The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Forestry in the United States
|←Forestry Associations||The Encyclopedia Americana
Forestry in the United States
|Edition of 1920. See also Forestry on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.|
FORESTRY IN THE UNITED STATES. The purpose of forestry is to secure the perpetuation and at the same time the full use and benefit of the forest. Forestry seeks to serve the people by making the highest and most profitable use of large areas of land not well suited to agriculture by conserving the water supply, and by fostering the economical production of wood commodities. The direct benefits to be secured from the practice of forestry are chiefly a continuous supply of wood for all its various uses and the even distribution of the water supply through protection of the watersheds. Conditions peculiar to the western part of the United States have made it necessary for government forest work to deal also with a very important use of the forest not directly pertaining to forestry, namely, the grazing of livestock on the national forests.
Forest Regions.— The problems of forestry and the methods employed in solving them are to a large extent of the forests themselves. The forests of the United States cover approximately 550,000,000 acres, or about 29 per cent of the total land surface. There are five great forest regions, three stretching from the Atlantic seaboard to the Great Plains, which are destitute of timber except along the margins of the streams and on occasional elevations, and two west of the Great Plains. (a) The Northern Pine Forest extends from western Minnesota eastward to the Atlantic Ocean and from Canada southward to northern Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and New Jersey. From northern Ohio and New Jersey there is a gradually narrowing extension along the ridges of the Appalachian Mountains, taking in nearly all of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, western Maryland and western Virginia, and reaching as far south as northern Georgia. The characteristic tree of this forest is the white pine (Pinus strobus, Linn.).
White pine is a tree of the first commercial importance; and of all the trees of North America, it best combines the qualities of utility, rapid growth, heavy yield, and ease of management. Its former abundance and the cheapness and varied usefulness of its lumber made it an important factor in the development of the States in which it grows. After an enormous exploitation the original forests are now approaching exhaustion. The most rapid reduction has taken place in its western and more important centre of distribution; but the greatest bodies of white pine in the country are still to be found in the northern portion of the Lake States. The cut of white pine reached its maximum in 1890, when the production in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota amounted to 8,597,623,000 board feet. In 1900 the cut in these States had fallen to 5,419,333,000. In 1913, the total cut of white pine in the United States was 2,568,636,000 board feet. The reduction in cut has been accompanied by a marked fall in the quality of the lumber; and the large-size, high-grade white pine lumber, once abundant on the market, has become scarce and expensive. The demand for low-grade white pine lumber has made it possible, from a business standpoint, to cut and market second-growth timber when comparatively small and young. For many years the pine output of the northeastern States has consisted almost wholly of second growth. Had fires not been allowed to run repeatedly over the slash left in logging the original stand, a large part of northern Michigan and other noted white pine regions would probably now be covered with second growth, much of it of merchantable value.
Since the partial destruction of white pine in the eastern States, red spruce (Picea rubens, Sarg.) has become the principal commercial tree of this region. It grows usually in mixture with hardwoods, such as beech, birch, and maple. At high altitudes, however, there occur comparatively pure red spruce and balsam fir stands. The amount of spruce lumber sawed in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, and West Virginia in 1914 was 781,292,000 board feet, a large proportion of which was red spruce. Spruce is now cut principally for paper pulp; and the production of spruce pulpwood in the United States in 1911 amounted to 1,612,355 cords. This includes all the other varieties of spruce as well as red spruce. The cut of balsam fir lumber in the United States in 1914 was 125,212,000 board feet, more than half of the total being produced in Maine. Balsam fir has nearly always been cut to some extent along with spruce for pulpwood; and in 1911, the consumption of 191,779 cords of balsam fir pulpwood was reported. (b) The Southern Pine Forest has its northern extremity in southern New Jersey and thence widens out southward and westward until it reaches the Gulf of Mexico and the open country in Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Its principal trees are longleaf pine (Pinus palustris, Mill), shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata, Mill), loblolly pine (Pinus tæda, Linn.), and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum, Linn.). The hardwoods of this region are chiefly the oaks, hickories, and gums. Longleaf pine is especially valuable as structural timber, and for this purpose is one of the most important trees in the world. The southern pines (known collectively in the lumber trade as southern yellow pine) supply a large proportion of the lumber cut of the United States. Out of a total of 37,346,023,000 board feet in 1914, southern yellow pine supplied 14,472,804,000 board feet. The southern pines, especially longleaf, also supply a large amount of turpentine and resin. In 1909 the value of these products amounted to $25,295,017. The bald cypress is a swamp tree of great commercial importance, especially for purposes requiring clear, durable, and easily worked lumber. The cut of cypress in 1914 was 1,013,013,000 board feet. (c) The Central Hardwood Forest occupies the territory between the southern and northern pine forests and stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the treeless plains west of the Mississippi River. It is the only region in the United States in which the hardwoods predominate over the conifers. The principal trees are the oaks, hickories, ashes, chestnut, and yellow poplar. Many hardwoods are also to be found in the northern and southern pine forests, and much hardwood lumber is produced in the pine regions. The Central Hardwood Forest does not differ greatly in composition from the neighboring pine forests except in the comparative absence of the conifers. The hardwood lumber cut in the United States in 1914 was as follows: Oak, 3,278,908,000; maple, 909,743,000; red gum, 675,380,000: chestnut, 540,591,000; yellow poplar, 