National Parks & Forests:
San Bernardino National Forest
Welcome to San Bernardino National Forest
The wild lands of the San Bernardino Mountain Range were designated a National Forest more than a
hundred years ago. The Forest Reserve Act was passed in 1891, giving the president authority to “set apart and
reserve, in any state or territory having public land bearing forests . . . as public reservations.”
From this act was born the San Bernardino Forest Reserve, which
became the San Bernardino National Forest in 1907. The San Bernardino National Forest as public
land was set aside for the conservation of natural resources such as trees, water, minerals, livestock
range, recreation, and
wildlife. Originally, the forest was home
to Native Americans, since long before recorded history. Mexican
and European settlements occurred sporadically for the first half of
the 19th century, but the chain of events that led to the creation of
the National Forest in 1893 really began after California became part
of the United States in 1848 (it had been part of Mexico since 1822).
was discovered in the San Bernardino Mountains. Over the second half of the
19th century, mining, timber, and grazing grew quickly, taking a heavy toll on the land. By the end of the 19th
century, significant sectors of the forest had been felled
and overgrazed. Streams and rivers were silting in and
water quality was declining. Meanwhile a growing population and a thriving citrus industry made increasing
demands for clean drinking and irrigation water.
Protecting the Resources
A pioneering populace, who had conquered what seemed
like an endless frontier, began to realize that it now must
manage the land much more thoughtfully. A Board of
Forestry report in 1886 found that “the necessity of the
hour is an intelligent supervision of the forest and brush
lands of California, with a view to their preservation.”
Five years later the Forest Reserve Act made this preservation possible.
Today the San Bernardino National Forest is comprised
of several departments and three Ranger Districts spanning 676,666 acres in San Bernardino and Riverside
counties. Our Forest has Fire, Police, Planning and Permits, Recreation, and a Roads department just like a city,
county or state government. In addition we have a scientific arm that deals with issues relating to cultural, water,
soil, wildlife, plants and trees.
The employees of the San Bernardino National Forest are
tasked with protecting a huge area with a rich diversity
of geographical features, flora and fauna. The elevations
on the forest range from a few thousand feet to 11,501
feet at Mount San Gorgonio, the highest peak in Southern California. This large elevation range creates a wide
variety of habitats in which plants and animals thrive.
Indeed the San Bernardino National Forest is one of the
most diverse in the country when it comes to types of
plants and animals - everything from
evergreen forest to alpine tundra can be found here,
within a very short distance of one another. Wildlife such
as the black bear,
inhabit the Forest while the bald eagle, peregrine falcon,
soar in the wind.
An All Season Playground
Today, the San Bernardino National Forest serves as
southern California’s outdoor year-around recreation
destination. Annually the forest receives more visitors
or Yellowstone National Parks!
Even with high visitation, fortunately there are still many
places to find solitude if that is what you seek. There are
many ways to discover the Forest. Drive the scenic Rim
of the World or Palms to Pines Scenic Byways which afford tremendous views. Hike a short nature trail or plan
an extended backpacking trip in one of our eight wilderness areas. Camping, wildlife viewing, horseback riding,
mountain biking, fishing, hunting, and
OHV riding are just a sampling of the activities that the forest provides.
And, remember, the fun doesn’t stop in the winter! The
forest is the location of three downhill ski resorts, or you
can try out cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just
having an old-fashioned snow ball fight.
Champion Lodgepole Pine
Keller Peak Lookout
Lake Arrowhead Area
Big Bear Lake Area
Deep Creek & the Mojave River
Lakes of the Mountains
Postcard tour of the lakes, including Big Bear, Arrowhead, Green Valley and more
Green Valley Lake,
Big Bear Lake,
Index of pages and articles relating to the Holcomb Valley.