Reclaiming the barren sand hills of the Middle West with forest cover, to supply timber when there is a dearth of it, is one of the more striking of the important forest planting projects of the Forest Service. Four of the National forests have been established in the non-agricultural region with the express purpose of getting a firm grip on methods which will overcome natural difficulties and set up object lessons for the benefit of the people. These are the Niobrara, the Dismal River, and the North Platte reserves in Nebraska, and the Garden City reserve in Kansas. The Nebraska reserves have responded so well to careful treatment that hundreds of thousands of seedlings have been planted out and millions more are being raised in nurseries for use in other reserves. Thus, for the first planting of the Garden City reserve, just completed, most of the trees were taken from the nurseries in the Dismal River reserve.

The Kansas reserve lies in a region of scattered, barren sand hills, interlaced with prairie on which grass thrives well enough to support live stock. The origin of these hills, in itself interesting, reminds one in a way of that of the sand dunes which encroached from the sea upon the fertile fields of western France and laid them waste. In both cases the wind has been the enemy of the soil, for in France wind drove the sand of the seashore inland, and in the middle-western region of our own country wind drove eastward the sand which the Arkansas river had carried down in floods and afterwards exposed to dry. The sand hills were formed long ago, and the action of the wind is now largely checked by the spread of the carpet of grass, which binds the sand wherever there is enough moisture to encourage it.

The semi-arid conditions of the region necessarily restrict the selection of trees. Right choice of species, the crux of forest planting generally, is here especially decisive. By its aid, together with right planting methods and right care of the plantation, a treeless region, one therefore in which wood is a scarce and a highly valuable commodity, can be made to produce useful woods, and at a cost so slight as to satisfy good business judgment. Thus on a light, sandy surface, whose only cover is wild grass and weeds, a merchantable forest crop is to be grown.