519,221,000; birch 430,667,000; beech, 376,464,000; basswood, 264,656,000; elm, 214,294,000; cottonwood, 195,198,000; ash, 189,499,000; tupelo, 124,480,000; hickory, 116,113,000; walnut, 25,573,000; sycamore, 22,773,000. (d) The Rocky Mountain Forest extends along the Rocky Mountains from Idaho and Montana through Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado to Arizona and New Mexico. It is sub-arid in character and occupies more or less isolated mountain masses, separated from each other by grazing lands, deserts, or cultivable valleys, and from the Pacific Coast forest by desert areas. This forest is almost entirely coniferous, the principal species being western yellow pine (Pinus ponderosa, Laws.), Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmanni, Engelm.), lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta, Loud.), and Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga taxifolia, Lam. Brit.). In 1914 the lumber cut of western yellow pine was 1,327,365,000 board feet; and the cut of lodgepole pine, 18,374,000 board feet. On account of the semi-arid character of the region, this forest is of great value as a conserver of water; for all the vast irrigation projects situated nearby depend for their success upon the flow of water from the forested slopes of the mountains. It is in this forest that the summer range for grazing livestock is most important, the whole stock raising industry of the region depending largely for its summer feed on the ranges near or within the forests. (e) The Pacific Coast Forest occupies Washington, Oregon, and the northern half of California. The merchantable species are, with slight exception, conifers. The forest is characterized by the large size of the trees and the tremendous masses of timber it contains. The chief species are Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga taxifolia, Lam. Brit.), bigtree (Sequoia washingtoniana, Winsl. Sud.), sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana, Dougl.), western yellow pine (Pinus ponderosa, Laws.), western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla, Raf. Sarg.), giant arborvitæ (Thuja plicata, Don.), and Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis, Bong., Trauty, and Mayer). The forest of the California Sierras, characterized by the bigtree, the sugar pine, and numerous magnificent firs, is one of the most beautiful in the world. In 1914 the total lumber cut of Douglas fir was 4,763,693,000 board feet; of redwood, 535,199,000 feet; and of sugar pine, 136,159,000 feet.
Distribution of Stand.— The estimated total stand of timber in the United States is 2,800 billion board feet. Over one-fourth of this is located in the Pacific Northwest, in the States of Washington and Oregon. The adjoining region on the east in Idaho and Montana, known as the Inland Empire, contains a little over one-eighth and the State of California a little less than one-eighth of the standing timber of the country. Altogether, the Pacific and northwestern States contain over half the country's timber. About half the remainder is to be found in the southern pine States. Smaller portions, approximating one-twelfth and one-twenty-fifth of the total stand, are found in the northeastern and Lake States, respectively. The remainder is scattered.
The principal species composing this stand are: Douglas fir, found principally in Washington and Oregon, constituting a little over one-fourth the total; southern yellow pine (in reality consisting of shortleaf, longleaf, loblolly, and other pines, but usually sold and spoken of as “southern yellow pine”), found principally in the Gulf and South Atlantic States, aggregating about one-seventh of the total; and western yellow pine, found principally in the Pacific and southwestern States, about one-eighth of the total. No other softwood composes such a large proportion of the total stand as any of these, the next largest — spruce, which grows principally in the northeastern States and on the high mountain ranges of the West — comprising less than one-twentieth of the total stand. Although forming comparatively small portions of the country's total supply, other species such as redwood and sugar pine in California, western hemlock, western cedar, and spruce in Washington and Oregon, white pine in Minnesota and eastern hemlock in the Lake and northeastern States, compose a large portion of the local stands and are of importance in the regions where they are found. The hardwood species grow in the eastern half of the country, principally in the northern part, but constitute also a considerable proportion of the stand in the southern pine States. Altogether, they comprise about one-fifth of the total stand of the country.
The Forests of Alaska.— The southeast coast forests of Alaska, which occur along the streams and lower slopes of the mountains, are composed of large merchantable trees. The principal species are western hemlock, Sitka spruce, yellow cedar (Chamæcyparis nootkatensis, Lamb., Spach.), and giant arborvitæ. The vast interior forests contain chiefly small trees valuable for mining timbers, and are much injured by severe forest fires. The principal species are white spruce (Picea canadensis, Mill., B. S. P.), black spruce (Picea mariana, Mill., B. S. P.), paper birch (Betula papyrifera, Marsh.), and aspen (Populus tremuloides, Michx.).
Forests of the Philippine Islands.— The Philippine Islands contain about 49,000,000 acres of wooded land with an estimated stand of 123 billion feet of merchantable timber. There are about 750 species of valuable woods on the islands of which 160 are marketable. The lowlands and lower mountain slopes are occupied by the broad leaved trees, of which the banyan tree, and the bamboo, coco, and other palms are characteristic species; and the higher slopes, by the conifers.
The Forests of Hawaii and Porto Rico.— The Hawaiian and Porto Rican forests are both tropical, the large proportion of tropical hardwoods and palm-like trees being their distinctive characteristic. They are rich in species and are of great importance as a source of wood supply to the local population. Their greatest value, however, is for the protection of the watersheds of the islands.
History of American Forestry.— The first forestry legislation in America consisted merely of protective measures designed to preserve a certain kind of wood, such as oak for shipbuilding, or large straight pine trees for masts, or ordinances whose chief purpose was to secure the proper use of the timber that was cut. In 1699 a royal surveyor of the woods for New England was appointed, but his duties seem to have been merely the protection of the property rights of the different colonists in the timber of the forests. William Penn endeavored to establish a forest policy in Pennsylvania by requiring those who settled on the land to agree to leave one acre in forest for every five acres cleared. This plan, however, was apparently not adhered to.
