The Journal of San Diego History
Fall 1975, Volume 21, Number 4
James E. Moss, Editor
Thomas L. Scharf, Assistant Editor

Images from the Article

National Forests were established initially to halt wasteful exploitation of the public lands and forests. Though opposition by vested interests slowed progress, policies dealing with timber management, mining, watershed protection, wildlife management, grazing, and recreation emerged and evolved into the multiple-use concept practiced now. However, the Cleveland National Forest, located in Southern California, was atypical. Created with public support, it was from the beginning a watershed forest; all of its problems and policies centered on protection of the watersheds which provide water to the surrounding agricultural areas and towns, especially the city of San Diego.1 Multipleuse developed only to a limited degree on the lands of the Cleveland National Forest.

The present Cleveland National Forest is divided into three Ranger Districts for administrative purposes: the Descanso District, occupying a large part of the San Diego County mountain area south of Palomar Mountain and north of the Mexican border; the Palomar District, consisting of Palomar Mountain and adjacent areas; and the Trabuco District, encompassing the Santa Ana Mountains, northeast of San Juan Capistrano in Orange, Riverside, and San Diego Counties. Prior to 1925 the San Jacinto District, currently in the San Bernardino National Forest, was part of the Cleveland National Forest. Because it is not a watershed to San Diego and is no longer part of the Cleveland National Forest, the San Jacinto District has minor importance in this discussion.

The national system of forest reservations, of which Cleveland National Forest is a part, became possible with passage of the Forest Reserve Act of 1891. The section of this act authorizing the President of the United States to set aside public lands as Forest Reserves by proclamation was meant to slow down wasteful and illegal timber cutting on federal land.2 In Southern California, where the mountain vegetation was primarily brush with little timber, the problem was different. Although timber cutting was a viable activity, it was always of limited extent.3 The California State Board of Forestry, in its first Biennial Report (1885-86), recognized that protection of the watersheds was of paramount importance.4 The greatest danger to the watersheds was from fires.

Fires were frequent in Southern California. San Diego County newspapers in the 1870s and 1880s reported fires that sometimes burned uncontrolled for a week or more. The State Board of Forestry, in its first Biennial Report, accused land owners of taking no measures to prevent or extinguish fires. These fires were destroying the vegetative cover and, hence, the watersheds and were allowing destructive torrents and floods.5 In its second Biennial Report (1887-88), the State Board of Forestry commented specifically on the damaging effects of fires in San Diego County. “At least one third of the land covered with brush, grass and oak timber in the southern part of [San Diego County] has been burnt off by the settlers, doing a great deal of damage not only as regards to pasturage and timber, but also decreasing the reservoirs of water….”6 Settlers often set fire to brush as a means of clearing land.7

Settlers did complain about gullying and erosion resulting from fires and, to a lesser extent, from overgrazing. But more troubling was diminution of the supply of water from springs and streams. It was assumed that this was caused by fires. Settlers claimed that springs which had provided adequate yearround water supplies were running at a much reduced flow and occasionally drying up in the summer even years after a fire and that streams which formerly ran all year also ceased flowing in summer.8

The Forest Reserve Act of 1891 was intended to cure these ills by protecting federal lands. President Benjamin Harrison did not wait long to use his newly acquired power. During 1891 and 1892, Harrison created several forest reserves in western states including the San Gabriel Forest Reserve in Southern California north of Los Angeles.9 On February 25, 1893, President Harrison signed a proclamation setting aside 50,000 acres in the Santa Ana Mountains as the Trabuco Canon Forest Reserve.10 This was the first land to be set aside of what was to become the Cleveland National Forest.

President Grover Cleveland established no forest reserves between 1893 and 1897 because no provisions existed for the protection and administration of either new or existing reserves. Just before leaving office on February 22, 1897, President Cleveland signed proclamations creating several forest reserves including the San Jacinto Forest Reserve, a large reserve surrounding San Jacinto Peak and including much of the land south to Palomar Mountain and southeast well into the desert. Altogether more than 700,000 acres were involved in this withdrawal. Cleveland then vetoed an appropriation bill with a rider that would have restored all of the newest forest reserve land to public entry. When President McKinley assumed office, he was forced to call a special session of Congress to pass needed appropriation bills. Attached to one of these bills was an amendment establishing protection and administration for forest reserves. This Forest Reserve Act of 1897 provided for mining entry, fire protection, sale of timber, and watershed protection.11

