National Geographic : 1897 Jun
THE NATIONAL FOREST RESERVES more fuel consumed, and as mines are discovered and worked, wood in greater quantities is called for. The demand is ever growing, and many industries are dependent for success upon the ability to obtain lumber, timber, or firewood at low prices. With the great distances between centers of population and the expense of transportation in our sparsely settled West, the utiliza tion of many resources is closely connected with the ability to obtain the neccessary wood near by, and with the relatively small areas of forest and the unfavorable conditions for rapid growth, it becomes important to perpetuate the wooded areas, so as to provide for the needs of the near future. It is not alone, however, as furnishing a supply of material for industrial purposes that the forests have value. There is a belief prevailing throughout the country that the water supply for irri gation is dependent to a certain extent in quantity, and perhaps still more in continuity, upon the preservation of the forests upon the headwaters of the streams. Without water the great arid West is worthless, for not even mining can be carried on unless a moderate supply of water is available, and, as a matter of course, stock raising is also impracticable unless water exists near the open range. Everything, therefore, that affects the supply of water in a land of drought must be looked upon with the keenest solicitude, not only by the inhabitants of the country, but by the owners of the land, the people of the United States. It would seem, therefore, as though every effort should be made to ascer tain the extent, value, and influence of the forest and to guard the perpetuity of the supplies of water and of wood. In order to obtain a clear conception of the relative extent of the woodland and forest of the West, the following table is in serted, giving the area in acres of the seventeen western states and territories, and also the extent of the forest, the woodland, and the treeless area. There is also added a table showing the area of improved land in each of these political divisions in order to illustrate to what a small relative extent settlement has already progressed. In this table the classification has been attempted between the land which bears forests in whole or part and that where the conditions of soil and climate are such that only scat tering wood is produced. Such a distinction must, of course, be arbitrary and crude, but for the present discussion it serves to convey general ideas.