This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
By Franklin B. Hough. From Hon. W. G. Le Due, Commissioner of Agriculture. In 1877 Congress ordered the Commissioner of Agriculture to " appoint some man of approved attainments, and practically well acquainted with the methods of statistical inquiry with a view of ascertaining the annual amount of consumption, importation and exportation of timber and other forest products, the probable supply for future wants, the means best adapted to the preservation and the renewal of forests; the influence of forests upon climate, and the measures that have been successfully employed in various countries for the preservation and restoration or planting of forests, and report." Dr. Hough was appointed, and this is the report of his first year's work.
In many quarters regret has been expressed that some one was not appointed for this work who had an acquaintance with forest trees, and with the practical details of forest culture; but the act of Congress called for simply one acquainted with the methods of statistical inquiry, and Dr. Hough is fully as competent for this work as any one, who could be selected. In this report he has industriously collected together an amount of material comprised in over 600 pages of what numbers have said of the Forestry question. With much of it every one interested in the subject is already acquainted. Emerson's report on the trees and shrubs of Mass.; Curtis woody plants of North Carolina; the writings of Becqueral, Marsh, and other well-known authors are liberally drawn on. Newspaper paragraphs, extracts from public meetings and discussions, and an immense amount of items, good, bad and indifferent, have been gathered together from home and foreign sources; and, which is especially of great value to us, have been indexed and given to us here in a shape that is readily accessible.
Granting that a Commissioner charged with a more original line of investigation would have been more valuable, still the work as it is is well worth all the money it has cost, and we hope the subject will still be continued by the Department. As the field to be covered is simply the collecting of all sorts of paragraphs and copying from all sorts of works, it would be well to suggest that the statistician confine himself to this and not hazard guesses as to the botany of his timber trees. For instance, he tells us that the"Red Pine" of which the Mormon tabernacle is built, is " understood to be the Pinus con-torta," and worse yet, that the " White Pine" of Utah, is " Abies Engelmanii(?)" If we cannot have a Forest Commissioner who is acquainted with American Forest and timber trees, it will at least be well that he avoid such blunders as these by letting the text he collects alone. It is best to let the timber go as Utah Red Pine and Utah White Pine, than to propagate such fearful errors as these.
Aside from the value of the collection of opinions and facts here presented, the " measures" recommended are fairly estimated, we think, by General Le Due in his presentation of the report to the House of Representatives: " While the information Dr. Hough has acquired has been extensive and in some cases exhaustive, - and while from the European worlds much may be learned - the differences that exist between our own country and foreign countries in the ownership of lands, make it impracticable to apply for the present, if ever, the systems of administration that prevails elsewhere".
This has always been our view; and yet we see Dr. Hough " is to make a personal inspection of European Forests," for which $6,000 is requested. We really believe that $6,000 spent by one acquainted with our own Forest products, among our own Forest trees, amongst our own Forest tree cultivators, and by one practically acquainted with Forestry work, and who has a knowledge of the principles of our Government' and what it ought and could and what it should not do, would be infinitely more profitable to us; still we are not the less thankful to the Government and Dr. Hough for what they have given us. The whole proceeding is a step in the right direction. We have not got what we want - but we have the worth of all it has cost.