Learn about the International Forest of Friendship

Monday, June 22, 2015

The International Forest of Friendship is a living memorial to the world history of aviation and aerospace. It was a gift to the United States on its 200th birthday in 1976 from the city of Atchinson, Kansas, the International Organization of Women Pilots, and the Kansas Forest Service.

The Forest overlooks Lake Warnock on the outskirts of Atchison. It is made up of trees from all 50 states and 35 countries around the world. Memory Lane honors those who have, and still are, contributing to aviation and aerospace.

The 2015 theme at the International Forest of Friendship Celebration was Forests and Flying, honoring foresters who are smokejumpers, pilots, operators of fire tankers, and more. Kansas State Forester Larry Biles is pleased "that the IFOF is representing the importance of aviation to forestry.”  Biles also appreciates the official recognition of IFOF by the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service.

Aviation has been vital in wildland fire management, operations, and research. Firefighting took to the air shortly after World War I as the Forest Service used aircraft to patrol for wildfires. Smokejumpers were used for the first time in 1940. In 1956, the first practical drops of water and chemicals onto wildfires began, and helicopters began to assist with firefighting in the 1950's. The Forest Service Fire and Aviation Management Program continues to work to control wildfires and conduct research and management programs. 

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Linsey Stauffer is the Policy and Communications Intern