Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/236

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thousands of trees upon the hills. Naturally there have been mistakes and failures, but after almost a decade of active operations on the Dismal River National Forest one can not but marvel at the results obtained, if he is at all familiar with the extreme natural conditions that the government's experts have attempted to meet. The pine trees that were planted in 1903 are now about twelve feet in height and four inches in diameter. The bunch-grasses have been shaded out and a fine carpet of pine needles is beginning to accumulate beneath the green crowns of this young Sand Hill forest. So also, as I was able to demonstrate during the past summer, the temperature of air and soil, the humidity and evaporation, and the movements of the air in the vicinity of this plantation have been profoundly modified in comparison to those conditions in the bunch-grass association that completely surrounds these plantations. It is a most interesting and significant fact that the trees have adjusted themselves more readily to the fury of the wind on the hilltops and even in the blow-outs than to the struggle with other vegetation in the moister and more protected situations. Mr. Pierce, the supervisor of the Nebraska National Forest, told me in October that eighty per cent, of the trees planted in 1911 had passed through the summer drought and were making a brave effort to become permanent fixtures in the Sand Hill landscape.

The forest nursery established in 1903 has been enlarged from time to time until now it covers about five acres. When all of the seed beds are in use the nursery can care for about four million seedlings and two million transplants. The care of the delicate seedlings requires a great amount of skill and a large force of men in order that they may be kept free from disease and develop perfectly for the planting on the hills.

While it will be many years in the future before any return will be realized from this enormous experiment of the government's, yet the success of the first decade certainly warrants the continuation of the experiment. It is hoped that at some distant time acres of flourishing pine trees will grace many of the hills now so completely dominated by the bunch-grass.

The people of the Sand Hills are a hale and hardy lot. Their life is a rather hard one, even if they take advantage of every comfort possible for them. Many of them were lured by the roseate stories of the early "boomers" and came to the region from the east years ago. They found that the glowing tales of the wealth of the region were mostly florid falsehoods and that they were in a strange land whose productivity was not at all apparent and the rigors of whose climate were at times most severe. Many of these early homesteaders used up all of their capital in getting into the Sand Hills. Once there their disappoint-