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should afford perpetual protection to the native fauna and flora, safe havens of refuge to our rapidly diminishing wild animals of the larger kinds, and free camping grounds for the ever-increasing numbers of men and women who have learned to find rest, health, and recreation in the splendid forests and flowerclad meadows of our mountains. The forest reserves should be set apart forever for the use and benefit of our people as a whole and not sacrificed to the shortsighted greed of a few.
“The forests are natural reservoirs. By restraining the streams in flood and replenishing them in drought they make possible the use of waters otherwise wasted. They prevent the soil from washing, and so protect the storage reservoirs from filling up with silt. Forest conservation is therefore an essential condition of water conservation.”
The words used by the President in this connection seem to be many until they are read, and then they are seen to be in proportion to what they contain, few and precious, full of benevolent and just meaning. It is with absolute propriety, the excellence of practical understanding, and the correct apprehension of following an effective line marked out with precision, that President Roosevelt opens the “Arid Land” question with the water question. He is the pioneer President in this field who has commanded the attention of the country to one of its paramount issues and interests. He says:
“The forests alone cannot, however, fully regulate and conserve the waters of the arid region. Great storage works are necessary to equalize the flow of streams and to save the flood waters. Their construction has been conclusively shown to be an undertaking too vast for private effort. Nor can it be best accomplished by the individual States acting alone. Far-reaching interstate problems are involved; and the resources of single States would often be inadequate. It is properly a National function, at least in some of its features. It is as right for the National Government to make the streams and rivers of the arid region useful by engineering works for water storage as to make useful the rivers and harbors of the humid region by engineering works of another kind. The storing of the floods in reservoirs at the head waters of our rivers is but an enlargement of our present policy of river control, under which levees are built on the lower reaches of the same streams.
"The Government should construct and maintain these reservoirs as it does other public works. Where their purpose is to regulate the flow of streams, the water should be turned freely into the channels in the dry season to take the same course under the same laws as the natural flow.
“The reclamation of the unsettled arid public lands presents a different problem. Here it is not enough to regulate the flow of streams. The object of the Government is to dispose of the land to settlers who will build homes upon it. To accomplish this object water must be brought within their reach..
"The necessary foundation has already been laid for the inauguration of the policy just described. It would be unwise to begin by doing too much, for a great deal will doubtless be learned, both as to what can and what cannot be safely attempted by the early efforts, which must of necessity be partly experimental in character. At the very beginning the Government should make clear, beyond shadow of doubt, its intention to pursue this policy on lines of the broadest public interest. No reservoir or canal should ever be built to satisfy selfish, personal or local interests; but only in accordance with the advice of trained experts, after long investigation has shown the locality where all the conditions combine to make the work most needed and fraught with the greatest usefulness to the community as a whole. There should be no extravagance, and the believers in the need of irrigation will most benefit their cause by seeing to it that it is free from the least taint of excessive or reckless expenditure of the public moneys.
“Whatever the Nation does for the extension of irrigation should harmonize with, and tend to improve, the condition of those now living on irrigated land. We are not at the starting point of this development. Over two hundred millions of private capital has already been expended in the construction of irrigation works, and many million acres of arid land reclaimed. A high degree of enterprise and ability has been shown in the work itself; but as much cannot be said in reference to the laws relating thereto. The security and value of the homes created depend largely on the stability of titles to water; but the majority of these rest on the uncertain foundation of court decisions rendered in ordinary suits at law. With a few creditable exceptions, the arid States have failed to provide for the certain and just division of streams in times of scarcity. Lax and uncertain laws have made it possible to establish rights to water in excess of actual uses or necessities, and many streams have already passed into private ownership, or a control equivalent to ownership.
“Whoever controls a stream practically controls the land it renders productive, and the doctrine of private ownership of water apart from land cannot prevail without causing enduring wrong. The recognition of such ownership, which has been permitted to grow up in the arid regions, should give way to a more enlightened and larger recognition of the rights of the public in the control and disposal of the public water supplies. Laws founded upon conditions obtaining in humid regions, where water is too abundant to justify hoarding it, have no proper application in a dry country.
“In the arid States the only right to water which should be recognized is that of use. In irrigation this right should attach to the land reclaimed and be inseparable therefrom. Granting perpetual water rights to other than users, without compensation to the public, is open to all the objections which apply to giving away perpetual franchises to the public utilities of cities. A few
of the Western States have already recognized this, and have incorporated in their constitutions the doctrine of perpetual State ownership of water.
"The benefits which have followed the unaided developments of the past justify the Nation's aid and co-operation in the more difficult and important work yet to be accomplished. Laws so vitally affecting homes as those which control the water supply will only be effective when they have the sanction of the irrigators; reforms can only be final and satisfactory when they come through the enlightenment of the people most concerned. The larger development which National aid insures should, however, awaken in every arid State the determination to make its irrigation system equal in justice and effectiveness that of any country in the civilized world. Nothing could be more unwise than for isolated communities to continue to learn everything experimentally, instead of profiting by what is already known elsewhere. We are dealing with a new and momentous question, in the pregnant years while institutions are forming, and what we do will affect not only the present but future generations.
"Our aim should be not simply to reclaim the largest area of land and provide homes for the largest number of people, but to create for this new industry the best possible social and industrial conditions; and this requires that we not only understand the existing situation, but avail ourselves of the best experience of the time in the solution of its problems. A careful study should be made, both by the Nation and the States, of the irrigation laws and conditions here and abroad. Ultimately it will probably be necessary for the Nation to co-operate with the several arid States in proportion as these States by their legislation and administration show themselves fit to receive it.”
