The first decades of the 20th century witnessed a race between the gathering momentum of protection and the ongoing destructive forces. By the 1930s, most areas had been either acquired as public lands or logged. Logging companies were experiencing difficulty accessing merchantable trees and started closing operations. Many of these operations moved to the Pacific North-west (Wear and Greis, 2002). Acquisition of national forest lands continued with the addition of these already logged lands. Although accessible areas were extensively logged during this period, significant areas were spared. Recent surveys (Yost et al, 1994; Messick, 2000) demonstrate that significant old growth survived this period, mainly in inaccessible areas where logging operations were unprofitable or unfeasible or in areas that were acquired before logging operations reached them. In the decades following the 1930s came a

period of recovery. The lack of mature, marketable timber, along with an operating mandate within the US Forest Service to promote the recovery of the southern Appalachian forests, combined to halt the commercial-scale logging and begin a period of recovery. But after World War II, the process of recovery was interrupted. The post-war economic boom spurred a demand for timber just as many trees on national forest lands were approaching commercial maturity. These forces triggered another cycle of heavy logging from the 1950s until the early 1980s. By that time, environmental and conservation

groups had formed, in response to a variety of environmental challenges, and these new NGOs worked to suppress this increase in logging. At the same time, the wilderness protection effort was gaining momentum. The US Wilderness Act, which established the nation’s Wilderness Preservation System, became law in 1964. At first, the Forest Service refused to consider areas in the eastern US for wilderness recommendations, insisting that previous logging and other uses had ‘disqualified’ all eastern forest candidates (Frome, 1989). Then the Eastern Wilderness Areas Act of 1975 confirmed the legitimacy of wilderness designation in the eastern US, and several wilderness areas were designated within the southern Appalachians. New areas have since been added to

the wilderness preservation system in the region, amounting to 202,343ha or 9 per cent of its national forest ownership; an additional 32,375ha of wilderness have been designated in national parks and a majority of the 211,000ha Great Smoky Mountains National Park is managed as wilderness. Other legislative categories, including national recreation area and national scenic area, have been applied to sections of national forest in the southern Appalachians.