Page images
PDF
EPUB

us here that it is a self-liquidating project, and not only a self-liquidating project but a good financial project for one to go into

Mr. Ford. That is right.

Mr. Rich. With what you know of your laws, would not your State go ahead and take this project up and complete it, because it is pictured here as such a good project?

Mr. FORD. Mr. Rich, if the Federal Government stops this project, the State of Washington ought to go on and build it. There are a lot of people in the State of Washington who would make every effort in their power to see that the State did do it. If the State of Washington were an independent nation, small as it is, there is no doubt this thing would be developed entirely by the State of Washington; but when we have difficulty in getting our appropriations from such a rich organization as the Federal Government, you can understand how we would have increased difficulty in selling the idea of increased taxation to the State of Washington in order to carry that additional burden. I do not believe it could be carried out. I am confident it could not. This project will be a financial contributor to the Government for all time.

Mr. Rich. Then, if it is such a good project, if you wanted to continue on with that project, the State of Washington would have no difficulty in raising the money to complete it?

Mr. FORD. It would have difficulty, but a lot of us would try to do it. It should be done, even if it had to be paid for by the State of Washington alone.

MONDAY, APRIL 12, 1937. YAKIMA PROJECT, ROZA DIVISION STATEMENT OF E. F. BLAINE, GRAND VIEW, WASH. Mr. Leavy. Now, Mr. Blaine, if you will, proceed with your statement.

Mr. BLAINE. I am appearing in the interest of the Roza project in the State of Washington, officially known as the Yakima-Benton unit of the Yakima project. This is the last unit of the Yakima project to be completed. It is already under the course of construction; $3,500,000 has been allotted so far for the work.

PRESENT STATE OF COMPLETION OF WORK The work so far done consists of some tunnels through the points of mountains, siphon line under the Yakima River, and one other tunnel further fown.

The Budget only provides for $1,500,000 to continue this work. If this $1,500,000 is allowed, it will be spent during the coming year, largely upon heavy construction work, and it would not put a great many men to work. If $3,000,000 should be allotted, part of that money could be used below what is known as Rattlesnake Mountains in building laterals, drops, and measuring boxes, and things like that, which would involve a large amount of labor. It is contended by some people that if you build laterals at the present time that they will fill up, but I know from long experience in irrigation work that if the dirt from those laterals is thrown to the east, ditches will not fill up. This project I believe to be one of the most meritorious in the United States. It lies above the Sunnyside unit, which I have just spoken about. The land to be reclaimed is indicated here on the map in yellow, and down here in pink, where the water is to be pumped, it is shown in green.

One of the great beauties of this project is that all of this land below here in the Sunnyside unit is now highly developed, and in this district from early spring until late in the fall, it is a regular beehive of activity, Thousands of men are engaged there every year as hired help, and last fall a great many people came in there from the Middle West, from the Dust Bowl, and they found employment.

My home is right down at this point (indicating] on the map. My land has a water right under the Sunnyside Canal, and one-half of my crew last year in picking cherries, peaches, apricots, and pears, was people who came in from the Middle West, from the "dust bowl." Living in my little cottage down by the canal was a man by the name of Olsen and his wife and daughter, and a young man there, who came from Nebraska and there, sleeping under cherry trees on the lawn, were at least 12 men, acquaintances of the Olsen's, who came in there from the “dust bowl" in a truck, bringing along with them their bedding, cooking stove, and cooking utensils.

Now, if you want to put men to work, you can do it on land like this unit far better than you can anywhere else in the United States, I believe.

Mr. Johnson. How far are you from Grand Coulee?

Mr. BLAINE. One hundred and fifty miles. Consider the study recently made by the Government officials, and it shows that in the far Western States the number of farms rented by tenants was 18 percent plus. In the Mississippi Valley States, it was 45 percent plus, and in the Southern and Southeastern States it was 48 percent plus, and in the Northeastern States it was 9.8 percent plus.

Mr. JOHNSON. What does that mean?

Mr. BLAINE. It signifies that where the farming is intensified and diversified, you have a limited number of tenants as compared with where the farms are large and cash crops grown. The farms along the Mississippi River are not poor lands, and the farms that are in the hands of the tenants have a large cash value, but they produce one cash crop. If we are looking to the future, I believe it is lands like these in the Roza unit, where there is a diversity of crops and intensified farming; which demand the utmost amount of labor, will help the labor situation.

