With the latest acquisition of land by the state, the order of tak­ing of which by the Department of Conservation was published in last week’s paper, the forest reserve on Martha’s Vineyard comprises about 5000 acres. Encircling the heath hen reservation, which consists of 640 acres, this tract extends over the eastern plain lands, the least valuable of any land on the Island.
Slightly less than a year ago a nursery of some 500,000 seedlings of Scotch and red pine was planted and 15 men are now engaged in transplanting these little trees among the scrub oaks. As fast as the trees are taken from the nursery they will be replaced with new seedlings, until the entire tract is planted.
These evergreens will kill the scrub oaks when they reached a suf­ficient size, and in a comparatively short period of time the Vineyard will have a forest reserve of which it may well be proud.
The importance of this work can not be emphasized too strongly. Our national forests are disappearing about five times as fast as new trees can grow to maturity. Intensive lumbering, of course, takes many square miles of forest each year. Tree blight also destroys more or less, but the greatest destructive force is the forest fire.
Conditions being as they are, there can be but one end without the cooperation of all persons, and It would seem that Vineyarders, more than others, have cause to aid in reforesting with a great deal of enthusiasm.
To begin with, the land now is a melancholy waste, producing noth­ing but low scrub oaks. It has nev­er been valuable, nor does it prom­ise to become so. But it will sup­port these valuable trees, and in time will yield much timber. The policy of the U.S. Department of Forestry is to thin out the trees by judicious cutting when the timber is “ripe”, and the state will un­doubtedly follow the same procedure when the time shall arrive.
But even though not a single dol­lar is ever realized from the project, all Vineyarders should rejoice in the prospects of a change of scenery on the plains. In the matter of co­operation there is one thing, at least, which everyone can do — help to prevent fires. Nearly every able bodied person on the Island travels on the roads more or less. There are hundreds of autos travel­ling hither and thither, and in the hunting season there are many gun­ning parties in the woods and swamps.
Therefore it behooves every per­son to consider with himself what value he places on a tree — shade. game cover, shelter from winds. timber, firewood or beauty. And then remember these things are all being provided by the state at no cost to the Vineyarders. Pleasure and profit will be ours in the years to come, and the children of future generations may never know any­thing of the desolation which has marked the great plain for so many years.
Let us consider all this, and then reflect that one match, carelessly dropped, may ruin all.