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UNCLE SAM'S ROMANCE WITH SCIENCE AND
Part III. The Forest.
BY FRANK VROOMAN.
́T HAS lately come to the notice of our wise men that a forest policy is not only a national need but a national necessity; that our forests not should but must be preserved; that the water supplies sheltered at their sources by the nation's
forest-covers are needed for the
vation of areas already under cultivation, and for the creation of new homes and farmsteads out of regions now parched to uselessness, must be protected and conserved. Public sentiment has drifted
tardily in the wake of the far-sighted, and Congress has kept in sight of public opinion so far that the appropriations for the Forest Service have been increased from $20,000 to $1,000,000 a year.
It has been said often and truly that the two most important new problems of the internal administration of the affairs of the United States are National Irrigation and National Forestry. The government has adopted a public-land policy toward the solution of these problems involving some of the fundamental, if not vital, conditions of our national welfare.
It is certain that a national forest policy is all that stands between us and the speedy destruction of whatever foundations of wood our national utilities and industries rest upon, and as well the sources of living waters for thirsty lands. The control and administration of the forest reserves, formerly under the direction of the Land Office, passed last June over to the newly-created Forest Service, the nucleus of which was the Bureau of Forestry of the Department
the Trust into the field of "coppers" and it is already preparing plans for copper development that will run into the millions. It is not improbable that "Amalgamated Copper" itself will soon fall into the rapacious maw of the whale-born Guggen
heims. If not, it will at least have a formidable rival in the Trust.
of Agriculture, whose personnel included men of the scientific training and experience necessary to render the people the largest utility and benefit the most lasting. With the coöperation of the President and the Secretary of Agriculture, Mr. Gifford Pinchot, National Forester, has, in making a national issue of the tree, begun a great movement, which, it is hoped, eventually will place the American forest beyond the ravages of the destructive anarchy of the "land-skinner."
The Forest Service has been familiar
izing itself with the entire public domain with reference to its highest measure of utility. This study is thorough and scientific, free alike from any guess-work or favoritism, and includes both general and specific problems of the forest and its products, the tree and its products, and every possible relation they sustain to the nation and to the individual. In short, it is concerned with every possible relation existing between civilization and the tree. It studies methods of treeplanting, growing and utilization; whatever can make every given wood last longer and produce more, and what can produce more of that wood and for a greater length of time. The Service not only seeks the introduction of practical and scientific forestry throughout every portion of Uncle Sam's public domain, but is enlarging the forests of that domain; and is introducing the same methods among the private owners of timber areas, large or small, by advice, by the distribution of literature, by the dissemination of scientific knowledge learned from original investigations, and in actual cooperation in the work. It is replanting operation in the work. denuded forest areas, starting new ones and conserving old ones. It is studying the problems of the small owners of 500,000,000 acres of wood-lots and showing
them not only how they can successfully practice forestry but compete with the holders of larger interests. It studies the tree in its relation to the drouth and to the flood; to the irrigation of arid lands and the encroachments of sand-dunes, as well as to the inundations of the freshet. It tells the man who owns timber-land how to get the most out of it; the farmer who has none what trees to plant and how. It shows the lumberman how to avoid waste and the millman how to save, and this because of the imminent dangers of the failure of both the timber and, in places, the water-supply and the inconceivable and irreparable loss to the nation which would ensue.
The two great outlines, however, which embrace the incomparably useful and necessary, even vital, contributions of the Forest Service to the nation are: first, that it has made possible the perpetuation of the utilities and industries and comforts in our land dependent upon wood; second, it has secured for the people a great area of forest reserve and water supply and is securing more. These reThese reserve areas have already been more than doubled during Mr. Pinchot's régime in the addition of 44,000,000 acres, or exactly 687,500 square miles; or an area nearly the size of Nebraska, or twice the total forest-area of France, which is eighteen per cent. of her total land-area; or thirty-six per cent. the total area of France. Mr. Pinchot has labored incessantly and sympathetically to teach the lumberman that there is no future to his business if there is no future to the tree. And here
emerges one of the most valuable phases of his work in the conversion, at least to some degree, of the reckless and selfseeking and destructive methods of the lumber interests to more or less an atti
tude of support of the government policy. Heretofore forest fires have been aiding the conflagrations of the feverish greed of irresponsible and devil-may-care and after-us-the-deluge lumber and other private interests of the species "land-skinner." It is estimated that forest fires
destroy 10,000,000 acres of timber-land every year. Leaving out of account the destruction of human life, this represents a great annual loss in money-value, and a secondary loss to the water-supply.
This is a tremendous addition to the waste of the reckless lumberman, and can only be mitigated by a government patrol.
