Слике страница
[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]

F one could overlook the whole oping order, knowledge growing from of California in these midsum- less to more, expert scalers estimat

mer days, he would note that ing the board feet in logs, keen-eyed thousands of tired men, women and rangers counting in the sheep and catchildren were climbing towards the tle, fire outlooks on lonely peaks far snow-peaks, or returning to the val above the forests, aviators, perhaps, leys, were resting in camps by moun- flying overhead to report the first uptain streams, lakes and meadows, curling ribbons of smoke from newwere sitting around camp fires and starting fires. telling tales of romance and adven- Not in the least a pipe-dream, this ture. He would see other armies of last, for the experiment of using airtoilers, not pleasure-seekers, looking craft over our forests has been initiafter sheep and cattle, building roads, ated over large areas in California, felling timber, running sawmills, New Mexico, Arizona and elsewhere. hauling out the forest products. From Army airplanes are beginning to fly San Diego to Siskiyou, the whole while these lines are being written; mountain land would be throbbing doubtless by the time you, dear with magnificent life.

reader, scan this page, the newsThen, coming down to details, this papers will be telling how some young state-wide on-looker would begin to American who won his fame over the observe what political text books call war front is reporting fires and saving "the system of checks and balances” American forests. While on this subwhich one somehow finds everywhere ject, it is also worth saying that the -system, supervision, slowly devel- vast possibilities in the use of air machines were seen from the first by stations alone and done it quite as well many in the Forest Service, and also as any man could. by many mountain men and lovers of The past twenty years' history of the great out-doors, so that sugges- fire-fighting experiments in California tions about using overhead scouts deserves a book to itself, so full is the have come from all over California. period with thrilling incidents and

Seeing these things, you if in a Na- steadily evolving experience. At one tional Forest on a camp this July, will time, for instance, a number of fireperhaps remember some of the begin- break lines were cut through thick nings—the rude home-made fire-rakes brush at high cost, so as to protect of the late Nineties which forest valuable bodies of timber. But they guards used; the total lack of tele- grew up again very fast indeed, and phones, the three or four days spent it was soon found that except under by hungry sleepless men in the special conditions fire lines are not algulches and on the high divides, cor- together a success, but that the lookralling a big fire. You will remember out towers, telephones, the ability to dozens of hero tales of pioneer forest rush a lot of fully-equipped fire fight

[graphic][merged small]

work that have become splendid tra- ers to the spot quickly (in these days ditions helping to create still greater largely by machines) are the things loyalties to the growing spirit of that count. American forestry.

Now we shall have aircraft besides. You will have watched the building But the really important matter, as of those first rude fire-outlook cabins everyone knows, is the growing unity on hill tops near the western fronts of of effort and spirit of fellowship the National Forests, back in the first among all the people who believe in ten years of this century, to be rapidly forests. Anybody who spends a litfollowed by much more useful fire tle time in one of the eighteen Nastations on higher peaks, miles away tional Forests of California and Nefrom neighbors, where men lived and vada soon discovers all this. "Some worked in isolation for months; where thing brings us together," a newcomer brave women sometimes lived sharing said one July: "It's partly the wild their husbands' vigils. In a few cases life, the outdoorness; it's still more women have kept these fire outlook the forests and their primeval solitude. When we go home again we are fornia, burning over some 12,000 better and more useful people for our acres. summer days up here.”

Now, when everyone, young and But all this health-giving beauty old, settlers, tourists, hunters, fisherand potential wood-product resources men, prospectors, cattlemen and all over thousands of square miles are at the rest of us, realize the vast issues the mercy of a careless match, a for involved in the fight to save our forgotten camp fire, an ignorant, foolish ests from any fire loss whatever, fires or criminal person who starts a blaze in California can be reduced to merely in our dry season, and perhaps de those started by lightning, perhaps fifty stroys thousands of acres of timber, a year, and the total acreage to less lessens the water-storage capacity of than a thousand, the losses to "next to our mountains, and injures the Ameri- nothing." can people.