After the Revolution, the forest legislation was much the same as it had been in colonial times. In 1799, the Federal government set aside $200,000 to buy standing timber for the navy. The act appropriating this money contained a provision for the protection of the timber for future use, and was followed by other acts of the same nature, most of them applying especially to the preservation of the live oak, which was particularly valuable for shipbuilding.
These early measures were probably without effect on the general timber supply. In fact, the timber laws were disregarded for the most part, and little effort was made to enforce them for the reason that the supply of timber seemed inexhaustible. And, indeed, this was pretty nearly true so long as no progress was made beyond the primitive methods of lumbering then used and the petty scale on which operations were conducted. With the development of sawmill machinery and modern methods of lumbering and the extension of railways, however, the destruction of the forests took on a new aspect. The lumber industry increased in proportions so swiftly and the forest disappeared, under the saw and the fires that followed in the wake of careless lumbering, at so rapid a rate that thinking men were finally aroused to the danger of the possible failure of the country's timber supply unless measures could be taken to protect and renew the forests. In 1873, the committee on forestry of the American Association for the Advancement of Science memorialized Congress on the subject and recommended the appointment of a commission of forestry.
Government Forest Work.— In 1876, an agency was established in the United States Department of Agriculture for the study of forest conditions in the United States, the consumption of wood, the probable future supply of timber, etc. This agency was held by Dr. Emerson B. Hough. In 1881, the agency became the Division of Forestry. In 1886, a professional forester, Dr. B. E. Fernow, was placed in charge; technical investigations were begun; and the results were published in bulletin and circular form, so that they became available to all who were interested in forestry. For a long time the Division of Forestry received an annual appropriation of less than $30,000, so that its activity was much restricted by lack of money. The field of work gradually expanded, however, and the division grew (1901) into the Bureau of Forestry, and finally into the Forest Service (1905) with an appropriation for the fiscal year 1915 of $6,007,461.24, of which about $4,750,000 was spent for the administration and protection of the National Forests.
National Forests.— In 1891, Congress authorized the President to set aside forest reserves, as National Forests were then called, in order to protect the remaining timber on the public domain from destruction and to ensure a regular flow of water in the streams. The first one — Yellowstone Park Timberland Reserve — was created by President Harrison that same year, and placed under the administration of the Land Office of the Department of the Interior.
Government administration of the reserves soon made apparent the necessity for scientific forestry. It was the duty of the Secretary of the Interior to prescribe regulations which would ensure the fulfilment of the objects aimed at in creating the reserves. Timber cutting must not destroy the forests, but must provide for the growing of a new timber crop. Grazing had grossly abused the range; it was necessary to devise methods for increasing the forage. Both timber use and grazing use must be so managed that water supplies would be maintained and bettered. All the resources of the forests needed to be given careful consideration and plans devised for their best development. Without such plans, little of the value of the forests could be made available to the people. Technical problems were involved which the officials of the Interior Department felt to be outside their province. They therefore at first requested the aid of the experts of the Department of Agriculture as advisers, and soon recommended the transfer of administration of the reserves to the latter department.
This transfer took place in 1905 and the Forest Service was put in charge of the work. The following year the name Forest Reserves was changed to National Forests, to indicate that their resources were not locked up as “reserves” for a distant future. In administering the National Forests the first aim of the Forest Service has been to protect their resources so that they will always be there to use, and at the same time to see to it that as many of the people as possible have an equal chance to use them.
There are now 152 National Forests with an area of about 155,407,920 acres, including the Alaska and Porto Rico forests. Within the forest boundaries are also some 21,179,035 acres in private ownership, consisting of lands granted or taken up for one purpose or another before the forests were created or of homestead entries made since.
Since the first establishment of the national forests the government has been carrying on a systematic stock-taking as the basis, from one standpoint, for systematic and regulated management. An immense area has already been covered, and the Forest Service will ultimately be in possession of fairly complete information regarding the amount of timber of various kinds on the forests and the conditions in each case which are important as having some bearing on the best method of utilization.
Ripe timber on the forests, of which there is a large amount, is sold at a fair price to the highest bidder. Anybody may purchase timber, but no one can obtain a monopoly of it or hold it for speculative purposes. The government is anxious to sell the mature timber on the forests because it is no longer growing at a profitable rate and should give way to young trees and seedlings. As few restrictions as possible are imposed upon purchasers of timber, only such as will ensure cut-over areas being left in the best condition for future growth. Experienced woodsmen estimate the quantity and quality of National Forest timber and its approximate value, as a basis for the price to be charged. In fixing this, all factors which affect the cost of lumbering, such as accessibility, number, and kind of improvements necessary, etc., as well as general market conditions, are taken into account. The prices asked allow the purchaser of National Forest timber opportunity for a fair profit. Attractive logging chances are made known to the public; and full information regarding them and the conditions of sale are given to inquirers.
