The National Forests contain about one million acres of denuded forest lands. Much of this was cut-over and so severely burned before the creation of the forests that it bears no tree growth. Some of these lands will reseed themselves naturally while other areas have to be seeded or planted by hand. In this way the lands that will produce profitable trees are fitted to support forest cover. Because the soils and climate of our National Forests are different, special experiments have been carried on in different places to decide the best practices to follow. Two method of reforestation are commonly practiced. In some places, the tree seed is sown directly upon the ground and, thereafter, may or may not be cultivated. This method is limited to the localities where the soil and moisture conditions are favorable for rapid growth. Under the other plan, the seedlings are grown in nurseries for several years under favorable conditions. They are then moved to the field and set out in permanent plantations.
THE NATIONAL FORESTS OF ALASKA
There are two great National Forests in Alaska. They cover 20,579,740 acres or about 5-1/2 per cent. of the total area of Alaska. The larger of these woodlands, the Tongass National Forest, is estimated to contain 70,000,000,000 board feet of timber ripe for marketing. Stands of 100,000 board feet per acre are not infrequent. This is the Alaskan forest that will some day be shipping large amounts of timber to the States. It has over 12,000 miles of shore line and ninety per cent. of the usable timber is within two miles of tidewater. This makes it easy to log the timber and load the lumber directly from the forests to the steamers. This forest is 1500 miles closer to the mainland markets than is the other Alaskan National Forest.
In most of the National Forests the rangers ride around their beats on horseback. The foresters in the Tongass use motor boats. They travel in couples; two men to a 35-foot boat, which is provided with comfortable eating and sleeping quarters. The rangers live on the boat all the time. During the summer they work sixteen to twenty hours daily. The days are long and the nights short, and they must travel long distances between points of work. On such runs one man steers the boat and watches the forested shoreline for three or four hours at a time, while his mate reads or sleeps; then they change off. In this way, they are able to make the most efficient use of the long periods of daylight.
The other big timberland in Alaska is the Chugach National Forest. It is a smaller edition of the Tongass Forest. Its trees are not so large and the stand of timber only about one-half as heavy as in the Tongass. Experts estimate that it contains 7,000,000,000 board feet of lumber. Western hemlock predominates. There is also much spruce, poplar and birch. Stands of 40,000 to 50,000 feet of lumber an acre are not unusual. In the future, the lumber of the Chugach National Forest will play an important part in the industrial life of Alaska. Even now, it is used by the fishing, mining, railroad and agricultural interests. On account of its great distance from the markets of the Pacific Northwest it will be a long time before lumber from this forest will be exported.