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HE best and biggest news story Hudson. The present population prob- through the ages not only enriched but from the natural history world is ably does not exceed twenty thousand. enormously extended the agricultural
that beavers are coming back. They can keep coming back for some area of our land. In beaver ponds acThey are coming back rapidly, they are time before they attain the peak of their cumulated a vast area of our productive multiplying in numbers, and they are former population or repossess their for- soil. also extending their land and water mer territory.
Beaver ponds are short lived. In a holdings. A few years ago they were When the Pilgrims landed at Plym- few years they wash full of sediment verging on extermination. Now they outh, there were perhaps two hundred and soil. The beaver pond of to-day is are reoccupying the land of their million beavers in America. If on a a fertile field to-morrow. Buried and fathers.
river map of North America for 1620 forgotten in our land are millions of Some years ago I. examined a beautiful you place a line of dots as thick as they beaver ponds. These during primeval hay meadow on a mountain ranch and will show along every stream from years furnished plant food for grass and found it a beaver-made meadow. It was source to sea, these dots will not be flowers and forests. This soil now is a filled-in beaver pond. One corner of nearly numerous enough to indicate for- the life of the land and we possess it. the old pond site was forested. This mer beaver colonies.
Each spring countless sowers go forth beaver work covered more than forty The lower Mississippi, the lower Colo- to sow, each autumn there is the thrill acres. The landowner writes me that rado, and a few other streams may have of harvest home in countless golden this site has again and suddenly become had too many alligators for beavers. fields and mirth and merriment among a beaver pond. He is willing to donate And beavers were not on areas in the the rows of red-cheeked apples, where a number of reservoir sites, but not this Bad Lands, nor above the tree line. But beaver ponds once sparkled amid priparticular one.
these areas embrace only a small per meval scenes. In the Museum at Albany there is, or centage of the area of the country. Qur beaver inheritance is monuwas a few years ago, a statue of a giant However, along numerous streams for mental, and monument honoring beaver. He was one of a numerous tribe miles instead of one line of dots there beavers would have a fitting place in which inhabited New York State a half should be several lines, with an occa- every valley to which beavers are remillion years ago. Beavers may right sional cluster of dots.
turning and in countless thousands to fully be called the first settlers of There now are cities with paved which they have not returned. America. They were the first large streets upon the sites of former Vene- “Our first engineers”—beavers—had a house-builders. This coming back is an tian beaver colonies. There are miles beneficial influence on the flow of many expansion, a reoccupying of beaver ter- and miles of grain fields, innumerable streams. Their settling basins-ponds ritory. The buffalo are also coming orchards, leagues of forests, meadows precipitated the sediment upstream and back, multiplying, and extending their dotted with cattle, and farms, homes, prevented this going down to clog the stamping-grounds. Both the beaver and and schools now in possession of most deep-water channels. the buffalo are Americans, and not for. of the territory where clustered beaver Beaver ponds and dams compel floods eign immigrants. The beaver nation in ponds sparkled across the continent in to drive slow; they absorb flood shock New York State was already old and the sun.
and water excess. They delay the runnumbered millions when the first Euro- Beaver ponds caused at least a mill- off. Each beaver pond is a poetic and pean colonists came. The topography of ion acres of land to be overspread with perennial spring. From the toll of the State was corrugated with beaver the richest of soil-alluvial sediment floods, from the excess of rainy days, it dams when New Amsterdam was built. from streams.
distributes to the stream every day. A When Henry Hudson looked upon the But soil, the earth's greatest resource, beaver pond helps give clear water and Palisades there must have been at least is the chief contribution of beavers sustaining flow. a million beavers at the sources of the to National prosperity. Beaver works The depositing of sediment, the stor
A number of fishermen have written that increased numbers of beaver ponds offer fish excellent opportunities to multiply and come back.
I visited two mountain homesteaders who were having their troubles in trying to dispossess the original beavers. Beavers had felled a large cottonwood tree upon a small homestead cabin. An adjacent neighbor had built a fence along a stream. The posts used were green, bark-covered aspens. Every post was cut down and dragged off by the beavers.
