« PreviousContinue »
DIVISION OF GRAZING
(F. R. CARPENTER, Director)
The act of June 28, 1934 (48 Stat. 1269), commonly known as the “ Taylor Grazing Act ”, is a new development in the national policy for conservation of natural resources in accord with the traditions of the Department of the Interior. The purposes of the new law as set forth in its title are “ To stop injury to the public grazing lands by preventing overgrazing and soil deterioration; to provide for their orderly use, improvement, and development; to stabilize the livestock industry dependent upon the public range; and for other purposes.
The first step in the administration of this law was taken July 9, 1934, when Secretary Ickes designated representatives of the Department of the Interior to hold a series of preliminary conferences in the West. The delegation named was headed by Assistant Secretary Oscar L. Chapman and included Fred W. Johnson, Commissioner of the General Land Office; Rufus G. Poole, Assistant Solicitor; Hugh H. Bennett, Director Soil Studies; T. C. Havell, General Land Office; J. H. Favorite, Division of Investigations; John F. Deeds, Geological Survey; and Dr. Wendell Lund, acting in a secretarial capacity.
These representatives held public hearings as follows: July 23, Salt Lake City, Utah; July 26, Boise, Idaho; July 31, Billings, Mont.; August 2, Casper, Wyo.; August 6, Glenwood Springs, Colo.; September 14, Albuquerque, N. Mex.; September 19, Prescott, Ariz.; September 24, San Francisco, Calif.; September 26, Reno, Nev.; and September 28, Klamath Falls, Oreg.
In his report on these conferences Assistant Secretary Chapman states that ranchmen throughout the West realize that the vast public ranges which are being overgrazed and depleted must be protected and restored or they will soon be replaced by acres of desert land. They realize that it is to their own interest, as well as to the interests of their States and the Nation, that these lands be protected by a sane uniform policy.
Meanwhile, in order to handle the multitude of inquiries and other details incident to the administration of this law, the Secretary, on July 17, named Mr. N. F. Waddell, special agent, Division of Investigations, Acting Director in Charge of Grazing, pending the appointment of a director to handle the grazing program. The General Land Office and Geological Survey were directed to cooperate with him. On September 7, 1934, the Secretary appointed Mr. F. R. Carpenter, of Hayden, Colo., Director of Grazing.
The new Director of Grazing was authorized, with the concurrence of the agencies concerned and the approval of the Secretary, to select such assistants as were required for the administration of the Taylor Grazing Act from the staffs of the Geological Survey, the General Land Office, and the Division of Investigations. At the close of the year a total personnel of 35 people were thus assigned to the Division21 from the Geological Survey, 8 from the Division of Investigations, and 6 from the General Land Office. The salaries and expenses of the Director and detailed employees up to June 30, 1935, amounted to approximately $110,000. The salaries and expenses included in this figure cover only the period of detail, which for the most part was less than half of the fiscal year. It is estimated that an additional expense of not less than $100,000 was incurred by the cooperating agencies.
On December 13, 1934, the Secretary announced that a series of conferences would be held in Denver, Colo., February 11 to 16, to discuss questions of national policy in the exchange and use of public lands as they may be affected by the grazing regulations. Officials from the States of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming were asked to attend these conferences. The first two days were devoted to State lands, the second two days to fish and game problems, and the last two days to grants in aid of railways and highways.
On February 12, 1935, Secretary Ickes spoke before a general assembly of all persons attending the conference. The Secretary discussed the abuses inherent in unrestricted grazing on the open public domain and the benefits to be obtained from prudent use of the land under the terms of the Taylor Grazing Act. He besought the intelligent and whole-hearted support of western stockmen to the end that depleted ranges might be restored to normalcy.
The State land representatives adopted a series of resolutions concerning the administration of the public domain with particular reference to grants in aid of the public schools and for other purposes. One of the primary requests from the State land agents concerned facilitation of exchanges. To accomplish this purpose the President signed the Executive order of May 20, 1935, modifying Executive order of November 26, 1934.
OBJECTIVES OF THE TAYLOR GRAZING ACT
The primary task in the administration of the public domain under the Taylor Grazing Act contemplates establishment of grazing districts where the area of public land is adequate to warrant such action for (1) conservation of natural resources, and (2) stabilization of the livestock industry dependent upon the range. Over a long period of years grazing use in excess of carrying capacity has caused a progressive deterioration of that land through displacement of the more palatable forage plants by species of low palatability or of no worth for grazing. In this transition natural erosion processes have been accelerated, causing loss of soil fertility, and in places even actual removal of soil cover, thus rendering the land incapable of producing a density of any vegetative growth equivalent to natural conditions. This deterioration has been in progress over a period of 35 to 40 years.
Conservation of natural resources under these conditions requires not only prevention of further waste but restoration of the land resources. By the halting of all land-use activities nature could accomplish this restoration unaided, but such drastic action would create an intolerable economic disturbance throughout the West. Accordingly the Department is planning to accomplish restoration of the land by other means to the utmost practicable limit.
