Page images
PDF
EPUB

a

country be in want of hardwood materials which in the past it has had in great variety and abundance. The streams of the Appalachians are of enormous value to the nation for water power and navigation. If the forests are removed from the mountains, this value will be reduced to a fraction, because the soil from the denuded watersheds will so rapidly fill reservoirs and channels that even the resources of the Government itself will be insufficient to keep them clear.

That some special means must be taken to protect the resources of these mountains no reasonable man after a full study of the situation is likely to deny. The time to begin is now. Every year that action is deferred the conditions are made worse and the cost of reclamation becomes commensurately greater. The undertaking is so immense that the National Government can not be expected to assume it alone. Important action must be taken by the States directly concerned, and extensive cooperation must be had with individual landowners of the region. It is the duty of the Government to undertake a part of the work and to do it without delay, in order that by example and influence it may lead the way to the more rational treatment of these regions and their resources.

In this report it is pointed out how far, in my opinion, it will be necessary for the Government to go and what the cost will be. I have also indicated the action which it seems necessary for the several States to take, and have suggested a basis for securing the cooperation of individual landowners. All three-Government, State, and individual-must, it seems to me, participate in the movement.

As a result of the work done under the special appropriation, several reports are being published which show how the commercial importance of these regions depends upon keeping their forests under systematic control. The water resources branch of the Geological Survey, under the direction of Mr. M. O. Leighton, has prepared two reports, one on the Relation of the Southern Appalachian Mountains to the Development of Water Power, the other on the Relation of the Southern Appalachian Mountains to Inland Water Navigation. The report of Mr. Philip W. Ayres, already referred to, on the Commercial Importance of the White Mountains, is being published. Mr. William L. Hall, of the Forest Service, has published a report on The Waning Hardwood Supply and the Appalachian Forests. All of these papers are respectfully brought to the attention of Congress as containing in large part the data which form the basis of the conclusions and recommendations of this report.

IMPORTANCE OF APPALACHIAN FORESTS FOR HARDWOOD

SUPPLY.

The future hardwood supply hinges on the control of the Appalachian Mountains. This is shown in Circular 116 of the Forest Service, on The Waning Hardwood Supply and the Appalachian Forests. To briefly summarize the reasons, the hardwood lumber cut. of the country has fallen off over 15 per cent in the last seven years, and this decrease took place at a time when the industries made unprecedented demands upon every kind of structural material. The output of pig iron increased 86 per cent, that of cement 229 per cent,

24072-08—2

and that of softwood lumber nearly 16 per cent. During the same period the wholesale prices of all classes of hardwood lumber advanced from 25 to 65 per cent. Almost every kind of hardwood has been put on the market, and hardwood is now being cut in every State and in almost every locality where it is found. All possible substitutes are being put into requisition. The demand is stronger than ever, but the supply is falling off. A notable shrinkage has occurred in some of the most popular woods, as shown by the following table:

TABLE 1.-The cut of hardwood lumber, by kinds, 1899 and 1906.

[blocks in formation]

Oak, which in 1899 furnished more than half the entire output of hardwood lumber, has fallen off 36.5 per cent. Yellow poplar, which in 1899 ranked second among the hardwoods of the country, fell off 37.9. Elm, the great standard in slack cooperage, went down 50.8 per cent. Cottonwood and ash, used largely in many industries, fost, respectively, 36.4 and 20.3 per cent. Of the woods which show increases, hickory and walnut are cut scatteringly over a very large territory. The increases shown are probably in large part, 'if not entirely, due to more complete figures in 1906 than in 1899. The other woods which show increascs are those which up to a few years ago were considered so inferior that they had no market value. Only within the past seven years have maple, red gum, birch, beech and tupelo begun to replace the better woods, such as oak, poplar, elm, and ash. When the inferior substitutes are gone there will be nothing with which to replace them.

While we know the hardwood supply is rapidly running down, it is unfortunate that we can not tell how long the supply will last. The hardwood which annually goes into the manufacture of lumber is approximately 7} billion feet. Other uses, such as railroad ties, poles, piles, fence posts, fuel, and the vast amount of waste bring the figure to at least 25 billion feet. By the largest estimate our supply of standing hardwoods does not exceed 400 billion feet. This means a sixteen years' supply.

[ocr errors]

How intensely the whole country would feel the loss of a great resource like hardwood timber was merely indicated by the injurious effects of the anthracite coal strike a few years ago. Many of our great industries, such as furniture, vehicle, and cooperage manufacture, depend absolutely upon hardwood. These industries will fail with the hardwood supply. Not only will they fail, the whole country will suffer for want of their products. Our present national forests furnish no hardwood timber because hardwoods grow only in the East.

There have been in the United States four great hardwood centersthe Ohio Valley, the Lake States, the lower Mississippi Valley, and the Appalachian States. The Ohio Valley in the past has been the main center of production. Even as late as 1899, the States of Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana produced 25 per cent of the hardwood. In 1906, they produced only 14 per cent; both the States of Ohio and Indiana fell off over 50 per cent. They have reached a sudden end as great hardwood producers. Their many hardwood-using establishments which are now pressed for supplies will largely exhaust their remaining remnants within a few years. The lands from which the timber was cut have been cleared and turned into farming, for which in large part they are well adapted.

