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3. Promoted similar development at Mount Rainier National Park which promises to afford service next summer.
4. Designed new and beautiful Yosemite village to gradually replace present shabby village; designed similar developments for other national parks including systems of chalets to be built at points and intervals convenient to travellers in automobiles or on foot.
5. Perfected comprehensive plans for furnishing public information on wide scale about the beauty and accessibility of National Parks with purpose of directing travel thereto.
6. Opened all roads in the Yellowstone National Park to automobiles.
7. Acquired title to old Tioga Road through Yosemite National Park and restored it by extensive repairs, thus opening up new and shorter automobile route across the Sierra; acquired title to the Big Oak Flat Road to and within Yosemite National Park and improved it.
8. Prepared preliminary plans for complete road and trail systems in Crater Lake, Sequoia, Glacier, Mount Rainier, and Yosemite National Parks.
9. Began important development of the eastern entrance to Yellowstone National Park and opened negotiations with railroads looking to interchange of routes which will enable transcontinental passengers to pass through park en route, entering and leaving same through any gates and by any railroads they may elect.
10. Opened to the public the new Rocky Mountain National Park covering superb scenic portion of Continental Divide in Colorado.
11. Extended automobile road to Paradise Valley in Mount Rainier National Park resulting in large increase in travel to and upon the glaciers. Surveyed road up Carbon River Canyon to open north side glaciers to public. Completed trail entirely around Mount Rainier, a distance of about a hundred miles.
12. Discovered and excavated a remarkable prehistoric structure in Mesa Verde National Park supposed to have been Pueblo fortress. Repaired and restored several prehistoric ruins.
13. Erected on the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River a rock memorial to John W. Powell, the original explorer of canyon.
14. Surveyed Mineral King Road to open up southern part of Sequoia National Park.
15. Established central purchasing agency for several western national parks.
16. Installed at Hot Springs Reservation a scientific system of mountain climbing known as the Oertel System of Graduated Exercises for benefit of persons under medical supervision.
ABSTRACTS OF REPORTS OF BUREAUS AND OTHER ADMIN.
ISTRATIVE UNITS OF THE DEPARTMENT.
OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR.
The following table shows the receipt and disposal of matters received and disposed of in this office during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1915, which were docketed or recorded. It does not include a very large number of matters that are not formally docketed:
1 Under “Miscellaneous” are grouped such matters as "Disbarments," "Opinions,” etc., as well as many other varied matters arising in the several bureaus of the department, and which, for one reason or another, may be referred to the Solicitor's Office for consideration.
The table of work of this office contained in each annual report, beginning with that of 1909, has been for the year ending October 1. The above table, therefore, covers a period of three months that were embraced in that of the last annual report. It is, however, a correct statement for the full period of the fiscal year, thus conforming to the intent of the report and other statistical tables contained therein. This change does not permit of most accurate comparison, but it may be noted that the matters thus docketed total 23,942 as against 26,877 for the year's period shown in the last report, while the number disposed of total 27,663 as compared with 25,041. Thus the total number of matters pending have been reduced from 5,140, October 1, 1914, to 1,907, July 1, 1915.
This very substantial reduction is due largely to the reorganization of the force in this office, the adoption of new and better methods for the handling and disposition of cases, and the creation by Congress of the Board of Appeals. Full credit is also due for the generous willingness of many of those engaged in the work to give extra hours to the accomplishment of the desired result.
In consequence, appealed cases, involving public lands and pensions, are assigned for consideration within a reasonable time after receipt, and they are adjudicated and disposed of promptly, although given more extended, and it is believed more thorough, consideration than under former methods. The earliest disposition of appeals consistent with careful and thorough consideration confers substantial benefit upon parties interested in public lands, pensions, etc., and others transacting business before the department.
In the courts sitting in the District of Columbia, 17 cases, in which the department has been made a party, have been disposed of during the last year. Of these, 3 were decided against the department. Only one adverse decision, however, is final. The other two are pending in higher courts. The 17 cases of which disposition has been made in some court were divided as follows: United States Supreme Court, 1; Court of Appeals, 3; Supreme Court District of Columbia, 13.
There are now pending 21 cases, distributed as follows: United States Supreme Court, 4; Court of Appeals, 3; Supreme Court District of Columbia, 14.
The volume and pressure of the general work is so great that the trial and disposition of cases in court is necessarily carried forward under considerable handicap.
GENERAL LAND OFFICE.
The total area of public and Indian lands originally entered and allowed during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1915, is 16,861,214.69 acres, an increase of 338,362.57 acres as compared with the area entered during the year 1914.
The area patented during the fiscal year is 13,025,427.976 acres, a decrease of 1,365,643.124 acres as compared with the fiscal year 1914. Of the above area 9,594,973.025 acres were patented under the homestead laws, a decrease of 405,661.975 acres, not including homesteads, and 32,360.89 acres patented as soldiers' additional entries.