Dams are emphatic in letters from the Eastern States. Highway commissioners denounce beavers for flooding roadways, for holding up the traffic. Section foremen and road overseers charge beavers with maliciously and repeatedly filling culverts with trash—so that these culverts were out of commission at the time flood waters needed exclusive use. Farm lands are flooded
and .stream sides turned into swamps, A BEAVER ON A BEAVER HOUSE
acres of forest trees drowned, and a ing and the distributing of water, give but that two miles of chicken wire is a general damaging disregard shown for beavers a place for consideration in deep heavy expense.
riparian rights, trespass signs, and conwaterway plans and in river and harbor Incidentally and of tremendous inter- tempt for the customs, possession, and appropriations. Beavers help reduce the est is the fact that many of these hu- the land titles of the landowners. billions of tons of sediment which we mans protesting vehemently and justly I, too, have had and am having are told is annually swept into the sea against beaver activities are living on first-hand experiences—twenty-odd new or dropped in the lower slugggish chan- territory formerly occupied by beavers. beaver ponds near my cabin in four nels of rivers—to hold up shipping and The earth in which two orchards are years. Let one of these ponds be exto add fire to the profanity of steamboat growing, the alfalfa land, and even the panded—and that is normal with a beacaptains.
wild flowers contributing to the forty ver pond—and I shall know whether my The present superior races that pos- stands of bees are all in soil deposited ponderous stone fireplace foundation sess the former beaver empire have war- in ancient beaver ponds.
will stand submergence. ranty deeds to this land, and in many
One mountain man with numerous The beaver has been the star figure in cases the beavers that come back to it groves and brooks on his none too pro- the story of America. He was the bewill be resisted, be treated as invaders. ductive place has suddenly found him- ginning of numerous individual fortunes
Through the years I have written self possessed by, or in possession of, and he looms large when we look at the much concerning beavers, and their several colonies and dozens of beaver foundations of our vast National wealth. coming back has consequently brought inhabitants. It will not pay to dislodge Atlantic coast colonists used beaver me letters by the dozen. Many of the the beavers. Why not, I wrote him, ac- skins for currency. Beaver trappers carwriters consider the new-coming beaver cept this gift and advertise a valuable ried the star of empire westward. They as a pest; they have tried to drive him fur farm for sale?
were explorers, and sent back word off and have with amazement found him Two water-power companies report of rich resources waiting everywhere beefficient and persistent in staying where good results. They brought in beaver yond the frontier. The first permanent he has settled.
immigrants, and these colonized the settlements in perhaps one-third of the One Western farmer writes that the stream sources which supply them with States in the Union were made by bea ers shut off his irrigation water water.
beaver trappers. Though largely indi. when he needed it and turned this onto his neighbor's land up ditch at a time the neighbor did not want it. Both these men want "beavers to attend to their own affairs." The man up the canal says that his forty bee stands were turned into house-boats and that the water setting for his hay shocks caused his alfalfa field to look like a swarm of beaver houses.
The Indians spoke of the beaver as the fellow that cuts down trees. With less admiration a number of orchard owners are likewise speaking of him. Beavers have invaded apple, peach, and plum orchards and, regardless, felled trees right and left. Of course they felled these for a purpose and not for the fun of it. But the damage done was nevertheless one hundred per cent.
An owner of extensive orchards on the banks "where rolls the Oregon" came to see me. He now writes that the recommended chicken wire has thus far
A WAGON-LOAD OF ASPEN TREES GNAWED DOWY BY BEAVERS AND APPROPRIATED completely stopped beaver depredations,
BY A WOOD HAULER
rectly, the beaver has hastened to an amazing degree the settlement and the development of the United States of America.
Much American history and stirring and poetic parts of our literature have beaver land for a setting. Beaver trappers inspired Jefferson. Then followed Bonneville, Astoria, James Bridger, Kit Carson, the American Fur Company, voyageurs, free trappers, Oregon and Washington, and finally Fifty-four-Forty or Fight.
For two hundred years the rigid and romantic Hudson's Bay Company was Canada, and beaver was the life of Hudson Bay. Horace T. Martin says that beavers figured in the settlement and the development of Canada and that the beaver “has been associated with the industrial and commercial development, and indirectly with the social life, the romance, and, to a considerable extent, with the wars of the country.”