The three Lake States furnished less hardwood lumber in 1906 than they did in 1899. Unquestionably their maximum production has been reached, and their decline is likely to be almost as rapid as that of Ohio and Indiana, because of the nearness of many wood-using industries which will make heavy demands upon their supplies. The hardwood lands of the Lake States are for the most part agricultural lands, and they are rapidly being cleared for the production of grain, grasses, and potatoes.

The same is true of the lower Mississippi Valley. The hardwoods occupy the richest agricultural land which, almost as fast as the timber is cut, is being turned into farms. Present indications are that the swamp land, notable for the production of hardwoods, will within a few years be drained and cleared for agriculture.

This leaves but one other hardwood region--the Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachians differ fundamentally from the other regions because they are not of agricultural value; their main usefulness is for timber production. In 1906 they produced 48 per cent of the hardwoods of the country. It is clear that they must be counted upon for even a much larger proportion in the future. Although they bear hemlock, pine, and spruce in quantity, it is in the production of hardwoods that the Appalachians have their chief value. It is to them that the hardwood-using industries must look for future supplies, and even with the Appalachians the country has only a sixteen years' supply now available for the ax.

The Southern Appalachian region contains a timbered area of over 58 million acres. Including the mountains of Pennsylvania, New York, and New England, it is safe to estimate the Appalachian area as covering 75 million acres primarily adapted to hardwood timber. Only a small part of this-12 to 15 per cent-is covered by virgin growth. The remainder has been cut over, and some of it has been cleared.

Throughout the Appalachian region the forest has suffered incalculable damage by fire, which over most of the region still burns without hindrance. Every year millions of young trees, the hope of the future crop, are killed and the humus, the great storehouse of fertility and moisture, is consumed over thousands of acres. Through mismanagement a great part of the young timber has been destroyed. Much that remains is damaged by fire, insects, or fungi. Over the whole area the average growth is very little, probably not more than 10 cubic feet per acre annually.

The inevitable conclusion is that there are lean years close ahead in the use of hardwood timber. There is sure to be a gap between the supply which exists and the supply which will have to be provided. How large that gap will be depends upon how soon and how effectively we begin to make provision for the future supply. The present indications are that in spite of the best we can do there will be a shortage of hardwoods running through at least fifteen years. How acute that shortage may become and how serious a check it will put upon the industries concerned can not now be foretold. That it will strike at the very foundation of some of the country's most important industries is unquestionable. This much is true beyond doubt, that the hardwood timber famine is upon us and we have made no provision against it.

Studies of the forest conditions in the Southern Appalachians show that these lands, where they have been under protection for some time, are capable of producing an average of 50 cubic feet of wood per acre annually. Even taking the production at 40 cubic feet, this means for the area of 75 million acres a possible annual production of about 3 billion cubic feet, which is about equal to the present consumption of hardwood timber for all purposes. Since the Appalachians at present supply only 48 per cent of our hardwood, and since other regions will continue to furnish some, it is likely that the proportion from the Appalachians will never exceed 75 per cent. This allows a margin of safety of 25 per cent if we assume that there will be no increase over the present rate of consumption. If the Appalachian forests are taken soon enough and rightly handled they will eventually produce continuously three-fourths of the hardwood supply of the country, and do it without exhausting the forests. In fact, it can be done in such a way as to improve the forest.

Our experience will doubtless be the same in this respect as that of Germany. In Saxony the cut, which represents only the growth, increased 55 per cent during the period from 1820 to 1904, bringing the annual yield to 93 cubic feet per acre. Prussia shows a still more pronounced increase. In 1830 the cut was only 20 cubic feet per acre, and in 1865 had increased to only 24 cubic feet. But in 1890, owing to proper management, it had risen to 52, and in 1904 to 65 cubic feet. These results came largely from nonagricultural lands, sandy plains, swamps, and rough mountain slopes, and from forests which had been mismanaged, much the same as ours. Under right management an equal increase may be expected from Appalachian forests. To this increase of yield we must look to meet the increase which is certain to come in demand.

IMPORTANCE OF SOUTHERN APPALACHIANS AND WHITE

MOUNTAINS FOR WATER POWER.

The amount of water power in the Southern Appalachians fre-! quently has been guessed at. The Geological Survey has been measuring the streams for seven years, and its report on the Relation of the Southern Appalachian Mountains to the Development of Water Power presents facts concerning the remarkable asset the nation has in the water resources of this region. Based on the lowest two weeks of the year an average for seven years shows that the streams afford 2,700,000 horsepower. This much power would be available the year round. In common practice it is found profitable to develop a water power to the minimum of the four highwater months of the year, depending upon steam power during lowwater season to make up the deficiency. In order to be conservative in this estimate the time limit has been made six months. No streams or portions of streams were considered that did not flow out of the Southern Appalachians. No streams with less than 500 horsepower were considered. In all calculations only 90 per cent of the observed fall and 80 per cent of the energy of the falling water is used. Moreover, three important streams-the Big Sandy, the

— Cumberland, and the Kentucky--are not included. With these allowances and omissions the minimum power for the year and for the six high-water months is as follows:

[blocks in formation]

The above table shows the power available under present conditions. Development of the storage facilities of the various streams would increase the minimum from three to thirty times, depending upon the stream.

It is estimated by the Geological Survey that at least 50 per cent of the indicated minimum horsepower, and probably much more, is available for economic development. On this basis the rental of 1,350,000 horsepower at $20 per annum is worth $27,000,000 per year. If we take in the same way 50 per cent of the power which is present for half the year we increase this sum by $11,000,000, bringing the total to $38,000,000.

« PreviousContinue »