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Chittenden, Alfred K. (Alfred Knight), 1879-1930 / The taxation of forest lands in Wisconsin

The attitude toward fire,   pp. 50-52 PDF (764.4 KB)

Page 50

                    THE ATTITUDE TOWARD FIRE.
  One of the most serious obstacles to the practice of forestry by the
lumber companies, and, therefore, to the satisfactory working out of
any tax system designed to encourage timber growing is the abso-
lute lack of popular appreciation of the damage wrought to a forest
by fire and the callous disregard on the part of many settlers for
the state's fire laws. As a result the fire damage throughout this
whole region is simply enormous, and the injury to young growth
wNhi ;h is usually not considered, is almost irreparable. A representa-
tive of one of the large lumber companies in Price county gave it as
his opinion that in this county alone at least 20,000,000 board feet
of lumber were annually ruined by fire. According to Mr. E. M.
Griffith, State Forester of Wisconsin, the damage to mature timber
and property from forest fires in 1908 amounted to fully $9,000,000.
Consequently a most adverse feature of this fire situation is that no
individual or company can consider forestry methods or hope to ob-
tain reproduction on cut-over land until some adequate system of fire
control has been tried and its effeieney amply demonstrated. Very
little success along this line can be expected until the state is will-
ing to provide for a thorough fire patrol during all dangerously dry
  As clearly pointed out in the report of the State Forester of
Wisconsin for 1908. the present system of fire wardens, while good
as far as it goes, falls far short of meeting the actual needs of the
situati(cn. Under this system the fire wardens are all local men,
and it is not strange that in a great many instances they should
fail to take legal action against a neighbor who may have been
guilty of breaking the fire law. But the most serious defect in the
present law is its failure to provide for fire patrol, which is the one
great need of this whole region. The lumbermen so fully appreciate
the urgency of such measures for prevention of fires that they are
willing in many cases to form a fire protective association to be main-
tained by levying an annual assessment on an acreage basis from
each member, and having as its primary object an extensive system of
fire patrol. Such a patrol should not cost over 2 cents per acre per year,
and could be placed directly under the State Fire Warden, by whom
the individual local patrols could be appointed and made regular fire
wardens. A patrol system of this kind should extend to the other parts
of the towns as well as to the holdings of the associated lumber com-

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