In this section, where I have lived there for years and know it thoroughly; I think you will find a very small percent of farmers on relief. We do have some farmers in the State of Washington on relief. I am absolutely familiar with this country, for I have been connected with it for 40 years and I know that the number of farms operated by tenants is very limited. We do have some land in the State of Washington that is operated by tenants. That is mostly in the wheat fields and what is known as Palouse country. There the farms are very large and many of them are operated by tenants.

Mr. LEAVY. Mr. Blaine, is it not a fact that a relief load out there consists of people coming in, those who have lived in cities and towns, in Idaho and Montana, and with few exceptions in the wheat area, and that the rest of them are urban population, and that our rural population has not been in the relief group to any extent?

Mr. BLAINE. Yes. In my humble judgment, Yakima county would lave been able to take care of its unemployed if none had come in rom the outside. Of course, it has not done it, because that has not been the policy. In the Yakima Valley there are cull potatoes, cull ipples, cull peaches, and cull apricots, and cull products of various kinds. This can be readily picked up and is used by the poorer

lasses of our people. It goes largely in carrying them through the winter season.

NEW LAND DEVELOPED BY PROJECT
Mr. Rich. How many acres of new land will this develop?
Mr. BLAINE. Seventy-two thousand acres,
Mr. Rich. Seventy-two thousand acres?

Mr. BLAINE. Yes. It is very choice land. It is bench land. Those familiar with the far West know that bench land is heavier, more compact, and more productive land than that lying along the river, which may be subject to blow sand.

Mr. Rich. If you had not had people on relief from the State of Washington, how much money has been spent by your State on relief?

Mr. BLAINE. I cannot answer that question, but we did issue $10,000,000 in bonds in the beginning to take care of people on relief.

Mr. Rich. You are getting funds from the Federal Government for relief, are you not?

Mr. BLAINE. Oh, yes, we are. We are getting our full share.
Mr. Rich. I see, to take care of people that come into your State.

Mr. LEAVY. I think you misunderstood me. I did not say there were no people in the State of Washington on relief. I said they came largely from the urban centers, cities like Seattle, Tacoma, Bellingham, Wenatchee, and Spokane, but not from among those who were engaged in agricultural pursuits.

We had thousands of them on relief, just like you have here.

Mr. BLAINE. Yes, we have people on relief, but the number bas been increased by the number of people coming in from the "dust bowl”. For instance, a study by Government officials shows that 165,000 since 1930 left the Dust Belt region. That is 40,000 families.

Mr. Rich. How many additional families would you take care of with this development?

Mr. BLAINE. That wholly depends upon how you divide the land. Personally, I do not believe anybody down there ought to own over 30 acres of that land, and I think a great many of the workers should have 15 acres and a few of them not over 10 acres.

Mr. Rich. Who owns this land?

Mr. BLAINE. This land is variously owned. The Northern Pacific owns some down here (indicating), on the map and this land up here (indicating on the map] is largely owned by people in the eastern part of the State of Washington.

Mr. Rich. Is there any effort being made to distribute the land among the people in small acreages?

Mr. BLAINE. Yes. There are some 15,000 acres of railroad land that I am informed that the railroad company is contemplating selling in small lots at nominal prices if families wish to purchase it,

Mr. Rich. There is no arrangement made by the Interior Department for the allocation of the land?

Mr. BLAJNE. Specifically, no.

Mr. Rich. If that is developed, we are developing it principally for the benefit of the railroad company?

Mr. BLAINE. No; the railroad company is down here (indicating of the map).

Mr. Rich. If they have 15,000 acres of land, then they certainly will get the benefit of it if it is developed.

Mr. BLAINE. Yes; they will get the benefit of the development of all of this section in freight and passenger revenues, but are not speculating on the sale of the land. The railroad is attempting to hold everybody down to a normal figure in disposing of their excess holdings.

Mr. Rich. If they are trying to hold them down, then they will allocate these plots out in small acreages, will they?

Mr. BLAINE. I think they are perfectly willing to turn that land over to the Government or to the State at any time.

Mr. Rich. Do you not think it would be wise for them to turn it over to the Government or the State before this project is developed?

Mr. BLAINE. Well, it is now developing. In the upper district the railroad company owns no land. To develop it properly work should go on fast as funds can be had.

Mr. Rich. As to this $1,500,000 you are spending, what is that going to develop?

