January 6, 1931 – JSA to Mr. W. E. Brown (Canajoharie Fish and Game Assn.)
My dear Mr. Brown:
Dr. Hill, who succeeded Mr. Pearson as President of the Schenectady fish and Game Protective Association, has just handed me your letter of December 30th. I am indeed pleased to do all in my power to assist your good efforts. The enclosed pamphlets analyzing the “Tree Cutting Amendment”, more generally known as the Hewitt Reforestation Amendment, contains the full text of the proposed amendment. You will also find a copy of a formal and official comment on the pamphlet from the State Conservation Commission, written by Mr. Howard, and my answers to the various points raised.
It is very encouraging to know that you are exchanging letters with some of the officials of the Isaac Walton League of America, and I suggest that you caution them against the new proposed Blue Line now being offered as a compromise. The enlarged Blue Line is considered here as a dangerous and misleading proposal, in that it confuses the economic issue, proposing an amendment to the Constitution under a stress of circumstance, does not add any land to the State ownership, but virtually contracts the Black Line surrounding the protected area (the Forest Preserve counties) about 50%, that is, the area inside of which land now bought under the present Constitution would be protected. Figuratively speaking, it is “backing the horse out of the barn.” …With blinders on.
There are certain lands inside and near the boundary of the Forest Preserve counties that are not needed for park or preservation purposes and may never be needed, but there are also the same kinds of lands outside and more such lands than the State can possibly utilize for a production forest for many years. Data from the State reports show this. Why, then, upset the Constitution and pick a row with the playground people when such a performance is wholly unnecessary, if the purpose is only to establish a production forest.
After the State authorities have demonstrated their fitness to carry on these new commercial activities on lands outside the protected area, it would then be appropriate time to ask the public to change their fundamental law and allow similar operations inside the protected area. This procedure would seem more reasonable from an economical, social and even from a political viewpoint. In other words, let the new tree-cutting industry grow towards the tree-preservation area used for park purposes and let the future needs of both decide the use to be made of the intermediate lands rather than cramp the growth of both by establishing them unnecessarily close to each other.
As you know, the reforestation movement began with a plan to reforest idle lands outside of the protected forest preserve counties, which does not require any amendment to the Constitution to cut the trees. After a thorough investigation of the suitability of lands, etc., several appropriations were made and reforestation begun. The prospects of a twenty million solar expenditure, however, and the ever present desire to let down the bars in the Constitution, brought demands from strong interests inside of the protected area, with the result that a co-called “enlarged reforestation plan” was proposed.
In addition to the three million acres of idle lands shown on the chart, most of which is all suitable, there is an additional million or more acres in small parcels, and since the funds are only intended to buy and reforest one million acres during a period of fifteen years, the proposal cannot, of course, satisfy all the people who have land to sell.
You will also note the state authorities are being authorized by the amendment to “buy land, sell timber, trees, forest products and other materials.” Some authorities insist that this places the State in the number business and authorities them to sell farm products, buildings, minerals and even water power.
Someday in the near future I hope we may have the opportunity of discussing this problem. In the meantime, hoping you have every success in your effort to help defeat this amendment, I remain