Timber Culture Act (1873)

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  • In 1873 Congress passed the Timber Culture Act to allow settlers to claim a quarter section of public land (160 acres) if they planted a portion of it in trees and could prove the survival of a significant number of those trees after eight years. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Phineas W. Hitchcock of Nebraska. Part of the intent behind the bill was to allow homesteaders to acquire an additional quarter section of land, because in many parts of the West a homestead of 160 acres was too small to be viable. The bill also aimed at increasing the cultivation of trees because of the common belief in that era that “rain follows the plow.” Many boosters of semiarid lands in the Great Plains ...

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