E-text prepared by Robert J. Hall
PRACTICAL FORESTRY IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
Protecting Existing Forests and Growing New Ones, from the Standpoint of the Public and That of the Lumberman, with an Outline of Technical Methods.
E. T. ALLEN
Forester for the Western Forestry & Conservation Association (Formerly U. S. District Forester for Oregon, Washington and Alaska)
Issued by The Western Forestry & Conservation Association Office of the Forester 421 Yeon Building, Portland, Oregon. 1911
WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT AND WHY
The object of this booklet is to present the elementary principles of forest conservation as they apply on the Pacific coast from Montana to California.
There is a keen and growing interest in this subject. Citizens of the western states are beginning to realize that the forest is a community resource and that its wasteful destruction injures their welfare. Lumbermen are coming to regard timber land not as a mine to be worked out and abandoned, but as a possible source of perpetual industry. They find little available information, however, as to how these theories can be reduced to actual practice. The Western Forestry and Conservation Association believes it can render no more practical service than by being the first to outline for public use definite workable methods of forest management applicable to western conditions.
A publication of this length can give little more than an outline, but attempt has been made either to answer the most obvious questions which suggest themselves to timber owners interested in forest preservation or to guide the latter in finding their own answers. Only the most reliable conservative information has been drawn on, much of it having been collected by the Government.
While the booklet is intended to be of use chiefly to forest owners, a chapter on the advantage to the community of a proper state forest policy is included, also a chapter on tree growing by farmers. The first presents the economic relation of forest preservation to public welfare, with its problems of fire prevention, taxation and reforestation; for the use of writers, legislators, voters, or others desiring to investigate this subject of growing public concern. It is based upon the conclusions of the best unprejudiced authorities who have approached these problems from the public standpoint.
In the technical chapters on forest management and its possibilities, the author accepts full responsibility for conclusions drawn except when otherwise noted. To the Forest Service, however, is entitled the credit for collecting practically all the growth and yield figures upon which these conclusions are based. Especial acknowledgement is due to Mr. J. F. Kuemmel for information on tree planting.
In concluding this preface, the author regrets that the booklet which it introduces was necessarily written hurriedly, a page or two at a time, at odd hours taken from the work of a busy office. For this reason its style and management leaves much to be desired, but it has been thought better to make the information it contains immediately available than to await a doubtful opportunity to rewrite it.
What This Book Is About, and Why.
What We Have in the West. What We Are Doing With It. Does It Pay?
CHAPTER I. FORESTRY AND THE PUBLIC
Importance of Forests as a Community Resource. Wealth Their Manufacture Brings to All Industries. Value as Source of Tax Revenue. Our Interest as Consumers. Real Issue Not Property Protection but Conditions of Life For All. Particularly Favorable Natural Forest Conditions on Pacific Coast. Present Policy of Waste. Fire Loss. Idleness of Deforested Land. Action We Must Take. Fire Prevention. Reforestation. Tax Reform. Public Responsibility. Essentials of Needed State Policy. Duty of the Average Citizen.
CHAPTER II. FORESTRY AND THE LUMBERMAN
Economic Principles Governing Forest Production. Supply and Demand. Lumberman Must Consider. Both Profit of Forestry and Popular Demand for Its Practice. Consumer Must Pay for Growing Timber. Attitude of State Will Become More Encouraging. How All This Affects the Lumberman. Should Plan for Meeting the Situation. Circumstances that Determine Profit. Who Can Afford to Reforest Cut-over Land?
CHAPTER III. FORESTRY AND THE FOREST
Technical and Practical Problems. Elementary Principles of Forest Growth. Fundamental Systems of Management. Nature as a Model. Logging to Insure Another Crop. Natural and Artificial Reproduction. Details of Management for Each Western Species. Seeding and Planting. Costs and Carrying Charges. Rate of Growth. Probable Financial Returns. Hardwood Experiments.
CHAPTER IV. FORESTRY AND THE FIRE HAZARD
The Slashing Menace. Brush Piling. Slash Burning. Fire Lines. Spark Arrestors. Patrol. Associate Effort. Young Growth as a Fire Guard.
CHAPTER V. FORESTRY AND THE FARMER
Cutting Methods on the Wooded Farm. Best Use of Poor Forest Land. The Handling of Fire in Clearing. Planting on Treeless Farms. Species Most Promising for Fuel and Improvement Material. Windbreaks to Prevent Evaporation of Soil Moisture. Methods and Cost of Tree Growing.
Tax Reforms to Permit Reforestation. Opinions of Expert Authorities.
The Western Forestry and Conservation Association. Its Organization and Objects.
WHERE WE STAND TODAY
WHAT WE HAVE
The five states of Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California contain half the merchantable timber in the United States today—a fact of startling economic significance. It means first of all that here is an existing resource of incalculable local and national value. It means also that here lies the most promising field of production for all time. The wonderful density and extent of our Western forests are not accidental, but result because climatic and other conditions are the most favorable in the world for forest growth. In just the degree that they excel forests elsewhere is it easier to make them continue to do so.
WHAT WE ARE DOING WITH IT
On the other hand, forest fires in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California destroy annually, on an average, timber which if used instead of destroyed would bring forty million dollars to their inhabitants, Idleness of burned and cut-over land represents a direct loss almost as great.
These are actual money losses to the community. So is the failure of revenue through the destruction of a tax resource. Equally important, and hardly less direct, is the injury to agricultural and industrial productiveness which depends upon a sustained supply of wood and water.
DOES IT PAY?
Practically all this loss is unnecessary. Other countries have stopped the forest fire evil. Other countries have found a way to make forest land continue to grow forest. Consequently we can. It is clearly only a question of whether it is worth while. Let us consider this question, not only in its relation to posterity or to the lumberman, but from the standpoint of the average citizen of the West today.
FORESTRY AND THE PUBLIC
TIMBER MEANS PAY CHECKS
Forest wealth is community wealth. The public's interest in it is affected very little by the passage of timber lands into private ownership, for all the owner can get out of them is the stumpage value. The people get everything else. Our forests earn nothing except by being cut and shipped to the markets of the world. Of the price received for them usually much less than a fifth is received by the owner. Nearly all goes to pay for labor and supplies here at home.
Even now, when the western lumber industry is insignificant compared to what it will be soon, it brings over $125,000,000 a year into these five states. This immense revenue flows through every artery of labor, commerce and agriculture; in the open farming countries as well as in the timbered districts. It is shared alike by laborer, farmer, merchant, artisan and professional man. It is their greatest source of income, for lumber is the chief product which, being sold elsewhere, actually brings in outside money.
That it is essential to the prosperity of every citizen to have this contribution to his livelihood continue requires no argument. From the manufacturing point of view alone, our forest resources are as important to everyone of us as to the lumberman, and in many ways more so, for if they are exhausted he can move or change his business; while the dependent industries cannot. But our welfare is at stake in a dozen other ways also.
OUR INTEREST AS CONSUMERS
Every person who uses wood, whether to build, fence, burn, box his goods, or timber his mine, is directly interested in a cheap and plentiful supply of timber. Every acre burned, every cut-over acre lying idle, raises the price for him without furnishing any revenue with which to help pay it. Every acre saved from fire, every acre of young growth, lowers it for him and puts money in circulation besides.
Similarly, the cost to the consumer of most articles of every day necessity is directly affected by the connection of forest material with their production. Wood and water are almost as essential to mining as are, hence influence the price of metals. In the form of fuel, buildings, or boxes, if not as an actual constituent of the product itself, wood supply bears a like relation to almost every industry.
Every reduction of the lumber traffic which helps support our railroads, or of their supply of poles, ties and car material, tends to raise the cost of our groceries and other rail-transported commodities.
Most of our western states have immense areas of forested grant lands, the sale of timber from which supports the public schools and other state institutions. Destruction of this asset is a direct blow to these institutions which can be only partially met by increased taxation.
THE FARMER HAS THE MOST AT STAKE
In the case of western agriculture, the relation to the forest is fundamental and inseparable. Enough has been said to show that because of its importance as a sustaining industry lumber manufacture is a prodigious factor in creating a market for farm products, also that the cost of all articles used by the farmer is cheapened by forest preservation. But back of this lies the all-important dependence of western agriculture upon irrigation. We must save the forests that store the waters.