The numbers and the continental extent of the beaver, and especially the
A BEAVER MEADOW—WHERE BEAVERS FORMERLY LIVED AND SAVED SOIL value of his skin, gave him numerous places in the nomenclature of the land. ing the damage. The skins of those posit soil, check damaging floods, and Dozens of towns, streams, and lakes are killed became the property of the State. make streams more valuable through named for the beaver. Canadians hon- The legislators were wise enough equalized, reliable flow. ored him and themselves by making him realize that there should be no blanket A beaver pond and its wild-flower their national emblematic animal. And legislation which would allow State-wide border is useful and beautiful. A beaver he is on the State seal of Wisconsin. killing.
house is the permanent home of primiAt times he has dominated our wear. Beavers were the original conserva- tive home-loving folk. Beaver works ing apparel-our fashions. Beaver robes tianists of natural resources. They have add beauty and charm to county, State, and coats were pioneer comforts. And lost most of their holdings, but not their and National parks. People are made it was our fur-bearing friend and co- place in the scheme of things. In in their leisure hours, and beaver works operator who contributed to the creation numerous localities live beavers are will contribute suggestion—thoughtsand for a time to the existence of that more economically valuable to us than much that is restful and inspiring, to kingly headpiece, that autocratic presdead ones.
the leisure hours of visitors. Perhaps the ence, the stovepipe hat.
For a quarter of a century I have strangest contribution of the beaver to Beavers have legal protection, mostly eulogized the beaver, and I still defend our thought material is the fact that his by a closed season, in a majority of the him. But the bald fact now is that he play period each year commonly is about States in the Union. In 1877 Missouri cannot be allowed to possess numerous sevenfold that of his work period. To led off with legislation protecting these localities once possessed by him without work like a beaver does not mean dull animals, and Maine followed in 1885. In crowding out the present human popula. slaving. Working like a beaver really most cases the legislators recognized tion of these localities. But there are means efficient work—play, plan, and that in some localities the beavers might thousands of localities in our land in achievement. be destructive and intolerable. To meet which beavers would still be of eco- A visit to an inhabited beaver colony cases of this kind people whose prop- nomic, educational, and even higher arouses and enriches the imagination. erty was damaged by beavers could ob- value to us.
No nation rich in individual imagination tain permission from the State Conser- In numerous hill, mountain, and has ever fallen. Beaver works intensify vation Commission, or some other State other districts beavers may still serve the lure and the spell of the wilderauthority, to trap or kill the beavers do- us well. Their reservoirs can still de
THE FRENCH CIVIC UNION
BY CHARLES HENRY MELTZER
HE coal question is of vital inter- entire communities. The miners and its life and health were settled quite reest.
It touches all of us, both the men who own the mines were not gardless of its wishes. The price of coal poor and rich Without coal the only factors in the conflicts which has been put up or down to suit two there would be few industries. Take before and after the late war caused
Enormous profits have coal away, and we might freeze in win- such commotion "over there" and here. been grabbed by mine-owners. Outrater. The miners' quarrel with the All parties to the quarrel have their geous wages have been paid to miners. British mine-owners has affected the rights, their wrongs, their troubles, and We read of dividends which stagger world—Britain directly, and this coun- their special harrying problems. And, by their iniquity, of wages which to try at least indirectly. By some means, though at times one might suppose the most seem the reverse of just. The either forcible or peaceful, the mining contrary, the public, above all, needs price of coal at the pit's mouth is not problem must be solved, and soon, or the help and sympathy. The public has too prohibitive. But from the pit's mouth whole world may be involved in dread- long been made the victim of cynical to the bin is a long way. Between them ful turmoil.
combinations, labor unions, and strange stand the middlemen and railways, the The question is bound up with wider laws. It has been forced to look on and transport workers of all kinds, the coal issues, concerning capital and labor and to hold its hands while matters vital to peddlers. Before we have a chance to
warm ourselves we have to bear the They are still hoping against hope for though a man of charming modesty and costs resulting from those factors. public help.
tact, he stands for discipline. The public has been kicked and fleeced Meanwhile, in England an abortive In an illuminating talk with me last so long that it has almost lost the heart People's League, with similar aims and summer he outlined the chief objects of to enter protests. Here and abroad, and a more fortunate organization, named the Union, explained the methods which chiefly in Great Britain, labor in general the Middle Classes' Union, had been enabled it to carry on its useful work, has organized to terrorize it. The attempting to oppose the double tyranny and foreshadowed its establishment in strike (miscalled the lockout) of the of organized capital and labor. From the near future on a permanent basis. miners in Great Britain was followed by time to time the latter of these leagues, The funds it needs are raised by small the threat of two allied groupsfirst the or unions, has lent its influence and subscriptions, ranging from two francs railway men, and next the transport members to resist the over-dominant (the low fee for nominal membership) workers—to tie up trade, to ruin private labor folk. Its efforts, like those of the to five hundred francs. Subscriptions property, to make all social order a vain New York People's League, have been are divided into various categories, with word. And still the public as a mass discouraged by the middle classes' rights and privileges which are also has not done much (though it has done apathy. Internal wrangles over rules various. The central office in Paris a little) to reform conditions which it and persons have sadly checked its use- (in what forty years ago was the St. has neither brought about nor willed to fulness. Yet it has shown the public Sulpice Seminary) is in close touch with be.
