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Wisconsin. State Conservation Committee (1915-27) / Biennial report of the State Conservation Commission of Wisconsin for the years 1915 and 1916

Forest protection,   p. 79 PDF (247.7 KB)

Page 79

                        BIENNIAL     REPORwr                        79
                      FOREST PROTECTION.
  The protection of forests from fire is the first essential in the develop-
ment of a forest policy for a State. Past experience has proven that the
forests of Wisconsin have suffered great damage from fire at times, and,
without question, history will repeat itself in the future, unless a well
planned fire organization is developed, to be ready for the real dry season.
  The protection of forests from fire in the north one-half of the State
brought about through an organization of town fire wardens, assistant
fire wardens and the protective force of rangers and patrolmen in what is
known as the forest reserve region. The town fire warden system is estab-
lished by having each town chairman become ex officio fire warden and
the road superintendents, assistant fire wardens. The chief duties of the
fire wardens, of whom there are about 555 in the territory, in which there
is a fire hazard, are the fighting of fires, instead of prevention and detec-
tion. The system of fire protection as applied to the greater part of the
State lands or the so-called forest reserve area is one of preivention, de-
tection and control.
  The present forest fire organization outside of the protected area is
inadequate since there is no definite plan of detection and prevention.
The local wardens usually will wait until fires are upon them before taking
any protective measures. From a conservation standpoint, forest fire
prevention is the most important feature. Therefore, adequate appropria-
tion should be made through State taxation to make it possible to provide
for the appointment of so-called district fire wardens, whose duties would
be to cooperate with the local fire wardens, timber owners, and others,
throughout the entire wooded area of the State.
  The protected area, within which the greater protion of the State
reserves is located, includes 1,250,000 acres in Forest, Vilas, Oneida, Iron
and Price counties. In protective work, over this entire area the State
is aided by the Federal Goverment under the Weeks Law, and by indi-
viduals and companies owning large tracts of lands within its borders.
This area is divided into 17 districts, varying in size from 66,000 to 138,000
acres. A ranger or patrolman is in charge of each district. Protective
work is facilitated by a telephone system, a network of roads and trails,
proper means of transportation and lookout towers, the latter making it
possible to observe over one-half of this area.
   The cost of protecting this one and one-fourth million acres of land
was one and one-third cents per acre in 1915. It is proposed to gradually
extend the lines of protection as funds and outside cooperation become
   As an example of the development of organized effort of timberland
 owners in the prevention of fire, the following data was compiled from
 reports of several associations. Organized effort on the part of timber
 land owners in this state would do much toward solving the fire problem.
 An organization covering three or four counties lying contiguous would
 be the most effective since an opportunity would present itself of close
 cooperation with the Federal, State and' town wardens and patrolmen.

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