Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and an average yield of 30 bushels has been maintained, showing that, for growing wheat on that particular soil, rotation was equivalent to fertilization. As might be expected, the Rothamsted experiments show the best results where fertilizers are used in connection with rotation, and justify the conclusion that under continuous use, with proper rotation and an intelligent use of fertilizers, soil productivity can be largely increased. This is a matter of particular interest to the South, because with our advantages of soils and climate we have an ideal region for soil conservation through crop rotation and intensive farming. There is a quite general impression throughout the North that, except for a few localities in which early fruits and vegetables, tobacco, and sugar cane are grown, the South is a one-crop region devoted exclusively to cotton. This is entirely erroneous. There are many localities in the southeastern States where cotton is not grown at all, and every acre of land in the cotton belt is suited for growing other crops as well. Cotton will continue to be the great staple crop of the South, and with the ever-increasing demand for cotton goods of all kinds, its cultivation will become increasingly profitable, but the southern cotton planter is learning the value of crop rotation; diversified farming and live-stock raising are becoming more general, and the increased supply of cotton demanded by the world will be produced by increasing the average productiveness of each acre as well as by increasing the acreage. Other things being equal, the conservative use of a raw material, whatever it may be, consists in its manufacture, in the locality of production, through all the stages of preparation for the final consumer. Manufacturing in the South has reached its present growth and is being still further developed on the basis of this kind of conservation of raw material. Industrial development in the South on a large scale may be said to date from about 1880, prior to which time only relatively a small proportion of the raw materials available in that section were advanced through even the first stages of manufacture before being shipped to other localities. It is natural that, at first, only the coarser, and what may be termed the preliminary, processes should have been undertaken. This was the first step in the conservation of raw materials by their manufacture near the source of supply. The South has gone far in that direction, and has already started on the second step, which is the use of the products of primary manufacturing as the raw materials for secondary industries. But a large proportion of southern cotton mill products, lumber, pig-iron, and other commodities, advanced through the first stages of manufacture, are still shipped out of the South to serve as the raw materials of industries in other localities which convert them into articles ready for the final consumer; and southern coal is shipped to serve as the raw material for power and heat in other parts of the United States and, to some extent, in foreign countries. This is a waste of energy which, under ideal conditions of Conservation would be avoided; and I am glad to be able to say that the present tendency of industrial development in our section is in the direction of its elimination. Substantial progress has already been made in the building up of secondary manufacturing along some lines, and I believe that the most noteworthy progress of southern industrial development in the immediate future will be in this direction, carrying with it an increase in the volume of primary manufacturing through broadening the market for its products. One of the most valuable of the natural resources of the South is its timber. It is also a resource of which the intelligent conservation will benefit, directly and indirectly, the largest number of people. We have in the southeastern States large and growing industries which use wood alone, or wood in combination with iron, steel, and other materials, as their raw materials. Some of these industries, such as the manufacture of furniture, have enjoyed a phenomenal growth in the past 30 years. There is every reason to expect that this growth will continue and that the variety of woodworking industries will be increased, with the result that they will require an increasing supply of raw materials. As the timber consumption of the United States is now in excess of the annual growth, and as other sections are drawing on our southern forests, it is obvious that if these southern wood-working industries are to survive and are to be handed down to future generations, immediate and effective steps should be taken for the conservation of southern forests. This is the more important for the reason that the same steps taken to insure a perpetual supply of raw material for our wood-workers will tend to stream and soil conservation by increasing stream-flow in periods of drought and by lessening the destructiveness of floods which erode the soil of the upper watersheds and deposit gravel and silt on overflowed lands and in the beds of the navigable parts of the streams. If we were thinking only of the present time, there would be no occasion for us to concern ourselves with the conservation of our timber supplies. We have ample for the present generation. It is because timber is a crop of slow growth, requiring more than a lifetime to mature most of the species, that timber conservation, if it is to be effective and is to provide for the needs of those who come after us, must be handled along exceptional lines. It is not the duty of a private owner of forest lands to conserve them unless it is at least as profitable for him to do so as to clear all the timber off of them; but it is the duty of the Government to consider the welfare of future generations as well as of that now living. The conservation of southern timber supplies is a matter that concerns not only the people of our own section, but those of the entire United States as well. It is a matter of National concern, as, owing to the depletion of their forest resources, the people of other parts of the country must look to the South for an increasing proportion of their timber supplies. It is a recognition of this National interest in the southern forests that has strengthened the support of the proposition for the acquisition by the Federal Government of large tracts of lands in the Appalachian region to be converted into National forests (applause) from which the timber shall be marketed under a system that will result in the perpetuation of the forests. It may be that our Federal Government has no power, under the Constitution, to acquire lands for the purpose of forest conservation; but it is charged with the supervision, improvement, and conservation of our navigable streams (applause), and the evidence as to the effect of forests on stream flow was so conclusive as to lead the House of Representatives, during the last session of Congress, to pass a bill providing the establishment of National forests for the protection of the watersheds of navigable streams. This bill is to be voted on in the Senate on the fifteenth of next February. Whether this plan or some other may be adopted, I think it is of the utmost importance that the campaign of education as to the necessity for the speedy and general adoption of the most approved methods of scientific forestry, which is being so ably carried on by the National Forest Service, should be continued (applause). This is quite important, if the best results are to be attained, because, whatever may be done by the Federal Government, much will remain for the States and for private owners of forests and woodlots to do. If the States and private owners are to do their share, the owners of forest lands, the users of forest products, State legislators, and the people generally should be educated as to the dependence of our future supplies of timber on wise conservation. The private investor in forest lands buys them with the expectation of making a profit on his investment. He naturally wants to make the largest possible profit, and to do it as soon as possible. Heretofore, partly as a result of prevailing systems of taxation and the lack of efficient fire protection, self-interest has impelled the investor in timber lands to clean up his holdings to the last dollar's worth of merchantable timber, and to get off the denuded land as quickly as possible, selling it for whatever it might bring. In the early years of our history, when, except in the prairie regions, lands for cultivation could be obtained only by clearing them of timber, this wholesale cutting was more justifiable, and, in some cases now, in locations where the value of the land for agricultural purposes is greater than its value for timber production, it may be the proper method. We have reached the point, however, when, especially with reference to our mountain forests, it may seriously be questioned whether, as a matter of dollars and cents, this method is the most profitable to the forest owner. In view of the present prices of lumber and the practical certainty of advancing prices in the future, I am disposed to believe that we have now reached the point where it will pay the private owner of any considerable body of timber on land having relatively a low agricultural value to adopt conservative methods of forestry (applause). A case in point is that of the University of the South, at Sewanee, Tennessee, which owns 7,000 acres of forest land. In 1899 it was proposed to sell all the marketable timber on this tract, and an offer of $3,000.00 was obtained. This was rejected, and the University undertook to manage the forest conservatively and market the mature timber from time to time. The result is that, at the end of nine years, instead of having realized only $3,000.00 from this tract, the University has received from it net profits amounting to over $18,000.00 above all expenses (applause), including the cost of fire patrol; and instead of having 7,000 acres of cut-over land of relatively little value, it has a continuously productive forest. (Applause)

