Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/483

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THE UNITED STATES FOREST RESERVES.

of a few rich mines that can afford to pay high prices. Scarcity of timber all over the West is not a remote contingency if the present waste and destruction are permitted to continue; it is already in sight. Indeed, it will not be long before the magnificent forests of the Pacific coast will be so greatly injured by fire and wasteful cutting that the mining communities will have to draw their best timber from Canada and Alaska.

The opponents of the forest reserves have frequently stated that the reservation policy would cripple the mining industry. It is believed, however, that there would be much more truth in the statement that the destruction of the forests would seriously injure and in many instances ruin the mining industry. This industry demands a permanent source of supply of timber, and it hardly needs to be said that, without some such policy as that of forest reservation, no such source of supply can be maintained. If mining men can be brought to understand that their industry will be protected by the proper administration of the reserves, the future of both the mining and the lumber interests of the West will be provided for.

Irrigation Interests.—A great industry like that of agriculture demands that in all regions where irrigation is carried on the source of the water supply be protected. The future existence of the farms, and to a large extent of the States themselves, depends upon the conservation of the water supply. The forest areas are largely the reservoirs in which the waters are controlled and given out to the adjacent irrigable districts. The experience of Europe and eastern Asia has shown that if the mountains are stripped of their forests, populous districts will become flood-swept deserts of rock and sand.

To illustrate the views of the leaders of the great irrigation development that is taking place in the arid and semiarid regions of the West, I will quote the resolution passed by the Irrigation Congress held in Lincoln, Nebraska, September 27 to 30, 1897:

"Whereas, The perpetuation of the forests of the arid region is essential to the maintenance of the water supply for irrigation, as well as the supply of timber; therefore

"Resolved, That the President of the United States be memorialized, as soon as adequate provision be made for the protection of the forests and the regulation of the cutting of timber therefrom, to withdraw from entry or sale, under the act of Congress of March 3, 1891, all lands now in its [the Government's] possession which are of more value for their timber than for agriculture or for minerals."

Reforesting and Pasturage.—There is little doubt that the present forests in the arid and semiarid regions are but the remnants of large forested areas that were developed during a period of greater rainfall than exists at present. Such being the case, although it is pos-