The trees to be cut on a sale area are marked in advance by forest officers, the object being to make provision for a second crop of timber on the same land, unless the land is more valuable for agriculture. The method of cutting is always determined by technically trained foresters and in conformity with silvicultural principles; but the practical difficulties attendant on each operation arc given full consideration. The system under which any particular forest is managed and under which the cuttings are done depends chiefly on the character of the timber and the main purpose for which the forest is managed. Timber on the watersheds of streams is never cut enough to impair the protective cover that the forest affords; for one of the chief objects of the National Forests is to regulate streamflow. Where the main purpose of the forest is timber supply, the system of cutting depends chiefly on the species present; and concessions made to the practical difficulties of the moment are equivalent in most cases to adopting a deferred cutting plan, by which ideal conditions for reproduction not secured at once will be made possible at the next cutting. In Douglas fir stands it is usually possible to secure more nearly ideal conditions for reproduction after a cutting operation than in the other types of virgin forest. The usual method with Douglas fir on the National Forests is to leave groups, strips, or single seed trees to reproduce the forest; the rest of the merchantable timber is cut clear. In western yellow pine and sugar pine stands, what might be called improvement cutting is usually practised; large, over-mature, and defective timber is cut and the medium-sized, thrifty, and younger classes are left. Where there is not enough young timber, the selection system is used in order to secure sufficient seed trees. In the mixed Douglas fir and larch stands of northern Montana and Idaho, a selection system is used, the large timber and all inferior timber being cut generally. Here, operations conducted to secure sawtimber amount to improvement cuttings. Operations producing hewn cross-ties and making use of smaller timber are permitted only where the conditions are such that no disadvantage can result. In the lodgepole pine stands, a selection system is used, but it is not the European selection system. In some stands, heavy thinnings and improvement cuttings are used; in others the straight improvement cutting is employed. In tie operations, the smaller sized timber is taken out only where no financial or silvicultural disadvantage is likely to result. As yet, spruce is cut comparatively little in the West because it is for the most part at too high altitudes. Where it occurs lower down it is taken out along with other species. In the National Forests of the East the general practice is to use improvement cuttings, both in the pine and oak of the Arkansas forests and in the hardwood and spruce of the Appalachians.
Small sales of timber are made by forest officers on the ground to avoid delay. Larger sales are made either by the supervisor of the forest, the district forester, or the forester, according to the amount desired. Small sales of timber for local use are encouraged. This is one of the ways in which the National Forests are made to serve the small lumberman and consumer. Though single sales have been made for as much as 800,000,000 board feet, over nine-tenths of the sales are for less than $100 worth of timber. Of the 10,905 timber sales made on the National Forests in the fiscal year 1915, 10,621 were of this latter kind. Homestead settlers and farmers may obtain National Forest timber for their own use at the actual cost of making the sale. No charge is made for the timber itself.
Sometimes natural regeneration of the forest fails and planting has to be resorted to. Furthermore, there are within the National Forests, and now bearing little or no tree growth, about 5,600,000 acres of land which are capable of producing valuable timber and are suitable for no other purpose. The Forest Service is planting these areas as rapidly as it can be done advantageously. Reforestation operations now cover from 12,000 to 15,000 acres yearly. Most of the land being reforested consists of old burns, where recurring fires have ruined the former forest. In selecting the sites for sowing and planting, preference is given to watersheds of streams supplying water for irrigation or municipal use, lands which will produce quick-growing and valuable trees, and regions where the supply of timber is not sufficient for local uses. Early attempts at reforestation often met with poor success; but after a great deal of experimenting, methods of collecting seeds, nursery practice, and methods of sowing the seed directly or planting seedlings or transplants raised in the government nurseries have been so improved that plantations are now established with good assurance of success. The best time for planting, the exposure most favorable to the species to be planted, and many other details which have an important bearing on the probable success of a plantation can now be determined with reasonable certainty. Eight experiment stations are maintained in the West, however, where investigations are being continued; and while denuded areas are being reforested in accordance with the principles already determined, new data are constantly being sought and the uncertainty that formerly attended planting operations is being done away with more and more.
Along with the timber on the National Forests, there is a great deal of pasture land, used at present by some 7,280,000 sheep and goats, and 1,725,000 cattle and horses every year, in addition to their natural increase. Local settlers and stockmen have the first right to the use of the range, and every man who grazes stock on the forests under permit is allotted a certain area for the grazing season. In this way unfair competition between the big man and the little man, which in the old days worked so much harm, is done away with. A good supply of forage year after year is ensured by not allowing the land to be overcrowded with stock. Under regulation the range is improved, instead of being overgrazed and denuded, as has been the case with many of the outside public lands.
Mineral deposits within National Forests are open to development exactly as on unreserved public land. The only restriction is that mining claims must be bona-fide ones and not taken up for the purpose of acquiring valuable timber, or a town or power site, or to monopolize the water supply on stock ranges. Prospectors may obtain a certain amount of National Forest timber free of charge to be used in developing their claims. More than 500 mineral claims were patented within the National Forests during the fiscal year 1915.
Along the streams within the National Forests are many sites suitable for power development. These are open to occupancy for such purposes and have the advantage of being on streams whose headwaters are protected. The government does not permit the monopolization of power in any region or allow power sites to be held without prompt development. Permits for power development on the National Forests usually run for a term of 50 years, and may be renewed at their expiration upon compliance with regulations then existing. Such permits, while granting liberal terms to applicants, contain ample provision for the protection of public interests.
The total receipts from the National Forests on account of timber sales, grazing fees, and special uses, during the fiscal years 1912, 1913, 1914, and 1915, were as follows: 1912, $2,157,356.57; 1913, $2,391,920.85; 1914, $2,437,710.21; 1915, $2,481,469.35.
