This section is from the book "A Few Suggestions On Tree Planting", by C. S. Sargent.
Ten acres of land, at §20.......... $200 00
Wire fence .......• • • 1,000 00
Plants, 27,200, at $5........... 136 25
Labor of planting............ 500 00 $1,836 25
Interest on investment, as above, 50 years, at 6 per cent .... 5,499 00
Taxes, 50 years, at 1.5 per cent......... 150 00
Interest on taxes equal 25 years, at 0 per cent...... 225 00 $7,710 25
Product of first cutting at the end of 20 years: 13,000 trees, less 20 per cent for casualties; 10,100 trees, or 20,- 800 fence-posts, at 20 cents..........$4,100 00
Product of second cutting at the end of 30 years: 10,-200 trees, less 10 per cent for casualties; 9,180 trees, or 18,360 sleepers, at 50 cents......$9,180 CO
And 9,180 fence-posts, at 25 cents..... 2,205 00
Product of third cutting at the end of 50 years: 4,000 trees, less 5 per cent for casualties; 3,8C0 piles, worth $5.00 each...........$19,000 00
And 7,600 sleepers, worth 50 cents..... 3,800 00
Land at cost.......... 200 00 $38,035 00
Thirty years' interest on $4,160, at 6 per cent . . . $7,488 00
Twenty years' interest on $11,475, at 6 per cent . . . 13,770 00
---$21,258 00 $59,993 00
Profit............. 52,282 75*
There are within the limits of the State fully 200,000 acres of unimproved land which could with advantage be at once covered with larch plantations.
For the sake of keeping these estimates within reasonable bounds let us suppose that these 200,000 acres will, in the natural course of events, produce daring the next fifty years one hundred cords of firewood to the acre, worth $6 a cord. This would make their total yield for the fifty years $120,000,000. If they were planted with larch, their net yield, according to my estimate, during the same time, would be $l,045,660,000; but that we may judge how much such an operation would add to the wealth of the community, we must deduct from this amount the value of the wood which we suppose would be produced naturally, or $120,000,000. That sum being subtracted, we have left as created wealth the respectable sum of $925,000,000.
* Equal to about 13 per cent per annum for the entire fifty years, after returning the original capital invested.
There is no branch of agriculture at once so pleasant and so productive of possible gains, as farming on paper. It is a dangerous pastime, however, and often leads into grave errors, and great dangers, as the agricultural population has learned to its cost. In this case it will be well to be on the safe side. The larch, in common with other plants, is liable to disease; it is preyed on by many insects, and our plantations may be often injured by fire, bad management, and other dangers now unforeseen.
In view of such chances, let us reduce the total yield of our ten acres of larch a little more than one half, and be content with a profit of only six per cent per annum on the capital invested.
Such a diminution of yield would reduce the amount I suppose would spring, in the course of fifty years, from the 200,000 acres of larch, to $462,830,000.
If we can add $8,000,000 annually to the net product of the agriculture of Massachusetts by replanting a small portion of our nearly worthless lands with trees, the mere material gain to our wealth is worth striving for But when Ave consider that this is an operation which will bring benefits to the State far beyond any direct material gain, it becomes the moral duty of every citizen to continue his efforts in this direction until every landowner shall be convinced that tree-planting is a patriotic act, and that we owe it to our descendants to leave the land at least as productive and pleasant as we received it. It is within the power of many to give direct assistance to such an undertaking. The wealthy and powerful corporations depending on a supply of water for their existence will do well to reflect on the dangers which threaten them through the destruction of the forests, and consider what steps they can take to avert them.
The railroads, the most dependent of all our corporations on a supply of wood for their daily consumption and increased traffic, must soon, in self-defence, turn their attention to arboriculture. But, in this community, we must look to individual enterprise and individual intelligence if we expect to see any considerable portion of this State re-covered with forest growth; and to the farmers, more than to any other class, must be left the solution of the difficulties and dangers, which the forest question presents.
To-day, I can offer them no better advice than that of the dying old Scotchman to his son,— " Ye may be aye sticking in a tree, Jock; it will be growin' when ye're slcepin'".