« AnteriorContinuar »
and game animals and game birds approximates $750,000. We rank third as a fishproducing State; the products of all species, including shell-fish, amounts to about $40,000,000 annually, the annual shell-fish product being valued at about $12,000,000. The Adirondack Park contains 3,313,564 acres, the Catskill Park 576,120 acres, and 1,641,526 acres of land are owned by the State, of which one-third is virgin forest or that which is now equally good. Twelve large rivers wholly within the State have their source in the Adirondacks. The course of each is marked at frequent intervals by falls or rapids, and they, with others outside of the Adirondacks (excluding the Niagara and Saint Lawrence), have a natural horsepower already developed of 630,000; they are capable of furnishing at least 1,500,000 horsepower. This estimate would indicate that there is still 880,000 horsepower running into the sea wasted. It has been estimated that New York State would derive a revenue of over $15,000,000 annually from its fully developed waterpower if controlled and sold by the State. Besides the Adirondack rivers there are the Delaware, Susquehanna, Chemung, Alleghany, Esopus, Genesee, and many other rivers of great value. New York has over 500 miles of canals, or about 25 percent of the total canal mileage of the United States, over which there are transported annually some 3,500,000 tons of freight. Mineral production is considerable. The mining of iron ore is a well developed industry. One of the largest known iron ore deposits in the world is located in the Adirondack wilderness. Gas, oil, garnet, graphite and many other mineral products are marketed annually to an amount over $5,000,000. Only three other States yield a greater total value of agricultural products. New York ranks first in average value of production per acre. One-ninth of the hay and forage of this country are raised in New York, and the animal industries are of enormous value. Our hay-producing acres are worth $93,000,000. New York has 226,720 farms with an aggregate area of 9,522,000 acres, valued at $1,070,000,000, furnishing employment for 373,050 persons. The annual product of these farms is worth $345,000,000. New York has 30 acres of tree nurseries capable of producing 12,000,000 trees annually, and will double that acreage during the next year. We have taken the lead in the establishment of tree nurseries, in planting, and general work of tree propagation.
These are some of the factors which make Conservation of natural resources in New York State very important. The work is being carried on by various State Departments rather than by any single commission. Governor Charles E. Hughes, and the Departments under him, gave great impetus to the work during his term as Governor. Besides $101,000,000 authorized for canal improvement and $55,000,000 for good roads, over $2,000,000 is expended each year by the State in Conservation work as represented by the activities of the Forest, Fish, and Game Commission, the Agricultural Department, and the State Water Supply Comin 1s S1 On.
All sections of the State have been awakened, and active steps are being taken in every direction. New York was first to achieve an onward movement in the preservation of its natural resources when in 1885 it led the way in the establishment of State Forest Preserves, and inaugurated the policy of protecting her forests for the health and recreation of the people and the protection of water sources. The same leadership has been continued in control of water by statute creating the State Water Supply Commission in 1905 and vesting it with jurisdiction over the water supply of the State.
Water is now recognized as one of the most valuable economic resources of the earth, and the importance of measures for public control to secure full benefit of hydraulic resources to the people is being realized very rapidly as the great educational propaganda now carried on in New York progresses. The powers of the Water Supply Commission extend to the progressive development of water-powers of the State for the public use under State ownership and control. It also has the power of improving, straightening, and dredging the channel of any water course of which the irregular flow is shown to be detrimental to public health and safety. Four great reservoir projects have been located and surveyed; many other propositions have been tentatively examined, so that all water storage possibilities of the State are approximately known.