It could not be expected, of course, that rugged, inaccessible mountain lands, such as constitute by far the greater part of the National Forests, would soon yield a revenue to the government over and above the cost of administration. Many of the forests are meant to supply the country's future needs, while others are chiefly valuable for watershed protection, which, though of the greatest importance to the people and industries of the country, does not yield the government a return in dollars and cents. In the case of almost every forest, moreover, a great deal of money must be spent for roads, trails, bridges, and telephone lines before the resources can be used. Nevertheless, 44 of the National Forests paid their local operating costs in 1914. Land more valuable for agriculture than for timber growing is excluded from the National Forests, so far as is possible, when the boundaries are drawn. Small tracts of land which cannot be thus excluded are opened to settlement under the Forest Homestead Act of 11 June 1906. Taken as a whole, however, the proportion of land within the forests more valuable for agriculture than for growing timber or other purposes is trifling. The greater part of the really valuable agricultural land within the forests has already been taken up, and most of what there is left has a severe climate and lies at high altitudes, often remote from roads, schools, villages, and markets. Therefore the chances offered the prospective settler in the immediate vicinity of the forests are far better than in the forests themselves.
Government Investigative and Co-operative Work.— Besides administering the National Forest, the Forest Service conducts a number of special investigations relating to the growth and management of forests and their utilization. It studies the characteristics and growth requirements of the principal tree species of the United States, in order to determine how different types of forests should be handled, and also the best methods of forest planting, both for the National Forests and for other parts of the country. At experiment stations maintained in connection with the National Forests, it investigates the scientific problems underlying the management of forests, and the relation of forests to streamflow and climate. It co-operates with the States in studying their forest conditions, with the object of developing forest policies adapted to their needs, and with private owners by furnishing advice concerning the best methods of managing and protecting their forest holdings. It also co-operates with States, under the terms of section 2 of the Weeks Law, in protecting from fire the forest cover on the watersheds of navigable streams.
One of the aims of forestry is to see that the products of the forest are put to their best use with the least waste. Through studies of wood uses the Forest Service aids the wood-consuming industries to find the most suitable raw material and to develop methods of utilizing their waste products. It also investigates methods of disposing of wood waste, collects statistics on the price of lumber at the mill and on the market, and studies lumber specifications and grading rules.
To carry out the idea still further, a forest products laboratory is maintained at Madison, Wis., in co-operation with the University of Wisconsin. Here, among other things, the physical, structural, and chemical properties of wood are studied. Studies are also made at the laboratory of seasoning and kiln-drying, preservative treatment, and the use of wood for the production of paper pulp, fibre board, etc., and in the manufacture of alcohol, turpentine, resin, tar, and other chemical products. Besides strictly forest investigations, the Service studies the life history and growth requirements of forage plants, in order that the National Forest ranges may be maintained in the best condition.
Forest Service Organization.— The work of the Forest Service is administered by the forester and associate forester, and is organized under the branches of operation, lands, silviculture, research, and grazing. A separate unit is charged with the acquisition of lands in the southern Appalachians and White Mountains under the Weeks Law. The branch of operation has general supervision of the personnel, quarters, equipment, and permanent improvement work on the National Forests. The branch of lands examines and classifies lands within the National Forests to determine their value for forest or other purposes, conducts all work necessary in connection with claims on the National Forests, and assists the chief engineer of the Service in all business connected with the use of National Forest lands for hydro-electric power purposes. The branch of silviculture supervises the planting, sale, and cutting of timber on the National Forests, and co-operates with States in protecting forest lands under section 2 of the Weeks Law. The branch of research has supervision over the investigative work of the Service, including silvicultural studies, studies of State forest conditions, investigations of the lumber and wood-using industries and lumber prices, and the work carried on at the forest products laboratory and the forest experiment stations. The branch of grazing supervises the grazing of livestock upon the national forests, allotting grazing privileges, and dividing the ranges between different owners and classes of stock. It is also charged with the work of improving depleted grazing areas and of co-operating with the Federal and State authorities in the enforcement of stock quarantine regulations.
Lands in the southern Appalachians and White Mountains are being purchased by the National Forest Reservation Commission, in accordance with the Act of 1 March 1911, commonly known as the Weeks Law, which provides for the acquisition of forest land on the watersheds of navigable streams. The Forest Service has been designated as the bureau to examine and value such lands as may be offered for purchase. Up to 1 July 1916, a total of 706,974 acres had been purchased and 578,753 acres in addition approved for purchase. These lands will be administered as National Forests.
In order to prevent delay and “redtape” in the administration of the National Forests, seven field districts, each containing approximately 26,000,000 acres of government forestland, have been established, with a district forester in charge of each. In each district office, assistant district foresters are in charge of operation, lands, silviculture, and grazing work in that district. Each National Forest (approximately 1,000,000 acres of forest land) is in charge of a forest supervisor, who is the general manager of his forest, planning the work and seeing that it is carried out. On forests where there is a particularly large volume of business the supervisor is assisted by a deputy. Every National Forest is divided into ranger districts (about 200,000 acres) with a district ranger in charge of each. Rangers perform the routine work involved in the supervision of timber sales, grazing, and free use and special use. They also help to build roads, trails, bridges, telephone lines, and other permanent improvements on the forests. For organization for fire protection on the National Forests see Forest Fires.
