Double Cone Quarterly
A Window on the Wilderness
Fall Equinox 2001 || Volume IV, Number 3

Past Times

Supervisor Sloane's Lecture

Introduced and Edited by David Rogers

I n late March of 1913 two articles were published, one in the Salinas Daily Index (3/26/13) and the other in the Monterey Daily Cypress (3/27/13), concerning a speech given to the Salinas Chamber of Commerce by Norman H. Sloane, the Supervisor of the Monterey National Forest. The articles were exactly the same, except the one in the Index contained four additional paragraphs concerning the routine business of the chamber. The title of the Cypress article was "Monterey's Great Forest Reserve," and that of the Index was "An Interesting Talk on the Forestry Service," which was subcaptioned "The Members of the Chamber of Commerce Learn Some Facts About the Monterey Reserve."

Although in his History of Los Padres National Forest (1945), William Brown at first states that Sloane became supervisor in January of 1911, he later stated that he assumed the position on January 1, 1912. Based on information in my files, the latter is the correct date. Sloane remained the supervisor until March 1, 1916, when he assumed the position of supervisor of the Cleveland National Forest, and after his retirement from the Forest Service he served for many years as the manager of the California State Chamber of Commerce.

As evidenced by the following article, Sloane's administration was characterized by his outreach to the people and government agencies of Monterey County. Consequentially articles about various forest service activities, such as trail building and repair, fire suppression, grazing allotments, etc., became regular features in Monterey County newspapers during Sloane's tenure. Twice mentioned in the following text is a report that Sloane "will be forewarding in due time to Washington." This lengthy document, titled "Resources and Management of Operation of Monterey National Forest," was completed in 1914; typescripts are on file at the Monterey Ranger District headquarters in King City and in the special collections department of the McHenry Library, U. C. Santa Cruz.



SALINAS, March 26. -- The Salinas Chamber of Commerce held an interesting meeting last evening. President John Souza presided and there were present Secretary Harry H. Main and a good attendance of members.

In addition to transacting the customary routine business the chamber was enlightened upon forestry matters by Norman H. Sloane of the Monterey forest service who happened to be in town gathering information relating to the past history of the Monterey national forest. Mr. Sloane was desirous of awaking public interest in the work of the Monterey forest service, stating it will have great deal to do with obtaining from the government future adequate appropriations for carrying on the work. At present not much is heard of the Monterey national forest for the reason that it is not closely in touch with the people and government officials, he feared, might get an erroneous idea that the work is not appreciated. Since the forestry headquarters were moved from Salinas to a point down the coast from Monterey [the Arbolado station at Big Sur; for a time the headquarters were also located on Chew's Ridge before being moved to King City], the people and the men in charge do not have an opportunity get together often and discuss matters. If the people appreciated the work and believe they are deriving benefits therefrom, Mr. Sloane would like to hear from them, in order that he may embody their sentiments in the report he will forwarding in due time to Washington.

Mr. Sloane gave a lot of interesting information regarding the scope of forester's work, information not heretofore known. The Monterey national forest, he said, is known as a brush forest, although there are in it approximately 350,000,000 feet of standing timber. He had been detached to go among the landowners and find if they take any interest in the conservation of the water resources, both surface and underground. He then explained how the brush cover conserves the water by preventing its torrential flow to the rivers and protects it from evaporation by the sun's rays and winds, thus affording a summer supply of water from the winter rains. The brush cover also protects the land from washing out. He gave it as his opinion that less damage would have been done in the valley during the floods two years ago had the brush cover on the watersheds been more adequate.

He stated also that so far Monterey county had not benefited much financially from the forest service, but that it will benefit in the future. Twenty per cent of the receipts of the forest service are distributed pro rata among the counties of the state, according to forest service [regulations?] for the benefit of schools and roads. Monterey county had so far received only about $2500 from this source, but more money is to be distributed and the county will share it.

Referring again to the brush cover Mr. Sloane said he had ascertained from settlers that it had been burned over on an average of once every five years. The brush renews itself, of course, but it requires nearly 12 years for the new growth. A great deal of damage, therefore, results from too frequent and indiscriminate burning.

In the northern and southern parts of the state the people take more interest in the forestry work than do the people of this county. In the southern part of the state people are subscribing $20,000 a year, in addition to the government appropriation. These southern people therefore attract more attention from the government, and get what they need more readily.

At the conclusion of Mr. Sloane's remarks the Chamber of Commerce promised to assist him in every way possible in gathering information for his report, and also to ascertain the sentiment of the people regarding the benefits derived from the work of the Monterey forest service.


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