This act spawned a wide variety of opinions concerning forest reserves. Some conservationists, advocating complete closure of the reserves, did not understand western conditions nor fully appreciate the western point of view. Opposed to forest reserves were lumber companies which wanted free access to timber, stockmen whose privileges were restricted by reservation of these lands, and miners who were initially shut out of all forest reserves. Between these extremes were those residents of the West who petitioned for establishment of forest reserves. They recognized the need for protection of certain federal land, but preferred regulated use to complete closure. Though proponents of the extremes were often the most vociferous, Congress finally adopted the middle road in the Forest Reserve Act of 1897.12

Whereas opposition to forest reserves by special interests was common in most of the West, few opposed the reserves in Southern California, including residents of San Diego County. The years 1885 to 1888 had seen a land boom in San Diego. Land speculation and the abuse of homestead and other land laws were widespread; people were willing to settle land in San Diego County no matter how far from the city. Most of the best agricultural and grazing land in the county had already been homesteaded before creation of forest reserves began. The few timber stands were either in private hands or not of commercial value. The public land available for inclusion in forest reserves was mostly brush covered thus of little use to farmers, ranchers, or lumbermen; few had reason to oppose its inclusion into forest reserves.13

Following 1897, a decade of productive conservation activity saw many more forest reserves established and much more land added to those already in existence.14 Public support was becoming increasingly strong in Southern California as more settlers became concerned about protecting the watersheds. In October, 1899, Abbot Kinney, Vice President of the American Forestry Association and President of the Southern California Forest and Water Society, explained his views on forest reserves to Binger Hermann, the United States Land Commissioner.

Southern California conditions are different from those in any other forest reserves in the country. The climate, topography and industries here demand a care of the watersheds nowhere else so urgent. The forest growth is chaparral or brush. Only in the canyons and high ridges is there timber and this is so scattered and inaccessible as to be out of any calculation for revenue product. There are a few exceptions to this when timber in sufficient amount grows to be available for commerce. These districts are in private hands. Chaparral is the principal covering of the mountains. No other forest reserves have this predominant chaparral character. Where fires have gone springs and streams have dried up. Existing torrent cones [sic] and increasing flood damage warn and unite our people in a desire for forest protection, which is self protection.15

Near the turn of the century, a group of residents near Trabuco Canon sent a petition to the Commissioner of the General Land Office requesting that additions be made to that forest reserve. The Trabuco Canon reserve had been more than doubled in 1899, but the petitioners felt more land should be added. They said the land in question was brush-covered foothill and mountain land. They wanted to protect the streams and the watershed from fire and from abuse by persons cutting what timber was there.16

Robert Ayers of the Bureau of Forestry, forerunner of the U.S. Forest service, supported the Trabuco area residents. In his report on the proposed addition, Ayers noted the importance of chaparral as a protective cover. The fires which endangered the brush, in Ayers’ view, were usually caused by residents burning brush to improve grazing or clear land. He recommended addition of the land to the Trabuco Reserve as a means of protecting it.17

Another group actively supporting creation of forest reserves was the San Diego County Agricultural Association, which sent a resolution to the Secretary of Interior similar to the Trabuco petition. The Agricultural Association felt the government land from Palomar Mountain south to the Mexican border should be set aside as a forest reserve because it contained no marketable timber and was important as a watershed for San Diego County.18

Land around Palomar Mountain was also being considered for inclusion in a forest reserve. Grant Taggart, Forest Supervisor of the San Jacinto Forest Reserve, examined a large area around Palomar Mountain during 1900. In a report to the Commissioner of the General Land Office, Taggart recommended that certain land be set aside; he cited as the main reason the danger from fire if the land remained outside of reserves. Supporting this he pointed out that recent fires had destroyed much valuable timber and equally valuable watershed-protecting brush.19

Such support for forest reserves by no means insured land in Southern California would be set aside. Responding to Taggart’s recommendations, Senator George Perkins said that opposition from Western and Southern states to withdrawing any land from public sale was preventing positive response to such proposals.20

This hostility was based in part on the administrative policies of the Department of Interior and in part on the provisions of the Forest Reserve Act of 1897. According to the Forest Reserve Act, miners were allowed access to the reserves, but stockmen could be shut out if the Secretary of Interior so chose. The institution of grazing permits and a grazing fee system placated stock interest only slightly. Prior to 1905, the General Land Office, in the Department of Interior, was responsible for administration and protection of forest reserves. The Land Office had no trained foresters nor the means of developing them; hence, it could not adequately perform the work of forest management. Because the Land Office attempted to do little more than protect the forest reserves from fires and trespassers, those who wanted to use the land saw the Land Office as locking up a valuable resource. The hostility engendered was partly responsible for the transfer of control over the forest reserves to the Department of