Mr. BLAINE. Starting at this point here (indicating], on the map laterals can be built, drops and measuring boxes put in. There is quite a severe slope in here (indicating), and, as you go down hill in irrigation, drops should be put in and these can be put in at once, and measuring boxes and things like that.

Mr. Rich. Is that land developed at all at the present time?
Mr. BLAINE. Above here (indicating), that is sage brush.
Mr. Rich. All of it in yellow is agebrush?
Mr. BLAINE. Yes, sir.

Mr. Rich. You developed practically all of that portion (indicating)?

Mr. Blaine. Oh, yes; but along the canal that can go in at once. Mr. Johnson. Is this sindicating) the canal? Mr. BLAINE. That is the Sunnyside Canal. Mr. JOHNSON. Where do you get your water? Mr. BLAINE. From the Yakima River and storage reservoirs on the Yakima and the Naches Rivers.

Mr. JOHNSON. You say you have a sufficient supply of water?

Mr. BLAINE. We have a splendid supply. My company owned the Sunnyside Canal, and a good deal of land under it. We extended the canal some 20 miles from this point down here (indicating). The farmers knew that they were going to get water at a certain time, and I was surprised to see how they rushed in there and started improvement. They went in and put up barns, dwellings, and started to plant their orchards, all in anticipation of getting water. If the people over there could realize that the Government is going to expedite this work and put water on that land at an early date, the amount of money that would go into buildings and other improvements there, will be perfectly amazing. That was not only my experience down here (indicating on the mapı, but I financed the extension of the Selah Canal above the city of Yakima, and I had the same experience up there. Of course, the people had to have faith that we were going to keep our word, and that they would have water at a certain time.

Mr. Rich. Was your land privately developed?

Mr. BLAINE. The predecessor of the Northern Pacific Railroad Co. put the Sunnyside Canal indicating) along with private individuals, During the panic of 1893 they failed, and in 1900, I organized the

ompany that bought the canal and lateral system and the land, and I was active in the development. In 1905 we sold the canal and the ateral system to the Federal Government. The Federal Government wanted to come into that district.

Mr. Rich. Did you make a good profit on it?

Mr. BLAINE. Yes. The canal and the lateral system cost, I was told, about $800,000, and we sold it to the Government for $250,000. We bought it for a less sum than that. We had thrown a great deal of activity into the project, and we made it a going concern. It was backed by some very substantial men; the pioneer Denny's of Seattle.

Mr. Rich. Has the Federal Government received their money out of the project?

Mr. BLAINE. There is a very small percent of it unpaid. It is one of the nearest paid-out projects in the whole United States. This land under the Sunnyside Canal, known as the Sunnyside unit has produced a gross wealth of $125,000,000, and the cost of the project to the Government has been $3,500,000.

Mr. Rich. Is it your opinion that before the Federal Government goes in there and develops this land, that as to the land that is owned by the railroad company there should be some understanding had with them that before this development is proceeded with, that they are going to allocate this land so that the public will get the benefit of it, and not the railroad company?

Mr. BLAINE. Of course, I cannot speak as to that.

Mr. LEAVY. I think Mr. Page, who is head of the Reclamation Bureau, answered that question the other day, but he can answer it directly as to the Government policy.

Mr. Page. There is a law on the statute books now that requires the Secretary of the Interior to take such precautions as he thinks wise to prevent speculation in connection with new irrigation projects. Every landowner must agree to sell his land at the appraised value set by a board of appraisers which is appointed by the Secretary of the Interior, or the landowner will not be able to obtain water. A contract has been signed with the irrigation district for this area stipulating that neither the railroad company nor any other private owner can profit by selling the land for more than the appraised value. The land is appraised in its natural state without prospect or irrigation, and it is usually appraised at from $2.50 to $10 an acre for some of the individual tracts, and the landowner must sign a contract that he will not sell his land at a price any greater than the appraised value. If he does so, half of the profit comes to the United States as a credit on the water right for that project.

Mr. Rich. Then it is the policy of the Interior Department where you are starting new developments that it is applicable to all lands before the beginning of irrigation on any project in which the Government is interested? Mr. Page. Yes, sir; that requirement is met on all projects.

Mr. LEAVY. Are there any further questions of Mr. Blaine? Thank you, Mr. Blaine.

Mr. Hill and Governor Pierce, colleagues of ours, both have statements they desire to make.

« PreviousContinue »