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the study we have made over the past four years and applying new developments each year as we see the normal trend of things in Washington, we will be able to apply this money efficiently. And it is my judgment from experience in handling real estate that we will save the Federal Government and the District an immense amount of money if this money is placed in our hands for disposal.
I am speaking now of the money to be spent within the District, which is the larger part of the money involved in this bill. I hope we will not allow the question of power in the Potomac to assume so much importance that we will forget that it is, after all, a minor part of the great issue involved in this bill upon which our commission is unanimously agreed.
It is important for you to provide the means of acquiring the needed lands as rapidly as it is good business to do so.
Now, as to the Potomac River, I think the impression that might be left in your minds is that it is a question whether you will have an 1,800-acre park or a 1,200-acre park. I do not believe you can look at the
gorge of the Potomac as purely a matter of the amount of surface that exists now or which would be there if dams were erected. To my mind, it is one of the most beautiful stretches of scenery to be found near any capital city in the world. I believe it has vast natural resources that would be visited by more citizens of this country and by more visitors to our country than any national park. I think it is å great asset and that we should do anything we can do to preserve it.
Senator Glass. In what respect will the proposition of Major Somervell interfere with that?
Mr. Nichols. I am glad you asked that, Senator, because to my mind the impression might be left that it was not very serious, one way or the other.
I think we have to look at the gorge as if you had the hillsides clear to the top of the hills on either side. We think it is important to control the entire hillside and some of the little valleys and gorges, leading up from the main stream, in order to protect it from an undesirable character of private development, billboards, outbuildings and the cutting down of the trees that might ultimately destroy the entire parklike appearance of the land.
Senator Glass. Could that be done in conjunction with the Somervell scheme?
Mr. Nichols. I think I expressed the feeling of the commission when I went to Mr. Cramton and said, "Our commission will be very glad to see an amendment made to this bill giving Congress the right at any time to give power rights if they desire to do so.'
I do not agree with the statements made this afternoon that the Cramton bill would make it impossible to have a combination of park, navigation and power, and all in the valley.
I think we must look at the economic side of it. There should be nothing done here that would create such a situation in the valley that if there became a serious need for the development of power and navigation, it could not be had. But merely the requirement of the building of two dams and the making of two large lakes does not create a park, as has been suggested by the advocates of power at this We are looking at the thing in a broad way-looking at the whole valley, thinking of the protection of the trees, the protection of the view, and keeping it in its natural condition.
I think the impression has been formed and I think this causes the advocates of granting power now to be very apprehensive-I think they feel it will be the desire of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission to intensify the artificial in the creation of a park. I have never heard it suggested, and for two years there is no matter has been given more consideration than the study of the whole Potomac River to Great Falls. We have walked through it time and time again.
Senator Glass. What effect upon the scenic aspects of the case would the backwater from these lakes have? Would it interfere with the gorge? Would it mar the natural beauty of the Potomac River?
Mr. Nichols. It is our hope that there could be a plan worked out, if it became necessary, to establish power. But you would get the minimum of ill effects by backing up the water, as you describe, although I do not believe it can be done, to be frank, without the destruction to some extent of park values, and that comes to a comparison of the value of two things to be obtained.
I can see the possibility of serious need for power where there should be some sacrifice of park features. But you can not drive water up to trees without destroying the trees whose trunks come down into the water. You can not just think of a sheet of water in the valley and think that is all that is involved, because you will immediately destroy the timber all around the edge of it, and you will have the bare trunks of those trees that will not send out new branches to bring back the natural condition of the timber.
I do not think that thought has ever been expressed. I have never heard in any of the deliberations of our commission that there was any thought or desire to develop an artificial park in this valley. It is our thought to retain the beautiful natural resources as we find them.
We think nature itself has given this community a great opportunity in that valley and we think it will take a very small expenditure of money in order to preserve it. We believe that any large part of the roadways that are built or anything that is done in the way of park development can be held at such levels that at any future time that Congress may see fit to utilize any of the stream for power it will be able to do so with very little if any loss of the money spent for park purposes.
Senator Glass. How are you going to preserve the low grounds from destruction and the roads that may be built across those low lands?
Mr. NICHOLS. Over here toward Great Falls?
Mr. NICHOLS. There are certain areas that will always be subject to overflow, and some of those areas the Botanical Department of the Government and those authorities that study the birds tell us they are the most interesting sources of information in this region, and we have been urged very strongly to preserve certain areas for such purpose,
But another thing that we must have in mind is that we have a very lovely proportion of water and hill and forest-rated land in this community, and the expanse of the Potomac River gives us a sort of pivotal point from which to begin the planning of making this a beautiful, orderly, well-developed city. And we want to do all we can to preserve the waterfront views.
I was glad to hear Senator Tydings make the statement that he did with reference to industrial development. I do not think you can prevent industrial development if you bring in cheaper power-and we are not certain that it would be cheaper-but even if it would be, we think there is great value to make this the city for the headquarters of organizations from all over this country, to make it a great center of culture and learning, as originally intended in laying out this city.
And we feel that one of the greatest things we can do, and one of the greatest elements we have, and one of the things of which we ought to be able to make a great success, is to take the banks of the Potomac River all the way to Great Falls and preserve them in their naturalistic condition as much as we can, and preserve them from encroachment by the type of development that would make the river an eyesore.
You stand at the new Memorial Bridge, or you stand at the Lincoln Memorial, or stand at any point and you get the wonderful views up and down this stream.
