Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/608

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4. The humus in the soil, and the soil itself on the hills and slopes, are washed away by the rains, and carried to the lower lands and to the rivers, a large part being lost altogether.

Abundant examples from the Old World might be adduced to fortify this position, and to show how numerous and great have been the changes from fertility to barrenness by the neglect to heed the warnings of Nature, But these are so well known to even the unscientific traveler and reader that I forbear.

Most of us who have lived in America, even a single generation, will recall many facts that warn us how closely we are following the path that has led older countries to ruin. Streams with which we were familiar in childhood have shrunken or dried up. Springs have failed; the hills are bare and desiccated. How different the aspect of the older settled portions from what they appeared to eyes that beheld them less than a century ago! How real this description by Bryant:

"Before these fields were shorn and tilled,
Full to the brim our rivers flowed;
The melody of waters filled
The fresh and boundless wood;
And torrents dashed, and rivulets played,
And fountains spouted in the shade."

Now these woodlands no longer echo the song of the poet, and the melody of waters is exchanged for the rush and roar of the torrent.

Droughts are now the rule rather than the exception. Our pastures dry up and are of little service for several weeks during the year. The more tender fruits can not be successfully grown where abundant crops greeted the days of old. Many of the most hardy trees and shrubs are killed by the depth to which frost penetrates the soil.

So great and so indiscriminate has been and continues to be the destruction of the protecting woods as to create in the statesman and the philanthropist a well-founded alarm lest our country be soon reduced to the condition of those regions of the Old World to which I have alluded.

Let us now inquire, What has been done in this country for the protection and preservation of the forests? In all the chief governments of Europe elaborate systems of forestry have long been established, to the end that the timber should be safe from all unnecessary destruction; that it shall be allowed to grow in situations where experience has proved its importance in the amelioration of climate and the preservation of the sources of river supply, and to secure the timber supply by replanting. In this country the general and State governments have only slowly