interactive and traveling exhibits, research and meetings rooms, and a curatorial and collections laboratory. The grounds feature an authentic ranger cabin, a fire lookout, a trail system and a memorial grove. The NMFSH’s collections and education programs will also be available worldwide through its website and traveling exhibits. The NMFSH will also collaborate with nationally and internationally recognized museums and universities to support public inquiry and scholarly exploration.
What is the relationship between the museum and the U.S. Forest Service?
The National Museum of Forest Service History is an independent 501(c)(3) organization. The U.S. Forest Service and the NMFSH have a Memorandum of Understanding enabling cooperation between the two organizations to interpret and catalog artifacts in the collection and to partner on educational and other programs. The US Forest Service has committed support to build the Center and provided a site for the building. The NMFSH is solely responsible for the maintenance and administration of the building and grounds, the gift store, the educational and outreach programs and the Center’s management.
What kind of artifacts does the NMFSH have in its collection?
The NMFSH collection contains artifacts, records, publications, documents, and memorabilia relating to the history, programs, activities and culture of the Forest Service. These include the Harvey Mack Collection, a 1951 Ford “Green Hornet” Forest Service Fire Engine, Smokey Bear posters and objects, photographs, first-hand accounts and personal histories, and much more.
Is the collection accessible to researchers?
Yes. Contact us to learn more about accessing the collection. Once the Center’s building is complete, a research station will be available by appointment.
Can I donate artifacts to the collection?
Yes. The NMFSH welcomes inquiries regarding donations to the collection. Contact us to learn what types of artifacts we are currently accepting.
How can I honor a colleague or family member who worked for the Forest Service? How can I honor a person who helped the Forest Service as a cooperator or partner?
For a one-time donation of $100 or more, the National Museum of Forest Service History offers the opportunity to honor living and deceased persons with a special Forest Service History Memorial. Current, former or retired employees or persons or groups of persons who have contributed to the mission of the Forest Service are eligible. A memorial grove on the Center’s grounds in Missoula honors all persons accepted for the Forest Service History Memorial. Persons are recognized in a memorial book and on the Museum’s web site rather than having names on individual trees in the memorial grove. Nominations are subject to approval by the NMFSH.
To nominate a person or group for a Forest Service History Memorial, download the Nomination Form.
Who designed the National Conservation Legacy and Education Center?
Oz Architects of Missoula, Montana created the architectural plan for the Museum. Split Rock Studios developed the exhibit concepts.
What is the significance of the Center’s design elements?
The Center will feature 24 tall timbers from national forests, private tree farms and a State Forest, each with a story about the history of forestry across the country. As a model for best practices in construction and design, the Museum will be an energy-efficient building and is anticipated to achieve both LEED Gold certification and a Three Green Globes rating. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized green building certification system that reduces negative environmental impacts and increases cost savings through efficient energy and water use. Similarly, the Green Globes System measures the overall environmental performance of commercial buildings. The building itself is a model for the conservation legacy of the Forest Service and provides an opportunity for conservation education.
Who is funding the NMFSH’s capital campaign?
It will take a total investment of over $12 million to build the National Conservation Legacy and Education Center. With the support of the Forest Service, individuals, foundations and companies, the NMFSH has already attracted over $3.2 million–more than a quarter of the goal.
How can I volunteer for the NMFSH?
The NMFSH welcomes volunteers interested in helping us develop partnerships in communities across the country. From education to interpretation to fundraising, there are many ways you can support the NMFSH as a volunteer.
How can I work with the NMFSH to host a traveling exhibit or educational program in my community, school or organization?
The NMFSH reaches communities across the country through its educational programs and traveling exhibits. Contact us to discuss opportunities to develop programs and exhibits with us.