Forest Service Circular No. 35
Forest Preservation and National Prosperity


Weyerhaueser Lumber Company.

Forest growth varies greatly in different climates and different varieties of trees in the same climate. Before he can consider forestry the lumberman must know the rate of annual growth and the cost of protecting the forest. This information the forester is able to give him. In other words, the forester tells him how long it will take to produce a merchantable tree and the average product per acre. Knowing these facts, it is comparatively a simple matter to determine whether a given forest can be maintained and yet made to yield satisfactory returns to the owner.

The next obstacle, more important because harder to overcome, is fire. I am frank enough to say that in this matter lumbermen themselves are largely responsible, sometimes even to the extent of fighting reform. But the lumberman is not only culprit but sufferer also, and he must be protected in this loss from fire by the rigid enforcement of proper laws. With a sufficient patrol during dry seasons and reasonable care on the part of those who start fires, this source of awful destruction can certainly be checked, though it can never be entirely eliminated.

The final obstacle is taxes. If anywhere, it is here that lumbermen practicing forestry under present conditions will be checked, for the lumberman more than any other manufacturer is the subject of heavy taxation. This policy of drastic taxation results inevitably in the slashing of the timber and the complete destruction of the forest. Assuming that the land held for forestry purposes is valuable for timber, the State would far better collect a low annual tax over a long period of years than levy a heavy tax for a short period; and this is obvious when we consider that an important industry is thus maintained and a considerable and constant pay roll secured. Practical forestry ought to be of more interest and importance to lumbermen than to any other class of men. At present lumbermen are ready to consider seriously any proposition which may be made by those who have the conservative use of the forests at heart. Private forestry is practicable, and can be applied profitably under favorable conditions.

Editor American Lumberman.

The early lumberman found it hard work to make a profit when he had an unlimited privilege to cut all the timber in sight. In the three northwestern white-pine States from 1830 to about 1845 a few goods given to the Indians were sufficient to secure all the logs necessary to supply any of the mills of that day. Timber that would run 60 per cent uppers could be secured in exchange for whisky that would run 90 per cent adulteration.

* * * The increase in value of all timber holdings within recent years makes advocacy of forest preservation, as far as merchantable timber is concerned, properly a plea for so managing the forest as to get the greatest amount of commercial product from it at the present time, without impairing any more than necessary its productive capacity for the future. The holder of a timber estate is actuated by exactly the same considerations as the holder of other property—he wishes it to produce more money than he has put in. If he can be convinced that the timber is such that its growth will give him greater returns on his investment than its cutting at the present time, he may be induced to hold it; but he is not likely to let his forest stand solely for the benefit of posterity.

* * * That there has been a change of heart within recent years on the part of American lumbermen toward the forestry idea there can be no doubt. If you should ask me to what I ascribe this sentiment, I would say that the most important step forward was made by the disciples of forestry when they ceased to preach the doctrine of indirect and deferred benefits and began to demonstrate that direct benefits could be made to result from forestry as a science and as a practice. Proper forestry regulations and successful reforestation can never be brought about but by a demonstration of direct results. The great and vital question that appeals to the American lumberman is, How can I cut my timber now and at the same time grow a new timber crop for future supply?

President National Lumber Manufacturers' Association.

That forestry is practicable upon large timber holdings, either in private or governmental ownership, is unquestioned by all who have given the matter careful thought. Lumbermen who have studied the timber situation realize that in the future, as in the past, the largest returns will not be obtained from their manufacturing plants only. The great fortunes that have been made in the lumber business have been acquired by the owners of large bodies of timber, and this condition will continue. Consumption is annually increasing, not only from the increase in population, but from a material increase in per capita consumption as well. On the other hand, the supply is annually decreasing. If this be true, all Government timber lands should be withdrawn from sale or entry and placed under conservative management—all mature timber being for sale, provided proper protection is given the young timber. In this way at least a partial supply of timber for future generations can be perpetuated.

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Last Updated: 01-Apr-2008