Forestry.Under ancient English law, a forest was a tract of woody country where the king had the exclusive right to hunt. Whether inclosed or uninclosed, it was under the protection of a special system of laws and special courts, neither of which are now in existence. In those days forestry meant the enforcement of those laws in order to protect the royal rights. In the United States forestry has to do with the supply of timber, its waste, the preservation of the natural forests through conservation, and the encouragement of tree planting.
When the first Europeans came to America they found the surface of the country along the Atlantic coast and far into the interior heavily timbered, and for 300 years after the first settlements were made little or no thought was given to the preservation of the timber supply. Valuable treestrees that would be valuable at the present time at any ratewere frequently cut down and burned to make room for crops, and in this way the pioneers literally hewed their way to the great prairies of the West. Then came the golden days of the lumberman, when acres and acres of land were denuded to cut lumber for export as well as for domestic use. In 1890the year of the greatest cutover 8,500,000,000 feet of white pine were taken from the forests of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The next year the cut dropped to 5,500,000,000 feet. In 1910 the cut of yellow or southern pine was over 8,500,000,000 feet, and the same year the cut of cypress was about 500,000,000 feet.
Some years before this, thoughtful men foresaw what the result would be if the extravagance was allowed to go on, and in 1876 the commissioner of agriculture authorized an inquiry into lumbering methods. In 1882 the American Forestry Association was organized and it has been effective in arousing a sentiment in favor of forest preservation. The Montana State University established a chair of forestryone of the first practical courses in the countryand in 1891 the first practical demonstration of forestry was given on the Biltmore estate near Asheville, N.C. Ten years later (1901) the United States bureau of forestry was established. It consists of six departments, viz: 1. Management, which has to do with the regulation of lumbering methods; 2. Extension, which aids and encourages the planting of artificial groves and forests; 3. Measurements, which prepares maps, etc., of the forest reserves; 4. Products, which has to do with the examination of timber, its qualities, etc.; 5. Dendrology, which is devoted to the names and natural history of trees; 6. Records, which carries on the routine work of the bureau.
The first white men who settled in Kansas found the country fairly well supplied with timber, especially along the water-courses, as far west as the junction of the Republican and Smoky Hill rivers. As civilization pushed its way westward the pioneers saw that in a few years the natural timber supply would become exhausted, and to encourage tree planting a timber culture law was passed, giving 160 acres of land to any one who would plant a certain number of trees. The law was a failure, the man who entered a claim under it caring more for the title to the land than for the timber. Consequently the species of trees selected were usually those that could he secured at the least expense, without regard to their adaptability to Kansas soil and climate. After various amendments, the law was finally repealed.
Then the bounty system was tried. In 1865 the legislature passed an act providing that any person who planted and successively cultivated 5 or more acres of trees should be entitled to a bounty of 50 cents an acre, "to be paid out of the county treasury in which the trees were located, for a term of 25 years," beginning two years after said trees had been planted. The next legislature raised the bounty to $2 an acre, and also provided a bounty of $2 for each half-mile of trees planted along any public highway. As a further stimulus to tree culture, the legislature of 1867 enacted a law providing that timbered land should be assessed no higher than open land adjoining.
Forest extension was introduced in the Arkansas valley in 1873 by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad company. Trees were planted at Hutchinson, Sterling, Ellinwood, Garfield, Spearville and some other points as far west as the state line. The varieties used were chiefly catalpa, Russian mulberry, white maple, elm and cottonwood. Twelve years later a report stated that most of the trees were in healthy condition and their growth had been rapid. At that time nearly 150,000 trees had been planted in the state, and the people were beginning to learn that the climate and rainfall could be modified by the presence of tracts of timbered land. The legislature of 1887 therefore created the office of commissioner of forestry, who was directed to establish two forestry stations in the western part of the state, where trees were to be planted and issued free of charge to any resident of the state under certain conditions.
One station was located near Dodge City, Ford county, and the other near Ogallah, Trego county. The trees planted were cottonwood, black and honey locust, box-elder, catalpa, Russian and common mulberry and the osage orange. On Oct. 20, 1887, the commissioner reported that he had received over 1,000 applications for the young trees, the applications coming from 73 counties, showing that the people of the state were interested in the subject of forestry. In 1907 a forest commissioner was provided for at each station, and in 1909 a division of forestry was established in connection with the agricultural college, the regents being authorized to appoint a state forester who should have charge of all the experiments made at the station. The act provided that the state forester should "promote practical forestry in every possible way, compile and disseminate information relative to forestry, and publish the results of such work through bulletins, press notices, and in such other ways as may be most practicable to reach the public, and by lecturing before farmers' institute associations," etc. The stations at Ogallah and Dodge City were transferred to the care of the agricultural college and experiment station.
Through the influence of the United States bureau of forestry, the government has established a "forest reserve" of 70,000 acres near Garden City, Finney county, where experiments in tree culture are carried on under the supervision of a forester appointed by the United States authorities. This forest reserve is an object lesson in many ways, and its influence is already being felt in the western part of the state.Pages 653-655 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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