While not much has been attempted to make of the lumber interests a charity organization society, they have been brought to see that the future of their business lies in the future of the tree, and that they must fall in line with the federal forest policy or go out of business for want of one.
The forests of the United States are not yet safe from destructive lumbering. But methods of conservative lumbering, which use the product of the forest without impairing its future productive power, have been demonstrated as constituting a business proposition, especially as to the protection of the young timber. This is perhaps one of the most practical and most splendid achievements of the Forest Service, for in this fact lie varied possibilities of future development of an industry that was strangling the goose that laid the golden eggs. And this is wholly the result of the work of the Forest Service and of the President of the United States.
No clearer note in the national forest policy has ever been struck than that in the words of President Roosevelt at the opening of the American Forest Conference in Washington, January 2, 1905:
"I ask with all the intensity that I am capable of that the men of the West will remember the sharp distinction I have just drawn between the man who 'skins' the land and the man who develops the country. I am going to work with and only with the man who develops the country. I am against the 'land-skinner' every time. Our policy is consistent to give to every portion of the public domain its highest possible amount of use."
These words outline the policy of this government toward the remaining public
domain. The President is determined that what is left shall at least not be the loot of spoilsmen, but that whenever the ground can be tilled, there shall be a home and that the public-lands shall have their forest cover protected.
The creation of forest reserves is a part of the public-land policy of the United States government and aims at the prevention of the waste of any of its resources and the best permanent use of all the land by all the people.
A single illustration from the multitude of economies instituted by this Service may be taken from the turpentining interests. The unbroken forest of longleaf pine which once extended through the Southern states, practically from the Atlantic seaboard to Texas, had been so far exhausted that expert estimates gave the industry but fifteen years more to live. More than half of the original forest had been exhausted and much of the rest depleted from reckless and wasteful methods. The service has introduced Dr. Charles H. Herty's "cup"-sytem, instead of the old destructive box-system, prolonging the life of the naval-store industry, which was threatened with immediate extinction. The "Herty" system produces not only higher-grade rosins than were possible to the other, but it increases the turpentine output by about forty per cent. At a cost of about $14,000 all told, the Forest Service has in this one item added $7,000,000 a year to the naval-stores products. But more important than this is the fact that it has not only saved the turpentine industry, but the turpentine forests from annihilation.
The Service has undertaken, as one phase of its task, the solution of the problem of floods in rivers. For instance: The Kansas river floods of 1903 destroyed $20,000,000 worth of property and one hundred lives. One of the most fertile valleys on the continent, one hundred and twenty miles long, was partly destroyed. Here the rich soil was cut away; there it was covered with sand six and eight feet deep over the field; holes were
cut out and lakes left behind. Out of 250,000 acres of wonderfully fertile soil, ten thousand were completely destroyed; ten thousand more lost fifty per cent. of their value; and the uncertainty left behind depreciated the value of the whole valley.
The Forest Service has devised systems. of tree-planting for the river banks, the sand-covered and deeply eroded lands. The object of the first is to prevent washing of the banks, to protect the whole area from the full force of the floods and in time of overflow to check the tendency to cut new channels. The last two systems are for ultimately reclaiming the now destroyed lands and making them productive. The useless sand-lands will grow cottonwood and reclaim the land for crops. A most interesting discovery was made after the flood. Where the protected growth of cottonwood which had not been cut away checked the rush of flood-waters, the land beyond was generally covered not with sand but silt, and is often more fertile than before. With extensive planting of trees another flood would bring back, instead of further desolation, a return of fertility to much of the land now barren.
There are practically but three classes of land left out of all the great North American forest and pampas, so short a time since the roaming-place of bison and Indian. These at present are all unsuitable to agriculture and mostly to human habitation. There is first the desert-land that can be reclaimed by water. There is the desert-land apparently forever irreclaimable for want of water. There are also the mountainous areas not amenable to agriculture. There is little hope of future utility in the land that lies in hopeless thirst. But between the other two classes of land there is close relationship-between the wooded mountain and the desert plain. High up in the forested cañons nature has built her great sponge-reservoirs and her dams of moss and fern. Above these yet the ice and snow. Here open thousands of tiny
sluiceways for the oozing waters that have been let loose from melting sun and falling rain. Soaking deep the sluggish and reluctant waters flow from their cool retreats down into the brooks-those into the larger streams whose replenished banks guide them from their natural . reservoirs into the plain. How different the cañons and gullies of the treeless and arid regions, scenes of alternating forms of desolation. When it does rain, which is not often, a thousand streams pour like water off a tin-roof, to expand below into an inundation in an hour; to sweep swift destruction through the valley; to subside at once into a blister on the plains; to parch there like the forsaken victim of illicit love.