The above patented area also includes the following: Enlarged homesteads, 3,972,381.16 acres; homesteads under the Kinkaid Act, 1,263,184.37 acres; with coal reservations, 1,435,071.80 acres. Area of Indian fee patents, not included in the above, 202,050.06 acres.
The total cash receipts for the sales of public land, including fees and commissions on both original and final entries, and sales of Government property in the local offices, for the fiscal year 1915, were $3,786,319.54 (1914, $4,256,102.96), a decrease of $469,783.42. Miscellaneous receipts were as follows: From sales of Indian lands, $1,556,630.97 (1914, $1,884,802.77); depredations on public lands, $31,203.54; depredations on Indian lands, $38.33; leases, power sites,
etc., act of February 15, 1901, $1,116.21; copies of records, plats, etc., made at General Land Office, $14,738.82, and at 13 surveyors general's offices, $4,900.79; making the aggregate cash receipts of this bureau during the fiscal year 1915, $5,394,948.20 (1914, $6,148,367.63), a decrease of $753,419.43.
The total expenses of district land offices for salaries and commissions of registers and receivers, and incidental expense during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1915, were $828,865.71, a decrease of $24,832.89. The aggregate expenditures and estimated liabilities of the public land service, including expenses of district land offices and surveys made, were $3,008,996.31, leaving a net surplus of $2,384,922.61 of receipts over expenditures.
Field service.-Notwithstanding a 10 per cent decrease in the field force, made necessary by the reduction of the appropriation, the number of cases pending investigation was reduced nearly 2,000 from that pending at the beginning of the year. Over 20,000 cases were investigated.
Reports are now coming in which will afford a basis for definite action by this office on cases pending in the California oil fields. It is anticipated that within a few months reports will be received on nearly all the pending cases. The investigating force has been still further increased over that maintained last year. Six suits had been brought to recover for trespass on oil lands committed in violation of Executive withdrawal orders. In most of those cases operations have been continued under receiverships, and in some instances the business has been operated more advantageously than under claimants' own operations.
Fifteen contracts have been entered into permitting the disposi. tion of oil and gas produced from withdrawn oil lands which are embraced in application for patent. These contracts are authorized by the act of August 25, 1914 (38 Stat., 708). The form of contract adopted is simple and practical. The contract is clear in its terms and free from hampering and technical restrictions, yet the interests of the Government are amply protected. The portion of the gross proceeds of sales of the oil which is released to the operator is regarded as equaling the expense of operation plus a fair return upon the investment.
Public surveys.-The aggregate acreage of accepted surveys for the year past is greatly in excess of that of previous years, being much larger than in any year within the last two decades, the figures showing an area of accepted original surveys of 11,988,387 acres and 2,350,962 acres of resurveys.
In handling resurveys the office has adopted a new procedure under which a more specific showing for the necessity of such survey
is required. This plan works no hardship where the applications are of a meritorious character and serves to eliminate the expense of field examination.
The progress of surveys within railroad land grants is extremely gratifying. Approximately 3,000,000 acres were surveyed, employing 43 surveying parties.
During the year past a satisfactory conclusion to the long standing controversy over the identification of lands lying north of the third standard parallel in Imperial Valley has been accomplished. In addition to this, to the west of and adjoining Imperial Valley, resurveys were commenced under departmental authorization of January 26, 1915, and the resurvey of about 90,000 acres accomplished, while to the east of and adjoining the valley resurveys covering 190,000 acres were made under departmental order of February 13, 1915.
Fragmentary surveys, embracing areas of all sorts and kinds of various quantities, involve so many questions of complicated character that one of the supervisors of surveys has been detailed to this special duty, resulting in bringing this class of surveys up to date.
Alaska.—The coal-land surveys made necessary under the act of October 20, 1914 (38 Stat., 741), as a preliminary to the leasing of coal lands in the Territory, have been prosecuted vigorously under a comprehensive field system, by which it is expected to complete during the present season all field work as to the coal areas in the Matanuska, Bering River, and Nenana coal fields.
During the fiscal year public-land surveys were extended over 90,000 acres of agricultural lands in the Cook Inlet district, northeasterly of Knik.
Reviewing the situation in the Territory, it is recommended that Congress be asked for a special appropriation of $50,000 for the survey of public lands in Alaska, to be made continuously available until expended.
Free permits for coal mining of small areas for purely local needs are granted under section 10 of the coal-leasing act, and in pursuance thereof regulations have been adopted under which a number of these permits have already been given.
Supplemental patents.—Under the act of Congress of April 14, 1914 (38 Stat., 355), there have been issued 1,227 supplemental patents in cases where the original patent reserved to the United States the coal deposit in the land, and such lands were subsequently classified as noncoal in character.
Homestead and kindred entries.—During the year past there were approved for patent 41,291 homestead entries, 794 timber and stone entries, 2,830 sales of isolated tracts, and 919 miscellaneous cash sales.