Forestry in the States.— There were many early laws on the statute books of various States aiming at fire protection or the encouragement of tree planting. Permanent State forestry work of importance was not begun, however, until 1885, when New York established a forest commission charged with the organization of a service under technically trained men to administer the State's forest reserve according to the principles of forestry. In the same year there were organized a Forestry Bureau in Ohio and a State Board of Forestry in California, and a forest commissioner was appointed in Colorado; after a brief period, however, and until they were reorganized, in Ohio and California in 1905 and in Colorado in 1911, all these were either discontinued or became inactive through lack of appropriations. In 1895 a commissioner of forestry was appointed in Pennsylvania. Except in New York and Pennsylvania the entrance of the States into the forestry field with permanent organization has been the direct outgrowth of the work of the National government. At the present time 32 of the States have forest departments, 24 employ professional foresters, and practically all have recognized the need of a State forest policy. The appropriations for the yearly support of State forestry departments vary from $500 to approximately $315,000. Some of the objects of State work have been to educate public sentiment regarding the value of State forest resources and the importance of their conservation, to give technical advice to private owners, to develop a systematic fire protective system, to provide planting stock for citizens, to secure the modification of tax systems so as to lessen the burdens of those who plant forests or otherwise endeavor to provide a permanent timber supply, and to establish State forests. The northeastern States have paid most attention apparently to the production of a new forest crop and have encouraged the practice of forestry by private owners to that end. Planting material has been provided, tax laws have been modified in several States, and technically trained foresters employed to give advice to applicants. Fire protection has also been supplied by State action, special attention being given to the protection of young growth. In the far West, the chief interest has been in protecting the vast supplies of mature timber from fire. Fire protection has had first place in the Lake States also, but here more attention is given to young timber than in the West. The South has been comparatively slow in adopting State forestry, though Maryland and North Carolina were among the first to have State foresters. The Weeks Law has greatly stimulated the organization of systematic State fire protective systems. Under this law the Federal government, through the Forest Service, co-operates with individual States in the protection of the watersheds of navigable streams. The Federal government contributes not more than half the cost (nor more than $8,000 in one year) of a State fire protective system established under this law. The government funds are used almost exclusively for the employment of lookouts and patrols. An area of about 13,000,000 acres is guarded at an average cost of about three-fourths of a cent an acre. Twenty-one States have entered into co-operative agreements with the government as follows: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Texas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. New York maintains a State Preserve of 1,825,882 acres in the Adirondack and Catskill mountains; Pennsylvania has more than 1,000,000 acres of State forest, chiefly in the mountains of the central part of the State; Minnesota has 43,000 acres now in State forests and approximately 1,000,000 acres of school lands which are to be made into State school forests; Wisconsin has a reserve of 400,000 acres; Michigan, 589,000 acres; South Dakota, 75,000 acres (in the Black Hills); New Jersey, 13,720 acres; and New Hampshire, Vermont, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Maryland, from 2,000 to 9,000 acres each. The New York “Forest Preserve” is protected from fire, but it is not under forest management because the State Constitution forbids timber cutting on the reservation. The whole central portion of the Adirondack and Catskill mountain regions is protected from fire by a State ranger system. In Pennsylvania the State forests are under forest management, and the State maintains a ranger school at Mont Alto. The following States distribute planting material: Pennsylvania, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Maryland, Kentucky, Ohio, Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Idaho. In New York citizens are furnished tree seedlings from the State nurseries at cost. Taxes on timbered land may be levied chiefly on yield in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
Towns, cities, and counties, as well as the States, have begun to take an interest in forestry. In many cases it amounts to no more than the employment of a municipal forester whose business is the planting and care of street, roadside, and park trees. A number of them, chiefly in the older and more thickly settled portions of the country, have acquired forested tracts which they now manage for the protection of the community reservoirs or some other local purpose. There are over 130,000 acres of such forests in the United States, in tracts varying in extent from 40 to 25,000 acres.
Forestry by Private Owners.— The first example of professional forest management in the United States was begun in 1891 on the Biltmore Estate of Mr. G. W. Vanderbilt of Asheville, N. C., in a mixed forest of pine and hardwoods. To be sure, a large number of private owners had exercised care in handling their timberlands prior to this date. In some cases it was merely protection from fire; in other cases there was a rather crude selection of the trees to be cut, or grazing was restricted, or attempts were made to protect the young growth in logging. The Biltmore Estate, however, w;as the first to be managed in accordance with the principles of forestry. The work done on the estate was in the nature of an experiment to determine whether the introduction of forestry was practicable under the conditions obtaining in the lumber trade in the United States. The area under management was increased from the original 3,600 acres to 130,000 acres. Even in the first year, the forest work paid for itself and has been conducted successfully ever since. Most of this forest land has now been purchased by the government and is to become part of the national forest areas being established in the East. In general, the private owner of timberland has confined his efforts to fire protection, which is usually accomplished by means of associations such as have already been mentioned and by co-operation with the State and Federal governments. A number of private owners have practiced forest management profitably, however, since the Biltmore experiment. Conspicuous among these are wood pulp and paper manufacturers, who largely own the forests from which they get their logs. Because of the large investment in their mills and the impossibility of moving them to where there are new supplies of timber, these men are in many cases taking care of the young growth and limiting the cut to what the forests grow each year, thus insuring a permanent sustained yield. Of course, they also guard against fire, for that is the prerequisite to any successful forest management. The practice of forestry by pulp and paper companies is largely localized in New England and the Adirondacks. On several tracts in New Hampshire, Michigan, and New York, and on the forest lands of the University of the South at Sewanee, Tenn., forest management for the production of salable timber has proved successful. Abandoned farms in New England are often planted in timber and allowed to grow up from seed supplied by neighboring forests and are protected from fire and cut in short rotation for various uses. Several railroads are managing their forest properties for the production of a sustained yield of crossties. Many lumber companies are now employing technically trained foresters as a part of their woods force. This does not mean, of course, that they practice forestry; but it does indicate that the value to the lumberman of a technical knowledge and training is recognized. A large number of farmers and other small woodlot owners are now taking an interest in the proper cutting, protection, and reproduction of their timber; and in some of the States a part of the duty of the State forester is to assist farmers in the management of their woodlots. In the eastern States and the central hardwood region the woodlots are especially important. In the southern pine region and in the Douglas fir region of the Pacific Northwest fire protection is receiving more and more attention. In both of these regions second-growth timber is now being cut. On the whole, the practice of forestry by private owners is increasing but has become nationally important only in one branch — fire protection.