how it might be helped out of its quag- ninety or more local branches. The Yet if it only willed it might accom- mire of despond if only it would learn total membership last year was rather plish much to save itself from being to help itself.
small. The Union numbered hardly a crushed and wronged between the upper And the example of the New York full hundred thousand. But it was millstone of the mine-owners and the People's League was not quite wasted. growing, gathering in recruits each day, big nether millstone of the fighting In an industrial crisis some two years and it was in its infancy. It had beminers. Few men are able, fewer still ago a wealthy group or combination hind it, but not ostentatiously, the moral would like, to take to mining. The job planned and formed another league of and, I think, material power of the requires long training and endurance, a citizens to fight a transport strike. French Government. Its chief activities willingness to bear distressing hard- Since then we have heard little of this were bent on the formation of a civic ships. But of the millions of the unem- body. It may have been dissolved. It force which could at any time take up ployed abroad and in this country some may still live. In an emergency it the tasks of striking servants of the genwould prefer a collier's life to misery. would, maybe, take shape again. And eral public and of rebellious Government And, with intelligence, the stronger part that emergency may come at any employees. Recruits were chosen with of these might help to work the mines moment.
the greatest care and not retained till in an emergency.
For one of the great facts of these they had proved their earnestness. ExWithout the active backing of the rail hard times is the new solidarity of soldiers, mill-hands, motormen, and transport unions, the miners would, labor the world over. It calls for con- chanics, cab-drivers, men and women in any case, soon have to compromise. stant, temperate, careful, active vigi- able to take charge of telephones and By freezing others they would harm lance as surely as the restless greed of telegraphic jobs, of course were wel. themselves. For they, like all the rest, capital.
come. But not unless they brought with must work or die.
A senseless lockout or a ruthless labor them convincing evidence that they No one could wish the miners less strike may deal a sudden blow, at order were honest and to be depended on. than justice. Few really have much in this country. We should stand ready, Besides these more or less efficient love for the mine-owners. The public if need be, to keep the most essential members, the Union was last year enrollhas, however, a deep interest in its own wheels of life in motion. We must have ing, patiently and unobtrusively, thoudire needs. It cannot see why it should light and gas and oil, food and means sands on thousands of as yet untrained freeze or starve or bear extortions. of transport. We must have railways and unskilled members, who were paid
Strikes of the kind planned by the and we must have coal and water. salaries while they went through their Triple Alliance in Great Britain spell The French, whom many sneer at as apprenticeships for public service. more, much more, than strikes. They unpractical, have understood this better The Union, I should add, was neither spell real war-war waged by an or- than ourselves. They have within the partisan nor anti-laborite. It had been ganized minority upon a helpless and past few years had labor upsets of a formed for the one clear and proper pur. unorganized majority. It was polite, of very serious kind. Yet nowhere are the pose of protecting social order. Last course, and tactful of Lloyd George to radicals of labor now less dangerous spring, when the then mighty C. G. T. choose "misunderstanding" as a substi- than in France.
(the Confédération Générale du Travail, tute for "conflict" at that conference of For this the French may thank, to i. e., the General Federation of Labor) the hostile mine-owners and miners. some extent, the common sense-the tried to disrupt things as the British But what he meant was “war”- just plain bon sens—of their own peasants. Triple Alliance may some day, it was social war. He proved it when he not But they owe something-a great deal- half-fledged. And none the less at the only called out the reserves but also to a well-ordered and efficient league of first chance it got, with little fussing asked for volunteers.
citizens known as the Union Civique, or and no loss of life, it proved itself so The fate of general strikes depends Civic Union.
