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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/242

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

To dwell on the æsthetic aspect of the forestry question would lead me too far, though its effect upon national life should not be underestimated, and deserves fully our attention.

From this hurried review of the relation which the forest-cover of the earth holds toward the economies of Nature, it should appear that more than a private interest must attach to it; that, wherever men are aggregated as a nation or a government for the protection of the public against the willfulness of the few, the care of the forest should receive earnest and timely consideration, and, if necessary, legislative action.

The forestry-problem, then, exists because of the dependence of favorable agricultural conditions upon the existence, proper management, and location of forests, and because the common interest of the nation in the maintenance of such conditions does not find a responsive appreciation on the part of those private citizens who own the forests, and who refuse to be restricted in the exercise of their free-will and their property rights in respect to them, though they suffer a number of other interferences imposed for the common good without grumbling. The forestry-problem is, to reconcile and adjust these opposing interests, and, either by persuasion or coercion, to insure the preservation and the conservative management of forest areas whose devastation would injure the interests of the whole community, and also to encourage the creation of new forest areas where needed.

Let us now ask. How far are we concerned in this forestry-problem in this country at the present time? Is the condition of our forests, in comparison with our present and future demands upon them, such as to make the immediate consideration and speedy solution of the problem a necessity? Has the time arrived for us when the needs of the future should be considered in our actions in the present?

First, in regard to material supplies: it is a most difficult task to arrive at precise data from which to judge as to supplies at hand; and still more difficult, if not impossible, to predict exhaustion or the time of scarcity. The way of speaking on this aspect of the question has, by necessity, been without proper basis. The vast stretches of so called forest still standing encouraged the notion that exhaustion was impossible—that Nature's provisions would, unaided, recuperate the drains made upon her. "Anyhow, there are a good many years' supplies ahead." Supplies of what, and for what demands? It is evident that we should discern, for instance, between building-timber supplies and hard-wood supplies, which latter, for useful purposes, are reproduced by Nature more easily and in shorter time. Unfortunately, we lack sufficient data to make any such discrimination; but we know tolerably well that the "inexhaustible" white-pine forests of the Northwest, which have supplied the bulk of our building material, will practically be exhausted in a very few years. The hemlock is soon to follow. We hear it stated that the capacity of the Northern