Whatever may be the decision of our National Legislature as to the proposition for the conversion of our Appalachian woodlands into National forests, I believe it would be a wise and patriotic policy for our State lawmakers to encourage conservative forestry by private owners in every reasonable and proper way. One of the reasons assigned for the failure of private owners to adopt conservative forestry is that in some localities the rate of taxation on timber land is so high as practically to compel every owner to cut the timber as quickly as possible. Another reason assigned is the general lack of an efficient fire patrol, and the danger that, even if an owner goes to the expense of preventing fire on his own property, his timber may be destroyed by a fire starting on the property of some neighbor who has taken no such precautions. These are matters that come within the province of our State legislators, and I would suggest their consideration of whether it might not be possible to devise a system of taxation that would differentiate between timber lands so managed as to insure the perpetuation of a great National resource and those so managed as to hasten its exhaustion (applause). I would also suggest consideration of the enactment of proper fire laws and the establishment of an efficient patrol, possibly with the expense apportioned among owners of timber lands, as I understand is done in some western localities at a very low annual cost per acre. I would further suggest consideration of the practicability of encouraging the planting of trees on lands of little or no agricultural value. Even under the most encouraging conditions, however, planting of forests by private land owners must, almost necessarily, be on relatively a small scale. As a general rule, therefore, private planting will be limited to the establishment of woodlots on the waste lands of farms; and if reforestation is to be undertaken on a larger scale, it must be done by Some Governmental agency. (Applause)

The problem of stream conservation in the southeastern States is very closely connected with both timber conservation and soil conservation. The ends to be sought are a diminution of the volume of water carried by the streams in their flood stages, and an increase in their volume during their low stages. Everything, therefore, which tends to retard the flow of the rainfall into the streams is a conservative agency. Undoubtedly the most effective of these is the natural forest with its soil, composed of porous humus, covered by a blanket of decaying leaves, branches, and fallen trees, and often with a dense mat of underbrush growing among the trees. Such a forest will absorb a large amount of water during a rain-storm, and allow it to seep down gradually into the streams instead of running off in torrents, overflowing the banks of the streams, destroying growing crops and other property, and scouring the soil from the watersheds to be deposited in the lower levels of the streams or at their mouths, shoaling channels or forming bars in harbors. Generally speaking, therefore, every step taken in the conservation of forests is of value in stream conservation; but, if the best results in the regulation of stream flow are to be attained, other things may be done to advantage. The growth of underbrush having no marketable value is of no benefit to a forest, in fact it may choke out or retard the growth of young trees of valuable species. Such a growth is of great value, however, in retarding water flow, and preventing soil erosion, and, unless cut-over mountain sides are to be re-forested, I believe that the growth on them of such species as laurel and rhododendron should be encouraged. (Applause)

Each farmer, especially along the headwaters of the streams, can contribute to a greater or less extent to stream conservation. He can do this by establishing permanent woodlots on those waste lands that are to be found on almost every farm in rolling or mountainous country, and especially on those lands that are liable to erosion. He should, of course, take every precaution to prevent the washing of gullies in his cultivated fields, and where such gullies have already been formed he should so manage as to prevent further erosion. The farmer on the headwaters of a stream cannot be expected to do these things in order to aid in the prevention of flood damages below him. He should be educated to an appreciation of their benefit to himself individually. He will not only be lessening, in some degree, the amount of silt carried down by flood waters, but will be conserving his own soil; and his woodlots will, in a few years, become increasingly valuable as stores of fire-wood and fence-posts, and, eventually, of larger timber. The effect of but a single farmer on an extensive watershed adopting these methods would, of course, be inappreciable, but if thousands of farmers could be led to do so as a matter of selfinterest the good results would soon become apparent.

« AnteriorContinuar »