Forestry as an Investment.— Returns from timber raising are realized perhaps once or twice in a lifetime, hardly more often at best. The amount of capital required is large. In the practice of private forestry certain carrying charges like taxes, interest, and protection costs must be met annually, while the return on the investment must be deferred. Therefore, only long-lived agencies, such as the State and corporations and large capitalists, are able to engage in it with any certainty of profit. Furthermore, where capital and interest are mixed together in an investment, as is the case with an investment in forestry, the pressure of competition or the necessity of meeting fixed charges leads very readily to forced exploitation of the timber — in other words, to the uneconomic anticipation of the harvest. The element of time and the consequent temptation to private owners to turn from scientific management to mere exploitation makes it easier for the State than for even large capitalists to practice forestry. When the forests are owned by the public, the infrequent returns are of no disadvantage, while taxes and interest charges do not have to be met; and as a result of the assurance of stable ownership systems of management beneficial to the forest but requiring long periods of time may be undertaken with the certainty of success.
Technical Forestry.— In order to utilize the present forest most economically and profitably and at the same time to provide for a new growth which will produce timber and other forest products in the future, the science of forestry concerns itself with both forest management and forest production. Forest production comprises silviculture, forest protection, and forest utilization; forest management, the mensuration and valuation of forests, working plans, and forest policy.
The practical aims of silviculture are to secure quick reproduction after the removal of timber, to reproduce valuable species rather than those which are less marketable, to secure a large yield, to produce timber trees of good quality, and to secure the most rapid growth compatible with good stands and good quality. More broadly, silviculture has to do with the improvement of forest stands and with their establishment by natural reproduction or by artificial seeding and planting. Various so-called silvicultural systems which are adapted for use under certain conditions, are made use of for the accomplishment of these aims. These are known as the selection system, clear cutting systems, the shelterwood system, and the coppice system. In practice these are combined and modified in various ways. Forest protection is concerned with the protection of the forest against fires, animals, insects and fungi, and all other detrimental influences. In America protection against forest fires is the most important, although such pests as various kinds of beetles, white pine blister rust, chestnut blight, and mistletoe are common and have to be fought and guarded against. Forest utilization deals with the best methods of utilizing all classes of forest products. This involves putting different classes of material to the use for which they are best fitted, determining the proper season for cutting and logging, and the methods of transportation from the forest to the mill and from the mill to market. Utilization takes into account not only the timber but all the by-products, such as pasturage, tanbark, extract wood, firewood, naval stores, etc. For the calculation of the material standing on a given area, the yield to be expected, and the value of single trees or whole stands, methods of forest mensuration are employed based on the determination of the dimensions, age, volume, the increment of trees and forests. These also serve as a basis for calculating the effect of different methods of treatment of the forest. Forest valuation aims to determine the value of the growing stock in the forest and the value of the forest soil. It is based, of course, on the knowledge derived from silviculture and mensuration; and is usually expressed as expectation value (the present value of all returns expected less the present value of all expenses which will be necessary to obtain those returns), cost value, or sale value. These expressions are applied to the forest soil, the growing stock, and the rental of a forest property. Forest management accomplishes the objects of forestry by means of forest working plans, which are based upon all other knowledge which has been gathered regarding the forest. The character of the working plan depends upon the object for which the forest is to be managed, so that the working plans for forests with different objects would be entirely different. The working plan takes special cognizance of the fact that for every tree or forest there may be three different kinds of increment; that is, volume, quality, and price increment. It usually includes a detailed description of the stand, the topography and climate, cost of logging, fire hazard and means of protection, the market for the product, the unit divisions of the forest, known technically as compartments, the length of the rotation, the objects of the silvicultural system, the treatment of the different species, and the general object of the forest management. Detailed description of the means to be used in handling the forest such as maps, organization, etc., are also necessary.
