Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/316

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310
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
THE ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE OF FORESTRY.
By OVERTON W. PRICE,
BUREAU OF FORESTRY.

EXPERIMENT has already demonstrated the value of practical forestry as a sound business measure. The general application of conservative methods in the handling of public and private forest lands in this country is no longer a remote possibility. Ten years ago, the prevailing attitude towards forestry was one skeptical of its practical advantages. To-day the lumbermen, at one time the strongest opponents of the movement towards conservative forest management, are its staunchest advocates.

Although the application of practical forestry already exerts marked local influence, it is not yet sufficiently extended to form an important factor in our national economy. The time is not far distant, however, when its more general adoption will be felt in all industries dependent upon the forest. Forestry alone can perpetuate lumbering, and the fullest development of the mining industry rests largely upon it. Irrigation, and therefore agriculture upon irrigated lands, can be permanent only through forest preservation.

Mr. Henry Gannett gives the value of the products of the lumber industry for 1900 as about $567,000,000, and $611,000,000 as the invested capital. There were employed, exclusive of those working in dependent logging camps, about 400,000 persons, who received during the year a total of $140,000,000 in wages. Estimating conservatively, the lumber industry gave support in 1900 to 2,000,000 persons, while the number engaged in dependent trades, to whom it indirectly afforded a means of livelihood, was many times greater.

The geographical movement of the lumber industry is significant of a rapidly waning supply of merchantable timber. Fifty years ago, the northeastern states contributed more than one half the total lumber product of the country. They now furnish less than one sixth. In 1880 the Lake states produced one third of the supply, which has already sunk to about one fourth. In the southern and Pacific states, on the other hand, there has been a steady increase in production. These facts show that in the two geographical divisions nearest to the great centers of population, the available supply of timber is rapidly nearing exhaustion. The southern and the Pacific states, therefore, already yielding nearly forty per cent, of the total lumber product, will soon become the chief sources of supply.