Our National Forests - Illustratedby Richard H. Douai Boerker
Forestry is a vast subject. It has to do with farm and forest, soil and climate, man and beast. It affects hill and valley, mountain and plain. It influences the life of cities, states, and nations. It deals not only with the manifold problems of growing timber and forest by-products, such as forage, naval stores, tanbark, and maple sugar, but it is intimately related… See more details below
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Forestry is a vast subject. It has to do with farm and forest, soil and climate, man and beast. It affects hill and valley, mountain and plain. It influences the life of cities, states, and nations. It deals not only with the manifold problems of growing timber and forest by-products, such as forage, naval stores, tanbark, and maple sugar, but it is intimately related to the navigability of rivers and harbors, the flow of streams, the erosion of hillsides, the destruction of fertile farm lands, the devastation wrought by floods, the game and birds of the forest, the public health, and national prosperity.
The practice of forestry has, therefore, become an important part in the household economy of civilized nations. Every nation has learned, through the misuse of its forest resources, that forest destruction is followed by timber famines, floods, and erosion. Mills and factories depending upon a regular stream flow must close down, or use other means for securing their power, which usually are more expensive. Floods, besides doing enormous damage, cover fertile bottom-lands with gravel, bowlders, and débris, which ruins these lands beyond redemption. The birds, fish, and game, which dwell in the forests, disappear with them. Springs dry up and a luxurious, well-watered country becomes a veritable desert. In short, the disappearance of the forests means the disappearance of everything in civilization that is worth while.
These are the lessons that some of the world's greatest nations have learned, in some cases through sad experience. The French people, after neglecting their forests, following the French Revolution, paid the penalty. France, through her reckless cutting in the mountain forests, has suffered and is still suffering from devastating floods on the Seine and other streams. Over one million acres were cut over in the mountains, and the slash and young growth that was left was destroyed by fire. As a result of this forest destruction the fertility of over 8,000,000 acres of tillable land was destroyed and the population of eighteen departments was impoverished or driven out. Now, although over $40,000,000 has been expended, only a very small part of the damage has been repaired.
Our own country has learned from its own experiences and from the experiences of nations like France. On a small scale we have endured the same devastating floods. Forest fires in the United States have caused an average annual loss of seventy human lives and from $25,000,000 to $50,000,000 worth of timber. The indirect losses run close to a half a billion a year. Like other nations, we have come to the conclusion that forest conservation can be assured only through the public ownership of forest resources. Other nations have bought or otherwise acquired national, state, and municipal forests, to assure the people a never-failing supply of timber. For this reason, mainly, our own National Forests have been created and maintained.
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