APRIL 3, 1947
NEW YORK, Wednesday—I've had a letter from a gentleman who is public relations counsel for the West Coast Lumbermen's Association and who feels very strongly that more is being done to keep and rebuild our forests in the Northwest than I have given them credit for. He sends me a small publication called "More Timber" which contains some extremely interesting pictures and a good deal of interesting information.
My correspondent says one thing which I think is hopeful for the future: "It is a great thing, a tremendously significant thing under our private-enterprise system that the growing of trees and the protection of trees from fire has become good business practice." I am enormously interested in the proper use of forest land. I think we can learn a great deal from what has been done in the past in foreign countries like Germany, Austria and Great Britain, where some of the old estates had good yearly incomes from carefully tended forest land.
* * *
The growing of trees is a private enterprise in many cases, but it is an enterprise in which the government has a share for various reasons. And the people as a whole have a very great interest, for the preservation of trees affects our water supply and our soil conservation. The cutting down of trees, particularly in mountain areas, can result in floods and bare hills, and can reduce populated, prosperous countrysides to deserted areas.
I think it is a good thing that the government should, in some ways, be in competition with and act as a watchdog over private enterprise. It is a human trait to want to make the greatest and quickest profit possible out of whatever one is engaged in doing, and at the same time to want to create a good public opinion about one's enterprise. However, if the government and the public are conscious of their interest in an asset affecting the well-being of the nation, I think we can help people to think of the long-run value of this industry. That is the only way in which it can serve the public interest in the best way.
* * *
Here in the East, the farmers are being encouraged to do as much as possible with their woodlots, and where they have large areas of trees, the State School of Forestry is giving much valuable information and advice. Trees take a long time to mature, however, and one has to feel that the land is going to be of value to one's grandchildren when one undertakes to plant trees. So I hope that we are going to develop more out-and-out ownership of land and that there will be a pride in living on the same land for several generations.
One of the greatest dangers to trees is forest fires. In the states of Washington and Oregon, they have organized the Junior Forest Council. The American Legion, the forestry departments of the two states and the forest industries' organizations joined to promote forest-fire-prevention work by groups of young people. Now they are trying to educate the general public, and the program has spread to 19 states. We are coming to the season when everyone should be watchful not to start fires and should help to put them out as quickly as possible, because they are a great danger and constantly cause loss to the nation.