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poor soils, stand mostly old oak and pine, which generally owe their presence to the fact that they are unfit for lumber. The result is a very irregular two-storied forest, the old oak and pine forming the upper story and the second growth the lower, the latter varying greatly in age in different localities, according to the dates of the lumbering, and often in the same locality, where there have been repeated cuttings, each one of which has induced a new growth of seedlings and stump shoots.
Higher up in the mountains, where there has been less fire and lumbering, is perhaps the most perfect form of the mixed virgin forest to be found in this country. Trees of all ages occur together, and there is seldom, except where a space has been laid bare by wind and seeded up, any approach to an even-aged growth. It is here that the struggle for existence has been carried on without intervention and that trees of each kind have held their own in the mixture through the characteristics which have been given them for that purpose-one by plentiful crops of seed, another by capacity to endure great shade, another by its rapid growth or its adaptability to many different soils and situations. The result has been a forest containing a wonderful variety of types and forms of mixture. Some of the trees, particularly the Yellow Poplar and Hemlock, show a marked tendency to distribution by groups and patches. The Ash, Basswood, Beech, and most of the others, however, are distributed evenly throughout those localities which are favorable to them.
This region shows a variety in the undergrowth which corresponds to the richness of its silva. Among the most characteristic shrubs and those which influence chiefly the reproduction of the forest are the Rhododendron and Kalmia, or Mountain Laurel, which in the higher mountains not infrequently form a distinct and almost impenetrable second story under the forest trees. After these the more important of the shrubs and shrub-like trees are the Serviceberry, Sumach, Magnolia, Holly, Sassafras, llaw, Staybush, and Hazel.
There are two distinct types of lumbering in the Southern Appalachians, similar in the extent of the harm done to the forest, but differing widely in the manner in which they are carried out.
The one is the slipshod, desultory form which has been practiced by the farmers of this region since its settlement in order to eke out the generally scanty profits from their farms. Although their output is small individually, their combined efforts, extending over many years, have resulted in the culling of the best timber over a large portion of the more accessible forests. The scattered distribution of the merchantable trees, however, has rendered the lumbering comparatively light except where firewood has been cut as well as saw logs.
The other dates from the time when, some fifteen years ago, with the failing supply of timber in Maine, Michigan, and the north woods generally, began the exodus of many Northern lumbermen to the hardwood forests of the Virginias, Georgia, and Tennessee, and to the pineries and cypress swamps in the far South. With their arrival began lumbering on a large scale in the Southern Appalachians, together with the investment of commensurate capital in logging outfits, the thorough repair and extension of logging roads, and the application of those skillful and businesslike methods which constitute clean lumbering. The active and systematic manner in which these men conducted a lumber job and the margin of profit which they wrung from it were a revelation to the natives, but have not yet resulted in any appreciable improvement in their methods.
It is nevertheless to be remembered that several factors have tended to make a poor lumberman of the farmer of western North Carolina or eastern Tennessee. He is often hampered by lack of the capital necessary to make the most of lumbering in this region, and he is generally wanting in the knowledge requisite to the best use of it. He has had always to contend with the difficulty of obtaining expert loggers to carry out the work, and is generally obliged, through the scarcity of available white men, to employ negroes, who seldom do well in the lumber woods, for the reason that they are usually strongly averse to the mode of life required of them. Nevertheless, the nearness of large bodies of merchantable timber, among which are valuable kinds, such as the Cherry, Black Walnut, Hickory, and Yellow Poplar, has usually made a fair profit possible under even the most thriftless logging methods.
The unnecessary damage to the forest and the total lack of provision for a future crop, characteristic of lumbering generally in the Southern Appalachians, is deplorable. It is a form of waste, however, which can not be eliminated by criticism, but can best be checked by proof of the advantages of more conservative methods, through their application to a portion of these forests, either by the Government upon its own lands or in cooperation with private owners.
There is, however, much immediate loss incurred by a species of slovenliness which is as foreign to clean lumbering as it is to practical forestry, and is entirely without excuse. Entire trees found to be unsound at the base are often left upon the ground to rot, rather than butt off the decayed portion. Not infrequently sound trees of a merchantable diameter are carelessly left uncut upon the lumbered area. There is great waste in high stumps and in lack of judgment in sawing up the trees, while careless felling leaves many a lodged tree in the woods or smashes the more brittle kinds, particularly the Yellow Poplar.
THE LOCAL SYSTEM.
The local system of lumbering is exceedingly simple. The trees are felled and sawn into logs where they lie, and these are snaked, or skidded, by horses, or, more often, by cattle, to the roadside or the river bank. Logging streams are rare, however, in the Southern Appalachians, and the customary way of getting the logs to the mill or to the railroad is by wagon over the rough mountain roads. (Pls. XL and XLI.) It is a somewhat primitive system throughout, but it is the one most generally suited to the nature of the country and to the distribution of the merchantable timber, which does not often favor the employment of those labor-saving devices which have been found profitable in lovging elsewhere. The lack of sufficient snow usually prevents the use of sleds instead of logging wagons. The topography is often better adapted to timber slides or to donkey engines and wire cables for bringing the logs to the roads than to snaking with teams. The merchantable timber, however, is generally so scattered that the amount which could be transported by one slide or from one spot by an engine and cable is seldom sufficient to render them profitable. These and similar appliances suitable to a rough mountain country, but to the success of which a dense merchantable stand, or, in other words, a large amount of timber upon a small area, is necessary, have here usually been found impracticable.
DAMAGE TO THE FOREST.
The harm done to the forest is very great in proportion to the quantity of timber cut. This is due largely to the size of the trees and to the fact that little care is taken in the fellings. The damage to young growth is aggravated by the absence of snow and by the fact that the fellings are not infrequently made when the trees are in full leaf.
The breaking down and wounding of seedlings and young trees by the snaking of the logs to the roadside or the river is in large part unavoidable. There are often, however, many more snakeways, or skidways, than are necessary, and the application of a little system in laying them out would save time and young growth on a lumber job. On the higher and steeper slopes it is often the habit, and one which can not be criticised too strongly, except in those rare cases where it is absolutely necessary on account of the gradient, to roll the logs from top to bottom, merely starting them with the cant hook. A 16-foot log, 3 feet or more in diameter, can gain momentum enough in this way to smash even fair-sized trees in its path, and should it pass through dense young growth it leaves a track like that of a miniature tornado. The practice is in line with others to be observed in the Southern Appalachians, such as the common babit, for example, of leaving to rot the "deadened" trees which stand over clearings.