Of particular significance to the farmer, too, is the tremendous importance of forests as a source of tax revenue to help support state and county government. The cost of government is growing as our population grows. Taxable property grows mainly in the cities. Elsewhere we confront the problem of diminishing timber to tax and consequent heavier and heavier burden on farm property. It will be a bad situation for the farmer if the timber is all destroyed and he has to pay all the taxes, as well as a higher price for his buildings, fences and fruit boxes. Every acre of timber burned or wasted hastens this day.
The conservation thus suggested does not mean non-use of ripe timber, but does mean protecting it from useless waste and destruction, and replacing it by reforestation when it is used.
CONDITIONS OF LIFE THE REAL ISSUE INVOLVED
Lack of space forbids recounting many other ways in which the forest question touches the average citizen. It enters into our prospects of development, our investment values and our insurance rates. Like the keystone of an arch, or the link of a chain, forests cannot be destroyed without the collapse of the entire fabric. Their preservation is not primarily a property question, but a principle of public economy, dealing with one of the elements of human existence and progress. Failure to treat it as such means harder conditions of life, a handicap of industry; not only for our children, but for us as well.
It all sums up to this: On every acre of western forest destroyed by fire, or that fails to grow where it might grow, we, the citizens of the West who are not lumbermen, bear fully eighty per cent of the direct loss and sustain serious further injury to our general safety and profit.
HOW WE THROW AWAY MILLIONS
Notwithstanding the above facts, we allow $40,000,000 which we and our families should share to vanish every year, leaving nothing more enduring than a pall of smoke from Canada to the Mexican line. The great area thus denuded uselessly, with that which produced public wealth through lumber manufacture, together having been capable of affording a community resource of $165,000,000, are abandoned to lie idle and a menace to remaining timber. It is exactly as though the owner of a 165-acre orchard should destroy forty acres wantonly and also abandon the rest, unfenced, uncultivated and uncared for.
The one waste is as unnecessary as the other. Our Pacific coast forests owe their unparalleled productiveness to a peculiarly fortunate combination of climate and rapid growing species unknown elsewhere. Nowhere else is forest reproduction so swift and certain. Nowhere can it be secured with so little effort and expense. A little forethought in cutting methods and protection of the cut-over area from recurring fires, and an early second crop is assured. Saw timber can be grown in forty to seventy-five years; ties, mine timber and piles in less.
HOW WE MIGHT MAKE IMMENSE PROFIT INSTEAD.
It is reasonable to suppose that, although the quality may be inferior to that of the old forest removed now, timber scarcity will make a second cut in sixty years equally profitable per acre. Therefore, if the area denuded annually at present were encouraged to reforest and protected, it should at the end of that period again yield $165,000,000 to the community. Each year's growth at present would be worth a sixtieth of that sum, or $2,750,000. If given any chance to do so, the area deforested in only ten years would actually earn the people of our five western forest states $27,500,000 a year.
Almost nothing is being done to make it do so. As the result of the same popular neglect, this annual loss of nearly twenty-eight millions of dollars is added to that of forty millions caused by destruction of merchantable timber by fire, and the injury to tax revenue, water supply and countless dependent industries still remain to be reckoned. And to this sacrifice of wealth we add that of scores of human lives, incredible suffering, and the wiping out of homes and villages by forest fires.
PLAIN WORDS FOR OUR PRESENT POLICY
Let us draw a parallel: If riot or invasion should sweep our Pacific coast states, killing unprotected settlers, plundering banks and treasuries of $40,000,000 of the people's savings and business capital, and by destroying the producing power of commercial enterprise reduce the community's income by twenty-eight millions more, the catastrophe would startle the world.
If this stupendous disaster should threaten to recur the following year and every year thereafter indefinitely, annually taking $67,000,000 from the earnings of the people, diminishing their invested wealth and paralyzing their industries, the situation would be unbearable. It would dominate the minds of men, women and children. All else would be forgotten in their preparation for defense.
Forest fire destruction is a danger in every way as real and immediate as riot or invasion, equally measurable in losses to us today and more far reaching in effect upon future prosperity. Although less sensational, it demands no less prompt action.
THE ACTION WE MUST TAKE
The foregoing facts prove that our present forest policy is unprofitable to the state and its citizens. What, then, is the remedy?
At first thought it may seem that the responsibility for this lies with the man who controls the land, the timber owner and lumberman. He does have his part to play, which is discussed elsewhere in this booklet. But he will not, indeed cannot, do so until the rest of us play ours. The community must not only cooeperate, but in some directions must act first, because from the beginning the lumberman is governed by many conditions which are fixed by the people. It is for the people to make these conditions reasonably favorable so that he will have neither excuse nor incentive for failing to conform to them.
In this cooeperation the people should not be expected to grant privileges which are not for their own advantage also. Nor should they hesitate to cooeperate if it is to their advantage, merely because it is also a help to the lumberman. It is natural that the public should disincline to assume any further burden to enrich the timber owner. Were this the sale object of forest protection it would be fair to leave it to him. But it is the height of bad economy to obstruct or refuse to help him in handling forest resources to our best advantage. Whether he gains or loses is merely incidental to us, but whether we gain or lose is of very great importance.
FIRST STEP IS TO STOP FOREST FIRES
Obviously reduction of the forest fire hazard is the most urgent problem. Not only is fire the greatest destroyer of existing forests, but it also discourages investment in reforestation. The public has a right to expect the lumberman to adopt every safeguard against it in his operations. Nevertheless, the first step to encourage him in this is to reduce the appalling carelessness with fire in which the people of the West are the worst offenders in the world today.
Forest fires are almost always unnecessary. They usually result from a neglect of consideration for injury and distress to others which is not shown by the American people in any other connection. The traveler or resident in forest regions simply fails to realize that his own welfare and that of countless others requires the same precaution not to let fire escape, and the same activity in extinguishing fires he discovers, that are accorded as a matter of course in cities and towns. In reality they are more important. A San Francisco can burn down and it is soon replaced. Insurance and capital come to the rescue, labor is employed, and business is resumed. But when the forest burns, industry dies and labor is driven away empty handed. It is a big price to pay for neglecting the slight effort required to prevent it.
Fairly good fire laws are on our statute books. Presumably they were intended to prevent fires. Yet almost every forest community sees fire after fire set through ignorance, carelessness or purpose, and so far from punishing the offenders accords them every privilege of business and society. In cities, however insignificant the damage, arson leads to the penitentiary. A forest fire may destroy millions and the cause not even be investigated. If, aggravated by a particularly inexcusable case of malice or carelessness, some property holder (seldom the people) secures an arrest, acquittal is practically certain because the community considers the matter none of its business. Then the value of the fire law is at an end in that region. Certainly we cannot expect the timber owner to protect our forest interests until we ourselves respect and at least attempt to enforce our forest laws.
PATROL SERVICE ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL
But necessary as is better public sentiment, we must also have practical machinery for enforcing the laws and for stopping the fires that do start. Just as a city is safeguarded best by an organized fire department, so the forest can be protected effectively only by trained men who know the work. And the man who prevents the most fires is the man who is looking for them, not the man who goes after the fire is under way.
Theodore Roosevelt says: "I hold as first among the tasks before the states and the nation in their respective shares in forest conservation the organization of efficient fire patrols and the enactment of good fire laws on the part of the states."
The National Conservation Commission reports: "Each state within whose boundaries forest fires are working grave injury, and that means every forest state, must face the fact squarely that to keep down forest fires needs not merely a law upon the statute books, but an effective force of men actually on the ground to patrol against fire."
We all know that few disastrous fires start under conditions which prevent their control. Usually they spring from some of the many small, apparently innocent fires which burn unnoticed until wind and hot weather fan them into action. It is far cheaper to put them out in the incipient stage than to fight them later, perhaps unsuccessfully until after great damage has been done. And if fighting is necessary, it is of the highest importance to have it led by competent, experienced men. Moments count, and bad judgment is expensive.
Most western states already have laws regulating the use of fire for clearing during the dry season. To accomplish this with safety and without hardship requires fire wardens to issue permits and help with the burning if necessary.
Public knowledge that there is someone to enforce the law tends to restrain the dangerous class. Still more useful is the service of fire wardens in agitating the fire question and keeping before forest residents the advantage of their cooeperation.
CO-OPERATION WITH PRIVATE OWNERS DESIRABLE
In fire patrol, especially, the state and the lumberman must work together. It is reasonable that the timber owner should contribute to the protection of his property. He also has peculiar facilities for getting the work done well and cheaply. As a rule he is willing to do his part. In 1910 the Washington Forest Fire Association and other timber owners in that state paid out $300,000 for patrol and other fire work. The Coeur d'Alene, Clearwater, Potlatch and Pend d'Oreille Timber Protective associations spent over $200,000 in Idaho. Oregon timbermen spent approximately $130,000. Figures are not available for Montana and California, but probably the same proportion holds.
Thorough support by the state is necessary to make private work effective. The men employed must have official authority to enforce the law. The dangerous element does not respect a movement which nominally represents only the property owner. The people in general do not aid it as much as they do one in which they also share. Therefore, it is necessary to have state facilities for cooeperating in the organization, authorization and supervision of all forest patrols.
LIBERAL APPROPRIATION A GOOD INVESTMENT
But to stop here is like attempting to protect a city from fire merely by giving its factory owners the right to maintain watchmen. We want to provide for the greatest possible advantage to the people through the timber owner's desire to protect his own property, but any forest policy which ends with this is hopelessly weak. We cannot afford to leave any matter of public welfare wholly to the wisdom and philanthropy of private enterprise. If we expect our paramount interest in forest and water resources to be looked out for properly, we must pay for it just as we do for all other protection we get through organized government. Nor should we forget that the timber owner helps us again in this, for he pays taxes as well as the cost of his private patrol.
There are also many regions where timber values do not warrant patrol, but where the safety of other property, and of life, demand both patrol and fire fighting. Here the state owes its citizens protection. Moreover, one of the weakest points in our present system everywhere is lack of police authority to apprehend violators of the fire laws. The private warden cannot successfully arrest or prosecute offenders, and everybody knows it. Most fires start through violation of law. To prevent them the law must be respected, and to accomplish this there must be state officers who can and will apprehend offenders without fear or favor.
Any western state can well afford to spend $100,000 a year for a forest fire service which will prevent a loss of fifty times that sum. The cost is imperceptible by the citizen, his benefit immediate. Forest protection is the cheapest form of prosperity insurance a timbered state can buy.
Although it does not pay to burn up our forests, it does pay to use them. The faster we can replace them with new ones, the quicker this profit can be made with safety. Forest land is community capital. To let it lie idle is as wasteful as destruction. And we must also remember that the day is coming when our forested streams must do a hundred times their present duty, and when the lumber consumer's question may not be "What must I pay for a board?" but "Can I get a board at all?" We must have new forests coming as the old ones go.
The Federal Government is practicing forestry in the lands controlled by the Forest Service. Why should the states not do the same thing with their school and tax deed lands? Intelligent care of timbered school land, selling the timber only under regulations which will insure reforestation, would realize as much today and in the long run pay a thousand per cent in dividends for the education of our children and our children's children.
Further than this, there should be legislation to permit the state to solidify its forest lands by exchange, when advisable, and to authorize the purchase of cut-over lands. The eventual profit in this is certain to be great, and nothing will do more to interest the public and private owners in reforestation. It is the history or all countries that forests are peculiarly profitable state property, especially when, as is the case with us, it can be acquired cheaply. It is a sound and well-proved policy that it is well for the state to own lands which are not adapted for permanent individual development. Forest lands constitute the ideal class, not only because the state is in the best position to keep up their usefulness to the community, but also because they will earn perpetual revenue far greater than they could bring through taxation. They will pay back the cost and interest, become increasingly valuable, and still pay dividends.
It is even more important that reforestation be secured on private lands, because their area is greater than that owned by state and government. With the encouragement which could be given the owner without any undeserved concession, conditions would warrant him in securing it. We have reached that stage in our development. The exhaustion of timber in the country at large, the increase of consumption, and our peculiar natural advantages, have combined to promise adequate financial return. And the lumberman does not want to go out of business unless he has to.
OBSTACLES TO PRIVATE EFFORT
To insure a second crop the lumberman has to lose more or less money when he cuts the first. His methods must be more expensive and he must forego present profits on trees he leaves. If he plants, the outlay is considerable. But let us suppose he is willing to do all this, not because he is a philanthropist but because he wants more trees to run his mill some day.
It is a comparatively simple matter to get his second crop started. American forestry has solved this problem fairly well. It is also easy to calculate in most cases, beginning with the sale value of cut-over land, using safe estimate of the next yield and the time required to mature it, and setting a conservative future stumpage value, that growing timber ought to be a profitable investment. If that were all, we could leave the lumberman alone and count on him to perpetuate our forests because it will pay him to do so.
But the whole calculation, consequently the public's interest as well as his, is upset by two factors—the danger that his investment will burn up and the practical certainty that taxes will eat up all profit before the harvest. If he figures on fire protection at his own expense against the hazard as it now exists, and the tax burden on cut-over land which is indicated at present, his engagement in forest growing will be negligible from the point of view of public welfare. In some cases he may hold the land awhile, in few can he afford to protect it, in still fewer is he justified in actually doing anything to insure reforestation.
If a man proposes to build a factory or railroad in a community the inhabitants usually encourage him. They do not refuse him fire protection in the first place and then, if his plant burns down, threaten to burn it again and keep up full taxation on the vacant land. They offer every fair inducement to get the industry and keep it flourishing. They expect it to pay its just share of taxation, but want it to continue to do so as long as possible.
TAX NEW CROP WHEN HARVESTED
It has been shown that the first obstacle to reforestation of private land can be removed only by supporting a fire patrol and creating public sentiment which will reduce the number of fires. The second is even more wholly in the hands of the people, for by the system of taxation they impose they decide whether it shall continue an earning power and a tax source forever or be abandoned to become a desert; non-producing, non-taxable, and a menace to stream-flow. Whether its owner has made money on the original crop has no bearing on the result, nor has his being rich or poor, resident or alien. Cutover land presents a distinct problem to him. He will and should pay a full tax on its earning power, which will be demonstrated when he successfully brings another crop to maturity. But he cannot carry an investment for fifty years or more without return, with a risk of total loss by fire up to the last moment, at a cost which would bring him better profit in some other business.
These facts are recognized by all students of forestry. The following authorities hold no brief for the lumberman. They approached the subject solely from the side of the people:
Theodore Roosevelt: "Second only to good fire laws is the enactment of tax laws which will permit the perpetuation of existing forests by use."
National Conservation Commission: "Present tax laws prevent reforestation of cut-over land and the perpetuation of existing forests by use. An annual tax upon the land itself, exclusive of the timber, and a tax upon the timber when cut is well adapted to actual conditions of forest investment and is practicable and certain. It would insure a permanent revenue from the forest in the aggregate far greater than is now collected, and yet be less burdensome upon the state and upon the owner. It is better from every side that forest land should yield a moderate tax permanently than that it should yield an excessive revenue temporarily, and then cease to yield at all."
H. S. Graves, Chief Forester for the U. S.: "Private owners do not practice forestry for one or more of three reasons: 1. The risk of fire. 2. Burdensome taxation. 3. Low prices of products."
Professor Fairchild, tax expert, Yale University: "Forestry must come some time, and its early coming is a thing greatly to be desired. We can hardly hope to see the general practice of forestry as long as the present methods of taxation continue. With regard to its effect on revenue, there is little to be feared from the tax on yield. It is equitable and certain. If a tax at once equitable and dependable is guaranteed, the business of forestry will not need to ask special favors."
CRYING NEED FOR DEFINITE STATE POLICY
To accomplish these reforms will take law-making and law-enforcing. However well we study existing conditions and legislate upon the premises they furnish, success depends upon competent application of the laws and their improvement as conditions change. It is a bitter reproof to us of the West that Eastern states, with forest and water resources insignificant compared to ours, have gone so much farther in securing the services of trained men to study these questions and to guard both private and public interests. The very first step should be to get competent trained state foresters who will devise wise measures, protect us from unwise ones, and educate lumbermen and public alike to the common need of action. We pay cheerfully for every other kind of public service, for geologists, veterinarians, insurance commissioners, barber examiners, and what not. But the two things we must have—wood and water—we leave pretty much to take care of themselves, and they aren't doing it and never will.
