Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
FORESTRY. Under this general term is included whatever relates to woodlands, their preservation, maintenance, cutting off and renewal. In the English legal sense, a forest is a tract of land, whether wooded or not, that is held by the sovereign for the maintenance of game, and subject to peculiar laws differing from the common law of England. A chase differs from a forest in being capable of being held by a subject, and in being held by a subject, and in being under the common and not the forest law. As applied in the American sense, a forest is synonymous with woodland. Small woodlands are sometimes called groves, and their care and management is termed sylviculture. The term arboriculture is applied to cultivation of trees, whether singly, in avenues or groups, and is sometimes, although improperly, restricted to fruit trees. We find that forests left to nature are very unequally distributed, some regions being densely wooded, while others are wholly destitute of trees. This distribution is influenced by latitude, elevation above sea level, and especially by the amount of rainfall in a given locality; and the latter is largely determined by the prevailing winds, and by the character of the surface over which they pass.
—As a general rule, ocean winds are humid, and as they pass over the land they tend to become cool, and to deposit the excess of moisture as rain, or in winter as snow. This is especially true where they pass over mountain ranges, where they must necessarily become cooled down to a low degree, and cause copius showers of rain. After passing over and descending into the lowlands beyond, the air being dry can no longer produce showers, and the region may be arid, on the leeward side, while it is heavily wooded on the opposite. We see such contrasts along the Andes, in Peru, where there is a belt of rainless and treeless country between these mountains and the Pacific, while eastward the trade winds bring heavy rains, that fall upon the dense forests. On our Pacific coast we find even stronger contrasts in the densely timbered region along the coast, which first receives the prevailing westerly winds from the Pacific, and the dry and in some places utterly arid region to the eastward of the mountains.
—In rainy regions within the topics we invariably find forests, very generally with perennial foliage, and dense and highly colored wood. In exogenous species the rings of growth are indistinct and uncertain; they often afford choice products from their juices, gums, essential oils, dyes, medicinal qualities, fibres and fruits, but are generally too solid and heavy for carpentry, although often prized for cabinet work. As we pass into the temperate zones the deciduous species become prevalent; the palms, which form characteristic trees in the tropics, disappear, the broad-leaved perennials gradually dwindle out, butt the coniferous evergreens, relatively few within the tropics, become common and often the prevailing and almost exclusive kind. These various species become fewer in number and smaller in size as we pass into the arctic zone, where the poplars and the willows dwindle to shrubs, and finally disappear. In ascending from sea level to great altitudes we may pass through all these ranges of climate in a few hours, until we reach an elevation at which trees disappear altogether. This is called the timber line. It is some 14,000 or 15,000 feet above sea level in the tropics, about 11,800 in the Himalayas, 6,400 in the Alps, from 9,000 to 12,000 in the Rocky mountains, in Colorado, and becomes lower as we go north, till it comes down to the plains. There is often a heavy forest growth a few hundred feet before reaching this line, when the trees begin to appear short, spread out wide, leaning with the prevailing winds, and finally disappear entirely. Above this it becomes bald and barren to the summit, or to the perpetual snow.
—In comparing the forest growth of the northern hemisphere we find a remarkable resemblance between the native species on the eastern borders of Asia and North America. In some instances the forest trees of Mantchooria, northern China and Japan, are of the same species as those found in our northern states; in others, they are of the same genera but of different species; and in the great majority of cases they may be readily transferred, from one continent to the other; presenting opportunities for obtaining a great variety for ornamental plating, and perhaps for profitable forest growth. On the other hand, the eastern and western borders of North America present a strong contrast in their forests; the former including a great number of deciduous species, and the latter chiefly the coniferous evergreens. Although the latter in very many cases grow to immense size, they do not prosper in the Atlantic states, probably from the absence of distinctly wet and dry seasons, and because the wood ripens but imperfectly before winter.
—It has been found by experience in Europe that the supply of timber and wood in various forms, for meeting the innumerable uses of civilized life, can only be maintained by cultivation. In most European countries upon the continent, large tracts of land belong to the government, not in continuous blocks, but in parcels more or less interrupted by other tracts that belong to local communities or municipalities, to public establishments or to private owners. Over all of these lands, excepting those belonging to individuals, the state extends its protection, and so far as these lands are covered with woodlands, it assumes the control. Over private property it never attempts to interfere, unless a public interest is endangered. The owner is allowed to plant or to clear off his lands, as a general rule, whenever it suits his interests to do so. But where the forests are needed for protection, as for example, on a shore liable to drifting sands, or on a mountain liable to erosion from torrents, or on a frontier, he is restrained from a general clearing, and must not use his timer excepting as allowed.
