- September 13, 1930 – Schenectady Union Star –
Reforesting Abandoned Farms,
by Alexander MacDonald – State Conservation Commissioner
State’s Conservation Forces Plan to Plant a Million Acres
of Idle Lands with Millions of Young Trees.
One of the reasons why we have so many conservation problems today is that eight or nine generations of our grandfathers ignored the very obvious fact that you can’t eat your cake and have it too,
According to our geographical location on the continent, we have spent from 50 to 250 years getting rid of our fish, our game and our forests and generally doing the things we ought not to have done, but more especially leaving undone the things we ought to have done.
Wasted Nature’s Bounty – We slaughtered game, we slaughtered fish, we mined our forests. It took us a long time to catch up with our game supply, remove our forests and pollute our voters, but we managed finally and now we are starting on a long pull to get back in a measure the desirable and necessary resources we so prodigally expended.
Conservation is one of the youngest of governmental activities – the Conservation Department of New york is a little less than 20 years old- but it is a most important activity that already is repaying in large part its cost, and in the not far distant future at our present rate of progress will far more than repay its cost.
In the administration of the conservation law, instances are constantly arising which show that people are constantly arising which show that people are becoming conservation minded. A recent case may be cited as an illustration.
When this law was enacted it was opposed by many on the ground that its enforcement would not be practicable. There still remain many phases of the pollution of streams to solve, but the necessity of preventing pollution has been generally accepted and industrial concerns are spending time and money with the law.
Early Start on Reforesting
As compared with most of the other states, New York got an early start on its forest problems. We have been developing a reforestation policy for 30 years.
From a modest start in 1900, when 5,000 young trees were planted in the forest preserve, we have progressed until this year we will plant more than 30,000,000 trees from the state’s five nurseries, and industrial concerns that operate nurseries of their own will plant about 5,000,000 more.
Two years ago the state’s bill for forest tree seeds was cut in half by establishing a seed extracting plant. The state now collects, cleans and packs a large percentage of the seeds required for planting in the nurseries.
Buying Abandoned Farms
Under the Hewitt Law enforced last year for the purchase of abandoned farm lands and the planting of state forests on them, 27,000 acres have been purchased or contracted for at an average price of less than $3.50 per acre, and within the next 15 years the state will have added 1,000,000 acres of productive forests to the forest area.
Today, New York state leads every other state in the country in reforesting and making productive land that is now idle and nonproductive. Counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts, sportsmen’s clubs, Boy Scouts, and numerous other organizations are cooperating zealously in this reforesting movement, and more than 25,000 individuals have made forest plantations to make profitable use of their idle lands.
Reforesting Idle Land
In connection with the state’s enlarged reforestation program, an amendment has been proposed. The main object of this amendment is to permit the purchase of idle lands suitable to reforesting in any county, including forest preserve counties, with the funds specifically set apart for that purpose; and the cutting of forests so planted when they mature.
This amendment is important as it would permit the purchase and reforestation of idle lands in forest preserve counties, but not within the boundaries of the Adirondack and Catskill parks, and the cutting of timber after it has matured on the lands so purchased.
It would not permit the cutting of any trees on land in the forest preserve, whether such land is inside the park line, or outside, not would it interfere with the purchase of land for the forest preserve which is being added to every year.
This amendment is an important measure for the conservation of our forests.