capable that it prevented a grave breakon the response the public makes to I had an opportunity last year to visit down of the service on the Paris, Lyons, such appeals. If there are volunteers the leaders of this new organization, and Mediterranean Railways. enough to step into the breach left by which, though it studiously avoids self- No doubt, if it were called upon again, the miners, railroaders, and transport advertising and works very quietly, can the Union Civique would be equal to the men, such strikes will fail. If not, at a pinch be counted on as an impor- need. It would be able to keep the there is no telling what may happen. tant aid of order. The president of the French cities lighted and supplied with
Among the first to realize these very French Civic Union is a distinguished water, to organize some sort of transporsimple truths there was a small group general, retired. The effective head, and tation in most places, and to assure, to of well-meaning men and women, with incidentally the secretary, of the Union, some extent at all events, the working of out capital or experience, who at a meet- M. Bienaymé de la Motte, has on his the telephones, the posts, and telegraphs. ing in New York three years ago laid cards the words “Ex-Chef de Bataillon.” Such leagues do not, perhaps, solve the foundations of the so-called People's During the war he was connected with the great problem of the relationship of Lea ie. The purpose of the League was the Conseil Supérieur de Guerre and class groups and the public; but they so to organize the public as to enable served as Commandant at Interallied do show how much may be accomplished it to fight all class oppression. Unhap- Headquarters. He has had dealings in emergencies such as menace us. What pily, the founders lacked resources. both with Haig and Pershing. And, has been done abroad we might do here.
BY THE MAYOR
FEAR after year Buffalo wallowed
in the mire of municipal corrup
tion and inefficiency until about 1909 a group of public-spirited citizens organized themselves for the purpose of studying the problem of city government with the end in view of trying to bring about better conditions. Speakers were brought from all over the country. Various charters were studied and the decision was finally reached to try to secure a commission form of government for Buffalo. This is a term somewhat misleading to the uninitiated, because a commission is usually an appointed board far removed from popular control. Commission government in a municipality is just the opposite of this. It is government by a small council, elected at large and wholly subject to popular control.
A commission charter for Buffalo was introduced in the Legislature. It was a daring experiment because 'of the large size of the city. The Legislature was most reluctant to grant it. The regular politicians did not want it, but the situation was critical. The city had reached the limit of its borrowing power. So far as going ahead with municipal improvements was concerned Buffalo was bankrupt. The old party organizations had nothing to offer to meet and deal with the crisis. The expedient of turning out one political party after the other had been tried and found useless. Efforts to elect an independent ticket had proved of no avail. At the hearing before the Cities Com. mittee of the Legislature citizens from all walks in life appeared in such numbers that the Senate Chamber was filled to overflowing. It was one of the most remarkable scenes which Albany had ever witnessed, for they had paid their own way on a journey of six hundred miles.
During the closing hours of that session a great mass-meeting was held in Buffalo from which by special wire messages were flashed to Albany, and under the lash of this dramatic procedure the Legislature very grudgingly passed a bill permitting the people of Buffalo to vote on the adoption of the commission charter. At the polls the proposal was carried two to one.
The new government took hold on the
first day of January, 1916. It had to contend with the freakish financial phenomena engendered by the war, with continual restlessness among its employees from this cause, and with a cosmopolitan population representing in racial origin both allies and enemies. By the first of January, 1921, the new government had to its credit a better system of assessments, a policy rigorously pursued of paying off old debts instead of refunding them, with the result that the credit of the city in the money markets of the world was surpassed by no municipality; it had a borrowing capacity of $40,000,000 against nothing five years earlier; the Police Department had been so conducted that the city was freer from vice than ever before in its history; the Fire Department's efficiency had been increased and the number of employees and fire-houses reduced; while the recreational facilities of the city and its hospitals and services to the needier portion of the population had been greatly extended. Problems which the old government had wrestled with for a long time and in which it made no progress, such as creating a turning basin in the harbor, reached a speedy solution under the new régime. All this was accomplished with an average rise of only fifty-three per cent in the cost of government, a figure below the operating increase of every kind of private business during the same period.
Under the old Charter, if a citizen were interested in some matter requiring action by the municipality, it was necessary for him to appear first before a committee of the Board of Aldermen. then before the Board of Aldermen as a whole; next before a committee of the Board of Councilmen, then before the Board of Councilmen as a whole; and, finally, before the Mayor. No matter how much of a demonstration the citizens might make before a committee of the Board of Aldermen, when the committee went into executive session the alderman of the ward most concerned was first consulted, and it mattered little how much the rest of the city might wish certain action, if the alderman from that ward was opposed the committee sustained his opposition. It was
Photograph by Ewing Galloway, N. Y,
A BUFFALO SKYSCRAPER