—For the management of these interests, forest administrations have been established, generally in connection with the ministry of finances, or that in charge of agricultural and industrial interests; and for the training of skilled agents for the service, schools of forestry have been established. In these, there is usually required a preparatory course of study equivalent to that implied in graduation from a gymnasium or real-school, and the special studies of the course extend through two ro three years. Instruction is generally imparted by lectures, reviews, oral recitations, practical exercises and excursions under the guidance of the professors. The studies include mathematics, physics, meteorology, climatology, natural sciences, (especially botany, zoölogy, geology, and mineralogy), chemistry, drawing, the practical use of instruments for surveying and all kinds of measurements, the application of all of these studies to the wants of the forest agent, and so much of the common law and political economy, history and general literature as appears directly applicable to the profession. The formalities of legal prosecutions, of transactions with superior and subordinate officers, the construction of roads, and of various mechanical structures employed in the cutting, extraction, transportation and manufacture of forest products, form a particular class of these studies. Besides these there are rules of management, methods of planting and of restocking the land with trees after clearing, and a wide range of practical details to be learned, both theoretically in the class-room, and practically by labors and in subordinate grades of supervision, before the candidate is thought to be worthy of a separate charge.
—As hunting is deemed in Europe an object of especial interest, in connection with forestry, it is taught as a science and an art in schools of forestry. Of late years fish culture has also been introduced as a subject of practical instruction in the Prussian schools. The terms "forst und jagd," are constantly associated in German literature, and "caux et forêts" in France; indicating the connection between forests and hunting in the former, and the supervision of inland waters by the forest administration in the latter country at a former period. The term is still in common use, although no longer applicable.
—After passing examinations, and a certain probationary term of service, the graduate of a school of forestry may be appointed in charge of a revier or district, in one of the lower grades of the service, and may rise by successive promotions, somewhat like those of the military and naval service. In fact, these grades have generally their equivalent rank in the army; in many cases military instruction is given in schools of forestry and in case of war the forest officers may be called into active military service. Finally, after a fixed period of active duties, these agents may retire on a pension.
—Besides these schools of forestry of a high grade there are a great number of schools of forest guards, and forest schools of lower grade and of very practical character, where the elements of forestry are taught, with so much of literary instruction as is needed for these subordinate duties. Occasionally these agents are assembled, at a leisure season, for the revision of their studies, and the examination of practical subjects.
—The principal schools of forestry in Europe are as follows: In France, at Nancy; a school of forest guards at Barres; a course in sylviculture at three agricultural colleges, and a special course at the "Institut Agronomique" in Paris. In Denmark, at Copenhagen* (in connection with agriculture). In Sweden, at Stockholm; and elementary forest schools at seven other places. In Finland, at Evois. In Russia, at St. Petersburg, at Lissino, and with agriculture at Moscow;* and at Nova Alexandria* in Poland. In Germany, at Eberswalde and Münden in Prussia; at Giessen* in Hesse; at Tharand in Saxony; at Aschaffenburg and Munish in Bavaria; at Tübingen* in Wurtemburg; at Eisnach in Saxe-Weimar; at Carlsrube* in Baden. In Austria, at Vienna,* Eulenburg, Weisswasser, Lemberg, Graz,* Aggsbach, Schemnitz,* and other places. In Italy, at Vallombrosa. In Switzerland, at Zurich.* In Spain, at Escorial. In Portugal, at Lisbon.* In some of the above places, (those marked with a star) forestry forms a part of some larger institution, such as a university or a polytechnic school.
