THE FIELD OF THE BUREAU OF FORESTRY.
OVERTON W. PRICE,
The cooperative work of the Bureau began in October, 1898, with the offer of assistance to private owners in the handling of their own lands. From this beginning it has broadened as the direct result of an insistent demand, until it now offers assistance not only in the preparation of working plans, but also in tree planting, either for commercial purposes or for protection, and in discovering the most conservative and profitable methods for the use of the products of the forest. The cooperative State forest studies, which offer a great and increasing field for usefulness, have also grown out of the policy of the Bureau's cooperation with private owners.
Not only has it brought about the use of new and better methods on the ground, but, above and beyond the benefit to the individual cooperator, this work, through the publication of its results, has been a far-reaching influence in furthering that understanding of the purpose and methods of forestry without which its general application is impossible. Thus, the results of the cooperative work can not be measured by the great areas of forest land now under management as the result of working plans prepared by the Bureau, or the 334 planting plans which the Bureau has prepared for lands in 52 States and Territories.
The area in woodlots and timber tracts in this country is approximately 500 million acres. It is from them that our future timber supply must chiefly come. And the inauguration of better methods in their management is thus a national duty until the private forester is present in sufficient numbers to carry on the work. When that time comes the Bureau will step aside.
* * * We recognize that the bulk of our forests are now and must always remain in the hands of private owners; that it is only as the private owner, large or small, becomes interested in forestry and carries out its practical principles, that we shall succeed in introducing forestry into the United States. It should be remembered by every forester, and every man interested in forestry, that the wood lands in farms are about three times as great in extent as all the national forest reserves, and that the reserves are almost insignificant when compared with the vast area of timber land, the millions upon millions of acres, which are owned by lumbermen in larger or smaller holdings, by railroads, or by men of various occupations who control the timber lands upon which the prosperity of this whole country depends. This is to be remembered, that the forests of the private owners will have to be set in order if the overwhelming calamity of a timber famine is to be kept from this nation. The extension of the present forest area, by restocking cut-over lands and by making plantations where there are no forests, is one of the chief duties of the present moment. This will be accomplished by helping the States to formulate their own policies, by active cooperation in studying the local situation in each, and by recommending the best procedure under the conditions that are found to exist. In particular, the farmers in every section of the country must be aided, either to develop their woodlots or to plant trees upon the prairies. The forests now under Government control should remain nuder Government control so far as they are needed for public uses. We must have forest reserves, and we shall have to extend their area later on, not merely by Presidential proclamation, but by purchase, both East and West. Forest lands are passing out of the Government's ownership every daylands whose preservation is absolutely essential to the well-being of the country where they lie. It will eventually cost the Government of the United States hundreds of millions of dollars to become possessed again of the areas which it once held, which are now in private ownership, and which are absolutely essential to the welfare of all of us. I hope to see the Bureau of Forestry act as a helper and assistant, not only to the commercial interests, which is its first duty, but to all the interests of every kind that are in any way connected with the forest. And this not by interference or dictation. I should like to have every man and every woman in this Congress go home with the idea that the Bureau of Forestry is the servant of every one of you, and asks nothing better, and can hope for nothing better, than to be called upon to give you help to the utmost limit of its power.
Last Updated: 01-Apr-2008