ITS CULTIVATION AND PROTECTION FROM FIRE
A progressive policy was adopted several years ago by Alexander Orr, C.E., Superintendent of the Gloversville Water Department, namely that of forestation of the watershed there. Superintendent Orr began this work in the spring of 1908, when he planted a number of white. Scotch and red pines, and has continned this work regularly each year until there are at the present time approximately 400,000 young trees on the water department holdings. This work will be continued until the entire watershed is covered with pine wood. Superintendent Orr states that these trees exhibit considerable hardiness, the loss up to date being less than 10 per cent. The trees are planted 5×5 and 6×6 feet apart, and it is generally considered that this is the most satisfactory way of spacing them. The accompanying illustrations show these small trees at various stages of growth. Water departments all through the country are beginning to realize the advantages of forestation and the work has been adopted at many plants. One of its principal advantages is that it tends to keep more uniform the discharge of water from the watershed, for in the spring, when the supply of water is abundant, these trees will absorb much of it and prevent the dams from overflowing, while in dry seasons the land will be so well moistened that when there is rainfall the water will not be absorbed so readily, hence more will flow into the reservoir. it was only quite recently, on April 15, 1616, that 5,000,000 gallons of water was lost in this way when the snow suddenly thawed at the Croton watershed of the New York supply, where forestation has only been adopted recently, and the water went to waste down the spillway at Cornell dam. Forcstation also acts as a check to the various forms of contamination which would, under other circumstances, be washed into the reservoir by the spring floods. There is also the element of beauty and. lastly, its economical value. That a profit can be made from the lumber in these forests has been demonstrated in several cases.
Cost of Lumbering.
At the New Haven water works, the lumbering is given out by contract on a percentage basis, and the department annually nets a profit. It was found here that the use of the department men for lumbering work was unprofitable, owing to their unfamiliarity with ft. The department at Nashua, N. H., however, uses its own men during the winter for this work and has found it a paying operation, which may be explained by the fan that a number of these employees are ex-lumbermen. Lumbertng has become quite an enterprise at this plant, where the department maintains a water-power sawmill. Hartford used its own employees for lumbering work and gained no profit. The water departments where forestall n is given attention to generally agree that the various kinds of pine trees are the most practical for planting owing to their hardiness and adaptability to adverse conditions, and hardwood trees have been found very unsatisfactory. At Wachusett Reservoir, Cinton, Mass., the planting of oak, maple and chestnut as fillers among the pine trees was tried, but they failed to grow well. In most cases white pine has been found satisfactory, but much trouble was experienced with it at Hartford, where weevils attacked the tops of the trees, and red pine, supposedly immune from the ravages of these insects, are now being planted there. Ash trees were also unsatisfactory. owing to the fact that rabbits and deer destroyed them. White pine often grows well in sandy soil, but is not adapted to wet ground. The Scotch pine grows hardily on poor soil, but is less valuable than the white pine. Of the various spruce trees, Norway spruce is the most preferable, owing to its adaptability to practically any soil, while the hemlock, larch and juniper grow fairly well in good soil. Some idea of the cost of forestation may be obtained from the following table compiled by Wilson Fitch Smith, Division Engineer, Board of Water Supply, New York City, gathered from the experiences at the Kensico Reservoir, where 800 acres have been planted with white, red and Scotch pines and Norway spruce*
Methods of Forestation.
Many water works maintain their own nurseries for trees, while others purchase the young trees needed. The first of these methods requires considerable care in order to get good results. The dangers that beset very young plants are numerous, especially during the early stages of their growth, when birds and mice often devour the seed cap, thus causing the death of the plant. Later, if the sunlight is insufficient to properly dry the ground, the trees are likely to die from the scourge known as mildew, or if the sunlight is too strong, they will waste away. Dry road dust has at times stopped mildew. Sometimes a thin growth of moss will cover the small trees and sap away their strength. In this case dry road dust has again been known to be beneficial. Very often they are attacked from beneath by white grubs which destroy the roots. There is no solution that will kill these grubs without also injuring the plants, and the only method known for fighting them is by constructing a comb with hatpins spaced about one-half inch apart and thrusting this into the ground at the various affected places; it pierces the grubs. Close watch should be kept on the trees during the winter after they have been covered up to prevent winter-kill. Mice often enter these coverings and cut away the young trees to use for nests. The sowing of grain soaked with strychnine throughout the beds is usua’ly effective. Much care must also be exercised in selecting seeds of sufficient hardiness to stand the climate.
Journal of the New England Water Works Association, Vol. 30, No. 1, March, 1916.
The one deadly and ever-present menace to these forests is fire, and many precautions are taken for minimizing the annual loss from this source. The forests are split into small divisions by a network of roads, in order to confine flames to as small an area as possible. At some watersheds the forests are surrounded by a fire guard of approximately so. width. This protects the trees from neighboring fires. Guards with hand fire extinguishers patrol the forests on holidays and Sundays, when the danger of fire through the carelessness of the sportsmen is especially great. At the Wachusett Reservoir in Clinton, Mass., a lookout station on a hill to report any fires in the vicinity has been found to be of great value. Great care is taken to keep the forests clear of brush and weeds, and many of the water departments own trucks for forest fires. At New Haven, the watershed forest is equipped with a signal system so that immediately upon the discovery of a fire assistance can be summoned. Fire protection is one of the most important things to be con-
sidered where forestation work is being done, as the loss from this is often great.