In order to reach this much-desired The statistics sent out by lumber- result public education must be conmen's associations and the Forest Ser- stant, beginning in the primary grades

[graphic][merged small]

vice prove that fires on our timber of the schools, extending throughout lands in 1918 cost the Pacific Coast all social groups of men, women and $6,500,000 in the destruction of children. Here is an immense field for merchantable timber, besides of the best work of boy scouts, campfire course, the losses to livestock, the girls, normal schools, outing clubs, and killing of small trees, the destruction all sorts of associations, but especially of soil fertility and lessening of water for every force that has to do with supplies. We had 6249 separate fires, agriculture and horticulture. and 321,827 acres were burned over. Another book might be written upon More than two million dollars was the sad, silly, and yet often amusingspent by the Government and by pri- performances of careless people who vate individuals in checking and fin- go to the mountains. Once, not twenty ally putting out these forest fires. It miles from Truckee, a couple of men may be added that 1030 of these fires camped on the sawdust pile of an old, were on the National Forests of Cali- abandoned mill, built their fire, sprang


Hilgard, and old John Rock, the nurseryman, were among the men who talked Forest Protection with men like B. B. Redding, in those times.

Dr. Hilgard of the State University, used to say: "Start school gardens; show the infants how a seed grows, and becomes at last a tree. Take them to the mountains; show them the best way to camp, how to live, how to find their way around, what to do in case of accidents. Make them, in brief, children of the great outdoors. Then, when we have Government forests” (this was about 1880) “every Californian will know how to stand up for them.”

But more than thirty years of time -and the world-war lies between – more than forty years, if one goes back to B. B. Redding's experiences, have elapsed. Where are we now? There has been a far-reaching system of fireprotection created so as to discover, reach, and rapidly conquer every fire. There has been much written and said towards the education of the public. Best of all, a policy has been developed which aims at interesting every owner of a piece of land upon which forest trees grow, whether just a wood

A Result of Carelessness With Camp Fires

from their blankets a few hours later, and ran for their precious lives! Their camp, horses and wagon were wiped out; the fire burned for a week or so, destroying much timber. The men went into Truckee and asked a lawyer if there was any prospect that they could recover damages from the owner of the old mill site!

The late B. B. Redding, of the Southern Pacific, "one of Nature's noblemen,” and a man whose love for wild life and the forests was beyond expression, once found some campers on the McCloud river who were setting fire to dead pitch-pine stumps, and also making huge piles of logs against the face of a granite cliff, so that when set afire the rock would split, explode, and fly off in huge masses. He reasoned unavailingly with them. “Came up to have a good time,” they said. From that incident dated Mr. Redding's desire for fire patrols, more stringent laws, and a broader public education. It was a long time ago about 1878, I think, but John Muir, John Sweet, Sam Williams of the “Bulletin," Prof. Joseph LeConte, Dr.

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]
[graphic][merged small]

lot or whole square miles of virgin theory is of the Piute Indian order; it timber. Colonel Henry S. Graves, clears off great areas; it destroys the Chief of the Forest Service, in a re- reproduction as well as much larger cent address before the Lumbermen's growth; it changes forests in brushCongress at Chicago, discussed this covered and worthless areas. Syspolicy in the most thoughtful and tematic fire protection is the only practical manner. He outlined the scientific method known to foresters. vital importance of forest renewal Now for the practical turn — the private lands, in other words the re- "what to do this very year: First storation of timber growth on cut-over keep posted on Forest Service, and lands. This involves changes in the University literature; get acquainted present methods of taxing forest with forests and forest people; use lands, and many other things, but it safety matches, and pinch out the rests upon the full recognition by the stubs. Secondly, consider the imAmerican people of the necessity of mense place which forests and wild saving, utilizing, restoring and forever life occupy in our civilization, and continuing our forest resources. First how empires that wasted these reof all, this means cutting out the fires. sources have gone down in pain and Let us all help to enforce the State in darkness. Then, once for all, say and Federal fire laws. Let us forever to yourself 'We can put an end to get rid of the notion that “light sum- fire-losses in the California forests, mer burning' is ever a good thing in excepting of course, the few that come our forests. That long-discredited from summer lightning strokes.'"

« ПретходнаНастави »