I want to say just a word about the granting of franchises, especially in respect to water-power rights in perpetuity. We have become so accustomed to the idea of a non-controllable ownership of our natural resources that even our agents in the Legislature have seemed at times not to fully appreciate the importance of State control and the rights of the people at large. No agent of the people has any moral right, nor have the people themselves, to bind by water rights in perpetuity future generations who will have their own problems to solve and their own lives to live. It is therefore of first importance to understand our relationship as trustees toward these public resources. Are they ours to do with as we please, to use or waste as we see fit, or are they ours to use to the best advantage and with the least waste; and is it our duty to pass them on unimpaired, improved if possible, for those who are to follow us? It is selfevident that this world was not made for us alone. After us countless millions will come and go. Could it have been intended that during our temporary occupancy we should have such a complete control of God's gifts to Man that we, by our own act or legislative will, could determine for all time how these blessings might be used or enjoyed? We may give them away, we may deprive the people of their rights in them; but when on the one hand a road leads to safety and on the other a way to danger, there should be no hesitation about which we should take. New York has improved on its old policies, which can best be illustrated by an extract from an address by Governor Hughes:
“Water-power privileges have been granted in the past without any provision for a payment to the State in return for what the State gives. These grants have frequently been made without proper reservations or conditions and without anything constituting a suitable consideration. They have amounted simply to donations of public rights for private benefit. It does not fetter individual enterprise to insist upon protection of the common interest and due payment for what is obtained from the public. Last year on the grant of a franchise to a development company which was to develop power from Saint Lawrence river it was insisted that provision should be made for compensation for the privilege upon a sliding scale according to the power developed. And thus it was established that hereafter in the State of New York public privileges, on terms of justice to the investors and the public alike, must be paid for.”
Last year a measure prepared for the purpose of relieving the tax burden on reforested land was presented to the Legislature, but it failed of passage. This effort will be renewed until the much-desired result is obtained. Timber should be treated as a crop and taxed when cut. Timber owners and tree planters should be encouraged to conserve and plant by making the carrying charges less, that better management may be had and more planting done.
The leasing of camp-sites on State land, the building of good roads through the Forest Preserve, and the removal of dead and down timber were all submitted in the shape of constitutional amendments, but the Legislature also failed to sanction these propositions. The public mind is not yet ready for complete and comprehensive Conservation in New York, to have which requires a change in our Constitution. The need is urgent, but, I regret to say, not fully appreciated.
The Agricultural Department is performing a splendid work in soil Conservation. It assists in the preservation and protection of trees and in planting work, as well as the fostering of farm crops and the husbandry of meat products. The College of Agriculture is devoted to the cultivation of intelligent and scientific methods in all branches of crop production. Fertilization of the soil, destruction of injurious agents, and new methods of intensive farming, are all taken up in the various branches of the Department. In the State College of Agriculture there were enrolled last winter nearly 1000 students. We have two experiment stations with over fifty scientific men on their staffs. We have three lowergrade agricultural schools, and the State is conducting farmers' institutes, which have held more than a thousand sessions in the past season.
Forests All the foregoing endeavors are closely related to the continued life of our
forests, and in many respects are dependent on them. A producing soil we must always have, or life of all kinds will become extinct. Without a fairly regular supply of water a producing soil is impossible; producing farm land is impossible. Hence if our water sources do not perform their natural functions, we cannot get along very well. The absence of forests in a mountainous State like New York will prevent a regular flowing water supply, necessary to the demands of good soil productivity; therefore, forests very largely hold the key to the whole Conservation situation as it bears on the life, health, and general welfare of the people of New York State. The question of timber supply, water-power, health resorts, and atmospherical conditions, as affected by the forests, are matters of secondary consideration in view of the indirect but vital influence forests have on our soil production. Neither soil nor water can be totally destroyed. They may become impaired and unavailable on account of irregularity in rainfall, but to some degree they will always perform their natural services for mankind. The forests, however, might suffer total obliteration as they have in many sections of the Orient and Occident. Wherever this calamity has occurred, we find soil and water have reached their minimum of usefulness. While we could not exist without water or soil, that does not mean that they are the most important subjects for Conservation in my State. The question of having to exist without them is entirely eliminated; they will always be there in some degree of efficiency or inefficiency. They will always be with us in their efficient state if we exercise reasonable care in the use of our forests. On the other hand, it is within the scope of possibility that our forests might be destroyed to all practicable purposes, and history points out that soil and water supply would then be of slight utility in a mountainous country. The forest is the controlling