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Records of the Colorado State Forestry Association

Identifier: ACSF

Scope and Contents

The Records of the Colorado State Forestry Association consists of documents dated 1873-1933, with the bulk falling from 1905 to 1916. The collection consists primarily of the correspondence of William G. M. Stone, who served as president of the CFA from 1903 until his death in 1916. There are numerous letters from prominent conservationists of the time, including Gifford Pinchot (President Theodore Roosevelt's advisor in conservation matters, who became head of the U. S. Division of Forestry in 1898); Enos Mills, a Colorado conservationist instrumental in the creation of Rocky Mountain National Park; and John P. Brown, editor of Arboriculture magazine. The collection also contains voluminous correspondence with Colorado conservationists such as Edgar Ensign, Frank (F. C.) Goudy, William Palmer, Ellsworth Bethel, Edmond van Diest, and C. K. McHarg.

In addition, the collection contains letters from government officials, including Colorado governors Alva Adams, Henry Buchtel and John Shafroth, Senator Simon Guggenheim and Smith Riley of the U.S. Forest Service. Close ties to the State Agricultural College in Fort Collins are evident in exchanges with presidents B. O. Aylesworth and Charles Lory, and professors B. O. Longyear, Wendell Paddock and L. G. Carpenter. Also notable are letters of forestry and agriculture professors from other Colorado schools. Although the bulk of the collection consists of incoming letters, Stone's outgoing writings are preserved in the form of letterpress books.

Besides correspondence, the collection contains clippings from Colorado newspapers and printed material from other organizations. It also includes handwritten drafts of papers and speeches, mostly authored by W. G. M. Stone, addressing a variety of forestry related topics.


  • Creation: 1873-1933
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1905-1916


Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.


The early years of the Colorado State Forestry Association (CFA) reflect the development of the conservation movement in the United States, which began in the 1870s for both practical and esthetic reasons. Conservationists sought to prevent timber shortages and to combat the wasteful exploitation of scenic national resources. In the arid American West, the deleterious impact of over-cutting on mountain watersheds elicited particular concern. A healthy forest near a watershed allowed gradual snow melt into the streams, preventing floods and providing a more stable water supply for irrigation. Not surprisingly, many agriculturalists supported the conservation movement.

Conservationists in Colorado, led by businessman Edgar Ensign, formed the Colorado State Forestry Association in 1884 with the goal of supporting the conservation, management, and renewal of forests through the dissemination of educational materials, promotion of forestry legislation, and creation of forest reserves. The CFA campaigned for legislation providing for the appointment of a State Commissioner of Forestry and the protection of state forest lands. Although Edgar Ensign was appointed Colorado's first Commissioner of Forestry, it became evident that the state government was unwilling to devote the resources necessary to implement changes sought by the CFA.

Taking their concerns to Washington, the CFA sought federal involvement. The passage of the 1891 General Revision Act authorized the President to establish forest reserves on public lands. This was followed by the creation of several forest reserves throughout the country, including the White River Plateau Reserve of over one million acres in northwestern Colorado. The Act met with resistance in Colorado, as homesteaders, miners, cattlemen and some large businesses opposed the increased restrictions that accompanied the forest reserves. The Colorado state legislature tended to support this resistance, viewing the new laws as an eastern conspiracy aimed at harassing westerners.

Despite this opposition, the CFA advocated for additional forest reserves, and by 1903 six new reserves had been created in Colorado, encompassing three million acres of forest. Next, the CFA campaigned to have the estimated twelve million acres of unprotected forest lands surrounding watersheds designated as forest reserves. With the support of several state and local agencies, businesses and colleges, federal legislation eventually actualized these goals.

In addition to their efforts to influence legislation, members of the CFA worked with schools, social clubs, chambers of commerce and other organizations in order to stimulate interest in forest preservation. William G. M. Stone, a former clergyman and farmer who served as CFA president from 1903 to 1916, worked closely with educators at Colorado Agricultural College (now Colorado State University) in developing a forestry short course at the school. The association also encouraged tree planting, especially in Colorado's arid regions, by providing trees and information about growing them. Education, planting programs and conservation lobbying characterized CFA activity in the ensuing decades.

