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ings were to be included in the taking, their use could be continued until death or removal of the occupants. Otherwise, such taking would be burdensome to those towns at first; but, as the woodland became forest and the necessary roads for drawing out the wood or timber were built, the improvement might result in increasing the attractiveness of the townships, and a consequent increase in the valuation of surrounding property might result to the benefit of the towns where the forests were located.
While this represents a course that I believe the government must take in due course of time, providing individuals do not see profit in taking up the subject, the question arises whether it is yet time for the Legislature to seriously consider it. To reply to the legislative order, we might respectfully say that we find thirty-six per cent of our acreage in wood and sprout land, which is increasing in quantity, with but little forest land in it, and that lumber is cut only for local use, except perhaps in comparatively insignificant quantity; as to the need of protecting them, the laws seem good, but public opinion often has too little consideration for the value of woodland property, and too little of the danger to it from fire. Its injury or destruction often results from sources that cannot be proved.
In considering our woodlands from a sanitary or other stand-point, it may be said that the small proportion of old forest must lessen the value of our woods as a source of water supply in the State, because forest land is productive of springs; although springs are sometimes found in open hill-sides, as, for example, those supplying Cottage City and Vineyard Haven. The forests, when surrounding the reservoirs of water supplies, - as has been accomplished in the city of Lynn, — are a very important means of protecting the purity of the water, and consequently the health of our people, when such water is used for domestic purposes.
The large proportion that the woodland acreage bears to the total acreage of the State would seem to be sufficient for economic purposes, so far as acreage can affect it; but its quality and condition is open to much criticism and great improvement.
There is also much land that is now poor and uncultivated, which would be more useful if it could be covered with a judicious selection of evergreen or deciduous trees; but the present laws permit cities and towns to acquire such land for the purpose of cultivating trees, although these laws do not appear to be in a form acceptable to cities and towns; and such power has been exercised under special acts.
The power not having yet been exercised by cities or towns, to my knowledge, under the present general act, the question arises whether this power can at some time be wisely transferred to the State, with a certain limit as to price to be paid for the land. On general principles, and considering the State (or country) as one large whole, belonging to no one generation of men, but held in trust by its governing body, to be intelligently protected in the interest of present and all future generations alike, we see (especially after the experience of older countries, particularly France) that our hill lands should be retained in woods, as a protection against severe blasts and winds in general, and as guardians of the sources of moisture upon which the fertility of the valley land is dependent, and to prevent the washing into the valleys of the soil from the hills, which can only be replaced by great length of time and heavy expense.
In France, as the population increased, and as all available land was demanded for the uses of the country at a more recent period in her history, it became necessary to reclaim her mountain sides and tops, once wooded, from a barren waste to forests again; and, in consequence of the stripping off of rooted growth, the soil had been gradually washed from the mountain sides into the valleys, streams had made new courses and multiplied them, so that it became necessary for the government of France to be put to enormous expense for building dams, and otherwise, to enable them to again regain control of those streams and send them back to fixed channels, so that young trees could be planted over the hills again to gradually remake the soil, reform the springs, and preserve both for the good of France. A costly example was thus set to the world.
Where plantations are to be made, the greatest care should be exercised as to choosing kinds of trees, and it has been found safest to use the kinds which are native to the locality of the plantation ; but where there are, for good reasons, any doubts as to the best varieties, the opinion of the most competent authorities within reach should be obtained. It must be remembered, with our postal-card system, long distances are greatly shortened, and thereby advice can be secured from the best sources, independent of distance.
We have now in this country men who, having grown up and been educated here, have since been students in the forestry schools of countries where the enforcement of forestry laws has become a necessity, and who are capable of examining and giving us intelligent instruction and advice upon how Massachusetts, as a State, or by her people individually, can best care for her thirty-six per cent and more of woodland, and her unused open lands.
It is recommended that the Legislature appropriate a sum sufficient to have such an experienced man inspect our woodlands, and then report, as early as possible, directly to either the Legislature or to the Board of Agriculture, or to the people by lectures, at such times and places as may be decided ; and also appropriate a sum sufficient to distribute a limited number of seedling trees or seeds in different parts of the State, as an experiment, under direction of the Board of Agriculture; but only where a guarantee is given that the work will be well done and the plantation receive due care. A report to be required of all cases at intervals.
If this Board deems the course which is suggested advisable, and are ready to give it their hearty support, should the Legislature think well enough of it to pass it, I, for one, hope the suggestions will be adopted, for I believe in them; but, without the ready co-operation of this Board so far as it might be asked, to help carry out the plan, it would fail largely of its purpose.
The following is presented, in conclusion :
The State Board of Agriculture, in reply to the order received from the House of Representatives on Feb. 5, 1890, respectfully submit that part of an address which relates to the subject of woodlands, forestry, etc., and would suggest,
First, that a sum of $1,000 be appropriated for the purchase and uistribution of seedling trees, or tree seeds, to be given under their direction to owners of land, who will agree to plant or sow, and care for them under the direction of, and at all times hold them in readiness for inspection by, this Board.
Second, that the sum of $2,000 be appropriated to secure a general inspection of the character of the woodlands, and poor, unused lands of the State, by a competent person, who shall be thoroughly familiar with the best management of woodlands in the older countries of Europe, and report to this Board his opinion as to the best methods of caring for such woodlands and poor, unused lands, as early as possible.
FRANCIS H. APPLETON,
For the Committee.
BEPORT OF THE STATE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE TO THE HOUSE OF REPRE
SENTATIVES UNDER THE RESOLUTION OF MAY 28, 1890.
The Massachusetts House of Representatives adopted the following resolution May 28, 1890: –
Resolved, That the Board of Agriculture of Massachusetts be and they are hereby requested to make inquiry and investigation as to the birds that inhabit the State, and report thereon as to their character, habit and value as insect destroying and grain and fruit destroying birds, and advise on such legislation as may be necessary for the protection of private and public interests.
In accordance with this resolution, the Board of Agriculture employed Dr. B. H. Warren, State ornithologist of Pennsylvania, to prepare and deliver a lecture, on the birds of Massachusetts, at their public winter meeting in Worcester, December 3. This lecture and the lengthy discussion which followed will be found printed in the report of the Board of Agriculture of Massachusetts for 1890.
The Board, by its secretary, have made careful observations and inquiries of intelligent gentlemen in our own State, and have corresponded with ornithologists abroad, and beg to report that, as a whole, the native birds of Massachusetts are benefactors. The small losses occasioned by the raids of some species upon our fruit trees, gardens, grain fields and poultry yards are repaid manyfold by the benefits resulting from the destruction of injurious insects, field mice and other vermin that are a detriment to agriculture. It is, however, the opinion of ornithologists that crows cause a greater loss in the corn fields, and by destroying the eggs and young of useful birds, than they are capable of repaying by the exercise of their good qualities and habits.
Most of our birds of prey, as hawks and owls, do more or less damage in the poultry yard, and by destroying use