Agriculture’s Bureau of Forestry in 1905. It took two or three additional years before the new administrators were functioning efficiently. Anti-conservation attitudes, especially Western hostility to the regulation of public land, persisted.21

Western hostility did not prevent forest reserves from being established by President Theodore Roosevelt, but it was not until 1907 that the additions sought by San Diego and Trabuco area residents were made. A proclamation signed by President Roosevelt on February 14, 1907, added more than one million acres to the San Jacinto Forest Reserve; these were the lands sought as additions by the San Diego County Agricultural Association.22 On March 4, 1907, an act of Congress designated that forest reserves would thereafter be called National Forests. Four months later, President Roosevelt signed a proclamation adding land to what was now Trabuco Canyon National Forest.23

In what appears to have been an effort to consolidate the many National Forests into larger administrative units, President Roosevelt signed proclamations eliminating numerous National Forests by combining them with others. As part of this action, Trabuco and San Jacinto National Forests were combined by Executive Order on July 2, 1908, into one unit and named Cleveland National Forest, in honor of former President Grover Cleveland.24 Effective management for San Diego’s watershed had come a step closer.

The Cleveland National Forest now contained nearly two million acres. Most of this land had not been examined before withdrawal. As homesteaders were quick to point out, much agricultural and desert land had been included. Between 1908 and 1915, large areas were surveyed and, if found to be of a non-forest character or not of value as watershed, were returned to public entry. In 1915, President Woodrow Wilson returned 700,000 acres of Cleveland National Forest land to public entry, establishing the boundaries of the Forest in nearly their present location.25

As the surveying was going on, the foresters of the Cleveland National forest were assessing their problems and formulating policies on watershed management. Although the Forest was still large, the variety and extent of usage was small. No major efforts by special interest groups seeking to dictate forest policy appear to have been undertaken.

Mineral deposits in the Forest were not extensive and none of the mining claims supported paying mines. In 1870, gold had been discovered on the private Cuyamaca Rancho near Julian, but by 1912 the deposits were depleted. Most mining claims did not interfere with other forest interests. The exception might be the Santa Ana Tin Mining Company which owned a number of claims in Trabuco Canyon. Gail Borden of the Eagle Milk Company had spent a million dollars on the mine in 1903 but no tin was ever removed. Borden had since been using the canyon of Trabuco Creek for personal pleasure. L. A. Barrett, Assistant District Forester, commented sarcastically about these mines saying, “I have had personal knowledge of these claims for twenty years and know that the only money ever made from them has been secured through sale of stock and transfer to new owners.” Barrett recommended in a report in 1912 that the validity of the claims be checked and that the land involved should be opened for camping and recreation.26

In formulating policies foresters had to consider the recreational uses of the mountains by nearby city residents. Hunting for pigeons and quail was allowed in the forest; mountain lion, coyote, and ground squirrel were hunted as nuisances. Camping areas had been built on both government and private land within the forest. Numerous mountain resorts catered to visitors from the cities.27

Lobbyists representing lumbermen were not a problem. In 1912 only one sawmill operated within the forest, and it was on private land near Idyllwild. Timber stands, like the brush cover, were primarily valuable for watershed protection. Foresters had only to contend with protecting the forests.28

The reproductive capacity of the timber stands was low primarily due to the long dry summers. Since fire could cause great and long lasting damage, the need for fire prevention was obvious. Harder to assess was the effect of grazing on reproduction. L. A. Barrett observed that there were no new oak seedlings in the Laguna Mountains and concluded that overgrazing was responsible. He noticed that as soon as oak seedlings appeared they were browsed off by the stock.

