National Geographic : 1900 Sep
FOREST RESERVES OF THE UNITED STATES In the United States today 70,761 square miles of territory-that is, an area considerably greater than the combined area of the six New England states have been dedicated by Congress for forest preservation. Most of this land is rugged and mountainous, and hence of little value for cultivation, but especially fitted for tree growth. The splendid work being done by the U. S . Geological Survey to determine the resources of the Forest Reserves is graphically described in the recently published official reports for 1897-'98 and 1898-'99 of Mr Henry Gannett, Chief of the Division of Geography and Forest Reserves of the Survey.* Of this immense area, wild and in places almost inaccessible, more than one-half has been scientifically explored. The density of timber, the variety of wood, the amount of merchantable timber, the burned areas, the land reforesting and the land on which trees are not springing up again, the quality of the soil-all these and many similar facts that must be ascertained before the reserves can be properly developed have been carefully examined and noted. The condi tion of woodlands in different states has also been investigated. As a result many impressive facts have been gathered. In the state of Washington the forests are among the densest, heaviest, and most continuous in the United States. The trees have a thickness of 12'to 15 feet, and are, as a rule, 250 feet high, their trunks often shooting upward for a hundred feet without a branch. Mr Gannett estimates that since lumbering began in the state 36,000 million feet B. M. have been cut; but within the same period, or less than a generation, 40,000 million feet B. M . have been destroyed by fire. Thirty million dollars have thus been lost to the people of the state. The report for 1898-'99 forms a sumptuous volume of 498 large octavo pages, handsomely illustrated with 200 pictures from photographs. Twenty-seven maps of the different reserves and, in a separate pocket, eight larger maps, show by gradations of color the classification by land, etc. In addition to the general report of Mr Gannett, there are included special papers by John G. Jack, George B. Sudworth, H. B . Ayres, and John B. Leiberg. A more detailed re view by Mr Gifford Pinchot of the volume for 1897-'98 follows. Perhaps the most notable forest publication of recent years is the fifth part of the Nineteenth Annual Report of the U. S. Geological Survey. This vol ume is the first fruits of a study of the national forest reserves that has been conducted by the U. S. Geological Survey since 1897. It contains, besides special reports on ten reserves and a note on the timber of Pine Ridge, Nebraska, an article on "The Forests of the United States," by Henry Gannett, Chief of the Division of Geography and Forestry, under whose direction the work has been carried out. It is with Mr Gannett's article alone that I wish to deal in this note. * Nineteenth Annual Report of the U. S. Geological Survey, 1897-'98. Charles D. Walcott, Director Part V. Forest Reserves. By Henry Gannett. Twentieth Annual Report of the U. S. Geological Survey, 1898-'99. Charles D. Walcott, Director. Part V. Forest Reserves. By Henry Gannett.