Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography

By Theodore Roosevelt | Go to book overview
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view. A primeval forest is a great sponge which absorbs and distills the rain water. And when it is destroyed the result is apt to be an alternation of flood and drought. Forest fires ultimately make the land a desert, and are a detriment to all that portion of the State tributary to the streams through the woods where they occur. Every effort should be made to minimize their destructive influence. We need to have our system of forestry gradually developed and conducted along scientific principles. When this has been done it will be possible to allow marketable lumber to be cut everywhere without damage to the forests -- indeed, with positive advantage to them. But until lumbering is thus conducted, on strictly scientific principles no less than upon principles of the strictest honesty toward the State, we cannot afford to suffer it at all in the State forests. Unrestrained greed means the ruin of the great woods and the drying up of the sources of the rivers.

"Ultimately the administration of the State lands must be so centralized as to enable us definitely to place responsibility in respect to everything concerning them, and to demand the highest degree of trained intelligence in their use.

"The State should not permit within its limits factories to make bird skins or bird feathers into articles of ornament or wearing apparel. Ordinary birds, and especially song birds, should be rigidly protected. Game birds should never be shot to a greater extent than will offset the natural rate of increase. . . . Care should be taken not to encourage the use of cold storage or other market systems which are a benefit to no one but the wealthy epicure who can afford to pay a heavy price for luxuries. These systems tend to the destruction of the game, which would bear most severely upon the very men whose rapacity has been appealed to in order to secure its extermination. . . ."

I reorganized the Commission, putting Austin Wadsworth at its head.


My general scheme of action as Governor was given in a letter I wrote one of my supporters among the independent district organization leaders, Norton Goddard, on April 16, 1900. It runs in part as follows: "Nobody can tell, and least of all the machine


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Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography


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