Where stock did not graze, the reproduction of oaks was good. In his report of 1912 to the District Forester, Barrett recommended further restrictions of grazing, though stockmen generally did not like existing policy.29

Indians were among the mountain residents. Though their reservations were not part of National Forest land, most of them were enclaves inside forest boundaries. In his report of 1912, L. A. Barrett mentioned no problems with Indians except for difficulties enlisting their aid in fighting fires.30

The problems of watershed management were of greatest concern to those responsible for the Cleveland National Forest. Until 1926 no other concern approached watershed protection in importance. In 1912, L. A. Barrett wrote, “The Cleveland Forest is, and always will be, chiefly valuable for watershed protection purposes only.” The settlement of lands and growth of San Diego and other communities in the county depended on water from the Cleveland Forest’s watersheds.31

To understand the problems of watershed management facing the foresters, knowledge of the nature of chaparral is necessary. Chaparral is the dense assemblage of medium height, small leafed, evergreen plants with multiple stiff branches and large, deep root systems, that grow over large areas of Southern California’s mountains. It is adapted to areas with limited moisture, cool winters, and hot, dry summers. Though soil in chaparral areas is usually deficient in humus, the roots hold the soil, thus preventing erosion and retaining rain water. The foliage reduces evaporation by shading the ground. In addition, the leaves of the plants are adapted to cut down water loss from them.32

Because the plants grow over wide areas with few breaks, and because the summer heat dries the plants, regions of chaparral are subject to frequent fires, which the species are adapted to survive. Some plants stump sprout vigorously after a fire; seeds of others germinate readily only after a fire. Three to four years after a fire the new chaparral growth is sizable, and within twenty to twenty-five years it is fully restored. Though chaparral recovers quickly, fire temporarily destroys its effectiveness as ground cover.

Following fires rain water runs off rapidly causing erosion.33

Because of the fire danger, rangers early in the history of the Cleveland National Forest had to fight fires in the summer and build trails for fire access in the winter.34 Mountain residents generally opposed fires and many, such as miners, resort owners, and water companies helped the rangers fight them. Residents of agricultural areas depended upon the mountain watersheds and favored fire prevention. Some farmers and stockmen who were mountain residents opposed fires but without much enthusiasm. Indeed, for many years some farmers burned brush to clear land without understanding its watershed value. Education of the farmers about the value of brush helped alleviate this problem.35 But the attitudes of stockmen were more persistent.

In the West, generally, stockmen were hostile to National Forests. San Diego County was no different. The Campo Cattle Company, one of the earliest large land owners in the Laguna area, was the most frequent source of trouble. Cowboys employed by the company homesteaded good grazing land which the company would buy from them, thereby circumventing the homestead laws.36 By the time forest reserves were established, most of the best grazing land, both in Laguna and elsewhere in the national forest, was privately owned; only brush covered slopes remained in the public range. L. A. Barrett observed, in 1912, that all of the range land, both public and private, was badly overstocked and most of it overgrazed. The stockmen grazed all the stock the range would support, trusting to luck that every year would be good. Because of recent dry years, grazing ranges in mountain meadows and valley lands were deteriorating rapidly. The grazing industry declined with the range.37

Since most of the range was on private land, the Cleveland’s foresters could do little to prevent overgrazing except to try to stop it by education and persuasion. On their own range, the Forest Service set limits on the number of stock. Because the national forest range was mostly brush, its carrying capacity was low; a maximum of 5,000 cattle and 500 sheep were allowed on the entire forest range. In 1911, permits were issued for 3,700 head of cattle and a few sheep to graze on national forest land. By contrast, approximately 30,000 head of cattle grazed on both public and private range combined, within the forest boundaries. By far, most stock was grazed on private land despite its smaller acreage. The Campo Cattle Company grazed 200 head on forest land and 800 more on its own range.38

In order to graze as many cattle as possible on brush ranges, stockmen resorted to burning the brush to improve the forage. Stockmen contended that burning the brush allowed easier access to the grass and permitted more grass to grow. After four years of use, the range would be abandoned for three to five years and then reburnt. Cattlemen did admit that this process eventually destroyed the range. Because stockmen were little concerned about the effects of their burning on the watershed and because they resented regulation of the rangeland anyway, they were at loggerheads with the Forest Service for years. 39 Of forty-eight fires in the forest in 1911, L. A. Barrett cited six as having been purposely set by cattlemen. Twenty-four other fires were of uncertain cause, but, according to Barrett, were most likely set by cattlemen.40

Since public opinion had a definite effect on the prevention and fighting of fires, forest rangers were doing their best to enlist public support. At a ranger meeting in 1911, the wording of the posted fire warning signs was questioned. A sign headed “Forest Fires” could hardly be taken seriously when nothing but brush was in sight. Suggestions were made to reword it and to include an explanation of the value of brush cover for watershed protection and the damage to agriculture that resulted from fire. Though this was never done, education efforts were made to convince stockmen and skeptical farmers that burning brush was of minimal benefit and definitely damaged the watershed. Gradually, education and public relation efforts improved relations between the Forest Service and stockmen so that by the 1920s Cleveland National Forest Grazing Reports stated that a majority of the range users supported Forest Service regulations on range management and fire protection. Even the Campo Cattle Company had come to agree with most range restrictions, though it still resented having its requests to use the land set aside for a recreation area in the Laguna Mountains rejected in 1922 and again in 1925.41

