Thoughtless lumbermen have pillaged millions of acres of our most productive forests. The early lumbermen wasted our woodland resources. They made the same mistakes as everyone else in the care and protection of our original forests. The greatest blame for the wasting of our lumber resources rests with the State and Federal authorities who permitted the depletion. Many of our lumbermen now appreciate the need of preserving and protecting our forests for future generations. Some of them have changed their policies and are now doing all in their power to aid forest conservation.
The ability of a properly managed forest to produce new crops of trees year after year promises us a future supply of wood sufficient for all our needs if only we will conserve our timberlands as they deserve. It is our duty to handle the forests in the same way that fertile farming fields are managed. That is to say, they should be so treated that they will yield a profitable money crop every year without reducing their powers of future production. Private owners and farmers are coming slowly to realize the grave importance of preserving and extending our woodlands. The public, the State and the Nation are now solidly behind the movement to improve our forestry and to safe-guard our forests. Several of the States, including New York and Pennsylvania, have purchased large areas of timberlands for State forests. These will be developed as future sources of lumber supply.
FORESTS AND FLOODS
Forests are necessary at the headwaters of streams. The trees break the force of the rain drops, and the forest floor, acting as a large sponge, absorbs rainfall and prevents run-off and floods. Unless there are forests at the sources of streams and rivers, floods occur. The spring uprisings of the Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri Rivers are due largely to the lack of forests at their headwaters. In the regions drained by these streams the run-off water is not absorbed as it should be. It flows unimpeded from the higher levels to the river valleys. It floods the river courses with so much water that they burst their banks and pour pell-mell over the surrounding country. Many floods which occur in the United States occur because we have cut down large areas of trees which formerly protected the sources of streams and rivers.
A grave danger that threatens western farming is that some time in the future the greater part of the vegetation and forest cover on the watersheds of that section may entirely disappear. Such a condition would cause floods after every heavy rain. The available supplies of rainwater which are needed for the thirsty crops would be wasted as flood waters. These floods would cause great damage in the valleys through which they rushed. The freshets would be followed by periods of water famine. The streams would then be so low that they could not supply the normal demands. Farmers would suffer on account of the lack of irrigation water. Towns and cities that depended on the mountain streams for their water supplies would be handicapped severely. In a thousand and one ways, a deficient water supply due to forest depletion would cause hardships and suffering in the regions exposed to such misfortune.