Missoula is home to the US Forest Service Northern Region. The Northern Region area encompasses over 25 million acres and includes 16 Congressionally designated Wilderness Areas, six National Wild and Scenic Rivers, the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, and more.
When President Theodore Roosevelt tapped Gifford Pinchot to lead the newly formed Forest Service in 1905, Pinchot began advocating for the importance of documenting the agency’s assets to help sway public opinion in favor of the “radical” approach to land management. Photography (back then) altered the way people apprehended the world; it literally introduced the West to the East.
For 37 years, the forester-artist, K.D. Swan, recorded the beauty and value of natural landscapes in Montana and surrounding states. By hiring people like Swan, the Forest Service ended up with a huge amount of images to document and convey the importance of these places, to enforce the idea that these are beautiful places that belong to the American public.
The Missoula International Airport is pleased to present a restrospective of K.D. Swan's photographs, "Splendid Was The Trail," and an award-winning documentary, "The World of K.D. Swan," about this important US Forest Service employee.
Photographs from USDA Forest Service
Documentary - The World of K.D. Swan