Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/184

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PSM V73 D184 Rangers of leadville national forest colorado.png

Rangers Hazzard and Brown, of Leadville National Forest, Colorado.

veloped water power is probably not less than 1,000,000 horse-power more."[1]

The mighty interests here indicated are bound up with the preservation and perpetuation of the forests upon the Southern Appalachian Mountain slopes. The value of water power is limited by the low water flow. The question is not, How much water is discharged annually? nor even, How great is the average flow per month? but How great is the minimum? Hence constancy and a reasonably large volume are essential.

These are insured by the preservation of the forests, for the forest mulch holds back the water precipitated by rainfall and thaws, and discharges it gradually the year round. If, on the other hand, the mountainsides are stripped of their vegetation and then, by fire and floods, denuded of their soils, the water which, gradually supplied, might have driven the mills, now descends in disastrous floods, only to be followed by long periods of low water.

Agriculture is, of course, largely dependent upon natural irrigation from the rivers fed from these mountains. To it the alternation of flood and drought is as disastrous as to manufacturing by water power. Similarly, the great transportation interest of the south is intimately concerned. Its profits are directly dependent upon tonnage, and tonnage is dependent upon the productiveness of the region served.

What, now, is the situation of the south as respects the conservation of these interests?

  1. U. S. Senate report No. 2537.