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To His Excellency the Governor and the Honorable Council:
The Forestry Commission, in summarizing its acts for the past two years, takes occasion to call attention at the outset to the fact that its labors during the time mentioned have been conducted with the same restrictions as to appropriations with which to prosecute research and as to power to enforce its conclusions that have characterized all forestry agitation in this state since the subject was first given official attention.
It is now twenty years since forestry was first recognized by the New Hampshire legislature. The year 1881 was an active one in American forestry. It was in that year that Baron von Steuben, one of the high forest officers of the German empire, visited this country to attend the Yorktown centennial observ
His presence here attracted attention to his calling, and, by the stimulus thus aroused, the first American Forestry Congress was assembled in Cincinnati, Ohio. Out of this meeting grew the existing American Forestry Association, which has accomplished so much in the way of bringing the subject of forestry to popular knowledge.
NEW HAMPSHIRE AHEAD.
New Hampshire, however, was in advance of this movement, and at the June session of the legislature, nearly three months before Von Steuben had aroused interest in the subject, a temporary forestry commission was provided for. This board was given a further lease of life for two years by the legislature of 1883, and in 1885 it published a most admirable report, which has ever since served as a constant source of information
for New Hampshire foresters. With the publication of this report, this commission of 1881 went out of existence, and no further action was taken on the subject until 1889, when another temporary board was created. This board was continued in existence by the legislature of 1891, and in 1893 it recommended the establishment of the present permanent commission.
The work of the board has been wholly educational in its character. By means of public addresses, through private conversation, by numberless published articles, by correspondence, and by personal appeal, the members of the board have sought to accomplish two purposes: First, to convince the private landowners, lumbermen, and other operators, that the rational treatment of their tree growth meant greater future profit to themselves and marked benefit to the state. Second, to arouse public sentiment to the importance of forest preservation while there are still some forests to be preserved.
While the board has been conscious that much of its efforts in both these directions has fallen far short of its intended result, yet it cannot repress the conviction that some good has been accomplished. When the board first began to cultivate friendly relations with lumbermen and to attempt to convince the logger that he and the forester had something in common, the prevailing spirit and custom among such operators was to denude the forest utterly, and then seek new woods to conquer. Now, thanks in part to the efforts of the board, nearly one third of the annual timber product of the state is harvested with some attempt to apply rational methods of timber utilization; while, on the other side of the board's work, a creditable body of public opinion stands ready to indorse some definite and affirmative steps to secure the most desirable results of forest preservation.
PRESERVATION, NOT STAGNATION.
The purpose of forest preservation, however, should not be misunderstood. No one believes more fully than the forester that forests grow to be used. He does not wish tree growth to come to maturity and then to
to waste. That would not be forest preservation; it would be an unnecessary stagnation. Forest preservation looks to the utilization of tree growth in such wise as to quicken nature's restorative powers, so that the tree which is remớved may be followed by another in the least possible time, thus insuring a never ceasing supply of trees fit for the axe. This kind of forest preservation is sorely needed in some parts of New Hampshire.
THE BEST WAY.
The best way to bring about such a condition is, of course, for the state, by the appropriation of the necessary money, and by the exercise of its power of eminent domain, to take to itself the title to such forests as are most in need of preservation because of their scenic value and their relations to the great water-courses of the state. Having once put itself in possession of these forest lands, the state could then put into practice the rules of rational forestry, affording to private owners an unmistakable object lesson of the benefits of such a course, and at the same time deriving for itself an income sufficient to pay the cost of the investment. By such a course the board thinks the state could put itself in possession of the forests of the North Country, which, in forty years' time, could be made to
pay for themselves, and then leave us the forests still standing and in such an improved condition as to be ready to yield a constant revenue to the treasury.
It needs but little reflection to demonstrate the essential truth of this proposition. The credit of New Hampshire is of the best. At the present rate of decrease our entire existing state debt will be wiped out in a few years.
Under these conditions we can borrow money upon the best of terms; and a bond issue for the purpose of financing a plan for forest preservation could be made at a rate of interest at least as low as three per cent. Given forty years as the period during which the bonds would run, and assuming that the average