Utilizing the Watersheds

Utilizing the Watersheds

The question of the proper utilization of the lands of the watersheds is a vexing one. Of course, one naturally turns to forestation as the logical solution of the difficulty and perhaps with a good deal of reason. The planting of trees on the watersheds is probably under most circumstances the best and most profitable way— all things considered—of utilizing the land devoted to this object.

A thick growth of trees, especially on hillside property, provides the best kind of protection to the springs and streams of the watershed, both by shielding them from the direct rays of the sun and by the retention of moisture in the dead leaves scattered on the ground. The lumber from the trees, too, after a period of years will be available and can be sold at a good sum, provided the superintendent or forester has a fair knowledge of arboriculture and uses a sufficient amount of common sense in the administration of this portion of his duties.

The planting of crops must be approached with caution, as must also be the establishment of orchards on the watershed. In both cases the land so developed should be sufficiently far away from the sources of supply to avoid the conscious or unconscious pollution by those working in the fields or picking the fruit.

The pasturing of animals on the watershed—even the least harmful, sheep—is a potential menace to health. And even greater danger may come from the herder or shepherd who has charge of them.

No doubt Hugh McLean, water commissioner of Holyoke, struck the right chord at the New England convention when he said that no watershed land should lie idle or unproductive. It should not. But the problem, the answer to which is yet to be found, is what is the best means of utilizing these lands and at the same time preserving healthy conditions on the watersheds. The most striking thing brought out on this subject at the New England convention was the difference of opinion that was apparent.

Perhaps some of our readers have had experiences along these lines and have some constructive suggestion to make as to methods of utilizing the watershed lands. If so, send them in! That is what our columns are for!

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