Some mountain residents did not believe that brush fires should be prevented. Articles in the El Cajon News-Chronicle of June 9, 1937, expressed the idea “that chaparral does not constitute a valuable national forest area to be guarded at the expense of hundreds of thousands of dollars.”42 The fear was also expressed that since small fires were prevented there was more fuel available that might produce large fires. The stockmen’s old practice of burning brush was supported, grass being considered more valuable than brush.43 Such ideas and opinions would surface again in later years.

An interesting fire prevention technique was tried in the Lagunas in 1926. Sheep were allowed to graze to reduce ground vegetation and, hence, the fire hazard. In 1927, however, residents of Laguna Mountain began to complain, because the sheep were eating the grass and everything else, including the flowers. The practice was discontinued.44

There was a reason for all of this work to protect the watershed in the Cleveland National Forest. San Diego had no source of water other than the mountain watersheds and a few local wells. In 1889, the San Diego Flume Company completed a project bringing water by flume thirty-one miles from Cuyamaca Reservoir to San Diego. Completion of the Sweetwater Dam, in 1888, turned the intermittent Sweetwater River into a source of water for San Diego. Thirty percent of the watershed for Sweetwater Dam lies within the Cleveland National Forest, another twenty-five percent is in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. Most of the watershed for Morena Reservoir, completed in 1914, and Barrett Lake, completed in 1923, is on National Forest land, the percentages being approximately eighty-five and ninety-five respectively.45

Despite the large percentage of San Diego’s watershed it included, the emphasis of the Cleveland National Forest began to shift away from almost total concentration on watershed protection in the mid-1920s.46 Demand for mountain recreation from the growing population of Southern California led to modifications of Forest Service policies. Recognizing that recreation was a major land use, the Secretary of Agriculture signed a land classification order, on September 24. 1926, which designated Cleveland National Forest lands surrounding Laguna Mountain as a Recreation Area. The recreational development plan for the new Laguna Recreation Area included road construction, the building of campgrounds, and the leasing of land for summer homes.47 The Agua Tibia Primitive Area on Palomar Mountain, established in 1931, was a further step towards increased recreational usage.48 Concurrent with the increase in recreational planning and use was a change in the major cause of fires. By the mid-twenties, campers were responsible for most forest fires.49

The Recreation Plan and Policy Statement, drawn up in 1926, declared that watershed protection was still of primary importance to the forest. Recreation, it said, should not interfere with that policy nor with timber or grazing uses.50 After ten years of increasing demand and recreational development, recreation had become the second most important forest usage behind watershed usage. In the Recreational Plan of 1937 this usage priority is given: (1) watershed, (2) recreation, (3) grazing, and (4) timber.51 All forest activities were still subordinate to watershed usage, but the total concentration on watershed protection that had dominated earlier was clearly over.

Still the importance of the watersheds grew as the population and water demands of the area grew. El Capitan Reservoir was finished in 1935 to meet the water needs of San Diego city and county, but World War II brought further population increase to the county as a result of military bases. The Cleveland National Forest Recreation Plan of 1937 had included the optimistic statement, “there seems no end to what could be done to increase [the] water supply.” By 1945, it was becoming difficult to squeeze any more water out of the San Diego County watersheds.52

Federal installations in 1945 were using forty percent of San Diego’s water supply. El Capitan Reservoir was supplying two-thirds of the daily needs of San Diego. Since the watershed for this reservoir lies almost entirely within National Forest boundaries, diligent watershed protection by the forest was essential. Memories of a drought in San Diego from 1897 to 1904 brought fear of a recurrence. It was predicted that if a drought occurred in 1945, El Capitan Reservoir would be empty by 1946. In 1944, due to the increasingly narrow margins of supply over demand, President Franklin Roosevelt announced plans to connect San Diego with the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District’s Colorado River pipeline.53

With the completion of this connection with the Colorado River in the late 1940s, the water crisis was eased. The event also foreshadowed a decline of the importance of the Cleveland National Forest’s watersheds. After Colorado River water was brought to San Diego, national forest watersheds still supplied most of San Diego’s water. However, as the population continued to grow, Colorado River water supplied an increasing percentage. By 1955, twenty-nine percent of the water for San Diego came from the Colorado River, by 1973 ninety percent.54

