Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/486

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must be restrained in its tendency to destroy what is the common heritage of the people at large in all areas to which the forests are tributary. There is also a large class who believe that it is worth while to protect the animal life of the forests, and to set aside areas where in the future the crowded population of the nation may have great public parks open to all for health and sport.

There is a strong tendency among thoughtful citizens of the States in which the reserves are situated, and in adjoining States, to favor the protection and wise administration of the forests on the public domain, and as soon as it is made manifest that this will be accomplished by the reservation policy the sentiment in favor of the reserves will be as great among the people directly affected as among those who now advocate the existence of the reserves from sentiment. In opposition to this is the relatively small but very active and influential class composed of those whose personal interests are directly affected by the reservation policy. Their opposition is based on expectation of immediate gain, regardless of the future of mining or agriculture, of property rights of the Government, or of the rights of the future generations which may occupy the region affected by the presence or absence of forests. From their point of view, opposition to any forest policy is reasonable, as it affects their capital and income, but it can not be sustained as against the welfare of the masses of the people of this and future generations. The policy of forest reserves has evidently come to remain, provided the attempt is not made to accomplish too much at once without regard to the rights of those having homes or property within the limits of the reserves. It is also essential that the reserves should not be kept as idle parks a day longer than is absolutely necessary to establish a system of administration that will provide for the use of the timber, protect the immature trees and undergrowth, and permit of the development of the mineral resources.

If the reserves are judiciously selected and honestly administered, and thus made to commend the policy to the American people, the difficulties to be met will be of little moment. That the reserves will be of great benefit to the communities to which they are tributary is absolutely certain, and it is also certain that in time the policy of forest reserves will develop into one of the most popular, beneficial, and valuable institutions of the Government. It is based on the experience and mature judgment of the most intelligent and progressive nations of the world, and if properly planned and administered its future in the United States will be all that its strongest supporters hope for.