1908 – August 27 – W. T. Cox (Assistant Forester) to U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Washington, DC

  • Office of the Forester

Dear Sir:
The National Conservation Commission appointed by the President as a result of the Conference of the Governors held last May has asked the Forest Service to furnish information regarding our forest resources and their relation to other natural resources. One of the most important subjects in this connection is the relation of forests to the water supply in all its phases – irrigation, waterpower, navigation, and the supply for towns and cities. The Forest Service is planning to take up a detailed study of this problem in cooperation with the Weather Bureau, the Reclamation Service, and the Geological Survey. In order, however, to secure immediate information for the Commission and to supplement the field work of the Forest Service, which will necessarily be confined to somewhat limited areas, the following questions are being asked of competent observers throughout the United States who are known to be interested in the problems which concern our national welfare.

  1. Have any instances come under your notice where the removal of the forest cover from a certain watershed has had any definite effect upon the flow of the streams which take their rise there, and, if so, to what extent? Please give the dates, as nearly as possible, the exact location of the watershed, and describe, as nearly as you can, the topography, the rock, the soil, and the kind of forest removed.
  2. Have you observed any relation between the condition of watersheds and the silting up of rivers, ponds, and reservoirs?
  3. Do you know of any specific instances where the destruction of the forests cover upon watersheds which furnish water for the use of towns or cities can be held responsible for the breaking out of epidemics?
  4. Do you know of any specific cases where springs have dried up after destruction of the forest cover, or where they have returned with its restoration? Please give the dates, as nearly as possible, the exact location of the spring, and describe topography, the rock, the soil and the character of the forest which was removed or which has sprung up again.
  5. Do you know of any instances where artesian wells have dried up, or where they may have begin to flow again? Can any connection be traced between this and the condition of the catchment basin? Give the dates as nearly as possible, the location of the catchment basin, and describe the topography, rock, soil, and the general forest conditions.
  6. Can you suggest the name of any persons who would be in a position to give additional facts?

Any information, which you can give along these lines, will be greatly appreciated by both the Conservation Commission and the Forest Service. As early a reply as possible is desired in order that the material may be used by the Commission in its report November 1. I enclose a franked envelope for reply.

Very truly yours,
W. T. Cox, Assistant Forester