resource, like the governor of an engine without which the engine would destroy itself. Hence forests in New York State by their influence upon soil and water flow occupy the position of first importance among our natural resources to be conserved. The waste of our forests has been appalling, both by lumbering and conflagration. The great “burns” found through all our mountains furnish striking evidence of gross carelessness and indifference to the value of this great resource. It is time that these acts of colossal folly were stopped. Supreme selfishness on the one hand and deadly indifference on the other are at the root of it all. Some people do not understand the great danger of total forest destruction threatening certain of our watersheds. It takes 50 to 100 years to grow a mature tree. The average soil may increase about one inch in a century. It requires soil to grow trees, and fire, the great enemy of the forest, destroys not only the trees but the soil as well. On two or three occasions in the past seven years the Adirondack Park has come dangerously near being wiped out by fire. Rain alone has saved it. In 1903 and again in 1908 several large fires burning at the same time threatened to unite and destroy the entire park. No human agency can combat successfully a great forest conflagration when once it is under way. In 1908, 177,000 acres of land was burned over in New York State; the loss approximated $644,000. In 1903, 500,500 acres were burned, and the loss was more than $1,000,000. Loss of soil and reproduction was not considered in the estimated loss and never is. It is logically evident from the history of forest fires that prevention is the right objective in seeking to remedy this great evil. Methods of protection after fire starts will fail when certain commonly occurring weather conditions prevail. In New York we have devised an effective forest fire-fighting organization, based on the principles of prevention. The Adirondack and Catskill sections have been divided into four districts, three in the Adirondacks and one in the Catskills. A superintendent was appointed to take charge of each district. Under him there were assigned regular patrolmen and special patrolmen, and to a certain extent the superintendent cooperates with supervisors of towns. The aggregate number of men engaged in this work this year is 356. In addition to this the supervisors in every town in the State of New York are responsible personally for damages caused by forest fires in their respective towns, if they are negligent in putting them out. I met the Boards of Supervisors of the various forest preserve counties and discussed with them ways and means of fighting fire, explaining the law and showing their responsibility. This action was followed by good results. The superintendents were in turn assembled at Albany, and properly instructed as to their duties and the relationships to be carried on between their subordinates and themselves. Twenty observation stations were erected on high points, and equipped with strong field glasses, range finders, maps, and telephones. The whole territory has been covered with telephone lines. These stations have proved an incalculable benefit in the apprehension of fires when they are in an incipient state. We have also added to the fire-fighting apparatus portable fire extinguishers.
These are very useful in checking a fire at the beginning. Old trails and tote roads are kept clear of obstructions to make the woods more accessible. The whole system is chiefly valuable in that it is based on the fundamental principles of early discovery, immediate alarm, and prompt action. Over 250 fires were discovered and extinguished last year so quickly that they attracted no public notice, and the damage done was unappreciable. Another step was taken by the Forest, Fish, and Game Commission when the question of oil-burning locomotives running through the Forest Preserve was called to the attention of the Public Service Commission. After an exhaustive investigation, oil as fuel was substituted for coal by order of the Public Service Board. This order required that the railroads should install oil-burnino. engines for use between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. from April 15 to November 1 eac'h year, all engines to be inspected by representatives of the Commission. Coalburning locomotives still run through the Forest Preserve at night which, on account of the heavy dew, it is thought in most seasons does not materially increase the fire risk; but it is doubtful whether in an extremely dry season coal-burning locomotives would not set fires at night as readily as they do during the day time. The partially restricted use of coal as fuel was the best change obtainable at the time the order was promulgated. The third factor contributing to reduce fire danger was the provision of the new law requiring the lonning of tops of all coniferous trees felled in the forest preserve. The value of this provision is realized when it is understood that the tops of trees felled a decade ago, when not lopped. are still ready to burn, while the debris of lopped trees disappears entirely as a fire menace in the same period of time because they lie flat on the ground, absorb moisture and rapidly decay. Scenic assets have a tangible value. Figures have been adduced showing that $200,000 was paid in fares to Niagara Falls to the New York Central Railroad in three months. The visitors to the Adirondacks leave nearly $8,000,000 behind them each season. These figures seem to suggest the culture of the esthetic, as that side of the problem is very remunerative. There ought to be as much attention paid to the acquirement and preservation of places of natural beauty, public usefulness, and historic interest, for the full enjoyment and use of all the people, as there is for the preservation of natural resources that have only a commercial value. To this end the people of the State of New York and New Jersey have established an interstate park, and by statutory enactment perserved for all time the picturesque and historical palisades of the Hudson, and many acres of woodland. To this end Mrs Harriman gave 10,000 acres of wild wooded land and $1,000,000 to the State last winter, to which the State of New York added by bond issue $2,000,000 