American Practice.— In the practice of forestry in America the general principles of management worked out in Europe through centuries of experience are being taken up as rapidly as economic and other conditions permit. For many reasons, however, European practices cannot be adopted as they stand, but must be modified to suit American conditions. The use in America of forms of management different from those in vogue in Europe is made necessary by the highly developed and specialized methods and machinery of American lumbering, the extremely moderate price and enormous supply of low-grade forest products, such as firewood and the cheaper kinds of lumber, the difficulties attendant on getting out much of the timber, transportation facilities which make most places in the country much less dependent on the local supply than is the case abroad, the vast number of small holdings of forest land, and the high taxes on forest property. The fundamentals of American practice are protection from fire, conservative lumbering, and care of the young growth. American practice has not aimed to secure a sustained annual yield; nor to adopt as they stand European systems of cutting; nor to maintain permanent forces of laborers or permanent logging-road systems. The American forester has to deal with different species, as well as different conditions, and in a large measure is compelled to work out his own methods. In the cutting of timber generally, the method hitherto practised by the lumberman, with such modifications as will insure the perpetuation of the forest, is still adhered to. This method is the selection of the large and the defective trees and the inferior species for cutting, the young growth of preferred species being preserved during the logging operation and sufficient large trees being left to restock the area or to furnish protection for the young growth as the case may be.
Summary.— Forestry has made great progress in America in the last 15 or 20 years. During that time it has been built up from almost nothing to a point where it is recognized as being of vital importance to the continued prosperity of the country. The technical equipment and training of the American forester have been brought to a very high standard; many of the essentials of American practice have been worked out; great advances have been made in the study of conditions peculiar to America; and intensive and specialized investigations have been made of the problems of forest management and wood utilization. The investigative work of American foresters now bids fair to rival in accomplishment the work which has been under way in Europe for several centuries. In the 25 years since the first forest land was dedicated by the government to the practice of forestry, a tremendous advance has been made in the forest policy of the nation. In the beginning, the creation of the national forests met with much opposition, due chiefly to the ideas of speculation prevalent in the great timber regions of the West and to the fear of special interests that public ownership of the forests would interfere with their plans. This opposition has not died away altogether, and at times manifests itself strongly, but it no longer has any considerable popular support and no longer appears in open attempts to do away with government ownership. It is now reduced to indirect attacks on details of the forest policy. A national forest policy has been firmly established, based upon government ownership and control of a sufficient amount of forest land of the United States to assure a continuous and perpetual supply of timber. See Forest Fires; Forest Laws; Forest Schools; Forestry Associations.
Bibliography.— Beveridge, Albert J., 'The National Forest Service' (Speech in the Senate of the United States, Friday, 22 Feb. 1907, Washington, 1907); Bruncken, Ernest, 'North American Forests and Forestry; their Relation to the Life of the American People' (New York 1908); Compton, Wilson, 'The Organization of the Lumber Industry, with special reference to the influence determining the prices of lumber in the United States' (Chicago 1916); Defebaugh, James Elliott, 'History of the Lumber Industry of America' (2 vols., Chicago 1906-07); Elliot, S. B., 'Important Timber Trees of the United States' (Boston 1912); Fernow, Bernhard Eduard, 'Forestry in the United States Department of Agriculture during the period 1877-98' (Washington 1899, United States 55th Congress, 3d Sess., House Doc. No. 181); 'Economics of Forestry' (New York 1902), and 'A Brief History of Forestry in Europe, the United States and other Countries' (Toronto 1911); Gifford, John Clayton, 'Practical Forestry for Beginners in Forestry' (New York 1902); Graves, Henry Solon, 'The National Forests and the Farmer' (United States Department of Agriculture, Yearbook 1914, pp. 65-S8); 'Forest Mensuration'
; (New York 1906), and 'The Principles of Handling Woodlands' (New York 1911); Green, Samuel Bowdlear, 'Principles of American Forestry' (New York 1903); Hawley, R. C., and Hawes, A. F., 'Forestry in New England' (New York 1912); Kellogg, Royal Shaw, 'Lumber and Its Uses' (Chicago 1914); National Conservation Commission, 'Report of the Commission' (Vols. I-III, pl., maps, diagrs., Washington Government Printing Office, 1909, 60th Cong., 2d Sess., Senate Doc. No. 676); Pinchot, Gifford, 'The Government's Forest Policy' (Cyclopedia of American Agriculture, Vol. IV, pp. 152-154, New York 1909), and 'The Training of a Forester' (Philadelphia 1914); Recknagel, A. B., 'Theory and Practice of Working Plans' (New York 1913); Record, Samuel James, 'The Mechanical Properties of Wood, including a discussion of the factors affecting the mechanical properties, and methods of timber testing' (New York 1914); Roth, Filibert, 'First Book of Forestry' (Boston 1902), 'Forest Valuation' (Vol. II, 171 pp., 'Michigan Manual of Forestry' Ann Arbor, Mich., 1916); Sargent, Charles Sprague, 'Manual of the Trees of North America' (Boston 1905); Schlick, William, 'Manual of Forestry' (Vol. I, Introduction to Forestry, Vol. II, Silviculture, Vol. III, Forest Management, Vol. IV, Forest Protection, Vol. V, Forest Utilization, London 1894-1911); Schwappach, Adam Friedrich, 'Forestry' (London 1904); Toumey, James W., 'Seeding and Planting' (a manual for the guidance of forestry students, foresters, nurserymen, forest owners and farmers (New York 1916); Van Hise, Charles Richard, 'The Conservation of Natural Resources in the United States' (ib. 1910); Weiss, Howard Frederick, 'The Preservation of Structural Timber' (ib. 1915); White, Stewart Edward, 'The Fight for the Forests' (American Magazine, Vol. 65, New York, January 1908); The publications of the Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture.