Page images

and circumstances of some localities might render protection desirable from other points besides the north, especially in the remote prairie states, that often suffer from the dry and heated winds from the southwest.

It would be better to leave the direction and density of these timber-belts to the discretion of the planter, as his circumstances might indicate.

By another statute of recent date, the State of Nebraska, in pursuance of the authority expressed in its Constitution, now exempts, from taxation, the increased value of lands by reason of live-fences, fruit and forest trees grown and cultivated thereon, without regard to the area planted, or the time that the plantation is maintained. We deem this a simple and effectual mode of encouragement, well worthy of careful trial in the prairie states ; but there should evidently be some limit to the period of exemption, to prevent the public burdens from bearing unequally upon property, for otherwise there would eventually arise a just cause of complaint from other interests. The limit might perhaps be extended to the time when the plantation would begin to bring a revenue to the owner.

We may here remark, that this accumulation and comparison of experience in the legislation of the country, for the benefit of forest-culture, may prove one of the most effectual means for bringing about that uniformity and that degree of excellence that secure the best results. We should profit from experience, where it leads to error, not less than when it is crowned with


Without further notice of this second Report, which will soon be before the public, we will only add, that Congress at its late session, after due deliberation, made provision for the continuance of these labors; that plans for special investigations in several (lepartments of Forestry are in progress, and that a third Report is in course of preparation.

It will be seen from the foregoing, that prominence has been given, in the Report now in press, to the practical interests of the lumber trade. Although the question of supply is one of vital importance to the country,—the one wherein most is demanded, and the only one in which the country generally will take great interest; it should be steadily borne in mind, that the best service for the promotion of the material interests of Forestry can be rendered through the aid of science. The prominent duties of the branch of the public service, having charge of this subject, should therefore be to advance, by every means of inquiry and research within its power, our knowledge of the laws of nature concerned in forest-growth, and carefully to investigate the various circumstances that lead to best results. We should have definite knowledge of the casualties that may happen, and the means by which they may be mitigated or avoided, and upon all occasions seek to utilize the discoveries of science, wherever they can be applied.

In the national census of the present year, provision is for the first time made for a special investigation of our forest resources, and in the hands of Professor C. S. Sargent and his assistants, we may expect that this work will be well done.

The only State Forestry Association, yet organized, is that of Minnesota, which is doing good service in the promotion of treeplanting in the prairie regions of that State. The project of a School of Forestry has been proposed in Minnesota, and a landgrant for its endowment has been asked from Congress, - but hitherto, as we understand, without success.

We deem it of the first importance that a better knowledge of the principles of arboriculture should be more widely diffused. It remains a question of the future, as to how far a special education in this branch of applied knowledge would, at present, find adequate remuneration, unless associated with capital, and sustained by an intelligent appreciation of the importance of forest culture, by those having money to invest in this enterprise, which is as yet too seldom found.

In speaking of the results of associated effort, in the interest of sylviculture, we should not fail to notice our State Agricultural and Horticultural Societies, many of which now recognize the importance of this subject, and admit discussions bearing upon treeculture, at their meetings and in their published Transactions. This is particularly the case in Iowa, where much prominence is given to questions relating to the planting of groves and hedges, and premiums are offered tending to improvements in management, and extension of amount done. In some of the older States, and especially in Massachusetts, much attention has been given,

in recent years, to this subject; but in none of the states have we seen statistics of the results obtained by the offer of these premiums of the later period.

Within the last three years, the Secretary of the Interior, in whose Department is vested the care of the Public Lands, has been making commendable efforts to arrest the unlawful cutting of timber upon these lands. In this he has met with great opposition from interested parties, through the political and other intluences that they have been able to bring in Congress, and from delays in the courts.

The shameful extent to which these depradations have been going on, through a long period of years, and in fact, until the practice had gained from long indulgence the semblance of a right, will hereafter be looked upon as a striking evidence of the barbar

ism of the age.

These efforts to repress a criminal practice, long sanctioned by custom, have led to recent legislation in Congress upon the timber question, some of which will tend to increase rather than prevent the waste we have described. We refer particularly to an act passed two years since, granting to the inhabitants of certain regions, where conservation is of the first importance, the unrestrained use of timber upon the public domain, for all mining and domestic purposes, without so much as the pretext of a report as to the amount taken, the least check upon its limit, or the least payment for the privilege.

Among these recent statutes relating to our public domain, we still look in vain for the first indication of a policy tending to provide for future supplies by reservation of timber lands- except to limited extent and for naval use alone. We find no limitation in the cutting of small trees, and no protection of lands with the view of

a new growth of timber, where it has been taken away ; much less do we yet find any measures for planting upon the public lands, or any stipulations requiring this to be done by settlers, except in the still recent timber-culture acts, that have as yet scarcely passed through the trial of experience.

The first of these timber-planting acts was passed in 1873, and amendments have been since made, as deemed necessary. If faithfully administered, the law cannot fail to prove of inestimable

** An act authorizing the citizens of Colorado, Sevada and the Territories, to remove Timber on the Public Domain, for mining and domestic purposes.” Approved June 3,



value to the prairie states. According to this act as it now stands, a man may acquire the absolute title to a quarter-section, or 160 acres of land, by planting and cultivating ten acres of timber, there being not less than 2,700 trees to the acre. The patent is not issued until eight years after the claim is entered. The mode of preparation of the land is prescribed, and proof of successful planting must be shown.

According to the latest Reports, 5,157,681 acres had been entered under this act within three years, chiefly in Kansas, Dakota, Nebraska and Minnesota. Undoubtedly some of these lands have been taken up for speculative purposes, and as little labor as possible will be spent upon them in the way of planting and improvement, while in many other instances, the undertaking is assumed in good faith, and with a desire to realize as much profit as possible from the cultivation.

Passing from these statements relating to American Forestry', let us notice some facts of interest bearing upon the subject in Europe. As is well known, every government of continental Europe has now in operation a system of forest management, the best of which provides (so far as concerns the forests owned by general and local governments, and by institutions) for 2 perpetual supply, to the full limit of their capacity for timber-growth.

From this grade of excellence, requiring a special education and thorough training of agents for its maintenance, fully equal to that for any branch of the public service, we have various degrees of efficiency down to that of a mere police regulation for the prevention of fires, and the restraint of waste upon timber on the public domain. Yet these systems, however they may differ in details, agree in this :— that unless the public interest is concerned, the owners of private estates are generally allowed to cut or plant upon their own premises, as their interest decides. The exceptions to this rule are,-along a frontier, where woodlands are needed for the public defence, the banks of a river liable to inundationwhere materials should be at hand for the construction of barriers, - upon mountains liable to erosion of torrents, or on drifting sands on the seashore. There may be a few other exceptions, but as a general rule, the government does not often interfere with the timber upon private estates, even where it requires a notice of intention to be given before clearing is begun.

Yet upon these private lands, large forests are sometimes grown for profit, and their management is often placed in the care of agents who have received the highest grade of special education for this particular service. Except in Great Britain, we believe that facilities have been provided for this special instruction in every country in Europe, either in academies where Forestry is taught alone, or in institutions where agriculture and other practic cal industries receive a share of attention.

It may be proper to notice here a change that has been taking place in recent years, in the organization of these Schools of Forestry in Europe. In Austria, a first class School of Forestry at Mariabruun was, after more than forty years' existence, merged in 1875 in a High School of Agriculture and Forestry in Vienna. In Bavaria, the Central Forest Academy at Aschaffenburg, still older than the one above mentioned, has been more recently united with the University of Munich, and discussions tending to further changes with the view of consolidation are now in progress in other forest academies. In Prussia, the two institutions at Eberswalde and at Münden still maintain a separate existence, and the former has recently commemorated the fiftieth year of its history.

In looking at the organization of these institutions, we notice å marked change in their plan, particularly in Germany. In the preparatory studies, and especially in the natural sciences and in physics, so far as they in the least concern the forester, we find a more careful division of labor, and a more earnest purpose to make these sciences to their whole extent available in their profession, instead of the elementary studies in chemistry and botany which formerly satisfied the requirements for gravluation.

In all of these institutions, excursions and practical exercises form a regular feature in the course of education, and microscopic studies now receive much more attention than formerly.

The science at present receives a substantial support from various experimental stations in Germany, Austria, France and other countries, in which both practical and scientific questions are carefully investigated, and the results published. Among these we may prominently mention the Foresters' Experimental Union in Germany, and the experimental labors of the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture, under the direction of Baron von Seckendorff.

In recent years much interest hias been manifested among in

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »