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delays in the transaction of business; but it had also in view the ultimate reshifting of much of the responsibility and the work then removed from Washington, out of the district offices to the Forests. To insure the application of proper technical methods and the setting of proper administrative standards, it was at first necessary to place in each district a considerable force of well-trained men. It was also necessary at the outset to provide for maintaining a considerable oversight of the district offices from the Washington office. Gradually the work of supervision both in Washington and in the districts has grown lighter, and the personnel changes thus made possible have reduced the overhead supervisory force by a third or more. A large part of these changes took place last year.
The study of costs and work standards and the effort to increase efficiency through better organization, more careful definition of the ends to be sought and the methods to be followed, and better time and output records has been taken up with enthusiasm by the rangers and supervisors as well as in the districts. Plans are being developed in many places for making the field work, and especially the work of the rangers, more effective. I believe that it would be difficult to find in any branch of the Government more energetic and loyal effort to develop and apply the methods which will mean the largest possible return in work accomplished for the money disbursed than now permeates the Forest Service.
The act of June 4, 1897, which gave authority for the administration of the National Forests, also plainly indicated that Congress intended the reservations to be maintained, protected, and improved for the public benefit, and at the same time to be opened to use as public utilities, under regulations framed to conserve their productive value. . The principal task involved in giving effect to the purpose of Congress with respect to the National Forests is that of developing their use. Their primary uses are to produce continuous supplies of timber and to regulate the flow of water. Subordinate to these uses, yet of large importance, are their use for grazing, for recreation, and for many kinds of occupancy. The regulation of use for these subordinate purposes must be so adjusted as not to prevent the carrying out of the primary purposes for which the Forests were set aside, while enabling the public to secure from them as many advantages as possible.
From the time that the National Forests were placed under my jurisdiction I have administered them with a view to the development of their largest public usefulness. Up to the time that they were taken over, little constructive work had been done. As they have been set aside in order to insure that their benefits shall be permanent, their proper development necessarily involves the making of plans which look far ahead, and such control over present use as will prevent future loss of productive power.
The object of forestry is to conserve through use. It includes protection of the timber now standing, but it has for its main purpose continued production along with constant use. Without the application of forestry, use of the Forests is always accompanied by deterioration. Forestry means simply intelligent control of the processes of nature, in order to reap the largest advantage. It is comparable with the work of scientific agriculture, of which indeed it is a branch. Just as unintelligent farming brings about a decline in the productive power of the farm, so use of forests which is not guided by knowledge of the forces at work means impoverishment of forest resources. Everywhere in this country the contact of civilized man with the forests has brought abuse of the forests. This is as true of the National Forests as it is in the East, though not to the same degree. They declined progressively from the time of the pioneers until intelligent regulation of their use began. Though vastly the greater part of the National Forests are virgin, so far as timber cutting is concerned, they have been so desolated by past fires and injurious grazing that they are in far from the best condition. One of the tasks involved in administering them is to build them up.
Technical forestry is so new a thing in this country that the nature of its work is even now not clearly understood by the public. The long period required to bring a forest crop to maturity makes the intelligent management of forests possible only if present operations are shaped with a view to results which will follow many years subsequently. The entire scheme of management generally looks to the attaining of ends a century or more in the future. It is a question of organizing all operations under a constructive plan which must move forward a step at a time, each step coordinated with those which precede and follow, to the final fulfillment of its purpose. The forest must, through scientific knowledge of the laws which govern it, be slowly shaped into conformity with the plan. The relative amounts of growing timber of different ages, the kinds of trees, the volume of timber which will be available at different times, the development of transportation facilities, and the probable future market demands, both as to quantity and kind, must be carefully calculated. All of this means that the application of forestry requires a policy of management which, for a long period of years, shall be stable. The absolute necessity for a stable policy of management constitutes the strongest reason why Government ownership of productive forests is essential to the public welfare. To develop a stable policy and attain the final goal, forest administration must be developed along technical lines.
During the nearly seven years that the Forests have been under my control I have built up a technical staff. This I regard as the fundamental achievement that has been attained. The immediate work ahead when the Forests came under my control was that of organizing an administrative system to provide for protection of the Forests, while opening them at once to as many kinds of use as possible. This immediate work, however, was undertaken with the purpose not of providing a temporary makeshift, but with an attack at once on the underlying problems of constructive development. Permanent foundations have been laid down.
The same necessity for a technical administration applies quite as strongly to the control of grazing through range management as to forest management. Unlike the National Forest timber, the National Forest range is already in practically full demand. When the Forests were created abuse of the range had gone much further than abuse of the timber. Because of the extent to which deterioration had taken place, because there was immediate demand for most of the forage, and because the forage crop is produced and harvested each year, opportunity for realizing immediate results through constructive administration was greater in the case of range management than in that of forest management. The objects sought were (1) the protection and conservative use of the range itself; (2) promotion of the best permanent welfare of the live-stock industry; and (3) protection of the settler and home builder against unfair competition in use of the range. The results which have been already obtained are a striking example of what practical conservation means. The work of the year in range management will be set forth later. I wish now, however, to call attention to the fact that all of this work has been accomplished through technical administration and could not have been accomplished without it. The technical knowledge required to handle grazing questions satisfactorily has been developed along with that required for timberland management and is applied by the same technical staff. To a large extent the two sets of problems interlock and must be handled together.
In developing technical methods of administering the Forests material assistance has been obtained by drawing on the expert knowledge possessed by various branches of the department besides the Forest Service. The Biological Survey is aiding greatly in the work of reforestation by devising methods for the control of rodents, which interfere formidably with the success of reforestation through seed sowing; is assisting in improvement of the range by the elimination of prairie dogs, which cause a heavy annual loss in the forage crop; and has contributed to the work of lessening losses to live stock through predatory animals. Protection of the Forests against destruction by insect infestations and tree diseases is in the long run fully as important a technical problem as that of protecting them against destruction by fire. In attacking it the Bureaus of Entomology and Plant Industry are contributing to the administrative work on the Forests. The Bureau of Plant Industry has also done very valuable work through studies conducted by its specialists in order to learn how the forage crop may be increased through natural revegetation of areas depleted by overgrazing and through artificial reseeding, how losses of stock from poisonous plants may be lessened, and how the carrying power of the range and the condition of the stock grazed may be improved through modifications of the methods of handling the stock. The Bureau of Animal Industry also has, in cooperation with the Forest Service, materially assisted the work of range management by checking the spread of contagious stock diseases.
In my report of last year I gave an account of the disastrous fires which took place in the summer and early fall of 1910, and discussed the means of fire protection. The final figures of losses and total area burned do not vary materially from the provisional estimates which I then gave. The fires of the calendar year 1910 covered more than 3,000,000 acres of Government timberland and 800,000 acres of private timberland within the National Forest boundaries, and inflicted damages to National Forest timber, including young growth, estimated at a little less than $25,000,000. The loss in timber destroyed or damaged was slightly over 6,500,000,000 board feet. In a single season the losses exceeded the total of all former years since Government protection of the Forests began. Compared with the calendar year 1909, the estimated money loss in 1910 was in the ratio of more than 50 to 1. In fighting the fires special expenditures were incurred totaling over $1,000,000, besides the cost in time of the regular protective force.
I pointed out a year ago that these extraordinary losses were due to unprecedentedly unfavorable weather conditions, and were, considering all the circumstances, unpreventable; but I also pointed out that they were not beyond the possibility of prevention, given the time and the means for building up a thoroughly organized protective system. Even the terrific fires of 1910 would, beyond any question at all, have inflicted enormously greater losses upon private as well as public property, and very likely much heavier losses of life, had it not been for the protective work of the Forest Service. The experience of the season of 1911 has shown that the fires of 1910 were not without their benefits. They furnished an invaluable test,
under an ordeal of the utmost severity, of fire-fighting methods and needs, and also stimulated the men of the Forest Service to strain every effort in a determined attempt to prepare for the occurrence of similar conditions. By nearly doubling the appropriation for permanent improvements, Congress made available funds which were greatly needed for extending and supplementing the trail and telephone systems and for equipping lookout stations. Plans framed with a view to meeting all possible contingencies, and for coordinating all activities on the Forests in connection with the fire-protection plans, were worked out in detail during the winter. At the opening of the new fire season a notable advance had been made in the development of a more highly organized and, for the means available, efficient protective system.
The results which have been obtained are a striking evidence of the value of the preparations made. Final figures can not yet be given, but it is certain that a record has been established that surpasses anything previously achieved. While in most National Forest regions relatively favorable weather conditions prevailed, in Washington and Oregon the season was even worse than that of 1910; but the careful preparation, in the light of previous experience, made it possible both to discover fires in their incipiency and to concentrate quickly upon them a capable fire-fighting force. When the regular Forest force was insufficient to handle fires, arrangements made beforehand with settlers, lumber companies, mine operators, construction parties, and others enabled picked men to be quickly summoned. Plans for provisioning and equipping with tools fire-fighting forces and for transporting supplies and equipments from available bases to the men on the fire line were carefully worked out. In short, the object aimed at was that nothing should be left to chance or extemporized effort in the face of an emergency. The localities exposed to greatest danger, either because of the existence of conditions creating a special risk of the outbreak of fires or because the damage, should they gain headway, would be particularly severe, had been ascertained and received special protection. Patrol of the Forests was organized and distributed with a view to obtaining the largest possible efficiency, and the construction of telephone lines and trails was pushed where they were most needed. Lookout points and watch towers, connected by telephone with the headquarters of each Forest, were located in commanding positions and proved of invaluable assistance in the prompt discovery, precise location, and swift reaching of fires. As a result of these careful preparations the fire damage was greatly reduced. The fund of $1,000,000 made available by Congress in case of extraordinary emergency was drawn upon only to the extent of a few thousand dollars. In district 4 the total extra charges incurred for fighting fires amounted to less