As the forest’s relative contribution to the water supply decreased, the importance of watershed protection likewise decreased. The Cleveland National Forest map and brochure of 1926 discussed recreational opportunities in the Forest and emphasized watershed protection and the need to prevent fires and pollution. The map and brochure of 1973 discussed recreation with no mention of watershed protection.55

The controversy of 1937 over whether to permit small brush fires resurfaced in 1950. Opponents of brush argued that small fires must be allowed to reduce the potential fuel that would feed a large fire. They further argued that burning off the brush would permit grass to grow making the land more useful as rangeland without increasing the likelihood of floods or decreasing water yield. Indeed, it was felt that brush used more water for growth than grass and, hence, grass would increase water yield. The San Diego County Cattlemen’s Association advocated the old stockmen’s practice of burning brush to increase cattle feed.56

Responding to the controversy, Cleveland Forest Supervisor Hamilton K. Pyle stated that the forest did permit controlled burning on private land and further conceded that fire breaks would be desirable, but funds were not available for their construction. Pyle denied that brush was a poor watershed cover.57 He further stated that “Since 1908… San Diego County has had only one fire comparable to those of the 1880s and 1890s.”58

Up to the present day the problem of whether or not to permit controlled brush burning remains unresolved. Because of the fire hazard, brushland is a dangerous place to live, yet more and more people are doing so. The Forest Service now agrees that controlled burning is a valid means of preventing large fires and has been conducting studies on how to best burn brush safely. Developing techniques for safe controlled burning of brush is difficult because of the flammability of chaparral and the rugged topography of the mountain areas.59

Cleveland National Forest was established because people recognized the importance of watershed protection. Because of the possible damage to watersheds from fire those settlers and stockmen who burned brush to clear land had to be dealt with. Gradually education, public relations and pressure eliminated the problem.

By 1945, the Cleveland National Forest could no longer supply San Diego’s water needs. The availability of Colorado River water meant that the forest’s recreational resources gained in importance. Though water from the forest is still used by San Diego, it is a small portion of the total consumption. Though brush fires are still feared, it is the danger to people in the mountains and not damage to the watersheds that is of greatest concern. The Cleveland National Forest, which had started out as one thing, has become quite another.




1. Protection of watersheds falls under the broad concept of watershed management. “Watershed management is the protection, conservation, and wise use of the natural resources within a drainage basin aimed at keeping the soil mantle in place and making water available in a manner which best serves human requirements. Because in one way or another, all land use activities affect some phase of water use, behavior, yields and quality, watershed managers must be concerned with all activities in a drainage basin.” [Emphasis added. I U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Manual, (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1971); See also: Warner L. Marsh, Landscape Vocabulary, (Los Angeles: Miramar Publishing, 1964).

2. Forest Reserve Act, March 3, 1891, 26 Stat. 1103; John Ise, The United States Forest Policy, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1920), 63-118.

3. Francis M. Fultz, The Elfin-Forest of California, (Los Angeles: The Times-Mirror Press, 1927), 22-26; Forest Supervisor, Cleveland National Forest to the District Forester, San Francisco, January 11, 1909, a report on Cleveland National Forest, (typewritten in historical files of Cleveland National Forest headquarters, San Diego, 1900-1920 file) [Hereafter Cleveland National Forest will be referred to as CNF and its historical files as CNFHF.]; “Bibliography of Early California Forestry,” (Berkeley: U.S. Forest Service, California Forest and Range Experiment Station, Federal Writers’ Project, (1936-39?)), XLVI, [no pagination].

4. C. Raymond Clar, California Government and Forestry from Spanish Days Until the Creation of the Department of Natural Resources in 1927, (Sacramento: State of California, Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry, 1959), 104.

5. Ibid.; “Some Facts on Land Ownership and Resource Use,” (typewritten CNFHF in 1900-1920 file); “Bibliography of Early California Forestry,” citing San Diego newspapers.

6. “Bibliography of Early California Forestry,” citing Biennial Report, (Sacramento: California State Printing Office, 1888).

7. John D. Maxfield, Forest Ranger to the Forester, March 3, 1915, (typewritten CNFHF in Summary of Acts Creating CNF file).

