- January, 1954 Pamphlet – Two Kinds of Forest management in Conflict, by John S. Apperson (Forest Preserve Association of New York State, Inc.)
Two Kinds of Forest Management in Conflict
Many years of experience with our Forest Preserve has established a sound basis on which to form conclusions and make plans for the future. Speculating or theorizing is no longer necessary or appropriate: therefore, “let’s look at the record,” which shows the efforts made to get the state to purchase steep mountain slopes before they were damaged by tree cutting operations.
In 1916 several prominent organizations urged the people to approve a 7 ½ million dollar bond issue for purchasing land on the upper watersheds of our rivers. The well intentioned promoters of this bond issue clearly described the lands in a pamphlet. The following is quoted from the pamphlet (!) issued over the name of nine organizations which addressed their appeal to the voters of New York State.
Quote, page 16 –
“Rapid and Complete Destruction of Privately Owned Forests is in Progress”
“Much of the privately owned land in the Adirondacks and Catskills must be purchased at once if it is to be acquired by the State before complete denudation has arrived.”
Quote, Page 16 – “Spruce Clad Mountain Tops are Being Denuded”
“Proposition No. 1 will stop it.”
“Throughout all of the earlier lumbering operations, the Spruce Forests on the high mountain tops, which occurs in those localities in practically unmixed stands without hardwoods, was neglected. Over large areas it is now falling before the axe. In its place there are left piles of dry slash, veritable tinder for forest fires, which threaten to consume not only the few remaining trees upon the mountain tops, but the thin soil of the mountain sides as well. Wherever the soil is destroyed on such mountain tops, the return of a forest cover is forever impossible.”
Quote, Page 17 – “To Stop Denudation of Mountain Tops.”
“The State Property is Menaced by Surrounding Slash.”
“Proposition No. 1 will protect it.”
Quote, Page 20 – New York City’s Future Water Supply Must Be Assured.”
“Proposition No. 1 will save it.”
“Consolidation of large areas under State ownership and control is assuming increasing importance in minds of water supply and sanitary engineers because of the fact that New York City must shortly look to the Adirondacks for a pure and adequate water supply.”
It will be observed from the foregoing that the people were assured the endangered mountain slopes would be purchased before they were lumbered. The record on the land reveals the forest on many mountain slopes high up on the watershed were severely cut after the voters approved the appropriation to prevent such devastation.
Relatively small uncut areas and some cut-over lands were acquired by the state, but the list of mountains on the upper watershed of the Hudson River subjected to tree-cutting operations after the bond issue was approved shows that a high percent of the lands in question were lumbered in part or as a whole as follows:
Henderson Mt., Panther Mt., Santanoni Mt., Andrew Mt., Adams Mt., Boreas Mts., and several smaller peaks. Steep slopes on other high peaks which drain into other streams were also lumbered after the bond issue was approved.
A further proof that the state custodians of the forest preserve knew it was their duty to use the bond issue funds to buy steep mountain slopes before they were lumbered, is shown on page 99 of the Conservation Commission’s Annual Report for 1919, reading as follows:
“The first effort of the Commission is to acquire land that lies on the high mountain slopes, where the danger of denudation following lumbering and forest fires is the greatest. These are the sections that should be forever maintained as protection areas, and upon which no lumbering should ever be permitted.”
A picture with the following inscription was published with the above statement:
“When high mountain slopes are lumbered, trees left standing quickly blow down.” (2)
Since the seven and a half million dollar bond issue was either spent or ear-marked for spending by 1919, and the environment of the highest mountain in the state, Mr. Marcy, was still in danger, a group of public spirited citizens launched another campaign to raise funds by popular subscriptions. The area referred to in the prospectus (3) was to be known as Victory Mountain Park. This commendable effort was only partially successful since several important steep slopes in the designated area were finally lumbered.
A third big effort to acquire more uncut forests for the forest preserve was initiated in 1921, when a pamphlet was distributed urging the voters to approve a five million dollar bond issue. The people gave their approval, but lumbering operations continued as usual on steep slopes.