—As a general thing students not aspiring to the state service are allowed to attend these schools, and may receive diplomas. In many cases state students receive aid, and in some they are held to service for a certain period after graduating. No school of forestry has hitherto been established in Great Britain, but those seeking forest service in India and Australia obtain their professional training in France or Germany. It will undoubtedly be found to the interest of our agricultural colleges and our universities to provide means for instruction in the practical duties of forestry in the United States, although from the tenure of our lands in private owners, we can not offer certain appointments in any way comparable with those in European countries. The instruction should chiefly relate to the details of planting and management, and a knowledge of the conditions best calculated to secure success. It would include mathematics, as applied in surveys, measurements and various calculations; chemistry, both organic and inorganic, especially as applied to soils; geology and mineralogy, the natural sciences, physics, meteorology; in short whatever enables the careful observer to anticipate success from a knowledge of requirements, or to avoid failures by knowing their causes. As an essential means of instruction, schools of forestry, besides the apparatus for scientific illustration, must have collections of tools and implements, models of machines and structures, cabinets of woods for showing their structure, qualities and uses, geological, mineralogical and botanical series, and especially gardens and plantations, including labeled specimens of living trees, of as many species as the soil and climate will allow. As a first requisite in tree planting we should understand the capacity of soils and the requirements of different tree with respect to them. But as the roots of trees penetrate much deeper than those of agricultural crops, the nature of the subsoil is often an important matter; and as both of these are principally derived from the disintegration of rocks, the study of geology finds a direct practical application. It is not unusual to find certain rocky strata distinguished by some particular kind of forest growth. The chestnut, for example, can not be made to thrive on a calcareous soil, but prefers the silicious, and especially that from decomposed granite. The pines prefer a sandy soil, if the subsoil is suitable; and the oaks generally require a moderately compact and strong clay soil. Neither a purely silicious, calcareous or aluminous soil is entirely suitable for trees, but a mixture, and especially a portion of vegetable mould is generally preferred.
—It is a peculiar advantage in forest tree growth that it may often be secured very successfully upon broken and rocky surfaces altogether too rough for cultivation, as the roots insinuate themselves into crevices, wherever there is soil and moisture, and act as powerful agents in promoting the decomposition of rocks, and their conversion into soil. Although the presence of moisture in the soil is generally necessary to vegetation, its excess is injurious; hence drainage becomes necessary for successful planting. The roots of plants absorb moisture from the soil, and give it out by evaporation from the leaves. By this means the planting of certain trees, such as poplars and willows, on the borders of swamps, has the effect of drying them. Trees are also found to intercept or absorb malarious emanations from marshes, and hence their cultivation may ebcome an act of public utility, as a sanitary measure, for the protection of cities and towns against insalubrious exposures.
—There are several different modes of management of woodlands, each of which has its advantages in certain localities. 1. Selection; or the taking of trees here and there, leaving the younger to take the place of those removed. This is the common practice in reserved wood-lots, and is generally a wasteful and ruinous one, because in such forests the trees are of all ages and sizes, the amount of timber is less than by some other methods, and vacant places are very apt to form, that tend continually to become larger. Still in some places it is the best and indeed the only one that can be practiced, as, for example, in places where it would be unsafe to clear off all the timber at once, on account of loose drifting sand or steep declivities that might suffer from erosion of torrents. If done at stated periods, it is also the best practice in spruce and cedar woodlands, where trees below a certain size are left for future cutting.
—2. Coppice growth. By this method, all the trees worth cutting are taken off at once, and a new growth springs up from the stumps and roots. It is allowed to grow to the period fixed for cutting, which depends upon the kind of tree, the goodness of soil, the climate, and the uses to which the wood is to be applied. It can be used only in deciduous woodlands, for the conifers do not generally thus reproduce, and is especially useful in the management of woodlands kept for supplying charcoal to furnaces. Although trees in such cases will generally grow if let alone, there are certain measures that should receive attention in order to secure the greatest yield. They must be carefully guarded against fires, and fenced against cattle, and especially against sheep, at all times. Their injury from browsing, and breaking down of young sprouts, will do a great deal more harm than the profit that could be realized from pasturage. The trees should be cut as close to the ground as possible, and always in winter, or before the sap starts in spring. Care must be taken not to injure the bark on the stump, as the sprouts come out along the line of junction between the bark and wood, and the stumps should be rounded off with an adze, so that the rain will not settle upon them. The sprouts may sometimes be bent down and partly buried, a notch being cut where they are covered, and thus a tree with an independent root may be started, and when rooted, these sprouts may be cut apart from the native tree. Coppices should sometimes be thinned out, where the growth is too dense, and may be cut off at intervals of from ten to forty years. The kinds of trees that grow best in coppices are the oaks, chestnut, poplars, cottonwoods, locust, ailanthus, willows, catalpa, soft maples, linden, elms, ash, birch, hickory, alder, etc. The beech, hard maple and some others do not grow successfully in this manner, and, as a general rule, the reproduction is more successful in a deep rich soil, with a moderate degree of moisture, and in a humid climate. It becomes more uncertain as the soil becomes hard, and the climate dry. In cutting off a coppice growth, it is a profitable practice to reserve some of the more thrifty of the young trees, to grow on to a second or even third or fourth period of cutting, when they will have acquired much greater value for timber than they would be worth for firewood. This is especially the case with the oak, ash, hickory, black walnut and other kinds valuable for manufactures. Such trees, when left exposed to the air and light, are apt to become covered with branches along the sides, that would become large, to the injury of the timber if left. They should be cut off late in summer or early in autumn, at which season they will not be likely to sprout again. For hoop poles, the cuttings may be made once in five or six years; for fencing, the trees may be suitable in ten or twelve years; for posts, in fifteen or twenty years; and for railroad ties, in from twenty to thirty years. Where oak is raised for supplying bark for tanning purposes and for dyeing, it is usually cut off when from twenty to twenty-five years old. As this cutting must be done when the bark will peel, it is delayed till vegetation has started in the spring and early summer, somewhat to the prejudice of the future growth, which becomes feebler as the season advances, and is lost altogether when the wood has ceased to form for the season, and the buds for the next year are set.
—3. Full forest growth. By this form of cultivation the forest is started by planting or sowing, and so dense that it will shade the ground while still young, and until which time it may be cultivated, sometimes with some farm crop, partly to keep the ground mellow, and partly to kill the grass and weeds. As the trees become too dense, so that their branches interlock, they should be thinned out; and this thinning process should be continued from time to time, usually at intervals of five or six years, but more seldom as the trees become large, until forty or fifty years old. In countries where timber is valuable, the profit from these thinnings will more than pay the whole cost of cultivation. The first will furnish hoop poles, vine props and stakes; the next, poles; and the later ones, small timber for a great variety of uses. In all of them the top wood is cut into firewood, and the twigs are bound into faggots and sold for oven-wood. In such a forest, properly managed, the trees being a little crowded grow tall and straight, they are all of about the same size and age, and under the best management they will yield at full maturity from three to five times as much in volume and in value as trees growing naturally and without care in our forests.
—As trees gain in size they become relatively more valuable per cubic foot, because the wood is harder, stronger, and adapted to more uses than small wood. In all trees the wood is of greatest worth at full maturity, and although they may still keep alive and continue to form new wood on the outside many years after they have begun to decline, they are apt to become hollow and unsound within, and may finally be almost good for nothing before they fall of old age. It is best, therefore, to cut them when fully ripe, and before any part has decayed. The forester has not performed his whole duty in bringing the woodland to maturity; it is not finished until this timber has been cut off, and a new crop has been started in its place. In this, modern forestry has achieved great success, at almost nominal cost, by so managing the cuttings that nature does this work of restoration of itself. In a dense forest the surface of the earth is deeply shaded, and nothing will grow on the ground. The few seeds that sprout soon perish, and in a crowded forest few seeds will grow on the trees. As the period for cutting approaches, a part of the trees are taken out, leaving fifteen or twenty to an acre, more or less, about equally distributed over the surface, and of the kinds desired for the new growth. These, now freely exposed to the air and light, will probably the next year bear an abundance of fruit, which, falling upon the litter, and covered by the leaves of the same season, will soon spring up, covering the whole surface with a carpet of young trees. These require some shading, and would all perish in an open field. This shade they get form the parent trees, and with the sun shining on them a part of the time, and a part of the time shaded off, they grow rapidly in the soil that has been forming for a long period from the annual fall of leaves. As the young trees get larger, they need more air and light, and a part of the old trees are taken out, and finally the remainder, leaving a new forest fully started, to grow on perhaps for one or two hundred years.
—The profits of planting in this manner are very large, but the long period required for returns renders it not very inviting for investment. Most proprietors can not afford to wait so long for their money, and hence it is generally employed by governments, to secure the heavy timber needed for their navies and other uses. In such a forest, after a few years, cattle may be pastured without injury, and in beech and oak woodlands they become valuable for the fattening of swine. The privilege of pasturage and feeding is sometimes sold at auction, and in others it is a right enjoyed by communes and villages. Whenever allowed, the herds of cattle or swine are generally in care of keepers—not their owners, but persons appointed for the purpose, who have no motive for preference, and who will allow all the animals in their care an equal chance. It is sometimes claimed as a right, to gather litter from woodlands, for fertilizing lands, or for bedding cattle in stables. The practice is always bad, and should be prevented where possible. It tends to impoverish the soil, and eventually to check the growth of the trees. This method of cultivation is the only one applicable to coniferous trees, as they can be grown only form seed. As they require particular care when young, they should always be started in seed-beds, and be transplanted in nursery rows three or four years before being finally set where the trees are to grow. In extensive operations, nurseries should always be established as near as may be to the intended plantations. For small planting it is advisable to purchase the young plants from nurserymen, who can generally sell them cheaper than an unskilled planter could grow them. When wild coniferous trees are used, they should be taken up in a damp time in the spring, the roots dipped in a puddle of rich soil, and they should be placed in boxes, not too closely packed nor covered so as to exclude the air, and they should be set in nurseries and cultivated two or three years before final planting. In deciding between sowing and planting, we must be governed by circumstances. In the case of oak, and the nut trees generally, as also in that of pines on a very light sandy soil, the young roots strike deep, and can not be extracted without great injury. They should therefore generally be planted or sown where they are to grow. There is an advantage from planting in rows, because they can then be cultivated while young. If there is a little uncertainty as to what trees are best suited to the situation, they may be planted alternately, of different kinds, as in Scotland the Pinus sylvestris (Scotch pine) and the larch. At the period of thinning, one or the other may then be removed, leaving all the trees of one kind, as found most promising, or some of each may be left as though best. As a general rule, a mixture of species produces more quantity and greater value than all of one kind.
—As to the density of growth, much depends upon the soil, slope, aspect, elevation, climate and other causes. It may be more dense on a hillside than on a plain, and at greater elevations than at those of less height. In planting trees on a hillside, the rows should run horizontally, at the same elevation, following the contour of surface, without regard to allignment in any other direction. The reason of this is, that the soil is not so liable to wash when worked in this manner. On very steep slopes it is injudicious to disturb the soil more than can possibly be avoided, and upon a northern slope it is sometimes best to sow seeds upon the snow. They would be more likely to perish, if sown on a southerly slope; in fact, trees are in such places much more difficult to start than in any other, and, under equal conditions otherwise, a southern exposure is more often treeless and arid than one fronting to the north.
—In collecting seeds of trees for planting, it should be remembered that they are liable to heat and mould if placed in heaps while still fresh. They should therefore be spread evenly, and stirred from time to time until somewhat dry. Those that are thin and chaffy, like the birch, may be kept in papers or sacks till the next spring. Those with a hard shell, like the locust, acacias, coffee-tree, etc., should be scalded slightly and soaked in warm water until they swell, and then should be immediately planted. Those that ripen late in spring, or early in summer, should be planted at once. The willows, poplars, cottonwoods, elms and soft maples are of this kind. The hard shelled nuts may be planted in the fall of the same year in which they were grown, or early the next spring. They may be kept over winter by spreading on the ground in a dry place, covered loosely with straw and boards, but exposed to the weather, or they may be placed in alternate layers with sand in boxes or barrels, and thus left in the open air till spring. It may be said of nearly all forest-tree seeds, that they lose their vitality in a relatively short time, as compared with the grains. Some can scarcely be kept over winter, and must be planted at once. Indeed in some soils and climates, fall planting is preferable to planting in spring, but in this no rule of general application can be laid down. In doubtful cases and untried conditions no extensive operations should be undertaken without first experimenting, not only as to the season and manner of planting, but also with respect to the kinds most likely to succeed in a given locality.
—In planting tree seeds, whether in the large way, where they are to remain, or in seed beds, the soil should be thoroughly mellowed, by plowing and harrowing; and if in new prairie land, it is idle to expect success unless the sod be first thoroughly broken and rotted, and afterward the ground plowed as deeply as may be before planting. It is generally advisable to cultivate the land with some field crop a year or two after breaking. The breaking can only be done early in summer, when the vegetation is most active. The ground becomes too hard, later in the season, and the sod will not decompose. For early spring planting the ground may be plowed the fall previous—In prairie planting it will generally be best to plant the seeds at equal intervals in rows, so as to admit of after cultivation by horse power. To secure accuracy in this, the ground, after plowing and harrowing, may be marked off into rows. It is absolutely necessary in the more arid climate westward from the Missouri river, and a good rule almost anywhere, to plant rather closely together, so that the trees will shade the ground early, and afterward to thin out as they become dense. This forces the trees to run up straight, and secures a fine body to the trunk. Almost all trees, when planted with a free exposure on all sides, tend to grow low and wide. The distance most frequently adopted is four feet between rows and two or three feet apart between rows.
—On level ground the trees should generally be planted in rows running east and west, because they sooner shade the ground in this direction. Upon hillsides they should be in horizontal lines, for reasons already mentioned. Seeds may be planted and cultivated the first year like corn. The ground must be kept mellow, and it is a good practice to run a cultivator between the rows from time to time, in the early part of summer, whether there are weeds or not, and this practice is especially useful in a dry season.
—In some trees, such as the oak, when set from nurseries, the stem becomes hard, and the growth slow and imperfect. It is sometimes best after the first year, when the roots have become well started, to cut down this stem close to the ground. A new and strong one will then spring up, and very probably outgrow, in a year or two, those that have not been cut back. A fire running through a young plantation will sometimes apparently ruin it altogether, by killing all the young trees. The roots will however be often found full of life, and by cutting off the dead stem, others will spring up from them. In such cases only one should generally be allowed to grow. Such an accident in a plantation of coniferous woods would be fatal, since they never sprout from the root, nor can they survive the loss of their leaves. In some regions where from annual fires the trees have been killed off, and at the time of first settlement the surface shows nothing but herbage, the ground is found full of the roots of trees, which everywhere spring up when these fires are prevented. These "grub prairies" become, with no other care than a little protection, groves of trees that in twenty years or more afford an abundance of fuel, and wood for various other uses. In the southwestern states these roots continue to grow as the opportunity of foliage permits, until they become of large size, affording much material for firewood, and even for charcoal, in places where there was apparently no timber.
—Besides rearing forest trees from seeds, they may be in some cases propagated with great success from cuttings taken from the young wood, or from the roots, and placed in ground previously well prepared as already described for planting. This may be done to great advantage with the willows, the poplars and the cottonwoods; and with some of these that do not readily produce fertile seeds, it is the only means by which they can be made to grow. It is generally best to cut these sprouts late in the fall, or during the winter, but never while they are in leaf. They may be kept till wanted for use, by burying them in trenches, where they are not exposed to standing water, or to frost, or by keeping them in cellars, tied in bundles, and with the ends covered with damp sand or moss. They should not be exposed to the dry air more than is absolutely necessary, and when cut, the incision should be made obliquely across the lower end, without loosening the bark. When kept in a damp place, a callus will form along the edge of the wood under the bark, and from this the roots will spring. For willows these cuttings may be one or two inches thick and two feet long. They are usually much less when taken from the poplars, being ten to twelve inches long, and from the last year's growth. They should be pressed obliquely into the ground, with the ends to the north, as being in this position less liable to dry up at the end, and more exposed to the sun. They should not project much above the ground. Although cuttings are usually set early in spring, in ground prepared the fall before, they may sometimes be set in autumn, or, if the weather permits, in winter. They will need cultivating and thinning, as already described for planted trees.
—In the prairie regions of the west, where from an arid climate the cultivation of trees becomes difficult, the native cottonwoods that spring up by millions on the sand bars of rivers, may be plowed up, or pulled up in moist places without plowing, in great abundance, and are preferable to cuttings. They may be plowed in, by laying obliquely down in a furrow and covering with the plow. In these dry prairies the cottonwoods or the willows may be planted with great advantage alternately with the more valuable kinds, for sheltering them form the sun and the drying winds, until they get well started and able to protect themselves. Among the kinds worth cultivating for profit in these regions may be mentioned the black walnut, ash, oaks, locust, mulberry, western catalpa, honey locust, ailanthus, osage orange, box elder, hackberry, elms, soft maple, and native red cedar. As a general rule the conifers do not succeed, and it has been found impossible to raise the beech, chestnut or sugar maple, except in particular localities, and by a combination of circumstances that is rare.
—The osage orange is used as a hedge plant about as far north as Chicago, but along its northern limit it becomes liable to winter-kill. Further north the white willow forms an excellent hedge when closely planted. Both this willows and the cottonwoods grow with great rapidity, and at the age of eight or ten years they may have a diameter of as many inches at two feet from the ground. When cut in summer and peeled they dry very easily, and furnish poles for fencing and other uses that will last many years when not in contact with the ground. At twenty or thirty years the cottonwood may be sawn into boards suitable for inside joinery, and planks for bridges and other uses.
—In a prairie region trees become of great utility to agriculture, which planted in belts, from four to ten rods or more in width. They protect grain and fruits from drying winds, and tend to mitigate the severity of drought. In winter they afford shelter from the fierce north winds that have at times proved so destructive to property and to human life. There can be no doubt but that if a fifth or a fourth part of the prairies were covered with such belts of timber, the amount of grain that could be raised upon the remainder would be as much as would be realized from the whole, without them. As the public land surveys are run with the cardinal points, these necessarily become the direction of farm lines, and very naturally of timber belts. They perhaps afford the greatest protection when planted in east and west lines, but it would be still better to have them around every prairie farm, and at intervals of a quarter of a mile or so throughout the prairie country. If neighbors could agree to each plant on two sides of their farms, these belts would afford shelter to both, and the whole would be mutually benefited. The first benefit from shelter belts would be, protection against hot and dry summer winds so liable to prevail in the western states. The cultivation of fruits may be said to depend for success upon their presence; and even in the older states, where fruits were formerly raised with more certainty than at present, it would be found that the want of shelter from adjacent woodlands is a principal cause of modern failures. Another benefit is derived from the prevention of drifting snows in winter, especially along public highways and railroad cuts. This has been so completely proved upon the line of the Northern Pacific railroad, that the company has undertaken to plant with belts of trees, the exposed places along the whole line. For plantations of this kind, from six to eight rows, four to six feet apart, should be planted on the side most exposed to the wind, and one of fewer number on the other side, some seventy-five feet from the track. The ground must be thoroughly prepared by breaking the sod, back-setting and deep cultivation before hand. About one month can be devoted to planting in spring and one month in autumn. The trees must be carefully cultivated three or four years, and will need to be protected from cattle, and from prairie fires. The best means for guarding against these fires is to plow several furrows on each side of a strip of land outside of the belt, one or two hundred feet apart, and carefully burn off the grass between the furrows as soon after the first autumnal frosts as the fire can be made to burn. A similar precaution taken along the sides of the track, between the timber belts, would render accidents from fires almost impossible, and the danger becomes every year less as the country becomes well settled. By preventing the snows from drifting, they protect the ground against frost, and when they melt, the water settles into the soil, and keeps it moist for a longer time. This is one of the reasons why the north sides of ravines and of mountains are usually better wooded than those which have a southern exposure. In regions where the conifers, such as cedars and spruces, can be cultivated with ease, they might save infinite trouble from the drifting of snows along the highways, and screens in these places become almost as important an object of public expense as bridges. Such evergreen belts should be in double rows, the trees in each being opposite the spaces in the other. Their density and distance between rows depend upon the local circumstances, and can only be determined by knowing the conditions. Great success has been obtained in Russia from planting along railways; and with deep cultivation beforehand, and careful attention afterward, they have succeeded in places that appeared utterly beyond hope of improvement from aridity of the soil and dryness of the climate.
—The importance of timber as a material of indispensable want, and the rapid exhaustion of our native forest supplies, being admitted as facts, it becomes an important question as to what can be done by governments toward maintaining, regulating and restoring these supplies.
—Our settled lands all belong to private owners. There can be no planting done upon them at public cost, and it is not in the least probable that the title will ever be recovered by government, for the purpose of planting. The public lands belonging to the national government are remote from the great body of our population, and we scarcely find it possible to protect the timber upon them from being cut to supply the wants of adjacent settlements. The law, in fact, now gives them this right in certain cases, and moreover these supplies are so remote from the great markets that they can not be made generally available, by any existing mode of transportation, and at present prices.
—The states own some lands that have been given for educational and other purposes, but they are being sold as fast as opportunities offer, and systems of forest management can scarcely be organized under state laws with any prospect of success. It must be admitted that these conditions present great difficulties, and the most probable result will be, that growing prices will sooner or later force upon our people the realization of the fact, that there in profit in growing timber. Whenever this comes to be believed and felt, the owners of land will very probably plant for this profit, just as they now raise grain. The kinds best suited for given localities will be carefully sought out, and the best methods of management will be studied and practiced. The sooner we begin this work the less we shall feel the inconveniences of scarcity and high prices. There can be no doubt but that if one quarter of the whole area of the United States were planted in timber, the shelter and protection which these woodlands would afford to the remainder, would enable us to raise the same amount of grain that could be got from the whole surface without woodlands. There are waste grounds and exhausted lands in almost every part of the country, that might be used for planting with the greatest advantage, and nothing will so restore fertility to an old worn out field as a crop of timber.
—The government can aid in this measure in various ways. It can also, while some considerable tracts of timber land remain in its possession, adopt measures tending to economize present resources and provide for future wants. These may be briefly stated as follows: 1. It may reserve from future sales, selected bodies of timber land, and put them under management tending to use the timber already grown to best advantage, and to reserve and protect the young growth for future supplies. This is being done successfully and with profit in British India, Australia and other colonies. The system of leasing timber-rights upon ground rents, premiums at auction sale of rights, and a rate of tariff on the timber taken, as long practiced in Canada, deserves our most careful study. 2. It may cause to be planted young forests, upon lands still owned by the government, and in situations that have been found best adapted for timber growth. 3. It may establish experimental stations, for determining questions in forest culture that can never be done by individuals. These stations should have reference to the acclimatization of specie, the adaptation of particular kinds to given localities, the best methods of cultivation, and all scientific questions involved in the general subject of forestry. These stations should be judiciously chosen, widely distributed, and carefully managed, all the results of practical value being published for the information of the people. 4. It may cause to be prepared and published the latest and best of the results of researches in other countries, that afford results of practical value in our own country, and it should do its share in the advancement of our knowledge upon these questions, by aiding in carefully conducted researches. 5. In respect to the existing timber-culture acts, they should be so amended that when an entry is once made under them, the land should never after be liable to entry under any other form, at least not unless its unfitness for tree culture has been proved by proper evidence. It is a very common practice for persons to make these entries, hoping to sell out the privilege of homestead entry or pre-emption by abandoning them. 6. It has the power to couple a condition of planting, or of maintenance of a certain amount of woodland (if now timbered), in all future conveyances of public lands.
—As to the power of states to encourage tree planting, it might be exercised in the following manner: 1. By laws encouraging and protecting trees along highways, and by rewarding such planting in exemptions from highway taxes. They might authorize local highway authorities to plant screens and timber belts where needed for a public benefit. 2. By exempting lands planted in timber from taxation, or from the increased value thus given them, for a term of years. 3. By premiums given through the agency of agricultural or other societies, to be awarded for best success in planting or greatest areas planted. 4. Reports of facts worth knowing should be published, and prizes for approved essays should be offered, and the best published for distribution to those who would be most benefited by them. 5. An interest should be awakened in educational institutions and especially in our agricultural colleges. Experimental plantations, lectures and other means of instruction should be provided. 6. The distribution of seeds and plants at cost is provided in some countries, with great success, and without burden to the public. It might be done in some localities with great advantage in our own country. 7. A state board of forestry or a commissioner of forestry might be created by law, for the collection and diffusion of information upon all matters relating to the subject. 8. Efficient laws might be passed for preventing forest fires, by adequate penalties against the careless use of fires, and strict regulations tending to their prevention and control when started. 9. Model plantations, on the plan of model farms, or in connection with them, might be established. 10. When waste lands unfit for agriculture are sold for taxes, the title should be vested in the state, and the lands, if possible, reserved for timber culture under such regulations as should tend to best results. In cities and villages the local governments might promote a taste for sylviculture, and illustrate some of its principles by ornamental plantations and the planting of parks. To give these most value, collections of living trees, properly labeled, should be established at points where they would be of most interest, and especially near schools and public institutions.
FRANKLIN B. HOUGH.
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