There is much more in this than the preservation of forests and the revival of the soil by the transforming grace of water. The influence upon the whole country would be wholesome; and one good work calls for another, until there would be laid the foundations of structures, splendid as the architects of statesmanship ever drew. Public observation rightly directed, and gathering force with progress, would do more than replenish the streams with water, to be diffused to impart to the soil its ancient fruitfulness. The next thing should be to prohibit the poisoning of living waters with sewerage and manufacturing refuse. As the evil course goes on that has grown with the growth of our cities and towns that demand drainage, the streams carry off the original soil polluted with fertilizers that the land demands, and in this there is a double deadliness, a two-edged destruction. We can count upon the farmers now, to sustain the policy the President has suggested, for they are aware of the losses of the inherent value of their farms, where there is at once a prodigal drain upon resources and a sweeping consumption of the properties that preserved the crop capacity of the fields.
There is aid from a source not long ago first available in saving forests. Iron is very largely employed in the offices for which wood was but a generation ago, almost exclusive and indispensable. Steel has been cheapened and bettered. It is the most reliable of all materials for structures. Our bridges, fences and houses do not demand timber as formerly. There are not the great trees in the country to furnish bridge material for their old style of construction, and, happily, the substitute is an improvement. Fences of steel, and stone, put an end to the necessity of rail splitting. Houses are no longer dependent upon trunks of trees for strength of construction. The influence of the use of iron instead of wood is perceptible in all the older States. Ship building uses bars and sheets of steel so that forests are not buried any more when navies are stranded. On the other hand, there is a great consumption of trees for the manufacture of paper, but that has perhaps reached its largest development, and there are grasses that may go far to take the place of wood, The trees from which paper is manufactured are usually of rapid growth. It is said in the State of Maine that great as is the consumption of wood in paper making, the manufacture of spools and for other uses, the quantity of trees is equal to their consumption in the State, and wherever the land is cleared, young forests arise equal to the destruction elsewhere within the State. If this be quite accurate, and it is given on most intelligent authority, it is a hopeful balance and should have an educational influence.
The original forests upon the lands classified as "arid” were consumed by conflagrations. The wide, wild fires swept the plains until the ground was exposed to extremes of temperature so often and subjected to winds, that increased in violence, as the natural protectors were swept away, until the land was as if blasted. Now the cotton, locust and apple trees are gradually gaining in the occupation of land, and serving to some extent as barriers against hurricanes. The President's message has summoned a great host to the field he has pointed out for improvement, and the impulse he has given forestation and irrigation will move on accelerated, and develop utilities that if now stated would be held by great numbers of the people, incredible.
The rugged outlines of the situation upon which suddenly a great light has fallen, are contained in the simple statement that the mountains between the Pacific Coast and the Mississippi form a vast reservoir of snow, heaped all the years and nearly all the months along the huge slopes in the deep ravines, between the massive enclosure of high lands, and wherever the blizzards sweep the snows so that when the summer comes, flow as the weather warms; and each rivulet that can be diverted from wearing its channel deeper and giving its treasure freely to the desolate lands, becomes a lesser Nile; and the desert blossoms where the transforming water touches the dust and ashes. The miracle of Egypt is wrought, the brown plains turning to green and gold. There are no pyramids there from which “forty centuries" will look upon deeds of arms, but from every mountain side flows silvery brooks to feed the burning plains with life, and the harvest will find markets the world around. The shores of the Mediterranean will call upon our mountains for help, not in vain; and there will be added “Empires for Liberty,” including the fertility of Egypt with the glory of Greece.
Senator Haasbrook, December 4th, 1901, introduced a bill, reserving, setting aside, and appropriating the receipts from the sales of public lands in the arid and semi-arid regions of the United States as a special fund, to be known as the arid-land-reclamation fund, for the construction of reservoirs and other necessary irrigation works for the reclamation of said lands, and for other purposes.
It was read twice, and referred to the Committee on Public Lands. It is: “Provided, That in case the receipts from the sales of public lands, other than those realized from the sales of lands referred to in this section, are insufficient to meet the requirements for the support of agricultural colleges in the several States and Territories, under the Act of August thirtieth, eighteen hundred and ninety, entitled, 'An Act to apply a portion of the public lands to the more complete endowment and support of the colleges for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts, established under the provisions of an Act of Congress approved July second, eighteen hundred and sixty-two,' the deficiency in the sum necessary for the support of the said colleges shall be provided from any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated.”
The disposition of Congress is evidently friendly. There were some expressions of surprise that in the reconstruction of the Cabinet so far as retirements prepared the way, the President found the successor of Mr. Gage, in Iowa, though that State was already represented in the Cabinet, by the Secretary of Agriculture. It is not, however, essential that the Treasury Department should be in the hands of one whose occupation is banking. Our most memorable Secretaries of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, Salmon P. Chase, and John Sherman, were not experienced before taking charge of the Treasury Department, in the detail of large financial transactions, but they knew the public money business and how to transact it, and their success was distinguished in the highest degree. There seemed to be a shade of recognition of the unexpected in the public sentiment of the money centres, because Governor Shaw was sought for the Treasury. One of the highest qualifications of Mr. Roosevelt for the great office is that he knows the whole country, and is exceedingly well informed about the West. A Secretary who is a figure in the money markets is not needed to care for the immense mass of gold we have in the Treasury. The requirement is sound principle, and that means the gold standard because it makes money abundant, and cheap to borrowers of