Large areas have now been virtually stripped of merchantable timber, and it is reported that the state will soon be encouraged to buy large tracts of these cut-over lands. Some advocates of this plan suggest the necessary funds be raised by selling so-called detached parcels of forest preserve lands now owned by the state which are within the forest preserve counties, but outside of the smaller area designated as the Adirondack and Catskill Parks. This would reduce the original area in which land would be purchased for forest preserve purposes.
As stated in the foregoing, some desirable lands were purchased by the state with the bond issue money, but in all fairness it should be noted again that much of the land acquired had previously been lumbered, or the areas purchased were located in places very difficult to lumber. In some instances the merchantable size trees were too scattered for profitable logging operations. It is therefore hard to escape the conclusion from the record that the foresters who were the custodians of the forest preserve did not seriously interfere with lumbering on the steep slopes when they had funds appropriated to prevent such operations.
It also seems fair to say that the people of our state should not have expected men who are trained to manage production forests for harvesting to press very hard to keep the forests in question from being cut. This raises the important point as to why the people should not now profit from this and similar experiences by insisting that the custodians of our forests preserve in the future be people who are known to be sympathetic with the purposes to be accomplished. (4) (5) In further support of this observation is the fact that the state was driven by experience into establishing two kinds of forests now governed by different laws and managed for distinctly different purposes. The preservation forest, the forest preserve, was created to protect our water sources, wild life, and forest recreation areas which were being seriously damaged by tree-cutting operations. The state’s production forests were established primarily to supply wood products by cultivating trees as a crop to be harvested for the market. The ultimate goal for the production forest is the maximum continuous yield of trees per acre for cutting. The ultimate goal for the preservation forest, the Forest Preserve, is the maintenance of forest cover with a minimum of cutting. The technique or management of the two kinds of forests is quite different for best results, and should not be in conflict with the purpose to be accomplished.
There is no denying that other records show the big forest problem in our state is the rehabilitation of both the forests and the forest lands outside of the Forest Preserve. These include 4 million acres of idle lands which long ago should have been reforested for future wood products. Foresters are badly needed to work on this big unsolved production forest problem. (6) (7).
Directing public attention to a relatively small area of Forest Preserve forest wanted for cutting can hardly warrant diverting attention away from the real big unsolved forestry problem of New York State located outside of the Forest Preserve. (8)
(Signed) J. S. Apperson, President
Forest Preserve Association of N. Y. State, Inc.
- Illustrated pamphlet dated 1916 entitled “Vote for Proposition No. 1” issued by New York Board of Trade and Transportation and Camp Fire Club of America; Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks; American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society; New York State Fish, Game and forest League; New York State Forestry Association; Adirondack League Club; National Association of Audubon Societies; Long Island Game Protective Association
- “Mountain Slope Protection and Recreational Developments in the Adirondacks” W. S. Carpenter – Presented to the Adirondack Mountain Club, April 3, 1922.
- Victory Mountain Park pamphlet, issued by the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, 1919, referring to depository for contributions, the Farmers Loan and Trust Co., 22 Williams Street, N.Y. City.
- “Vote for Proposition No. 1” November 4, 1924, issued by the N.Y. State Council of Parks; the Commissioners of the Palisade Interstate Park; Westchester County Park Commissioners; Long Island State Park Commissioners.
- The Tragic Truth About Lake George Water Levels, issued by the Forest Preserve Assn. of N.Y. State, Inc., 1953.
- Perpetual Production Forests and Preservation Forests, 5th Edition, April, 1950, issued by the Forest Preserve Association of N.Y. State, Inc. July 1953.
- “Forest Management Plan for period 1953-2000” Charles E. Baker, N.Y. State District Forester, Forest Dist. No. 2
- “Our New York State Forest Preserve,” Prof. Fay Welch, Ad-i-ron-dac, May-June 1953