The Jason S. Elder U.S. Forest Service Diary is comprised of handwritten day-by-day accounts of Elder's work as the United States Forest Service (USFS) District Ranger for the Paisley District, a section of the Fremont National Forest in south central Oregon. The diary includes daily entries dating from December 1, 1908 to April 30, 1909. While often brief, they include descriptions of his activities, document his extensive interactions with USFS personnel and Paisley-area community members, and record weather conditions.
During the winter months, Elder's activities included generating and tracing maps of his district, overseeing and documenting timber sales, and managing land use permits. His entries also document travel to local communities and ranger stations, including an extended trip to the Silver Lake Ranger Station in February and March 1909, during which time he worked on the creation of a forest atlas.
In the early spring, Elder oversaw the beginning construction of a wagon road between the towns of Paisley and Bly, Oregon, conducted a homestead inspection, and performed maintenance on the Paisley Ranger District boundary. He also scouted land for a reservoir to be constructed in the Chewaucan Valley by the Portland Irrigation Company. Many of Elder's entries during the spring of 1909 address issues of livestock (cattle and horses) grazing on USFS land. During this time, Elder managed grazing permits, scouted forest land for trespassing livestock, served notices of trespass, and conducted herd counts. Elder also recorded numerous interactions with local ranchers, both positive and negative.
Of note, the first page of the diary indicates that the entries span the years 1909-1910, though dates on individual entries indicate a 1908-1909 span. It is believed that the 1908-1909 range is correct.