Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/802

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



tively small State of Massachusetts more than 14,000 acres of forest, valued at more than $100,000, have been recently consumed by fire in a single year; and in Pennsylvania 685,738 acres of forest are reported as burned over in 1880, with a loss of more than $3,000,000. We shall learn that the axe and the flames together are consuming our forests so rapidly that we are threatened with great evils on this account in the not distant future. Trees are quickly felled and quickly burned; they are slow to grow. The lumberman's axe can destroy in an hour the oak or the pine which has gained its stature and its worth only by the annual increments of a century. The spark from the tobacco-pipe of a careless tramp may kindle a flame which will speedily spread over some great mountain-side and sweep away the forest covering which has been growing ever since the beginning of our history as a nation. Great revolutions may come in our national life, and generations of men will pass away, before that forest covering can be replaced.

The forthcoming census report will show that we have 25,708 establishments for converting the trees of our forests into lumber, that $181,186,122 are employed as the needful capital for carrying on this work, and that the value of the lumber produced is $233,367,729.

The revelations of the census will show with new clearness that, in view of the rapid destruction of our forests and the evils threatened in consequence, there is no time to be lost in taking measures to avert those evils so far as possible. What measures in particular should be adopted it is aside from our present purpose to show. It is enough to say in general that we should do all that we can individually, and by legislative enactment where necessary, to prevent the further needless destruction of our remaining forests. We should be more careful and less wasteful in cutting them for the production of lumber. We should guard them more vigilantly, and, by the enforcement of severe penalties if need be, against those chance fires which result in evil, and evil only, without any incidental good to any one. We should encourage the reproduction of forests, by leaving a sufficiency of seed or mother trees on the ground where the forests are cut, and by carefully excluding from all such grounds the cattle, whose teeth and hoofs together are almost as destructive as the axe or the flames. It is impossible to grow valuable forests where cattle are allowed to range in them and browse upon the tender trees. In Europe, they have decided long ago that the woods are no proper pasture-grounds for cattle.

Finally, we should encourage the planting of many new forests on what are practically the waste lands of many of our States. Such lands can thus be made the most productive, pecuniarily, of all our lands, while in those States and Territories which are comparatively destitute of forests no land is too good to be devoted to this purpose, and no labor of the husbandman promises so important and so profitable results as that of tree-planting on the large scale. The "Northwestern Lumberman," Chicago, in its review of the lumber product