February 21, 1930 – JSA to Rabenold

  • February 21, 1930 – JSA to Ellwood Rabenold –

My dear Rabenold:

The Hewitt resolution, S. No. 595, A. No. 798, referred to in your February 17th letter, as approved would enable lumber companies to acquire through the Conservation Commission, lands for lumbering operations in some of our most popular recreation areas. To believe that the Commission would not acquire such lands under pressure from the lumber interests, is to shut ones eyes to what has taken place in the past.

Since you worked so hard to protect the Lake George area, I will refer you to that section to make my point clear. There are two or three pulp mills on the outlet of Lake George, and several large mills within a short haul of the south shore. Improved highways run on both sides of this large area, and water for floating timber extends through the center of the watershed. To say that this was not in the minds of those who sponsored the amendment does not disprove the foregoing facts. These mills are in need of pulp wood and their owners will have a new interest in the personnel and administration of the Conservation commission.

If I remember correctly, our most eminent jurist, Elihu Root, some years ago in defending this same fundamental law which he helped to write, said in substance that if for not other reason than to minimize temptation in the State government, this basic law should be sustained.

To further clarify my point, the coveted stand of timber on the Paradise Bay land could easily be slid into the lake and floated down to the mill. The lumber companies cannot buy this land at the present time, but the Conservation Commission, under the terms of this resolution would not only have money with which to buy it, but authority to condemn the land and turn it over to the lumber companies. Similar tracts on the shores of this famous lake and other recreation areas outside of the blue line, but inside of the Forest Preserve could be lumbered in like manner under the proposed amendment.

This effort to get inside of the State’s playground so soon after the program was formulated to carry on operations entirely outside, does not inspire confidence. The wide publicity that will be given to the past and present performances before the referendum, will no doubt hurt the reforestation movement. It seems a pity that such a meritorious undertaking as reforestation should be so closely associated with the evils generally known to exist in every promising conservation effort in our state.

Cordially yours,