for the enlargement of the interstate park. By statute also about 53 square miles of the historic Highlands of the Hudson south of West Point have been saved and set aside for park and forestry purposes. Watkins Glen, a beautiful part of Schuyler County near Seneca Lake, has been purchased by the State, and its scenic beauty preserved. A reservation has been established in the Thousand Islands of Saint Lawrence river and one at Niagara Falls preserving these beautiful places to the people for all time. Without such places pleasant to the eye and conducive to health, a numerous portion of the race thus deprived of opportunity for exercise, for recreation, and the quiet enjoyment of nature's great gifts of beauty that have existed for the full and untrammeled benefit of former generations, we must become a nation of human derelicts rather than a nation of healthy-bodied men and women. We must have these resources to keep up the physical standard of men and women, and more so in the future than in the present because conditions of living are changing rapidly in America. In 1800 only 3 percent of the people dwelt in the cities or large towns; in 1900 more than 33 percent lived amid urban conditions. President Roosevelt never said a more striking thing than when he gave as the definition of civilization something to this effect: “The prime difference between a civilized and an uncivilized people is that civilized man looks beyond his own immediate needs, and even beyond those of his lifetime, and provides for generations yet unborn.” In considering the principles of Conservation, development comes first, using and improving the natural resources of our country for the benefit of the people. The second principle is the prevention of waste. Conservation comprehends the substitution as far as possible of materials for those that are exhaustible. Conservation reaches out into a wide field, and, as often said, it means the “greatest good to the greatest number for the longest time.” Conservation advocates the use of foresight, prudence, thrift, and intelligence in dealing with public matters. It means the application of common sense to our public affairs. Conservation guarantees progress, efficiency, supremacy, perpetuity, the life of the Nation. There is no interest of the public to which the principles of Conservation do not apply.
SPECIAL REPORT FROM NEW YORK_WATER RESOURCES OF THE STATE
HENRY H. PERSONs
The people of the State of New York have a deep natural interest in the important economic problems now brought so forcibly to the attention of the American people through the Conservation movement. That interest is properly manifested at this time because, in all probability, no other State in the Union is invested with conditions so favorable and opportunities so promising for the early accomplishment of material progress in the practical conservation of one of its most valuable natural resources. In New York State the surface water supply as a natural resource is second in value only to the land itself, which indeed owes its value largely to the existence of an abundant natural water supply. It must be conceded that the value of water for potable and domestic purposes cannot be estimated in dollars and cents, constituting as it does a necessity of life for which no substitute exists. Its money value is represented by whatever it costs to obtain the supply, be that much or little.
Aside from any such consideration as this, water is practically the only natural resource within the State of New York for the development of power, that great and fundamental requisite to the prosperity and comfort of a civilized community. The State does not have enough coal of its own to operate its existing iron mines, to say nothing of mining the whole of the valuable deposit, estimated at 300,000,000 tons. This condition is compensated for in a large measure if not altogether by the fact that, in addition to the existence of an abundance of water, the profiles of the streams and the general topography of a large portion of the State are naturally favorable for the establishment of hydraulic power developments and the construction of storage reservoirs for the regulation of the flow of the streams.
The State has taken a notable step forward by assuming certain regulative powers over the disposition of these resources, and by the institution of a systematic inventory of them to determine the extent not only of the supply but of existing developments and present uses, and the possibilities for additional uses and new developments. It has also made extensive studies to determine the possibilities for water storage, the necessary complement to extensive power developments within the State.
Development of Water Conservation as a State Policy
A brief statement of the most important historical facts leading up to and determining the present status of water conservation within the State seems pertinent, and will doubtless be of assistance in furnishing a clear prospectus of the controlling conditions and the complicated problems involved in the formulation of a comprehensive and practicable plan for the regulation of these waters.
In 1902 a special Act of the Legislature created the Water Storage Commission. That Commission was directed to make surveys and investigations to determine the causes of the overflow of the various rivers and water courses of the State, and to determine what, if anything, could be done to prevent such overflow. The serious nature and wide extent of the floods occurring at more or less frequent intervals in a large number of streams throughout the State had long been a source of anxiety to the residents of the flooded districts owing to the injuries and dangers occasioned by the sudden overflow.
The failure to take proper measures of a corrective nature earlier was not due in any sense to a lack of interest, intelligence, or energy on the part of the citizens of the State. The interest was usually localized, owing to the fact that ordinarily the entire State does not suffer from floods at the same time, so that while small communities had made some attempts to secure relief there had been no State-wide movement or concerted action in that direction. Several obstacles usually rendered individual and local remedies comparatively difficult and ineffec