This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The Department of the Interior has issued a circular in connection with the census office, asking for information in regard to the cause and extent of forest fires, with a view to legislation. We hope that those who receive the blanks will give the matter their serious attention, and that those who may have any information or suggestion, and get no circulars, will apply to General Walker or Professor Sargent for them. The matter is of especial concern to those interested in forest culture; for forest fires constitute the great enemy of the forest planter. For our part we are satisfied that the great feeder in many cases of forest fires is underbrush. Since the report of the editor of this magazine as State Botanist, to the Pennsylvania State Board of Agriculture was made, he has had the opportunity of examining immense districts of timber in Indiana that were not overcrowded, and had no underbrush whatever under them. Indeed there was a fair quantity of wood grasses growing under the partial shade, which afforded tolerable pasture for the cattle running under them. In one case, and this is the point of this paragraph, a small piece of wood with dense underbrush, had fired, and burnt clean out, but stopped at the boundary of the open wood.
Now if this be the general fact, and we believe it is, that an open wood will not build a serious fire, the "legislation" necessary becomes very clear. If one man loses his wood from the firing of his underbrush, let him lose, and if his fire should happen to cause loss to any one who has no wood of his own, or to a wood that is kept clear of underbrush, - for a fire under great headway might do it, - the owner of the brushy wood should be made liable for all damages. It is all very well to look after the man or the railroad that starts the fire, but the man who leaves gunpowder lying loose around should be held responsible as well as the one who applies the spark.