The essentials of a wise state forest policy, based not on theory but on successful experience elsewhere, are as cheap as they are simple. Where tried they have never been abandoned. If they pay elsewhere, can we afford not to try? Following is the framework of a code demanded by the situation in every Western state. Some already approach it, but none goes far enough:
ESSENTIALS OF EFFECTIVE STATE FOREST CODE
1. A State Board of Forestry selected with the single view of insuring the most competent expert judgment on the matters with which it deals. In other words, the board should not be political, but appointment by the Governor should be restricted to responsible representatives nominated by the interests most familiar with forest management, such as state forest schools, lumbermen's associations, forest fire associations, conservation associations and the resident Federal forest service.
2. A trained state forester, wholly independent of politics. Executive ability and practical forest knowledge should be considered essential, also scientific training. He should have one or more assistants of his own appointing.
3. A liberally supported forest fire service, in which the state forester has ample latitude in cooeperation, financial and otherwise, with all other agencies in the same work.
4. A systematic study of forest conditions to afford basis of both intelligent administration and desirable further legislation.
5. A system for active general popular education, with specific advice to individuals in proper forest management.
6. Application of forestry principles to the management of state-owned forest lands and the purchase of cut or burned over land better suited for state than for private forestry. This is to furnish educative examples of conservative management as well as to maintain state revenue and proper forest conditions.
7. Improvement and strict enforcement of laws against fire and trespass, with penalty for neglect to enforce them by any officer who is paid to do so.
8. Encouragement of reforestation by assessing deforested land annually on land value only, deferring taxation of forest growth until its cutting furnishes income with which to meet the tax.
9. Thorough study of the subject of taxing standing timber, to the end of securing a system which, by insuring a fair revenue without enforcing bad forest management, will result in the greatest community good.
DO IT NOW
You, the average citizen of the West, are responsible for the present situation and for its remedy. Merely to agree that it is unfortunate, and virtuously to condemn firebugs, careless lumbermen and indifferent legislators, does not relieve you of the responsibility. Neither will it protect you from the consequences. On the other hand, the firebug will not fire if he knows it will not be tolerated. The lumberman will adopt protective methods if you encourage him. The legislator is glad to help in any way his constituents suggest. They are all only waiting for a word from you, whose welfare is really at stake and from whom the word should come.
If any other principle of public safety—say suppression of fraud, burglary or murder—was being so generally ignored, what would you do? Would you not look up the laws of the state and find a way of letting everyone connected with their enforcement know that you expected them to be enforced? If you found laws or appropriations inadequate, would you not see to it that every representative in the legislature knew his constituents demanded improvement?
The legislator or public official is anxious to comply with the people's wishes, but he must know what the people want. It is essential to let him know that you want a progressive and liberally supported state policy that will save our immense forest wealth from needless destruction.
FORESTRY AND THE LUMBERMAN
THE UNDERLYING PRINCIPLES
The lumber industry is undergoing a process of reorganization which reaches to its very foundations. It is so deep-seated as to be almost imperceptible from outward evidence, but is of profound significance to the owner of timber land and to the public.
Hitherto lumbering in the United States has consisted chiefly of manufacturing and selling. The raw material has occupied no consistent place in the equation. The value it has had in fixing the price of the finished product has been merely in its relation to transportation. Intrinsically it has been accorded no value. This situation continued just as long as there was practically free Government timber to be had by opening it up.
It continues now only relatively, however. Transportation must always remain a great factor; the timber owner is still obliged temporarily to meet his obligations by means determined under the old basis. Nevertheless, the moment it became impossible to get timber to manufacture without assuming the costs of producing, such as fire protection, taxation and interest, began an era of inevitable natural regulation. From that time on timber began to assume a value which, although affected by transportation facilities, must eventually be fixed chiefly by the cost of growing other timber to compete with it.
TIMBER IS WORTH THE COST OF GROWING IT
In other words, the value of anything is what it costs to produce it, whether it is a tree or a box of apples. That we found our timber orchard growing when we came to this country does not change this law. It was suspended temporarily while any individual could profit by the growth produced without cost, but began to operate again when he could no longer do so. We are now in a transition period of adjustment. The important thing to remember is that this will not continue until the entire output has actually borne the full cost of production, for before then investments in standing timber will have been regulated by the same influence.
It is true that at present the cost of lumber to the consumer is not fixed absolutely even by the cost of manufacturing and selling it, and that on the contrary it fluctuates greatly with the willingness of the consumer to buy. But this, except within limits, is not a sound working out of the law of supply and demand. It is an incident to the unsound basis of production which still prevails. So long as a very large portion of our standing timber has not cost the owner much in either price, protection, taxes and interest, some of it will be put on the market at a low price in order to carry a milling business through a depressed period, to realize money, or for other exigency reasons. So may a wheat grower lose money on one or two years' crops. But if in the long run the world refuses to pay for wheat what it costs to grow it, wheat will not be grown. The real question is whether or not the world needs forests enough to pay for them.
DEMAND WILL CONTINUE
It is evident, from the history of older countries, that it does. While consumption per capita will undoubtedly decrease, population is growing. Substitution will be necessary, but will not supplant wood for a multitude of purposes. Much has been said about the use of steel, concrete and like materials in building. The building trades only use 60 per cent of our lumber today, without considering fuel. It is unlikely that the reduction of this percentage will very much more than offset the growth in volume of the reduced percentage due to increased population. Fifty years ago there was scarcely a lumber user west of the Mississippi river. We know the settlements, mines, railroads and cities that have developed since to use lumber. It is a poor Westerner who doubts that the next fifty years will see a far greater development. And the Panama Canal is coming, with the certain result of making our fast-producing forests able to compete successfully with Eastern and European forest crops grown with less natural advantage.
Moreover, we now use three and a half times as much wood a year as our forests produce. Consequently the demand might even fall off three and a half times and still consume the product. And the forest producing area diminishes constantly. Little as we now consider the possibilities of food famine, history shows that nations rapidly increase to the limit of their agricultural production or beyond, and we must reckon not only on our own increase but also upon immigration from, and export to, nations whose pressure upon their production exceeds ours. It is certain that land now considered too remote, rough and poor for agriculture will be put to that use. We know that other countries do not to any considerable extent devote land to forest that will grow food crops at all well.
ADJUSTMENT ONLY QUESTION OF TIME
Consequently it is safe to assume that within reasonable limits the consumer will be glad to pay the cost of growing timber when he is obliged to do so. It is also to be expected that the community will desire to maintain a resource which employs labor, pays taxes, and conserves stream flow. Therefore, the price of lumber will be governed, as the price of every staple commodity is governed, by a cost of production including reasonable profit by those engaged in the several stages of the process. That it will include the growing of new timber on a sound, profitable basis is proved by the history of other countries which have undergone the same regulation. This, after all, is the strongest argument with which to answer the skeptic who, on premises and judgment of his own, doubts the above conclusions. We need not claim greater prophetic ability, but have only to make the undeniable assertion that hindsight is better than foresight. Nothing demonstrates economic laws so irrefutably as experience.
Less than 29 per cent of the land area of the United States is occupied by forests today, including swamps, burns and much land which will be devoted to agriculture. Germany, where great economy of material is practiced, where wooden buildings are far fewer, where, indeed, the per capita consumption is only a seventh of ours, keeps 26 per cent of her land area under the most expensive forest management and finds the profit constantly increasing. She is increasing her production and importing heavily from countries where lumber is cheap, like the United States, yet the net returns per acre from the forests of Baden rose from $2.38 in 1880 to $5.08 in 1902. This was due hugely, of course, to improvement of management. In France lands which only fifty years ago could not be sold for $4 an acre now bring an annual revenue of $3. In 1903 the town forest of Winterthur, Switzerland, brought net receipts of $11.69 an acre. These are fair examples in countries where the influence tending toward less use of wood have been working for a very long time. They show such influences do not result in refusal to pay the cost of growing all the wood that can be grown. Wood consumption in European countries is increasing at a rate of from 1-1/2 to 2 per cent a year. In other words, the consumers are actually willing to pay for more wood than they have found necessary, and are warranting the growers in adopting still more expensive methods to increase the output. Nor has forest growing proved to be possible only by the State or Government. In Germany 46.5 per cent of the forest area is owned privately, in Austria 61 per cent, in France 65 per cent, in Norway 70 per cent. While it is true that the European private owner has better tax and fire conditions, it must also be remembered that the value of the land on which he makes the growing crop yield a good dividend is about ten times as high as it now is in the United States.
The prospective grower of new timber in the American West can expect equal profit here at some time. His chief concern is whether its foreshadowing influences are sufficiently strong at present. To determine this he must consider the probable attitude of the public and of the lumbermen themselves.
WHAT IT MEANS TO THE CONSUMER
To the consumer the principles previously outlined mean that the price of lumber will rise somewhat. Indeed, he must expect that, regardless of the production factor, for the timber owner cannot pay taxes, prevent fire, and keep his money tied up, all for a considerable period, and still sell the material as cheap as he could before these expenses accrued. It also means that if the consumer fails to recognize and concede these principles it will be at his own sacrifice. Too low prices now merely mean too high prices in the early future, for they will not permit protection, economy or reforestation. He must eventually, and not far hence, pay the total cost of production. It is urgently to his interest not to add to this by preventing production and thus permitting the owner of the timber already produced to speculate on the approaching shortage.
The danger of this can be illustrated by a comparison. Suppose three-quarters of the apple growers of the country, either through ignorance of the principles of their industry or through shortage of money with which to pay their debts, should be forced for a considerable period to accept a price for their crop so low that after paying current bills they were obliged to neglect their orchards absolutely, without plowing, fencing or spraying. Suppose further that the public should also destroy a large portion of the orchards, as the forests are by fire, and also overtax the land so as to complete the discouragement. Clearly apples would immediately go up. A few growers would doubtless escape absolute destruction and these, as long as their orchards lasted, would demand a price overbalancing many times the saving the consumer made temporarily while he was destroying the industry. Everyone concerned would be worse off than if prices had remained just high enough to maintain an adequate supply.
It is improbable, however, that the consumer will ever voluntarily pay more than he has to, even if it is to his ultimate advantage. The most that can be hoped is that as the public at large comes to understand the situation, it will not support him in the claim that injustice is being done by the rises he is forced to meet as conditions adjust themselves. His reluctance will retard, but not stop, the progress of good forest management.
STATES WILL TAKE A HAND
On the other hand, it is reasonable to suppose that the people of the timber-producing states will gradually come to see that their interest, as well as that of the lumberman, is to be furthered by placing the industry on a sound basis. Selling more lumber than they consume, they will not rejoice over low prices any more than a wheat state does over the fall of wheat because it uses some flour, but they will be equally unable to exert much stiffening influence on the price. Consequently they will probably attempt to sustain the industry by increasing production. But in this attempt they will consider immediate community advantage first, future community advantage next, and the lumberman's advantage only as it is incidental. And such measures as they endorse they are likely to enforce by law.
We see, then, that two forces are making for the better handling of our forest resources; the economic necessity of the public and the business advantage of the owner. Both demand the maximum production. Obviously, since their aims are identical, each has to gain from earnest cooeperation. Neither can succeed alone, for the owner cannot go far against hostile laws or sentiment, and the public cannot accomplish half as much by compulsion as by encouraging the owner. But the great danger to each lies in mutual distrust, which defers the establishment of effective cooeperation.
LUMBERMAN MUST SHOW GOOD FAITH
The primary and all-important moral which all this points out to the lumberman is that his position under coming conditions will be largely what he makes it by his own attitude. With the rapidity with which he gets into a position where his voice is listened to as unselfish and authoritative on the conservation subject, will his influence on the new conditions be measured. Therefore, he must study the subject. He must be able to support good laws and oppose bad laws with facts and arguments which will stand scrutiny. Above all, he must show faith by practicing what he preaches so far as he is able. He must show conclusively the injustice of the public suspicion from which he suffers.
Conservative forest management has three essentials: Protection, utilization and reproduction. The last particularly depends on the first. The timber owner cannot protect adequately alone. Before he can expect much public help, however, he must show his willingness to do his share, for the state will not assume the whole burden. The progressive members of the industry have shown it already, and the result is evident in the commencement of the states to help. Their help will increase in the proportion that private effort spreads.
Presumably it will be the same with reforestation. With the fire hazard lessened there will remain the obstacle of overtaxation on property returning no income with which to meet it. The public will doubtless soon see that this is bad for the community, but will hesitate to forego present revenue in order to reap greater future revenue until convinced that the owner will actually reforest if given the chance. Even if no actual desire to take advantage is ascribed, there may be fear that he will make no active effort to start and protect the second crop, but will merely continue the course of least expense in the hope that a new forest will establish itself, with little to lose if it fails. Before he will receive the encouragement he deserves, he must prove his good faith. The surest way to do this is to begin actual work now, where he can without certainty of failure. Unfortunately, this is often impossible, but he can at least study and experiment so he can argue convincingly that mutual success will follow reasonable encouragement.
CIRCUMSTANCES DETERMINE PROFIT
Let us assume, then, that it is best for the lumberman to start the practice of forestry for the purpose of strengthening his position and getting the most favorable conditions possible for its general adoption and continuance. How much does he depend upon success in this? Obviously, early public favor will hasten and add to the security of forest growing as a business, but is it absolutely essential? Do existing conditions and inevitable future conditions, regardless of public intelligence, furnish premises upon which we can calculate certain profit in some degree?
This depends upon the circumstances of the individual investor. Without an expectation of more favorable fire and tax influences, reforestation cannot be universally recommended as a business proposition. Many timber owners are not warranted in undertaking it. Not enough are warranted in doing so to insure the future timber supply upon which public welfare depends. Nevertheless, there are conditions under which it is a good investment. It is even probable that for those who are well situated, the very obstacles which deter others will be advantageous through reducing competition. This fact is of peculiar significance to the public, for if the latter fails to stimulate reforestation generally it will play directly into the hands of the few who are independent of encouragement.
It is customary, in speculating upon the profits of a second timber crop, to attempt to reduce it to a financial calculation based upon estimated yield, estimated future values and estimated carrying charges. These considerations are important, but their importance is largely in proportion to the financial weakness of the prospective timber grower. We revert again to the practical certainty that unless reforestation is general, the exhaustion of virgin timber will be followed by a shortage, and that the man who has a second crop at that time can obtain a price which will reimburse his carrying charges be they high or low. The cost of overcoming present obstacles will be shifted to the consumer. The possibility of such an investment is determined largely by ability to maintain a protective system with economy and to bear the expense of this and of heavy taxation during the period of no return.
In short, the weakness of the ordinary financial calculation upon existing conditions is that it attempts to estimate future stumpage values without knowledge of the true factor which will determine them. This factor is not the probable rise of existing stumpage while it continues to exist, but is the extent of the new-grown supply which will follow it provided existing conditions remain unchanged. It is inconsistent to figure the cost upon almost prohibitive present conditions without also recognizing that such conditions, if continued, will completely change the influences which now determine the market.
WHO CAN AFFORD TO REFOREST NOW
On the other hand, timber owners have by no means equal opportunity to take advantage of this fact. The productive capacity of their land varies, their taxes vary, the extent and location of their holdings affects the expense of protection against fire, and they have not the same facilities for financing a long term investment. It is the balance of these factors that determine their opportunity. Assuming rate of timber growth to be equal, present fire and tax conditions classify them in relative advantage about as follows:
1. Owners of large holdings of virgin timber who can meet carrying charges by occasional sales at a profit over their purchase price, but will not sell much more than is necessary because all they can afford to hold is advancing in value. Such owners have more or less land deforested by fire or their own milling operations, and will incline to sell only stumpage without land. This land is not easily realized upon at present, and for the speculative reason stated, they will continue in business long enough to grow a new crop on it. The larger their holdings, the greater the certainty of this and the cheaper, relatively, the cost of protection. Moreover, concerns dealing with large and long term investments can consider a lower interest rate.
2. Owners with less facility for making an actual profit through growing timber, but desiring to maintain a milling business. Even if the cost of growing approaches or equals the value of the crop, they will be able to count on continued manufacturing profit.
(Both of the above classes face a possibility of so heavy a tax on their virgin timber in some instances that they will be obliged to cut it and go out of business. This is unlikely to occur generally, however, for tax reform is almost inevitable, and it would have a compensatory effect of enhancing the value of the second crop.)
3. Owners whose holdings are not large enough to keep them in business until a second crop matures but are advantageously located. Second growth need not be mature to have a value. As the present supply diminishes, available coming supply will gain a high expectation value which can be realized upon. The profit it offers will be largely determined by its proximity to market and especially by its proximity to established mills which see their own supply running short and have failed, through inability or lack of foresight, to engage in reforestation themselves. It will also be affected by tax and fire charges, and the latter, especially, will be largely a matter of location.