In 1944, the organization merged with the Denver Society of Ornamental Horticulture and assumed a new name, the Colorado Forestry and Horticulture Association. Then in 1960, this group merged with the Botanical Garden Foundation of Denver, becoming the Denver Botanic Gardens, Inc. These mergers represented a change in emphasis from political activism concerning forests to education about horticulture.


9 linear feet (6 record cartons)

Language of Materials



Colorado conservationists formed the Colorado State Forestry Association, also known as the Colorado Forestry Association (CFA), in 1884 to support the conservation, management, and renewal of forests through the dissemination of educational materials, promotion of forestry legislation, and creation of forest reserves. The Records of the Colorado State Forestry Association consists primarily of the correspondence of CFA president William G. M. Stone with prominent conservationists, government officials and educators of the early 1900s. In addition to correspondence, the collection contains clippings from Colorado newspapers and printed material from related organizations, as well as handwritten drafts of papers addressing a variety of forestry related topics.


The collection consists of eight series in six record cartons:

Series 1: Correspondence, 1879-1933

Subseries 1.1: Incoming correspondence, 1879-1933

Subseries 1.2: Outgoing correspondence, 1892-1916

Series 2: Minutes, 1873-1901

Series 3: General office files, 1903-1915

Series 4: Speeches and papers, 1905-1915

Series 5: Memorial petitions, 1906

Series 6: Printed material, 1878-1929

Series 7: Clippings, 1878-1923

Series 8: Photographs, 1905-1908


The Records of the Colorado State Forestry Association was found discarded near the economics building at Colorado State University (CSU) in 1972. History Professor James E. Hansen rescued the collection and deposited it in the University Archives. These papers may have come to be located at CSU due to CFA involvement in promoting a forestry course during the early decades of the twentieth century, as well as ongoing CFA/college interaction through Professors W. J. Morrill and Wendell Paddock. Since many of the documents refer to tree farming and the impact of forest preservation on agriculture, the collection was moved to the Colorado Agricultural Archive, which was acquired by the Colorado State University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections Department in 2004.

Related Collections

Related collections at Colorado State University Libraries include the Papers of Louis G. Carpenter in the Water Resources Archive, and the Records of the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station and the Records of the Colorado Cooperative Extension Service in the Colorado Agricultural Archive.

A separate collection of the Colorado State Forestry Association is housed at the Colorado Historical Society in Denver. This material includes correspondence (dated 1912-1936), business papers (1884-1947) and newspaper clippings (1913-1916).


The original collection, housed in letter boxes and letterpress books, was arranged chronologically by subject. In 1975, CSU librarian Patricia Richter began to process the collection, partially rearranging it and compiling a name index. Under the direction of the university archivist, a more comprehensive finding aid was created by graduate student Monte Kniffen in 1996. At that time the entire collection was arranged chronologically and an item-level inventory was provided for the correspondence. Final processing was completed in July 2005. Materials were re-housed in acid-free containers and arranged chronologically within series. Metal fasteners were removed and news clippings were placed between sheets of acid-free paper. Photographs found within the correspondence files were separated and placed with the photograph series.

Inventory Note

Information supplied by the archivist is bracketed. All correspondence is addressed to William G. M. Stone, unless otherwise noted. The following abbreviations are used: ad = autographed document; ads = autographed document signed; AFA = American Forestry Association; ag = agriculture/agricultural; al = autographed letter; als = autographed letter signed; apc = autographed post card; APTL = American Protective Tariff League; bod = Board of Directors; CAC = Colorado Agricultural College; CCC = Colorado Conservation; CFA = Colorado Forestry Association/Colorado State Forestry Association Commission; CFWC = Colorado Federation of Women's Clubs; HB = House Bill; HR = House Resolution; nc = newspaper clipping; pc = post card; re = regarding (relating to); RMNP = Rocky Mountain National Park; S = Senate Bill; SBA = State Board of Agriculture; td = typed document; tds = typed document signed; tl = typed letter; tls = typed letter signed; USDA = United States Department of Agriculture; USFS = United States Forest Service; WS = William G. M. Stone.

Guide to the Records of the Colorado State Forestry Association
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Monte G. Kniffen; Revised by Linda M. Meyer
Copyright 2005
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA