Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/9

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MAY, 1882.


THE recent calamitous fire in Michigan calls attention afresh to the rapid consumption of our forests, and occasions renewed inquiry as to what may be done either to check that consumption or to make good the loss thereby sustained. More than fifty townships of land, covering an area of about two thousand square miles, or a territory nearly half as large as the State of Connecticut, were swept over by the flames. "Scarcely a green sprig," says a reporter, "was left in the track of the fire." This fire was, indeed, exceptional in extent, as well as in the loss of life occasioned by it; and yet it was only the emphasized form of a very common occurrence—one so common that we fail to notice it as we should, or become sensible of the aggregate losses resulting therefrom. The destruction of the great pine-forests of the Northwest, of Michigan and Wisconsin, rapidly as it is carried forward by the lumberman's axe, is hastened by the fires lighted, in some cases, by the lumberman's carelessness or that of others, and in other cases as the speediest way of clearing the ground for agricultural use. There is no part of our country exempt from the destructive effects of forest-fires. The mountains and hill-sides of New England frequently show blackened spaces on their verdant flanks. The same is true of the great wooded regions of New York and Pennsylvania. The vast Adirondack forests are visited by fires, the frequency and extent of which are known to hardly any but the wandering trappers and hunters whose campfire's, left unextinguished, may have lighted them. New Jersey has suffered severely from the burning of her woods. Ten thousand acres, covering a space seven miles in breadth, were swept over, at one time, in 1866. In 1871 two fires in Ocean County consumed over thirty thousand acres, and it is said that this whole county is overrun