There is more than the question of whether you shall or shall not put up two dams. That is incidental. That is for Congress to decide some time in the future. But, gentlemen, look at the bigger question before us of giving Congress the power by this bill, including the District and the Federal Governments together, to come in and control this stream from Mount Vernon to Great Falls, and to control the hills and timber on either side, and then as the United States develops in the future permit water navigation. I am greatly interested in water navigation, and I have said on any plans that have been made for the development of a parkway that the time might come when we would need a connection by navigation up this river and that Congress should do nothing to prevent it coming about when there is an economic need for it.
If we need the development of power and Congress pleases, there would be power rights granted under reasonable recognition of park needs. Certainly that can be decided at that time. But time is important and delay is dangerous.
If you go up there to-day, you will see little places on the hillsides where the trees are already cut away; you will find little sheds, unpainted board fences, and an inferior type of development beginning to creep in along the crest line and along the hillside. They are rapidly, day by day, destroying the parklike appearance of this territory that the people of this community and of the Nation at large should have preserved and wish to have placed under the control of Congress, so that it may have authority over the development of the resources-water, irrigation, flood control, parks and power, and everything that has been suggested-placed properly in Congress, which, after all, is the guardian of the future of this Capital City.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Frederick L. Olmstead, another member of the commission, is here from California to attend the meeting of the
commission, and I think he ought to make a short statement as to his views on this proposed legislation.
STATEMENT OF FREDERICK L. OLMSTED, MEMBER OF THE NA
TIONAL CAPITAL PARK AND PLANNING COMMISSION
Mr. OĽMSTED. Mr. Chairman, I think there is very little I want to add. The points have been all very well stated. I would like to emphasize one point that has already been made several times; the fear on the part of those who believe it most important that there should be power development as has been outlined by Major Somervell.
Their fear of the bill before your committee is quite definitely expressed, that if this land in the Valley of the Potomac should be acquired for park purposes as a part of the program provided for in the bill, it may stave off or prevent the development of power because of an investment made in park development subsequent to the purchase of that land.
Certainly our commission is not looking toward a too rapid and partial development down on the bottom of that river. We do think it is very important to get the land under control, and we think it would be rash for Congress to determine at this moment that it should be developed in the particular manner which is proposed by the applicants for the power permits.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much.
Now the committee will adjourn for one week, and in the meantime those who have some reports to file we would be glad to hear from.
(Whereupon, at 4.30 o'clock p. m., the committee adjourned.)
National CAPITAL PARK AND PLANNING COMMISSION,
Washington, March 24, 1930. Hon. ARTHUR CAPPER, Chairman Senate Committee on the District of Columbia,
United States Senate. MY DEAR SENATOR CAPPER: After attending the hearing on the CapperCramton bill (H. R. 26) on Friday afternoon, March 21, 1930, the National Capital Park and Planning Commission decided upon the following statement, which it is hoped will be considered by the Committee on the District of Columbia in connection with the statements of the applicants for a power permit and the United States district engineer office:
The effect on the status of the Potomac Gorge region of passing the CapperCramton bill with the Dempsey amendment would be to make possible the acquirement by the Government of complete control of the land, postponing until Congress acts on the matter further any decision as to the precise combination of uses, in addition to park uses, to be provided for therein and the precise method of combining those uses.
Wide differences of opinion have been expressed in various quarters as to what will be the most expedient combination and manner of combination of such uses, including improvement of water supply, development of navigation, development of power, development of highway crossings, and development of park uses. But whatever combination may be decided on, it is obvious that the aggregate values can not be attained from any combination unless the intricate details of the combination are worked out by some one consolidated agency so constituted that it will not be under temptation to sacrifice values of one kind for the sake of values of another kind. To entrust the details of such a complex combination to a private power company, even subject to a measure of supervision by Govern
ment bureaus, would obviously put a premium on sacrificing park values and navigation values to power values.
The power company, naturally enough, would much prefer to have a decision made now by Congress that the area is to be devoted primarily to power development, that the power company may acquire the land and that it shall decide, subject to some measure of approval of details of its plans by governmental agencies, what concessions it shall make toward providing for incidental use of the area for water supply, for park purposes, and for future improvements of mavigation. Fear has been expressed both by the representatives of the power company and by the officer who has investigated the matter for the Federal Power Commission, that if the Capper-Cramton bill is passed and the land is acquired under that bill and made available initially for park purposes, insuperable obstacles may arise to the development of power there. These fears appear to be based in part on the possibility that Congress might decide, after the Government acquires the land, to authorize extensive and costly park improvements planned in disregard of the possibilities of power development; in part on the possibility that Congress might authorize a combined development for navigation, power, and park use under governmental control instead of under the control of a private power company; and in part, perhaps on the general possibility that if the public once gets full control of this area, in the absence of a preexisting power development, public opinion and the opinion of Congress will become more adverse than at present to the sacrifice of its park values to its power possibilities and more adverse to making a power company the controlling factor in determining its development.
It appears to this commission that the one safe course is for the Government to attain complete unified control of the land in question, and during or after the acquirement of such control to work out a plan and policy for its development satisfactory to Congress. That course the Čapper-Cramton bill as amended provides for, and for that reason has the approval both of the Federal Power Commission and of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
Respectfully yours, For the commission:
U. S. GRANT 3d, Executive and Disbursing Officer.