A wide variety of range restoration projects will be undertaken as part of the Emergency Conservation Work Program of the Division now being performed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. These projects will include an extensive program of water development to permit a more even distribution of the livestock on the public range. Eradication of rodents will be undertaken to reduce their consumption of the feed resources. Drift fences will be constructed to permit more effective range management, and in some localities trails will be constructed to make present inaccessible feed supplies available for use. Small sample plots will be enclosed with rodent-proof fences to furnish definite indication of the rate of restoration obtainable by natural processes and the character of the natural vegetation. Erosion control will be included in the program where necessary, as well as the eradication of poison plants. Such activities, with a limitation of the livestock population to accord with the feed resources actually available, as well as to proper seasons of use will comprise the initial activities toward restoration of normal range conditions.
SPECIAL EXECUTIVE ORDERS
On November 26, 1934, the President signed an Executive order withdrawing for classification all public lands in the States of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. The order was limited to these States because they contained the only areas which were then regarded as properly subject to inclusion in grazing districts. The withdrawal was made in furtherance of the organization of such districts, the exchange of State-owned and privately owned lands, the sale or lease of isolated disconnected tracts, as well as the other purposes of the Taylor Grazing Act. The order declares that classification of the lands involved is necessary for the effective accomplishment of its purposes and that the lands are being reserved pending completion of such classification work, unless sooner revoked by the President or the Congress.
By Executive order of February 5, 1935, the public lands in the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Washington, and Wisconsin were withdrawn for classification and pending determination of the most useful purpose to which said lands may be put in furtherance of the land program of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and for the conservation and development of natural resources. Where that program is involved or can be aided by the organization of grazing districts it is anticipated that such districts will be organized under the Taylor Grazing Act.
By Executive order of May 20, 1935, the President so amended Executive order of November 26, 1934, as to make it applicable to all lands within the States involved therein "upon the cancelation or release of prior entries, selections, or claims, or upon the revocation of prior withdrawals, unless expressly otherwise provided in the order of revocation.” In the same order the Secretary of the Interior is authorized in his discretion and in harmony with the purposes of the Taylor Grazing Act of June 28, 1934, to accept title to base lands in exchange for other lands subject to exchange under the terms of that act.
ORGANIZATION OF GRAZING DISTRICTS
Pursuant to the requirements in the Taylor Act for a public hearing prior to the organization of a grazing district public notices wereissued for such hearings as follows: Sept. 17------ Grand Junction, Colo. Jan. 9-----. Mountain Home, Idaho.. Oct. 1----- Bakersfield, Calif.
Jan. 22 Monticello, Utah,
Jan. 25.----. Moab, Utah.
Feb. 4-----. Roswell, N. Mex.
Feb. 14-----, Durango, Colo. Dec. 4_---- Malta, Mont.
Feb. 19-----. Montrose, Colo. Dec. 11. Ekalaka, Mont.
Feb. 26_----- Grand Junction, Colo.. Dec. 18_---- Milford, Utah.
The above-listed hearings involved relatively small grazing units sponsored by local interests with but little reference to broad regional plans. Conflicts in areas requested for inclusion in adjoining districts were inevitable as well as a multiplicity of hearings in which the problems, and often even the people involved, were substantially identical.
Accordingly, under date of December 1, a public notice was issued for a series of State-wide hearings to be held as follows: Dec. 4. Malta, Mont.
Bismarck, N. Dak. Dec. 7Billings, Mont.
Rapid City, S. Dak. Casper, Wyo.
Albuquerque, N. Mex. Dec. 15_ Vale, Oreg.
Bakersfield, Calif. Dec. 17. Boise, Idaho
Montrose, Colo. Notice of the December 4 hearing at Malta, Mont., included in the foregoing list, is a duplication of a notice previously published.
At the State-wide hearings, after an explanation of the terms of the Taylor Grazing Act as applicable to the conditions in each locality, the need for subdividing the State into grazing districts comprising public-domain areas convenient and proper for administration, was given special emphasis. At these meetings State committees, composed of representative stockmen, were elected to recommend boundaries for such grazing districts.
Following the series of State-wide hearings the committees elected at such hearings considered the range problems of their respective States and recommended the establishment of 50 districts involving an aggregate area of approximately 142,000,000 acres of vacant, unreserved, unappropriated public land. The action of these committees was taken without reference to the provision in the existing law limiting the creation of such districts to 80,000,000 acres of vacant, unappropriated, unreserved public land. Accordingly, in the absence of further authority from the Congress, only 32 of the districts proposed could be established. The districts selected for establishment included areas in which range administration was most urgently needed and the lands were conveniently located for administration.
REGULATIONS FOR GRAZING DISTRICTS
Division of Grazing, circular no. 1, entitled " Rules providing for special elections for district advisors to assist in the management of grazing districts”, was approved by the Secretary, April 23, 1935. Circular no. 2, entitled “Rules for the guidance of district advisors in recommending the issuance of grazing licenses”, was approved