4. The owner with no peculiar advantages, who can only set the general certainty of a market for second growth against his ability to carry a costly and uncertain investment for an indeterminate time.
Of course a first consideration in most cases is the comparative profits of other possible investments or, in other words, the exact interest demanded as satisfactory. Individuals are in by no means the same position in this respect by either inclination, opportunity or talent. Where one might be safer with his money in timber, another could make more by manufacturing. Generally speaking, however, conservative judgment leads to the conclusion that the present attitude of the public warrants the first of the above four classes of owners in undertaking inexpensive reforestation where the land has little sale value for other purposes and where the growth and fire factors are reasonably favorable. The second class can also undertake it to advantage on much the same basis, but having less capacity for meeting the carrying charge, requires still more favorable conditions. The third class must have the maximum advantage of every kind. It must calculate closely on the factors of cost and profit indicated by present conditions. In most cases the risk will be too great for prudence, and in nearly all financial ability will be lacking. The fourth class cannot even consider it until the public's attitude changes.
BETTER DAY FOR ALL IS NEAR
On the other hand, it is reasonable to suppose that publicly-imposed obstacles will decrease. It will become apparent that their persistence is bad economy. Fires will grow fewer and the state will aid in patrol. Reforestation in itself is a method of fire prevention when it places a green young growth on a fire-inviting tract of sun-dried litter and weeds. Taxation will be deferred. As the country develops interest rates will fall; making it easier to carry forest investments and harder to gain more through other investments. The state itself will engage more and more in forestry, with the result of making its principles understood and endorsed. Stumpage values will increase. Immature timber will have a sale value, lessening the term of investment. Gradually the business will get on a sound production basis, better for the consumer, better for the state supported by a forest income, and more profitable for the grower. Instead of capitalizing bad management and the sacrifice of the consumer, which in effect it does now by forcing the prospective grower to calculate on covering unnecessary cost in the price received, it will capitalize the earning power of forest land.
While final adjustment on this basis is still in the future, it is by no means entirely dependent upon popular foresight. The process is going on constantly, whether we know it or not. The sun is still behind the horizon, but the day is sure. Many Western timber owners are still in too dim a light to make their footsteps certain; others have a high vantage ground where dawn already lights the path.
FORESTRY AND THE FOREST
ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF FOREST GROWTH
Whether the lumberman's judgment of economic influences leads him to be optimistic or otherwise as to the profit of forestry in general, he is most interested in the particular forest with which he has to deal. He can neither accept nor dismiss the proposition intelligently, much less put his ideas into actual practice, without knowing something of the capability of his land to respond to his effort. "What methods are best, what will they cost, and what will be the result?" are questions which arise at the very outset. They lead at once into the domain of technical forestry.
With us forestry has not been practiced long enough to furnish demonstrated examples with which to answer such questions. We can, however, profit by experience gained elsewhere, for the laws which govern tree life are as universal as those which govern the life of men and animals. In dealing with new species and new environments we have no great difficulty in judging their future from their past, which lies written plainly for those who care to study it.
While to some extent trees require elements obtainable only from the soil, they are more independent in this respect than most other forms of vegetation. Soil influences forest trees mainly by its physical character, especially as this determines the moisture contents. Very little nourishment is actually taken out of the soil for, as someone has said, wood is nothing but air solidified by sunshine. A tree's immense and complicated foliage system is the laboratory with which it effects this transformation.
Since air exists everywhere and the chemical quality of the soil is comparatively unimportant, the requirements of different species for light, heat and moisture are what mainly determine their distribution and habits of growth. And since heat and moisture are largely climatic factors and fairly uniform in given localities, it follows that the demand of a species upon light may practically fix its habits and possibilities in those localities. The very great variance of species in light requirement accounts to a large extent for the composition of most primeval forests. It is of peculiar importance in the management of forests by man because he cannot control it as he may be able to control some of the other agencies which affected the primeval forest, such as fire or seed supply.
It would be unprofitable to discuss here all the many methods of forest management which have proved to be best, technically, for given species and combinations of species. Where market and transportation facilities are highly favorable, as in Europe, the timber owner can adopt the method which will bring the best results, but here he has no such choice. He can but bear in mind certain fundamental principles, uniformly applicable to large areas for considerable periods of time. Roughly, however, our Western forests can be classified by their adaptability to the two directly opposite systems, known as clean cutting and selection cutting, of which almost all methods are modifications.
A selection forest is one in which all ages of trees exist, from seedling to maturity. It is the natural growth of species which are tolerant of shade. In a natural state, undisturbed by cutting, it maintains much the same aspect continuously, for as the oldest trees die, their place is taken by younger ones. Obviously such a forest must be composed of species, whether one or several, which can grow beneath its own shade. The understories of varying ages are as dense as their light requirements and the density of the overwood permit.
The common hardwood forests of the East illustrate one type of the natural selection forest. On the Pacific slope an example is afforded by hemlock, either practically pure or mixed with white fir, but probably the most typical is the ordinary Western yellow pine under certain conditions. At its best this tree composes a forest so dense that all young growth is shaded out, but everyone is familiar with the frequent opener stand containing all ages. The younger trees are often called blackjack.
On the other hand, trees extremely intolerant of shade occur only in what the forester calls even-aged forests. Being unable to start in the darkness of an existing stand of any considerable density, they must seize opportunities to recover openings. The Douglas fir of the Northwest, more commonly called red or yellow fir, is an excellent illustration. In the interior states this species reproduces under cover to some extent, because there is a stronger light average throughout the year and because the stand is not so dense. In the typical Douglas fir forests of Oregon and Washington, discussed in this booklet, it never does so. While hemlock, cedar and white fir undergrowth may be abundant, Douglas fir seedlings are seldom seen except in burns, slashings, roads, or open spots in the woods. And the fir trees composing the dominant stand are of nearly the same age.
How, then, did this even-aged fir forest begin? Close scrutiny will practically always find the answer in fragments of charred wood. Long ago another similar forest occupied the ground until lightning or an Indian's fire started a new cycle. Possibly recurring burns swept the area many times before wind-blown seeds began to start advance groups of fir, which, when fifteen or twenty years old, themselves fruited and filled the blanks between them. Perhaps destruction was not so complete and surviving trees made the process a swifter one. Except in the very oldest forests, where remains of the original stand have entirely rotted away, the history in either case may be read in ancient snags and fallen logs.
Suppose, however, that fire had not come to aid the fir in perpetuating itself? This, too, we can answer from the signs today. Every Northwestern woodsman knows tracts of varying size (usually small because fire has been almost universal) covered with big old hemlock, white fir and cedar, with here and there a dying giant fir, perhaps, but mainly showing fir occupancy only by rotting stumps and logs. No sign of fire is seen. When this fir forest was approaching middle age, the shade bearing species began to appear beneath it. As the firs began to crowd themselves out, the later comers shot up with the increased light and filled the open places. At last the even-aged fir forest was completely transformed into a selection forest of other trees, which will remain until some accident again gives fir a chance if any survives near enough to reach the spot with seed.
Douglas fir is not the only Western tree which usually grows in even-aged stands. Lodgepole pine has the same habit, often supplanting yellow pine after fire or logging. Western white pine is perhaps more tolerant than Douglas fir, hence more likely to hold its own without artificial aid, but is also more certain to compete successfully if it has such aid. The same is true of tamarack.
NATURE AS A MODEL
We thus see that if economic reasons suggest it, we may use the selection system as a basis for artificially managing the shade bearing species such as hemlock, white fir, cedar, spruce, and even Western yellow pine. We may cut the largest and oldest trees and still have a well started second crop. If there is not much young growth to leave, even a little is valuable. It may be decidedly best to leave medium sized trees, which otherwise we would cut, because they are still growing rapidly.
On the other hand, we see that this method would not be of any advantage at all in insuring a second crop of Douglas fir, for there is no young growth of this species to protect. The small and medium sized trees, instead of being immature, are merely stunted specimens of the same age as their larger brothers and unlikely to gain in size if left. Selection cutting here would save for future use only such understory of shade-bearing species as may exist. Unless this is an object, the best plan is to cut clean and get all we can. If we leave any fir at all it is for the purpose of reseeding, not to secure better utilization of the trees themselves, and whether we do so depends, theoretically at least, upon whether it is better than artificial seeding or planting. In short, selection cutting harvests the ripest trees of a perpetual forest, while clean cutting destroys the forest in order to start an entirely new and more rapid growing one.
