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THE CHAIRMAN: Any formal introduction of the speaker who is with us this morning would be entirely out of place. I simply say that I desire to introduce to this assembly one whose works speak for him, and that is saying a good deal. I desire to introduce to you a leader, a distinguished leader of the great conservation movement, that typical American, Gifford Pinchot.
Mr. Pinchot was received with loud and prolonged applause.
MR. GIFFORD PINCHOT, FORESTER, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE; CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL
CoNSERVATION CoMMISSION. /
My friend, Mr. Teal, is not a good authority about me, as you who may have heard him yesterday will realize. But I accept his kindness, as I have done many times before, and your kindness, with the keenest appreciation and much gratitude.
It gives me a very peculiar pleasure to speak on conservation here in Seattle. I came out here in 1891 to take up the question of National Forests and to discuss with your people the principles which were then and are now at stake, and I remember with the keenest delight that when I came to Seattle the first time I found here encouragement and assistance and support, and I remember with peculiar delight that the man who was foremost in that, work then, as he has been prominent in it ever since, was Judge Burke.
Seattle has always been most friendly and helpful in this movement, through its Chamber of Commerce and its citizens generally. That is one of the reasons I am so glad to come before you now and acknowledge the debt of the movement with which I am connected to the Pacific Northwest, to the lumbermen of this region especially, and to the people of Seattle. The principles which the word conservation has come to embody are not many, and they are exceedingly simple. I have had occasion to say a good many times that no great movement which has taken place in this way has made such progress in so short a time and made itself felt in so many directions with such vigor and effectiveness as the movement for the conservation of natural resources. We foresters began our forest work before the conservation work as such began, and we are glad to believe that conservation began with forestry, and that the ideas which govern the Forest Service in particular and forestry in general are also the ideas that control conservation. Forestry came first and conservation later. So perhaps forestry had something to do with the starting of the conservation movement. At any rate, the principles which govern both are precisely the same, and the work which, if I understand it rightly, this Congress is to do is along the same lines. I think it is fair to say that the first idea of real foresight in connection with natural resources did arise in connection with the forest. From it sprang the movement which gathered impetus until it resulted in the great Convention of Governors at Washington something over a year ago. Then came the second official meeting of the National Conservation movement last December in Washington. Both these meetings, as Mr. Libby indicated, were in a certain Sense official. Now comes the first gathering of citizens without official connection, brought together to handle this question as citizens of the United States are handling so many other questions, with the intention of expressing their judgment on what ought to be done, and contributing as powerfully as only such meetings can to the formation of public opinion
The movement so begun and so prosecuted has gathered immense swing and impetus. Where two years ago few knew what conservation meant, now it has become a household word. While at first conservation was supposed to apply only to forests, we now see that its sweep extends even beyond the natural resources, as I hope to say in a word later this morning.
The principles are very few which govern the conservation movement. Like all great and effective things they are simple, few and easily understood. There is no mystery about them, no reason whatever why they should be misunderstood in any direction. Yet it is often hard, as no body of men know better than the gathering in this room, to make the simple, easy and direct facts about a movement of this
kind known to the people generally.
The first thing to say about conservation is that it stands for development. There has been a fundamental misconception that conservation meant nothing but the husbanding of resources for future generations. There could be no more serious mistake. Conservation does mean provision for the future, but it means also and first of all the recognition of the right of the present generation to the fullest necessary use of all the resources that this country is so abundantly blessed with. It means the welfare of this generation and afterwards the welfare of the generations to follow.
The first principle of conservation is development, the use of the natural resources now existing on this continent for the benefit of the people who live here now. There may be just as much waste in neglecting the development and use of certain natural resources as there is in their destruction by waste. We have a limited supply of coal, and only a limited supply. Whether it is to last for a hundred or a hundred and fifty or a thousand years, the coal is limited in amount and, except through geological changes which we can never see, there will never be any more of it than there is now. But coal is in a sense the vital essence of our civilization. If it can be preserved, if its life can be extended, if by preventing waste there can be more coal in this country when this generation is gone, after we have made every needed use of this source of power, then this country is just so much further ahead and the future so much the better off. Conservation, then, stands emphatically for the use of Substitutes for all the exhaustible natural resources, for the development and use of water power, and for the immediate development of water power as a substitute for coal. It Stands for the immediate development of waterways under a broad and comprehensive plan as substitutes and assistants to the railroads. More coal and iron are required to move a ton of freight by rail than water, three to one. In every case and in every direction the conservation movement has development for its first principle, and at the very beginning of its work. The development of our natural resources and the fullest use of them for the present generation is the first duty of this generation. So much for development. , In the second place conservation stands for the prevention of waste. There has come gradually—and most of us in this room today have seen nearly the whole of it—there has come gradually in this country an understanding that waste is not a good thing and that the attack on waste is a necessary and possible attack. I recall very well indeed how, in the early days of forest fires, they were considered simply and Solely as acts of God, against which any opposition was hopeless and any attempt to control them not merely hopeless. but childish. It was assumed that they came in the natural order of things as inevitably as seasons or the rising and Setting of the sun. Today we understand that forest fires are wholly within the control of human agency.
So we are coming in like manner to understand that the prevention of waste in all other directions is a simple matter of good business. The human race controls the earth it lives upon.
We are coming to be in a position more and more completely to say how much waste and destruction of natural resources is to be allowed to go on and where it is to stop. It is curious that the effort to stop waste, like the effort to stop forest fires, has often been considered as a matter controlled wholly by economic law. I think there could be no greater mistake. Forest fires were allowed to burn long after the people had means to stop them. The idea that men were helpless in the face of them held long after the time had passed when the means of control were fully within our reach. It was the old story that “as a man thinketh so is he " we came to see that we could stop forest fires and we found the means at hand. When we came to see the control of logging in certain directions was profitable, we found it had long been possible. In all these matters of waste of natural resources, the education of the people to understand that they can stop these things comes before the actual stopping, and after the means of stopping them have long . been ready at our hands.
In addition to the principles of development and preservation of our resources, the length of the life of the exhaustible resources, the perpetuation and renewal of those which can be renewed and perpetuated, there is a third principle about which I want to say a word. I would say more about it except that the admirable paper of Mr. Teal yesterday set forth, as I could not hope to do, the third principle of conservation. It is this: the natural resources must be developed and preserved for the benefit of the many and not merely for the profit of a few. We are coming to understand in this country, as I have had occasion to say more