Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/477

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459
THE UNITED STATES FOREST RESERVES.

utmost importance to the development and welfare of the whole country."

The result of establishing the reserves more than met the anticipations of the commission that legislation would follow, owing to the pressure of the people on their representatives in Congress. The first storm of protest came mainly from South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and Washington. Public meetings were held at which vigorous speeches were made in opposition to the forest-reserve policy, and soon a flood of petitions and letters reached the senators and representatives from the States mentioned, and those from adjoining States in which reserves are situated or which are dependent upon the reserves for their timber supply. Early in March an amendment was incorporated in the Sundry Civil Bill in the Senate revoking the forest-reserve proclamations of February 22, 1897. This, however, was modified in conference with the House so as to authorize the President to suspend or revoke the proclamations if he thought fit to do so. The bill failed, and when the new Congress assembled, on March 15, the agitation against the reserves was resumed.

A long debate in the Senate was followed by the final passage of an extended amendment providing for the suspension of the reserves established by the proclamations of February 22, 1897, until March 1, 1898, and providing further for the survey of the forest reserves, under the supervision of the Director of the Geological Survey, and appropriating one hundred and fifty thousand dollars for the purpose. Provision was made that "a copy of every topographic map and other maps showing the distribution of the forests, together with such field notes as may be taken relating thereto, shall be certified thereto by the Director of the Geological Survey, and filed in the General Land Office"; the object of this being to place before the department the data upon which to recommend the location of the boundaries of the forest reserves, authority being given to the President in the amendment "to revoke, modify, or suspend any or all of such executive orders and proclamations, or any part thereof, from time to time as he shall deem best for the public interests."

In addition to the provisions for the survey and modification of the reserves, most important legislation for their future preservation, control, and administration was embodied in the act. It is provided that "the Secretary of the Interior shall make provision for protection against destruction by fire and depredations upon the public forests and forest reservations, and that he may make such rules and regulations, and establish such service as will insure the objects of such reservations, namely, to regulate their occupancy and use, and to preserve the forests thereon from destruction."