Preserving the Watershed Forests

Preserving the Watershed Forests

The care and preservation of the watershed covering of forests is one of the matters which very intimately concerns the superintendent of water works, especially if the supply is a surface one or draws upon considerable territory for its source. This preservation includes many phases, and to be efficiently followed up the superintendent—or some individual delegated by him to perform the work— should have at least a working knowledge of the art of Forestry.

One of the most important branches of this work is the guarding of the forest territory from fire. This matter becomes a very vital responsibility during a season like the one just past, when, through lack of rain, the undergrowth has become dry and inflammable and the slightest spark may easily be fanned into a serious conflagration, involving much, if not all, of the watershed. The careless tresspasser, hunter or smoker who tosses away a match or cigarette, without first making sure that it has been extinguished, is the center of trouble and should, wherever possible be kept off of the shed entirely, or, if allowed within the territory, be impressed with the necessity for caution.

But, besides fire, there are other important matters to be considered in connection with the watershed. The proper cutting of the timber and the pruning and trimming of the trees is a matter requiring some expert knowledge. The guarding against tree diseases, blights, insects and parasites which prey upon the forests must be done intelligently. The planting of new growths to take the place of those cut out or destroyed presupposes a previous education in this work or disaster will follow, and the saplings will be lost.

In this week’s issue an expert on forestry gives some interesting reasons why the watershed should be covered with a forest growth under certain conditions. He also gives some important reasons why this growth is an advantage and how it works toward the preservation and assists in the purification of the water. His paper is worthy the attention of all superintendents whose water works rely on a watershed to furnish the supply.

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Preserving the Watershed Forests


Preserving the Watershed Forests

The care of the forests which form so important a part of our watersheds is one of the biggest problems that the water works superintendent has to wrestle with, and at the same time one of the most difficult. The latter is true because to deal with it properly is required a certain knowledge of the science of Forestry or at least the rudiments of this science. The guarding against the many forms of disease and parasites which attack the trees is essential, as is also the ability to recognize the beginnings of these ravages before they have gone too far to remedy. The superintendent must also know how to prevent the spread of these various ailments from the tree affected to the healthy ones which surround it.

There is also the proper method of planting new trees, trimming and caring for the good ones and the scientific cutting out of old or dead timber which hamper their growth. The selection of the varieties of tree best suited to conditions on the watershed is a study in itself.

Besides and beyond all of this is the very important matter of fire prevention. Here, where the proper cooperation exists between the water and fire departments, the chief should be of material assistance. The forests of the city watershed should be protected as carefully as the buildings of the city themselves. If fire wardens are not appointed by the city to attend to this, certain members of the fire department should be detailed to guard these lands against fire. Fire lines should be cleared, one or two fire towers erected, and in every way

possible the wooded lands of the watershed should be protected from the fiery destroyer, which can wipe out in a single blaze the work of years of patient effort in the cultivation of these protectors of the water supply.

Stringent regulations against bon-fires in the watershed reserve should be enforced without fear or favor. Only by these means can the forests be preserved and the water supply protected.