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Senator ODDIE. Now, Mr. Humiston, would you like to make a statement before the committee or would you rather be questioned? Mr. HUMISTON. I might make a preliminary statement, Senator. Perhaps it would suggest a line of questions that would develop the subject.
Senator ODDIE. Yes; we would be glad to hear from you.
Mr. HUMISTON. I am very grateful to the committee for giving me and my associates this opportunity to discuss some of the questions touching the public domain with reference not only to the matter of protecting forested lands in public domain from fire, but also from insect depredations and from fungus attacks.
The matter of fire protection is perhaps one of the greatest importance, one of the most pressing necessities of the present time. Protection against insect depredations, such as the bark beetle and the white-pine butterfly, etc., would perhaps come next. Not so pressing at this time, but immediately over the horizon, is the possibility in the very near future of a serious infestation white-pine blister rust. That, as you doubtless know, is not an insect infestation, but is a vegetable fungus disease which attacks all five-needle pines, all true white pines.
We, in discussing the matter, decided that we could probably conserve the time of the committee to the best advantage and avoid duplication and repetition of argument if we would to a certain extent divide the subject into its essential elements and have each problem treated by a different person who is in a measure an expert in that line. For that reason the committee very kindly consented to calling Mr. Evenden, who is unquestionably the best authority that we have in the West on insects which attack forest lands, and Mr. Stephen N. Wyckoff, who is an authority on white-pine blister rust and is in charge of white-pine blister-rust work in the Pacific Northwest. We have tried to arrange it so that each witness will confine his statement to 10 minutes, and in that way conserve the time of the committee to the greatest possible extent.
The Idaho forestry law provides in section 4 that
Every owner of forest lands in the State shall furnish or provide therefor during the closed season adequate and efficient protection against the starting, existence, or spread of fires thereon or therefrom, which protection shall meet with the approval of the State forester:
I might say parenthically that the Idaho forestry law is said to be one of the best, if not the best, in the United States. It is a recent enactment, and the Idaho Legislature had the benefit of the laws of all of the States, and, as you will see by the section which I have just read, it is mandatory on all owners of forest lands to provide adequate and efficient fire protection.
There is a certain amount of public domain which is scattered through private, State, and Federal holdings of forest land. There is no adequate provision made by the Department of the Interior for the protection of that land from fire. So far as I am able to ascertain, the Department of the Interior has never spent a cent for fire protection in the northern part of the State of Idaho. I believe in south Idaho they have cooperated to the extent of putting on a couple of men during the fire season.
As an instance of the way this works out I might cite the case of the Potlatch Timber Protective Association, which is one of the
units of the fire-fighting organizations in northern Idaho, which this year had a fire which burned over 659 acres. The area burned over was immediately adjacent to national-forest land on the east. That was joined by State and privately owned land, forested land, on the other three sides; 97.72 per cent of the area burned over was public domain. The total cost of that fire was $5,723.50. And prorating it strictly on an acreage basis, prorating the cost on an acreage basis, that one association spent $5,593 fighting fire on public domain. And if my understanding is correct, the only possible way that the association can be reimbursed for that expense would be through a bill introduced in Congress for the relief of that association. That is a specific instance of the way this thing works.
Now, the Department of Agriculture, through the United States Forest Service, protects its forested land from fire and insects and fungi. The State of Idaho protects its land under this law. All private owners under the section which I quoted are compelled to protect their land, and yet, as I said a minute ago, intermingled with those lands are areas of public domain which have and can have no protection other than that which is given them by these other organizations, and with no chance of reimbursement other than through Congress.
A fire has to be fought wherever it is, because it runs rapidly in northern Idaho, where you have one of the most hazardous fire conditions that there is in the United States, if not in the world, by reason of a combination of conditions that we have in northern Idaho. We have wonderful timber values at stake. The largest body of white-pine timber extant in the world is located in northern Idaho. Very much the same kind of timber, but somewhat different botanically, is the sugar pine of California, of which they have an enormous amount, and these two are the most valuable softwood species in the world, and they are very seriously menaced by this condition to which I am calling your attention.