Clean cutting is therefore necessary as well as natural in dealing with intolerant trees. But it does not follow that the selection system, although natural to tolerant species, is the only one adaptable to them. While the one class demands light, the other does not demand shade. It is merely capable of enduring it. Indeed, except for the greater susceptibility of some species to extreme heat and dryness when very young, as a rule shade bearing trees grow much better if they do have ample light supply. Consequently clean cutting may be the best system for these also under certain economic conditions.
Besides its influence upon the occurrence of species in the forest, light practically governs the physical form of the individual tree. If grown in an opening and not artificially pruned, a tree will have a conical trunk and living branches almost down to the ground. The denser and consequently darker the forest, the more cylindrical the trunk, the smaller the crown of branches and the greater the clear length. The individual tree has no object in assuming a desirable commercial form and does so only when deprived of side light by numerous neighbors. Then it sacrifices diameter growth to height growth in reaching for the top light necessary for its life. At the same time the lower branches are killed by shade and drop off, the scars being healed and eventually buried. The pin knots near the center of a big clear log are the remains of branches which when living were at the top of the young tree.
This is why, if it is to produce good timber, any forest must be dense enough to cover the ground throughout the early part of its life at least. When we see an excellent clear stand of mature Douglas fir, for example, we may know that it consists of the comparatively few survivors of a close sapling growth in which the weak were gradually killed out after serving their office of pruning and forcing the vigorous. Had only the trees we now see been on the ground they would be worthless except for firewood. For the same reason artificial forest planting must be thick, although the fillers or nurse trees may be of inferior species if not of so rapid growth as to gain the mastery.
Nature teaches many lessons which we must recognize in artificial management or fail, but she is no more the best grower of forest crops than she is of agricultural crops. We have to study natural methods of forest perpetuation to see how they may be improved upon as much as to adopt them as models. As a rule the virgin forest is exceedingly wasteful of ground. The possibilities under intelligent care are not indicated by nature's average, but by her accidental best, and usually they far exceed even this. A fair comparison is that of scientific farming with unsystematic gleaning from wild and untended fields. The foregoing general principles of forest growth have been purposely outlined very briefly so as to serve as a mere introduction to their application or modification in concrete cases.
MANAGEMENT OF SPECIFIC TYPES
DOUGLAS FIR (Pseudotsuga taxifolia)
Compared with most important commercial trees, the Northwestern Douglas fir is remarkably easy to reproduce. It is an abundant seeder, grows very rapidly, and inhabits a region with every climatic advantage. In the typical fir districts of Oregon and Washington deforested land which escapes recurring fire is usually restocked naturally and with astonishing rapidity.
The exceptions to this rule are where the destruction of seed trees has been wide and absolute, where already established competing species are not removed with the original forest, and where the surviving fir is too old to seed. The two latter conditions are most prevalent near the coast, where the wet climate not only tends to protect slashings from fire and thus preserve the undergrowth of shade bearing species which escapes logging, but has also prevented the accidental destruction in the past of the original fir stand by fire.
In considering these natural results as they bear upon proposed methods, we find actual destruction of seed supply the easiest to avoid. If the original stand contains suitable seed trees we can protect a sufficient number of them. If not, or if it is less expensive, we can secure seed elsewhere. More frequent difficulty will lie in determining whether the reproduction of fir should be the sole effort, or whether it should not be sacrificed, if necessary, in order to utilize an existing start toward a second crop of other species. This is of peculiar and early importance, for it usually also decides the question of protecting the slashing from fire.
If the present stand is nearly pure fir, or if other species are represented almost wholly by merchantable trees, there will be no young growth worth saving. A new crop must be started from seed, and since fir is the quickest and easiest to grow, as well as probably the most valuable, it should be given every encouragement.
Slash Burning and Its Exceptions.
In most cases this requires burning the ground after logging, not only to reduce the future fire risk but also to provide a suitable seedbed. Fir much prefers mineral soil to start in, as is easily seen from the far greater frequency of seedlings on road grades than on adjacent undisturbed ground covered with humus and rotten wood. Hemlock has no such fastidiousness, even preferring rotten wood as a seedbed. To protect the slashing from fire, therefore, both preserves the most unfavorable conditions for fir and subjects it to unnecessary competition by its rival. Hemlock seedlings already established, seeds lying on the ground, and surrounding or surviving trees which may scatter more seed, are all encouraged to shade and stifle the struggling fir seedlings already handicapped by dislike for their situation.
On the other hand, a large proportion of what we now consider typically fir forest has a vigorous ground cover of hemlock and cedar which may become merchantable many years before an entirely new fir crop can be grown. The presumably greater value of the latter may be consumed by the heavier carrying charge before returns are available. Certainly if the promise of profit from other species and the difficulty of establishing fir both reach the extreme, protection of the growth already started is the best forestry if it is practicable. Moreover, there may be considerable young growth of other species under conditions which do not preclude satisfactory additional reseeding by fir.
When the owner is in position to plan far into the future, like the Government or State, he may seek a temporary compromise, although expecting eventually to secure pure fir. In such a case it may often be best to utilize a first new crop of hemlock, but on harvesting this a few decades hence to burn clean and start the next rotation with fir only.
Conditions Vary Methods.
Between conditions clearly suggesting one course or another, all gradations will present themselves and no written rule can be given for determining the dividing line. Much depends upon future relative values of species, upon which the owner will have his own opinion. More depends upon the character of existing young growth and consequent adaptability to changed conditions after logging. Even a very thick stand of young hemlock is unlikely to produce much if the overwood has been very dense, for much of it may be so old and stunted by shade that sudden advent of strong light will result merely in distorted worthless branch growth or in killing it outright. Occasional vigorous young trees just under present merchantable size are of doubtful value because they are likely to blow down. The most promising class of undergrowth found in fir forests of the Northwest is where there has been sufficient light to produce a fairly thick stand of young hemlock or cedar from five to fifty feet high.
If the undergrowth from which any second crop may develop is insufficient to be worth much consideration, and reseeding must be depended upon entirely, there may still be a question as to species. If ample natural supply of fir seed can be expected, slash burning is indicated. But if not and the owner is not prepared to undertake the expense of artificial seeding, while at the same time there is a promising natural hemlock supply, burning has no object except the reduction of future fire risk. It may even retard hemlock reproduction, both by destroying part of the seed supply and by encouraging the growth of brakes on the area. The question here is a really financial one. The cost of planting fir under these conditions may be more than reimbursed by the resultant more valuable and rapid growing crop. The owner must do his own conjecturing as to future comparative values of the species.
So far we have discussed slash burning only in its sylvicultural relation, finding that it encourages Douglas fir reproduction and is consequently advisable in Northwestern Douglas fir types unless there is an exceptionally promising second growth already started. The balance will be further in its favor, in doubtful cases, because of the protective feature. This is discussed more fully in another chapter, but it is well to recall here that immunity from recurring fire is the first essential of profitable reforestation. To secure second growth by treatment which threatens its destruction later is bad management unless the original saving is ample to cover subsequent greater cost of protection. This is seldom the case.
How to Reseed the Area.
Dismissing the exceptions noted, and returning to our rule that another crop of Douglas fir is usually the best secured by following nature—cutting practically clean, burning the ground and starting a new even-aged stand—we have still to consider means of getting this stand started. We may depend upon natural reseeding from trees preserved for the purpose or from the surrounding forest, or we may resort to planting. What are the comparative advantages of these two methods and the circumstances governing choice between them?
Hitherto, students of the subject have inclined to favor natural reproduction. The very general second growth on deforested land where no aid has been given indicates that excellent results will follow slight assistance. Red fir fruits frequently and profusely, and the seeds carry well in the wind. Burns have been known to restock fully from seed blown from forested hills a mile or more away. Moreover, while planting always involves initial expense, sometimes much may be done to insure natural seeding with little or no actual outlay.