8. Ibid.; Abbot Kinney, Forest and Water, (Los Angeles: The Post Publishing Co., 1900), 41-42; There is no obvious evidence that dry climatic cycles caused the reduction in spring and stream flow; Riverside, Enterprise, August 19, 1951, listing dates of previous dry cycles.

9. U.S., Department of Agriculture, Establishment and Modification of National Forest Boundaries, a Chronologic Record 1891-1959, (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1959), 1.

10. U.S., President, Proclamation, establishing Trabuco Cañon Forest Reserve, February 25, 1893, 27 Stat. 1066.

11. U.S., President, Proclamation, establishing San Jacinto Forest Reserve, February 22, 1897, 29 Stat. 893; Ise, U.S. Forest Policy, 119-142; Samuel Trask Dana, Forest and Range Policy, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1956), 102-109; Elmo R. Richardson, The Politics of Conservation, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1962), 1-16.

12. Ise, U.S. Forest Policy, 127-130; Richardson, Politics of Conservation, 1-16.

13. Clarence A. McGrew, City of San Diego and San Diego County, (Chicago: American Historical Society, 1922), I, 129-131; Forest Supervisor, Cleveland National Forest to the District Forester, San Francisco, January 1909, a report on Cleveland National Forest, (typewritten CNFHF 1900-1920 File); Richardson, Politics of Conservation, 1-16.

14. U. S., Department of Agriculture, National Forest Boundaries, 3-15.

15. Kinney, Forest and Water, 129-130. [Emphasis added.]

16. U.S., President, Proclamation, adding land to Trabuco Cañon Forest Reserve, January 26, 1899, 35 Stat. 2145; Petition from residents near Trabuco reserve to the Commissioner of the Land Office, [ 1901], (typewritten CNFHF Proclamation file). This petition is undated but is marked with a number 1901-91037-1. The “1901” may refer to the year of submission, since the land mentioned in the petition was not involved in the 1899 land addition to Trabuco; it was added in 1907.

17. Robert W. Ayers, “Proposed Addition to the Trabuco Canon Forest Reserve California,” 1906, (typewritten CNFHF 1900-1920 file).

18. Resolution of the San Diego County Agricultural Association advocating creation of a forest reserve in San Diego County, [ 1901], (typewritten CNFHF Proclamation file). This resolution is undated but is marked with a number 1901-78801-1. The land involved in the resolution was added to the San Jacinto Reserve in 1907. The “1901” may refer to the year of submission of the resolution.

19. Grant Taggart to the Commissioner of the Land Office, July 14, 1900, a report on adding Palomar Mountain to the San Jacinto Reserve, (typewritten CNFHF).

20. Senator George Perkins to Grant Taggart, March 20, 1900, (typewritten CNFHF).

21. Ise, U.S. Forest Policy, 155-201.

22. U.S., President, Proclamation, adding land to San Jacinto Forest Reserve, February 14, 1907, 34 Stat. 3276.

23. U.S., Dept. of Agriculture, National Forest Boundaries, 15; U.S., President, Proclamation, adding land to the Trabuco Reserve and changing the spelling from Trabuco Canon to Trabuco Canyon, July 6, 1907, 35 Stat. 2144.

24. U.S., Dept. of Agriculture, National Forest Boundaries, 17-27; U.S., President, Executive Order, combining Trabuco and San Jacinto National Forests and renaming them Cleveland National Forest, July 2, 1908, effective July 1, 1908, (CNFHF Proclamation file).

25. U.S., Dept. of Agriculture, National Forest Boundaries, 28-41; Letter to the secretary of Interior, July 9, 1912, (typewritten CNFHF 1900-1920 file); The last page is missing; hence, the sender is unknown; “Land Classification of the Cleveland National Forest,” 1914-1916, (typewritten CNF old land use files).

26. Forest Supervisor report, January 11, 1909, (CNFHF 1900-1920 file); Cuyamaca Rancho was sold to the state in 1933 and was subsequently made into a state park; Russ Leadabrand, A Guidebook to the Sunset Ranges of Southern California, (Los Angeles: The Ward Ritchie Press, 1965), 135; L. A. Barrett, Assistant District Forester to the District Forester, San Francisco, March 30, 1912, a report resulting from a five week trip through CNF (typewritten, 69 pages, CNFHF 1900-1920 file; As of 1968 the Trabuco Canyon mining claims were still the object of litigation; Jim Sleeper, “Trabuco Tin Mine Faces Axe,” Mineral Information Service, California Division of Mines and Geology, November 1968.

