Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

Acres. Acres. Acres. Acres. Arizona.

6,597, 242 | 12, 499, 485 | 16, 931, 346 36, 810, 327 California.

57, 769, 932 19, 805, 796 1, 405, 629 20,635, 923 Colorado.

35, 145, 483 13, 198, 580 760, 943 | 17, 236, 114 Idaho.

18,721, 791 | 17, 706, 597 705, 899 | 16, 212, 273 Montana.

51,376, 357 | 16, 272, 075 6,855, 087 | 19,065, 121 Nevada.

8,868, 178 5, 299, 319 700, 197 55, 417, 746 New Mexico.. 37, 455, 602 8,592, 660 4,564, 801 | 27, 788,857 Oregon.

30, 648, 734 | 13, 221, 532 1, 876, 036 | 15, 442, 178 Utah.

10, 123, 902 7,472, 374 1,637, 647 33, 363, 837 Washington. 28, 398, 243 9,828, 826 3, 403, 366 1, 144, 605 Wyoming.. 20, 292, 423 8,413, 846 2,823, 922 | 30, 929, 969

Total....... 305, 397, 887 132, 311,090 41, 664, 873 274, 046, 950

Acres. 72, 838, 400 99, 617, 280 66, 341, 120 53, 346, 560 93,568, 640 70, 285, 440 78, 401, 920 61, 188, 480 52,597,760 42, 775, 040 62, 460, 160

753, 420, 800

Note.-Of the 274,000,000 acres of vacant public land in these 11 States, about 14,800,000 acres will be required to satisfy the remaining land grants to these States.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

NEVADA

78.94% Landsca Settlement and Entry

ON OR

19.25% Anne

6242% Landssuto nero

National Ferests

d'Entry

Private & Sete Lands

Naprend forests

Notrenal

35. 45% London

47

Porner

Arnde Sate Lands
NEW MEXICO

Reservations

ON A

50.5%
Lond's Subject to
Settlement Entry!

Forest :

20.7%
Lands subject > See more

and Eatry

Omer Reserve

LEGEND
Private and State Lands
WA National Forests

Lands subject to Settlement and Entry Fig. 1.-Status of the public domain, June 30, 1915, in eleven Western States.

Other Reservations

Indian & Military
Reservations, National Parks, ek

Two years ago I presented in my report what might be termed a program of internal development with respect to land; a railroad into the interior of Alaska; a coal-leasing law for Alaska; a new reclamation act extending the time within which payments were to be made by water users and under which land would be forced into use; a water-power bill governing the use of public lands for hydroelectric development; a general development bill providing for a practicable method of disposing of our oil, gas, coal, phosphate, and potash without danger of monopoly or nonuse. Of this program the larger portion has been adopted, but the last two failed of passage in the Senate after having been successful in the House. The plan is to make the West help in its own development. The royalties from oil, gas, coal, and phosphate lands and from water power developed on public lands should be used for the reclaiming of the arid country and then divided with the States.

The Alaskan railroad is being built. The Alaskan coal-leasing bill has already been put into effect in a small way by the granting of permits for the operation of small and isolated tracts for industrial and local use. The lease under which the larger fields which have been reserved may be taken up has been drafted in cooperation with some of the most eminent mine operators of the country. Its utilization must, of course, await the opening of means of transportation. The new reclamation act has brought courage to the water users, who found their difficulties almost overwhelming, so new and strange to the people of our northern blood are the problems of irrigation.

The country needs the other bills—urgently, not as a matter of mere local development but as a national necessity.

