Cache Valley was settled by Mormon pioneers in the early 1860s. When they arrived in the area they found rich soil, clear running streams, wild game, and abundant lumber and grazing resources. From 1860–1900, in their efforts to grow their faith communities and turn profits in the national economy, Mormon settlers exploited the natural resources found in Cache Valley and the nearby Bear River Range. During the 1870s and 1880s loggers removed entire forests, and from 1890–1900 thousands of cattle and sheep overgrazed the range. Wherever settlers went they transformed the landscape, hunted wild game, and introduced nonnative plant and animal species.
By the turn of the 20th Century, Cache Valley and the Bear River Range looked substantially different. Where there had once been forests, burned and scarred lands remained. In areas where native grasses had flourished, timothy, sagebrush, and juniper now dominated. Wild game that once roamed the hills had been replaced with cattle and sheep. The compounded effects of resource exploitation ultimately resulted in watershed damage. Mountain streams, which provided water for both townspeople and farmers living in Cache Valley, experienced serious decline.
In 1902, unable to get the water they needed, residents petitioned the federal government to have much of the Bear River Range set aside as a forest reserve. During July 1902 chief grazing officer Albert F. Potter surveyed the Bear River Range on behalf of the federal government. Potter took photos of the area and recorded the general environmental condition of the Bear River Range. On May 29, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt signed a proclamation creating the Logan Forest Reserve. During the decade following the creation of the Logan Forest Reserve (later renamed Cache National Forest), forest managers and settlers worked to restore, or “re-green” Cache Valley and the Bear River Range.
This collection highlights fascinating and rare primary and secondary sources dealing with the Settlement of Cache Valley, Logging, Grazing, and Irrigation, Hunting, Exotic Introductions, and Wild Game, Albert F. Potter, Cache National Forest, and Photos of Cache Valley/Bear River Range.
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