This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
It is a common theme with newspapers and public speakers that the forests are decreasing; that the country will materially sutler, and that " something " must be done. The position we have always taken is, that bad measures or good measures, founded on bad reasoning, are ultimately injurious, and hence we are often found seemingly opposed to forestry interests, when really we are but opposed to visionary schemes and arrant nonsense. We desire to encourage forestry ; but we only wish to see it on a basis of business common sense, which shall need no backward step after the advance is once made. How much our advice has been heeded, and how much has been lost by a preference for mere guess work, is continually being seen by the collapse of many pet. experiments. The Iowa tree planting law is amongst the latest of these. It has not yet been repealed, but it is on the high road to this ignominious end. It was enacted that for every acre of forest trees planted $100 should be exempted from the owner's assessment, and for each acre of fruit trees, $500 for five years.
There has been spent a nice little sum already in the payment of officers to take the census, and according to their returns nearly six millions of dollars are to be stricken from the assessed value of property in the State, and to be exempted from tax on account of "tree planting." According to this there should be 60,000 acres of forest and fruit trees set out in the State of Iowa the past year; and if so, some nurserymen must have made enormous sales, and should not necessitate the frequent advertisements of "surplus stock" at nominal rates. But the fact is no one believes there has been anything like this amount of tree planting in Iowa; and the plain English is, that somebody is robbing the State under the plea of encouraging tree planting.
It will be found, as a general rule, that whatever may be the facts in European countries, in ours very little can be done by legislation to help tree culture. "Whenever it is urged, we look for fat offices for somebody, and fat salaries for worthless men, with the slightest possible modicum of good for the purposes such legislation is ostensibly inaugurated to serve.