With prodding from President Theodore Roosevelt, himself an ardent explorer of wild places, Congress established the U.S. Forest Service in 1905.
Gifford Pinchot, the chief of the Division of Forestry, was the obvious pick to head the organization. He was a close friend of Roosevelt's and he had introduced European concepts of forest management to the United States.
"Where conflicting interests must be reconciled," Pinchot wrote as his mission statement, "the question shall always be answered from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run."
Over the last century, as the Forest Service has tried to appeal to conservationists, environmentalists, advocates of multiple-use forestry, industry, ranchers and loggers, the "greatest good" has become cloudy.
The Forest Service explores this question, with its documentary "The Greatest Good," in honor of the agency's 100th anniversary. The movie will screen at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 26, and 2:10 p.m. Sunday, March 27, at Glacier Cinemas. The running time is 124 minutes.
20th Century Twin, downtown, will show the film free for Forest Service employees only at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, March 24.
The film explores the agency's evolution from the scandal-plagued William Howard Taft years, the development of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps, the increased logging beginning under Dwight Eisenhower, the rise of more vocal environmentalism in the late 1960s and the interdepartmental soul-searching of the 1980s.
For more on the film, check out: http://www.fs.fed.us/greatestgood.