Items of Interest

The season of 1914 carried greater danger from fire to the national forests than any year since their establishment. To meet this emergency and to prevent great loss of public property, the department of agriculture was obliged to exceed the amount appropriated for fire protection and incur a deficiency of $349, 243. The total number of fires which threatened the national forests and which had to be handled by the protective organization of the forest service, was 6,112. Eighty-one per cent of these were extinguished by the protective organization before they had covered ten acres. The percentage of fires that burned over more than this area was smaller than in any previous year. While detailed reports have not yet been received appraising the exact loss to the government through these fires, a preliminary estimate shows that the loss of merchantable timber will probably not exceed four hundred thousand dollars. In 1910 the corresponding estimate of loss was nearly fifteen million dollars, but later estimates materially reduced the amount. In Montana and Idaho alone, it is said that the value of specific bodies of timber which were threatened by the approximately two thousand fires which started and were extinguished, aggregated the enormous sum of over fifty-nine million dollars. It was in this section that the largest amount of money had to be spent to prevent a recurrence of the great disaster of 1910. In Oregon and Washington, the twelve hundred fires which were handled by the department threatened upward of twenty-four million dollars' worth of timber.

Influenced by the prospective heavy demand for grain by the conditions in Europe, American farmers this fall have sown a record area to winter wheat. It is estimated by the department of agriculture at 41,263,000 acres, which is an increase of 4,135,000 acres over the area sown last fall, and on which the record crop of 684,990,000 bushels of winter wheat was harvested this year. The area sown is 5,255,000 acres more than was harvested this year. A feature of the planting of winter wheat this year is the great increase in acreage in the southern states, where farmers are decreasing their acreage of cotton. The acreage in South Carolina has been increased 200 per cent, compared with the 1913 planting; in Alabama, 185 per cent; Mississippi, 125 per cent; Georgia, 118 per cent; North Carolina, 75 per cent; Arkansas, 44 per cent; Texas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma, 20 per cent, and Virginia, 60 per cent. In the great wheat-growing states the increases in acreage range from 5 to 15 per cent, except in the greatest of winter wheat states, Kansas, where a 2 per cent decrease is shown.

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Finding the Higher Meaning
January 2, 1915
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