27. Barrett report, March 30, 1912, (CNFHF 1900-1920 file). 28. Ibid.

29. Ibid.; Forest Supervisor report, January 11, 1909, (CNFHF 1900-1920 file).

30. Barrett report, March 30, 1912, (CNFHF 1900-1920 file).

31. Ibid.

32. Fultz, Elfin-Forest, 25-39; Tracy I. Storer and Robert L. Usinger, Sierra Nevada Natural History, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966), 114-116.

33. Ibid.

34. “Cleveland Bulletin,” January, 1918, (mimeographed CNFHF).

35. Kinney, Forest and Water, 38; “Cleveland Bulletin,” January, 1918, (CNFHF).

36. “Laguna Mountain Recreation Area,” n.d., (mimeographed CNFHF Historical file c).

37. Barrett report, March 30, 1912, (CNFHF 1900-1920 file); “Range Appraisal Report for the Cleveland National Forest,

1912,” (typewritten with maps and usage chart, CNF old land use files).

38. Barrett report, March 30, 1912, (CNFHF 1900-1920 file).

39. “Cleveland Bulletin,” January 1918, (CNFHF); “Extracts From Boundary Files of 1902,” (typewritten CNFHF Summary of Acts Creating CNF file).

40. Barrett report, March 30, 1912, (CNFHF 1900-1920 file).

41. “Range Report,” 1922, (CNF old land use files); “Grazing Report, Calendar Year 1925, Cleveland National Forest,” (typewritten CNF old land use files).

42. El Cajon News-Chronicle, June 9, 1937.

43. Ibid.

44. “Grazing Report, Calendar Year 1926, Cleveland National Forest,” (typewritten CNF old land use files); “Grazing Report, Calendar Year 1927, Cleveland National Forest,” (typewritten CNF old land use files).

45. Kinney, Forest and Water, 208-211; San Diego Journal, February 8, March 23, 1945. The figures for watershed areas are the author’s estimates.

46. In 1925, the San Jacinto District was transferred to San Bernardino National Forest, The bad fire year of 1924 probably was a contributing reason; large, spread out National Forests were difficult to administer. Leadabrand, Guidebook, 16.

47. U.S., Department of Agriculture, “Land Classification Order,” September 24, 1926, (typewritten CNFHF Summary of Acts Creating CNF file); “Recreational Plan,” April, 1938, (typewritten CNF old land use files).

48. Leadabrand, Guidebook, 96.

49. Fultz, Elfin-Forest, 35.

50. “Recreation Plan and Policy Statement,” February 15, 1926, (typewritten CNFHF old land use files).

51. “Recreation Plan,” April, 1937, (CNF old land use files).

52. San Diego Journal, March 23, 1945; San Diego Union, February 11, 1945; “Recreation Plan,” April, 1937, (CNF old land use files).

53. San Diego Journal, February 11, 13, 17, 1945.

54. “Fact Sheet for Speakers, Our Own Cleveland National Forest,” April, 1955, (mimeographed CNFHF Historical file a); San Diego County Water Authority, “How Can I Help Save Water, Energy, Money?” [ 1974].

55. Cleveland National Forest map and brochure, 1926; Cleveland National Forest map and brochure, 1973.

56. San Diego Union, October 5, 1950; Escondido Daily Times, February 25, 1950; El Cajon Mountain Messenger, November 2, 1950.

57. San Diego Union, March 28, October 5, 1950.

58. San Diego Union, March 28, 1950.

59. San Diego Chapter of Sierra Club, “Hi! Sierran,” June, July, 1973; Interview with Jack Reveal, Cleveland National Forest, San Diego, California, May 17, 1974; Richard C. Rothermel and Charles W. Philpot, “Predicting Changes in Chaparral Flammability,” Journal of Forestry, October, 1973, 640-643. See also: Curtis M. Johnson, “Multiple-Use Administration on Chaparral Conversion Project,” Journal of Forestry, June, 1971, 346-348.



Michael Sakarias, a native San Diegan, graduated from high school in 1965, and attended San Diego State University for two years followed by three years in the U.S. Army. In 1973 he reentered SDSU and received his B.A. degree in history in 1975. Though long a member of the Sierra Club, his primary motivation for writing this article was an interest in local history and a belief in its importance. He plans to seek a higher degree in history and do more research into San Diego’s past. His article published here was an award winning paper presented at the San Diego History Center’s 1974 Institute of History. All photos courtesy of U. S. Forest Service.