Page images
[graphic][merged small]
[graphic][merged small]

way for the settler to acquire his just share of the public domain for the purpose of making a home, yet it is recog

ment is the great land and forest owner; and it must with a strong arm conserve the forests covering these watersheds, and thus protect the water supply. Private capital engaged in lumbering operations is too apt to denude entire mountain ranges and foothills of their forest cover, regardless of the rights of the irrigators in the plains and valleys below. Seventy-Four Million Acres Irrigable

The President has said in his official messages that the administration of the remaining public lands and of the nation's forests constitutes the greatest of our internal questions; and this statement cannot be gainsaid by any student of the subject. According to the detailed estimates of the Geological Survey, there are some 74 million acres in the West which can yet be reclaimed from the desert by irrigation, if all the available waters of that region are fully utilized by storage and otherwise. The Government still owns in fee simple some 500 million acres in that region; and, while it has been policy to make it easy in every

[graphic][merged small]

of private speculation and gain at the expense of, rather than in the interests of, the home builder.

The Congress recently adjourned witnessed a preliminary struggle between what may be termed the forces and influences of the speculator and those of the home maker in the attempt to secure the repeal of certain laws which are recognized as inimical to the full settlement and development of the West. Bills were introduced for the repeal of the Timber

can be accomplished in the coming short session of Congress, remains to be seen. The opponents of the repeal of these laws are bending every effort to prevent their consideration in any form, and it is a question when their repeal can be effected. That gross frauds have transpired under each and every one of them, is a fact beyond question; and a long line of Presidents, Secretaries of the Interior, and Commissioners of the General Land Office, after valiant endeavor to admin



No Loss of Water.

and Stone Act, the commutation clause ister them rigorously, have recognized of the Homestead Act, and the Desert their inherent defects and have officially Land Act. In spite of the President's recommended their repeal. statement in his first annual message, that these three laws had, in the interests

Public Lands for Home-Makers! of the speculator, been abnormally per

The foundation principle years ago verted from the intent with which they laid down by the advocates of the nawere enacted, and in spite of his specifictional irrigation movement, proclaimed recommendation to the present Congress, that, while the great irrigation works of backed up by the report of a special Land the West, too vast and complicated for Commission, for the repeal of the Timber private enterprise, should be built by the and Stone Act, the land speculators and Government, at the same time the nation the live-stock interests prevented any should reserve its remaining land for final action on these measures. What actual settlers; and the laws should be

so readjusted as to preclude speculation in land and water, to the end that the irrigable land should be divided up into small and productive farms for genuine settlers and farmers, who would live upon them and would use the water for

up into 160-acre farms (or less, within the discretion of the Government); and the settler on one of these tracts will have ten years in which to reimburse the Government for his pro rata share of the expense of construction

- $3,200, or at the rate of $320 a year. Within ten years this million dollars will all have been



The pipe line allows practically no waste of water. crop-growing and establish permanent covered back into the "Reclamation fund," and homes.

most of it will, by that time, be already em

ployed in the construction of some other dam. The provisions of the Irrigation Law are stringent in this regard, and the The Government to be Repaid speculators have virtually admitted that this law holds out small hopes for them.

These provisions of the act thus show It provides that no man can acquire title

a business-like feature, under which the for more than 160 acres under a modi

Government is to receive back from the fication of the Homestead Law, and then settler every dollar which it invests in only after ten years' residence, and im

these irrigation enterprises. In other provement, and the payment to the Gov- words, the expenditure will be of the ernment in ten annual installments of nature of a government loan to the sethis share of the actual cost of the irriga- tler without interest. tion dam and main-line ditches from

Some of the government irrigation

works will reclaim only government which he receives his water. From this it will also be seen that the law created

lands, which will then be entered by the a revolving fund. The $25,000,000 now

settler under the Homestead Act; in available, even without additions, will, others, some of the land to be reclaimed in the course of years, reclaim vast areas

is already in private ownership. This of land, for it will be used over and over

land must come under the government again. As fast as the works are com

terms if it is to receive the benefit of the pleted and the money paid back to the government storage; that is, it must be Government, it will be used over again

divided into the government units, not for the construction of some new project. exceeding 160 acres, and pay for its proTo cite a hypothetical case:

portionate share of the construction. · It A dam and a canal cost a million dollars;

is here that the older land laws above the project reclaims 50,000 acres, the cost be mentioned are found to work against the ing $20 per acre. This area will be divided best interests of the home maker and the


CONSTRUCTING MORENO ROCK-FILL DAM, SAN DIEGO COUNTY, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, Explosion, August 4, 1897, of 25 tons of giant powder, displacing 200,000 tons of rock.

acquired without residence or cultivation, or with only a pretense thereat. They are entered by speculators who do not desire to live upon them after they shall have been irrigated, but who propose to stand between the Government and the real settler, taking their profit out of the latter, and endangering the success of the national irrigation policy.

The reason for the failure of so many of the large private irrigation schemes in the West, is traceable largely to the excessive price demanded for the lands and water, shutting out the settler without capital other than his strong arms and resolute heart to enable him to carve a home out of the desert. The consequence has been that the irrigated lands have not been fully colonized, and the income has been insufficient to keep up the interest on the irrigation bonds, the cost of repairs, and the annual charges on the works. While the Government is in a position where it cannot be forced

into foreclosure, the success of its work First PREPARATIONS FOR BED-Rock DRILLING ON will depend upon the prompt colonizaCOLORADO RIVER.

tion of the lands when the water is The full plans of the Government contemplate the Irrigation of about 1,200,000 acres of alluvial land in the

turned upon them, and upon the repayrich semi-tropical basin of the Lower Col

ment, by the settlers, of its investment. orado in California and Arizona.

If the grim speculator stands between, country. Lands which it is thought will asking an exorbitant price for lands probably be irrigated by the Government, which he has entered under these various are entered under these acts; and title is land acts by an evasion of the spirit if

« PreviousContinue »