PHOSPHATE ROCK “ IN PLACE.” The need for the general development bill is not difficult to present. The lands of the Pacific coast are being used intensely in some parts and these lands call for fertilization. One of the elements which must be restored to the soil is phosphorus. This is native in most soils but is needed by all after long use. The orange orchards of California and the apple orchards of Oregon and Washington, not to speak of others, draw heavily upon the soil. And for its replenishing the orchardists are buying phosphate rock in Florida, which is carried 5,000 miles by water and then inland, while in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming we have under withdrawal nearly 3,000,000 acres

of lands that are underlaid with phosphate rock. There is no law to-day under which this can be secured. In Montana and elsewhere throughout the West are smelters which produce the sulphuric acid necessary for the conversion of this rock into practicable fertilizer. So that the development of this industry waits only upon the passage of a law which will put this mineral at the command of those who need it.

Our coal lands are now subject to sale at appraised values based upon an estimate of the content of the land. This is at best an expert's guess, and converts each purchase into a gamble, both on the part of the Government and the purchaser. The bill does not exclude this method, but supplements it with a simple provision by which the purchaser, instead of buying at hazard, may pay a royalty upon what he produces. It gives the man of moderate means an opportunity to secure a mine.

THE OIL WELL AS A PLACER CLAIM. As to oil and gas, the House committee had extensive hearings at which no practical man engaged in the industry offered any objection to the plan proposed. The existing law, under which such lands have been taken up, is to be characterized by no politer word than as a plain misfit. Oil is found hundreds and sometimes thousands of feet below the surface of the earth, yet the law applicable to its acquisition is the placer law, intended to apply to the recovery of superficial minerals. This law is of romantic origin, for it is the outgrowth of the experience of the Argonauts who went to California in the days of '49. The measures adopted by these men for the government of their claims along the mountain streams, where they did no more than lift the river sands to the pan or rocker, finally were incorporated into law. And the governing principle of this law was, that before a man could claim ownership in a placer claim he must have found gold there; and until he did, others might, at their bodily risk to be sure, attempt to make prior discovery. The utter inapplicability of such a principle to a mineral found perhaps 2,000 feet below the surface, and where the discovery must be made at a cost of twenty, fifty, or a hundred thousand dollars, is clear beyond comment. Now, under this impossible law a large amount of public land was “taken up," and by that is meant that it was located on and thereafter became a general basis for speculation, and sometimes was developed. That the law is as hazardous to the

investor as it is unsatisfactory to the Government is universally conceded, and in its stead should come a measure under which the Government would give a permit at first, an exclusive permit for drilling, and upon discovery within a given time an area be given as a reward for proving the ground, and adjacent lands leased upon a royalty basis.

AN INVALUABLE MINERAL.

There is another charge to be made against the existing law more serious than its unworkability. It is supremely wasteful. If the land is leased some control can be exercised over the manner of development. Millions of barrels of oil have been wasted by being allowed to flow into the streams, by being mixed with water or by evaporation. There has been no such waste, I am told, in any other mining. And petroleum is a priceless resource, for it can never be replaced. Trees can be grown again on the soil from which they have been taken. But how can petroleum be produced? It has taken the ages for nature to distill it in her subterranean laboratory. We do not even know her process. We may find a substitute for it, but have not yet. It is practically the one lubricant of the world to-day. Not a railroad wheel turns without its way being smoothed by it. We can make light and heat by hydroelectric power, but the great turbines move on bearings that are smothered in petroleum. From it we get the quick-exploding gas which is to the motor and the airship what air is to the human body. To industry, agriculture, commerce, and the pleasures of life petroleum is now essential. Therefore to waste it is a crime. An absolute governme would prohibit a barrel of it being used for fuel before every drop of kerosene, gasoline, and other invaluable constituents have been taken from it. How much of it there is in the United States no one knows. The Geological Survey has made a maximum estimate of twenty-three billion barrels, which sounds like an inexhaustible supply. But at the rate that it is now being consumed in this country alone (265,000,000 barrels a year) this does not mean an indefinite supply, and from the rapid exhaustion of some fields it is manifest that there can be no real approximation of the oil in our lands. Whatever the supply, it should not be allowed in its crude state to compete with coal as fuel and the Government should not promote its being wasted by applying to it archaic laws under which waste is a certainty.

« PreviousContinue »