"All at once and all over with a mighty uproar, And this way the water comes down at Ladore." A striking comparison of the types of water-supply was given by J. B. Lippincott, Supervising Engineer of the United States Reclamation Service, at the Forestry Congress, in Washington, last January. He says that Queen creek, Arithat Queen creek, Arizona, discharges through a barren, treeless drainage basin of one hundred and forty-three square miles, in violent freshets and flood-waves, subsiding almost as rapidly as they arise. During most of the year the channel is dry.
In contrast is Cedar creek, Washington, with the same drainage area. It is heavily timbered and in addition the ground is covered with a heavy growth of ferns and moss. The total annual rainfall in Washington creek in 1896 was eight times that of the Arizona creek, yet the maximum flood-discharge per second is only 3,600 cubic feet for the former, while that of the latter was 9,000 cubic feet per second. The mean discharge from the Arizona creek was fifteen cubic feet per second; that of the other, 1,089 cubic feet per second. He adds that the radical difference in their character is believed to be largely due to the difference in forest cover.
A fair question to ask, in estimating the value of any service, public or private,
is: "How would it have been with us otherwise?" What the country was without the Reclamation Service we have seen who knew the arid West years ago. What American agriculture would have been without national interference, one could imagine who knows what farming was a generation ago. What the land would have been without a National Forest policy the average man can not imagine at all.
It is impossible to exaggerate the seriousness of the menace to the business interests of the country in the possible failure of the lumber supply. Every human interest from agriculture, transportation, building, manufacture, commerce, on the land, to the sailing-vessel on the sea with her cargo of wooden nutmegs, is directly and vitally affected by the forest sources of the wood-supply at living prices.
We have not been accustomed to think of the wood industry as much an indispensable basis of our industries as iron. We have looked upon agriculture and iron as our two most important economic cornerstones. But our cities and our shipyards use more wood now than ever before the day of steamboats or steelgirders.
My attention has been called by Mr. Smith, Chief of the Editorial Division of the Forest Service, that while the census shows an annual output from the logging-camps of only about one-half of the iron-mines of three hundred and seventy millions, that this takes no account of the vast amount of timber not for the general market but for local consumption-worth probably in the aggregate at least as much more. Moreover, as we use iron we use it up. So it once was with the forest. Fresh supplies of lumber were available only in new territory. First the Northeast, then the Lake States, then the South were swept clean of any great reserve. Only the Northern Pacific coast was left. Soon this would have been gone under the awful warfare with which these private interests have
vandalized the future. No one who has read the history of the Forest Service, and, as well, that of the "land-skinner," can hesitate long as to whether "state interference," or laissez-faire-to use the larger meaning of the term-is the better politics, and as to whether competitive anarchy or patriotic nationality is the better guiding principle in public affairs. It is pretty certain that, but for a national forest policy, and that with the nation behind it, the greed of the "landskinner" would soon have laid bare our Western States as it has stripped the Eastern and Middle States, and deprived the arid region of the West of a stable water-supply.
Every true American has felt the elemental sorrow of Leatherstocking, driven to the Far West because the sound of the woodsman's axe which had driven him from his forest home, still in the clearings, hurt his ears; and a lonely old man with his silent laugh and his silent grief, sorrow-stricken still in the far prairie at the sound of a falling tree. There is real tragedy here. This is a common feeling. But this sentiment has never been organized. The financial interests opposed have been organized. This has been a necessity, for sentiment still rules the world. A growing national sentiment is behind the whole work of the
A national sentiment is not a national sentimentalismus. The pioneers of forestry, in creed or deed, have entertained no economic grief that the dryads are dead or that the wan shapes of the hamadryads are wandering like lost ghosts among the ragged and unroofed stumps.
of so many a deserted waste; we entertain a sentiment a patriotism-a religion-for the restoration of the beauty, the utility and the dignity of the land. But for the forest, which was the glory of the nation's youth, what would our land have been to-day? What would it have been to-morrow? Surely another domain. It furnished the settler and pioneer their meat and drink. It gave them the roofs over their homeless heads. It furnished the fortress to protect them from the arrow of a treacherous foe. The life of the nation's youth was nurtured in the forest. And more or less in every home on the continent to-day some forestproduct furnishes shelter.
When those now middle-aged were children and went to school, and when Friday afternoon came and it was their turn to "speak," how many of us have idly drawled the hackneyed words:
"Woodman spare that tree;
The United States of America facing to-day the practical destruction and possible annihilation of its mighty forest areas; recovering from its bewilderment, in turning from the past, with the illimitface the waste and desolation of a few able forest line set against its horizon, to achieved a new meaning for words which more years of annihilating anarchy, has might sum up a growing national sentiment toward what is left of forest primeval:
"In youth it sheltered me