We have a strange contradiction in the attitude of different departments of the Government with reference to this matter of forest protection. As we all know, the Department of Agriculture, through the United States Forest Service, is protecting its lands from fire not only on the theory that they must assure a future crop of timber to generations to come but for the protection of irrigation waters, the waters of interstate navigable streams, for recreational purposes, and for the protection of the range.
On the other hand, the Department of the Interior seems to take the position that if there are no present timber values of moment involved they have no interest in the matter of fires. As a matter of fact, the way it works out in the light of my experience, whether or not there are values there in the timber on vacant unappropriated Government land outside of the national forest the Department of the Interior pays little or no attention to them. That land is just as valuable for the production of timber where it is truly forested land as adjacent national-forest land, or adjacent private land, or adjacent State land, and it should receive the same measure of protection, not only from the standpoint of fires but also from the standpoint of insect depredations and the attacks of the different fungi. We have got no adequate protection until that public domain. is properly taken care of in those three respects.
Senator ODDIE. Do you not think that the Department of the Interior should recognize the fact that the protection of the watersheds is highly important?
Mr. HUMISTON. Well, Senator, I can not see how they can do otherwise than recognize that fact. Our Weeks law, which has been on the statute books for years, was passed primarily for the purpose of protecting the watersheds of interstate navigable streams, and Congress has appropriated millions of dollars for that purpose, and yet here is the Department of the Interior that does nothing whatever in the way of cooperation to that end.
Senator ODDIE. Well, then, do you think it is fair for one Government department which is doing its best in combating fires, as the Forestry Bureau is, to have the area under its charge subjected to hazards by another Government department, the Interior Department, which may allow fires to start and gain great headway on its area and threaten the timberlands on the national forests and privately owned areas?
Mr. HUMISTON. That is emphatically most unfair, and that is the point that we wish to emphasize in this appearance we are making.
Now, it is the hope and request that this committee will not only see to it that the Department of the Interior has an adequate appropriation for the protection of the forest reserves and the public domain but that a law will be passed which will make it mandatory on the Department of the Interior to give such lands a full measure of protection against fire, insects, and fungi as given adjoining or adjacent forest lands by the Forest Service, the States, and the private owners. That is the request of this committee.
As I stated a moment ago, there are a number of others here who are splendidly qualified to take up the minutiae and detail of this question. They are prepared to do it very briefly, and if the committee will call on them in the order of the memorandum which was given you yesterday I think you will develop this subject to its full in the shortest possible time.
Senator ODDIE. We want to thank you very much, Mr. Humiston, for what you have told us. Now we will call on Mr. S. N. Wyckoff, in charge of white-pine blister rust control, United States Department of Agriculture.
STATEMENT OF MR. STEPHEN N. WYCKOFF, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, SPOKANE, WASH.
Senator ODDIE. Mr. Wyckoff, will you please give the reporter your name, your address, and your position?
Mr. WYCKOFF. Stephen N. Wyckoff; United States Department of Agriculture; 618 Realty Building, Spokane, Wash.
Senator ODDIE. Mr. Wyckoff, will you tell the committee your duties and give a brief outline of your experience and qualifications, so we will have them in the record?
Mr. WYCKOFF. My duties are to take charge of the western office located at Spokane, which is directing the work in relation to whitepine blister rust in western United States. I have been in that office for five years engaged in that special line of work.
Senator ODDIE. Have you a statement to make, or would you rather be questioned?
Mr. WYCKOFF. I have a statement if you would care to hear it.
Senator ODDIE. We would be very glad to have you make it. Mr. WYCKOFF. The white-pine blister rust is a destructive timber disease which was brought into the United States from Europe. This disease is caused by a fungus and not by an insect. The disease was introduced into eastern United States from Europe about 1900, and was introduced into the Pacific Northwest about 1910. This disease is now widely distributed in western Washington and also over a large territory in the main belt of western white pine to the north of Idaho. It will not be possible to stop its entrance into the white-pine belt of north Idaho, and serious and widespread loss will certainly result unless some types of protective measures are undertaken.
