February 12, 1931 – R. D. Moot to Mr. Harold Phelps Stokes

  • February 12, 1931 – R. D. Moot to Mr. Harold Phelps Stokes (NYC) –

Dear Sir:

Harold Wallace suggests that you might be interested in some of the reasons why the Hewitt amendment to the constitution should be defeated.

Section 16 of the tax law is intended to encourage reforestation on privately owned lands by making them tax exempt while the trees are growing. The purpose of this statute, however, is largely defeated by a law passed in 1929 (Section 60-a of the conservation law), appropriating money to enable the Conservation Commission to engage in the production of pulp wood in competition with private owners. With this assurance of tax subsidized state competition no one can well afford to engage in reforestation.

The Hewitt amendment proposes, first, that the legislature shall continue appropriating money for pulp wood production under the law of 1929, and second, that the present constitutional prohibition against the state cutting or selling timber in the forest preserve will be so far removed that pulpwood operations under the law of 1929 may be extended into two thirds of the forest preserve areas.

It is not to be assumed that the pulp wood companies would join forces with the Conservation Commission in seeking endorsement of the Hewitt amendment unless they were confident that their relations with the Conservation commission would enable them to make contracts with the state so favorable to their own interests that they would be enabled to get pulp wood from the state lands as a good profit on the state’s investment. The section of the forest preserve area lying between the Adirondack park boundary and the forest preserve boundary is dotted with pulp mills which provide the only market for the state’s pulp wood, and if the state is to produce pulp wood for them it is obviously to their advantage to have the state’s production forests located as close as possible to their pulp mills in this part of the forest preserve area.

The law of 1929 appropriating money to enable the Conservation commission to go into the production of pulp wood is bad, and the Hewitt amendment, proposing to extend the pulp wood operations of the state under that law, is worse. The Conservation Commission has more than it can do under existing laws in reforesting state owned lands in the forest preserve, burned over or cut over by the lumber companies before the state acquired them. The state has no more business competing with its citizens I the production of pulp wood than it would have competing with them in raising corn or potatoes. If the production of pulp wood is feasible on abandoned farm lands, private owners should be encouraged in it without fear of state competition. If it is not commercially feasible, it should not be undertaken at the state’s expense. The protection of our supply of drinking water by permanent reforestation of the watershed, the protection of wild life and the development of the state parks under the state park bond issue are far more important to the state than subsidized pulp mills.

Very truly yours,

  1. D. Moot