There is danger, however, that in many instances this economy will be more apparent than real if it is effected by actually leaving much value in seed trees. Abroad and in the East there is comparatively little loss in leaving even a fourth or fifth of the original stand to furnish seed. The individual trees left may be good seeders, although small. Little capital is tied up in them and they may be utilized later to equal advantage. A mature fir forest of the Pacific coast may have no small fruiting trees at all, and if left such are likely to be knocked down in logging. To leave 20 per cent of the large trees standing would sometimes tie up 20,000 feet to the acre, worth $40 or $50. Age and windfall may cause loss equal to stumpage increase; moreover, they can never be utilized without the same expense for roads and machinery that is necessary in the original logging. The second crop will not be allowed to reach a size requiring such equipment. In considering possible windfall loss, not the normal wind but the possible maximum storm within the entire life of the second crop must be reckoned with.
It is probably safe to say of mature Pacific coast fir that leaving enough merchantable timber on a cutting area for adequate seeding costs more than to use it and restock. Restocking can be done for $2 to $10 an acre, which would leave a decided margin for profit on the seed trees. And if we undertake to reduce this balance by leaving very few seed trees, we decrease the certainty of successful reproduction and increase the danger of entire failure through windfall or accidental destruction when we burn the slashing. It cannot be denied, however, that fire after planting would result in complete loss, while seed trees might restock the area again and again after such accidents.
On the other hand, natural reproduction does not always require the leaving of merchantable timber on the cutting area. Frequently there are enough crooked or conky trees to serve the purpose. These defects are not directly transmissible through seed to the offspring, although conk is infectious and the young crop should be protected by the removal of the diseased parents after it is well started.
Again, seeding from adjacent timber can often be relied upon. This is a question of economy in logging operations, lay of the ground, prevailing wind direction, fertility of the stand and other local considerations. A valley with healthy fir woods on either side is likely to seed up promptly even if a half mile wide. So is a flat at the leeward foot of a hill timbered on the summit where the wind strikes. A cutting on a ridge is correspondingly unlikely to restock. Theoretically if a tract of timber were large enough, it could be opened up by logging operations which, instead of proceeding steadily from one edge, might skip every other landing or so until the most remote portion was reached after a few years, and then work back again, cleaning up the neglected portions after they had seeded the first openings. The same effect sometimes results from actual accidental practice.
It is apparent that rules cannot be laid down for general application. Generally speaking, a logger interested in fir reforestation should study his ground to see if naturally, or, with inexpensive aid, the cut-over area will not reseed from the sides and from the cull trees he will leave uncut. If not, he may leave a few merchantable seed bearing trees provided the soil is such as to make them deep-rooted and wind-firm. Groups are better than single trees because less likely to be blown down and easier to protect from the slashing fire. More should be left toward the windward edge. But before tieing up any considerable sum in merchantable trees he should consider the cost and safety of supplementing any shortage of natural supply by artificial seeding.
WESTERN HEMLOCK (Tsuga heterophylla)
Since hemlock is so frequently associated with Douglas fir, the principles governing its reproduction and its relative promise as a second crop have necessarily been largely covered in the preceding discussion of fir. The following remarks are merely additional.
We have seen that the perpetuation of hemlock is advisable only where fir reproduction is difficult to obtain or will be at too great a sacrifice of valuable existing hemlock. The first of these conditions is confined chiefly to pure hemlock stands and to coast regions where the fir is often too old to seed well. The second may exist on the coast or in certain moist interior regions where there is a heavy hemlock undergrowth. In either case natural hemlock reproduction will be counted upon, both because it is practically certain to occur and because if it were not certain and artificial aid were necessary, we would abandon hemlock entirely and devote our efforts to fir. In short, discussion of hemlock as a second crop need not include systematic attempts to seed the ground but may be confined to protection of what we have to begin with.
In a straight hemlock proposition, the protection question may differ considerably from that involved by deciding between fir and hemlock. In the latter case, because of the assistance of fire to fir, the growth already on the ground must have considerable value to warrant foregoing the several advantages of slash burning. In the former, slash burning has no object except to reduce future risk. The inference is that a much less promising stock of young growth is worth protecting.
While this is true, there is danger of overestimating its value, especially if care is not taken in logging. It has been remarked that suppressed misshapen hemlock is not apt to make a healthy growth, that windfall is a peril, and that if the previous shade has been heavy, sudden opening to sunlight may be fatal. It should also be remembered that even slightly injured young hemlock is worthless, for it is almost certain to be attacked by borers. Anything which deadens a small portion of the bark like axe blazes, fire scorch, or scars from strap leads, is dangerous. Hemlock is more liable than fir to general defects like black streak, borers, fungous disease and mistletoe, therefore investment in reforestation needs the maximum safeguard against them. In many instances better results may be obtained from a new healthy seedling stand following a purifying fire, even at some loss of time, than from well started young growth which is unhealthy and likely not only to fail itself but also to infect any seedlings which may come in among it. Consequently if the slashing is not large, and reproduction from the sides may be counted on, the above considerations, coupled with the reduction of future fire risk, may suggest slash burning just as in the case of fir. The remarks apply particularly if it is considered necessary to log as clean as possible.
With a good, healthy start toward a new forest, however, it will usually be best to keep fire out, for the material saved will warrant greater expense in protection during the growing period. Representative tracts, both on the coast and in the Cascades, have been studied which showed that, with care in lumbering, enough good young hemlock too small for logs or skids could be saved after present-day logging of a heavy mixed fir and hemlock stand to produce in fifty years 11,000 or 12,000 feet of timber over 14 inches in diameter. This would not be wholly additional to the second crop of seedlings which might be produced if these trees were not preserved, for the ground and light they use would be denied to the seedlings, but undoubtedly the yield would be greater than could be secured if they were destroyed.
This means that under similar conditions we may go still further and actually apply the selection system, especially if the original stand is nearly pure hemlock. So far we have discussed areas left by present-day logging methods. Suppose, however, the owner of a good tract of hemlock, having decided that conditions do not warrant trying to get fir, is willing to modify his methods for the sake of better hemlock returns at some future cutting. He would probably do best to take out only the mature trees, leaving everything which is still growing with fair rapidity. Greater light will stimulate these immensely as well as encourage further seeding of the ground. The few merchantable trees he spares, together with those now unmerchantable, will, in perhaps twenty years, make another excellent crop. By leaving a fairly dense stand he prevents the windfall danger which threatens the survivors of too vigorous cutting, and also prevents them from assuming the branchy form of trees which receive too much side light. The fire danger is much reduced by resultant shading of the ground and slightly by the lesser cover of debris. In short, he makes the most economical use of the ground, and the capital represented by the trees he spares is well invested.
To sum up, hemlock lends itself to almost every form of management. Determination as to which is most advisable is governed by its extremely variable manner of occurrence and by the local promise offered by associate species. The foregoing discussion can only serve as suggestive when considering given conditions.
WESTERN CEDAR (Thuya plicata)
Except for small swamp and river bottom areas, where the land is likely to be more valuable for agriculture than for forest culture, pure cedar stands are not common. Therefore it is as a component of mixed stands that cedar is likely to become a problem in conservative management. To some extent it presents a peculiar question by being taken out alone for special purposes, such as poles and bolts, independent of ordinary logging of sawtimber.
Western cedar is a typically shade-bearing tree and also endures much ground moisture. Its occurrence as an under story and in swamps does not indicate that it always requires such conditions, however, but more often means merely that they protected it from competition or from destruction by fire. Charred remains of very large, fine cedar are often found on comparatively dry slopes where fire has resulted in complete occupation by fir at present. Cedar's failure to reappear there after removal is probably because its thin bark and shallow roots allowed its destruction by a fire which was survived by some better protected fir seed trees. Nevertheless, cedar must be classified as a moisture-loving species and occupies dry soils only in coast or mountain localities where there is a compensating heavy rainfall.
Reproduction and management of western cedar have not been sufficiently studied to warrant very positive conclusions. This neglect is probably due to a wide belief that in spite of its present commercial importance, its place in the future forest will be small. It most commonly occurs with other trees in heavy stands, which make the preservation of any young cedar difficult because of the destructiveness of logging. Being of comparatively slow growth, also persistent in retaining branches when grown in the light, it is not as promising for artificial reproduction as Douglas fir or white pine. To let it become old enough for good shingle material will be too expensive to pay, for roofing is one of the wood products easiest to substitute for. While cedar is adapted for poles, posts and other underground use, less decay-resisting species can be made equally durable by chemical treatment. In other words, as a second crop it is probably below other species in ease of establishment, rapidity and quantity, and will not have sufficient peculiar value to compensate for consequent less economical use of the ground.