White-pine blister rust attacks only white pines. The two species of the greatest timber value which are susceptible to this disease in western United States are the western white pine of the north Idaho region and the sugar pine of California. Western white pine is now known to be extremely susceptible to this disease. It is known to be more susceptible than the eastern white pine, and there has been very serious damage from this disease to the eastern white pine in New England.
Young timber stands are very severely damaged when attacked by white-pine blister rust. These stands must be given adequate protection if one of the most valuable types of timber is not to be seriously depleted in the future.
White-pine blister rust is not able to spread directly from a diseased pine to a healthy one. The fungus which is the cause of this disease must pass through a period of life cycle on the leaves of the currant or gooseberry bush. It spreads from the pine to the gooseberry or currant bush and from there back to the pine, but can not go from pine to pine. The possible distance of spread from the pine tree to the currant or gooseberry bush is now known in western United States to be up to 150 miles. The spread from the current or gooseberry, however, back to the pine is very short, not more than 900 feet. That fact makes it possible for us to protect the timber by the removal of the currant and gooseberry bushes from within a pine stand and in the immediate vicinity of that pine stand. Such work has proved effective in eastern United States. The methods were worked out there, and the disease is being controlled on the ground. The experimental work is now under way in the West to determine suitable methods of the application of this mode of work to western forestry conditions. This work is being done by the United States Department of Agriculture.
The attack of white-pine blister rust upon white pines is very insidious. The effects of the disease are not evident for two years after the infection takes place. The disease will work in the tree for two years before it can be seen, and by the time that it can be seen the tree is almost certain to die. That means that in order to protect a stand of timber it is necessary to do the protection work in advance of the disease. By the time the disease is evident it will be too late to save a great many of the pines in that particular stand from death.
The exact time which will be necessary for this disease to spread over the entire north Idaho white-pine belt can not be determined.
But it is definitely known that unless the reproduction stands of western white pine and sugar pine are protected from white-pine blister rust the future supply of white pine timber will be seriously depleted.
The nature of this problem is one which makes it very wide in scope. The work which is necessary to protect pines from this disease can best be undertaken by concerted action of all pine owners working together, pine owners, whether State or Federal or private. The protective work can best be done if organized on a large scale and over areas which are bounded by natural and topographical factors rather than by lines of ownership. The leaving of any unprotected areas will mean that there will be a focus of infection in each one of those which will militate against the good work which has been done in surrounding areas.
I think that is all of my statement. shall be glad to answer them.
If you have any questions, I
Senator ODDIE. Is the Department of the Interior doing any work along this line?
Mr. WYCKOFF. No, sir.
Senator ODDIE. It is left entirely to the Department of Agriculture?
Mr. WYCKOFF. Yes, sir.
Senator ODDIE. And does the territory you work in include not only the areas under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture but the areas under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior as well?
Mr. WYCKOFF. Yes, sir.
Senator ODDIE. In other words, if this infestation gets a foothold in the timber areas of the Department of the Interior, will it be a menace to the areas of the Department of Agriculture and privately owned areas as well?
Mr. WYCKOFF. Yes, sir; it will be a very serious menace.
Senator ODDIE. Do you feel that the appropriations are ample for the work that you are doing?
Mr. WYCKOFF. The appropriations which we have received so far for work on the lands of the forest service, the experimental work, have been ample. We would not be able, however, to extend our operations any farther on the basis of the appropriations.
Senator ODDIE. Well, are you called on, then, to do work in a larger area than the appropriation contemplates, because of the necessity for doing work also on the Department of the Interior
Mr. WYCKOFF. Such work should be done, and we have not the funds to do it.
Senator ODDIE. That is all.
Mr. BOWDEN. What is the extent of this infestation in northern Idaho and in the State of Washington?
Mr. WYCKOFF. This disease has not as yet been found in northern Idaho. It has been found over the Puget Sound region of Washington and south to the southwestern corner of Washington, and it has been found in the vicinity of Nelson, British Columbia. Also in central Washington. It has spread down into the Nelson region very rapidly from Revalstoke and south, and nothing can stop it from coming into the United States.