Page images
PDF
EPUB

for all of the lands in need thereof, the several agencies concerned are better organized and better prepared than ever before to protect the public lands from the ravages of fire, insects, and disease. As concrete evidence of progress in this direction, it should be noted that the area burned over in the continental United States has been reduced from 1,879,613 acres in the calendar year 1942 to 552,235 acres in the calendar year 1944; and in Alaska, from 4,500,000 acres in 1940 to 110,603 acres in 1944.

Cooperative work carried on with the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine, Department of Agriculture, in which the Office of Land Utilization acts in a supervisory capacity, has brought about the coordination of white pine blister rust control operations designed to protect the valuable five-needle pines from the white-pine blister rust. Control work has been definitely advanced on the national parks, Indian reservations, and the Oregon and California revested grant lands. At the close of operations last December, a total of 363,000 acres out of the 728,000 acres of white pine lands under the jurisdiction of the Department had been covered by the preliminary eradication of the species of brush responsible for the spread of the disease. Plans are in preparation involving expanded and more intensive operations looking to the control of infections that are a constant menace over large areas of land, portions of which are under the jurisdiction of the Department.

Sustained yield of forest resources contemplates improvement in conditions of growth, management of the timber stand, and utilization of the timber crop in ways that will permit and sustain the entire economy built around the lumber industry. The Office of Land Utilization participated during the preceding year in the preparation and presentation to the Congress of information relating to the values inherent in the sustained-yield principle. The representations made in this connection by Federal, State, and private agencies resulted in the enactment of the cooperative sustained-yield forest management act of 1944, authorizing the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to establish sustained-yield units either directly or in cooperation with other forest land owners, A general statement of policy with respect to the administration of this law was formulated by the Department for the guidance of the agencies concerned. Marked progress was also made in the application of the sustained-yield principle under the O. & C. Act of 1937, and a form of cooperative agreement was worked out by the General Land Office and the Office of Land Utilization. .

The major forward step taken by the Department in the field of forest conservation during the year 1944 was the securing of a regular appropriation of $147,460 "For the administration and management of forest resources, including the prevention and suppression of fires on the public domain in Alaska, * * *." This appropriation will make possible the setting up of administrative machinery, under the direction of the General Land Office, which will insure the protection and management of these vast resources of the interior of Alaska for the first time since the Territory was acquired from Russia. It means for Alaska, and for the Nation, the protection of these forests from fire and the establishment of sound forestry practices in connection with the development thereof.

The timber sale operations conducted on the lands under the jurisdiction of the Department normally constitute a business amounting to more than 3 million dollars in value and reflect a timber cut of over a billion feet a year. War demands continued at a high level during 1944 and, as a result, a large number of timber contracts were considered and approved by the Department.

LAND CLASSIFICATION AND LAND POLICY During the year 1944 a study was conducted of the land-classification activities of the General Land Office and the Grazing Service, and recommendations were made for coordination and expedition with respect to these activities. A draft statement for the Departmental Land Policy Committee on the land-management policies of the Department was completed and submitted to the Department for final consideration. Land-administering agencies of the Department were kept informed concerning surplus real property in which such agencies might have an interest, and a survey was initiated looking to the compilation of a list of surplus areas suited for addition to existing administrative units. About 1,500 applications involving the disposal, lease, or permitted use of public lands were reviewed. Many of these cases were on appeal or otherwise involved controversial issues and required most careful consideration before recommending action. The General Land Office was assisted in preparing a statement of conservation policy with respect to the sale of isolated tracts of the public domain, and the statement was issued as Departmental Order No. 1973, under date of August 4, 1944.

CIVILIAN PUBLIC SERVICE CAMPS · The Office of Land Utilization continued to act in a liaison capacity between the Selective Service System and the bureaus of the Department of the Interior in the operation of the civilian public service camps during the year 1944. These camps, which provided work of national importance in the protection and conservation of natural resources including fire, insect, and disease control and water conservation projects—were under civilian direction and were manned by persons who, by reason of religious training or belief, conscientiously opposed participation in the war.

At the close of the year, 10 civilian public service camps were operating on Department of the Interior lands: 5 on the national parks, 3 on reclamation projects, 1 on the O. & C. lands of the General Land Office, and 1 on a national wildlife refuge. The Seney National Wildlife Refuge camp, located in the State of Michigan, was abandoned on June 1, 1945.

WATER RESOURCES COMMITTEE The staff work of the Water Resources Committee, established by departmental order dated May 2, 1944, was conducted by the chairman and the executive officer during the fiscal year just passed. The objective sought by the Committee is to insure the coordination of water-development programs within the Department in order that full recognition may be given to the over-all benefits to the Nation.

In carrying out its stated functions, namely, the assembly and dissemination of essential information concerning water-development programs, the following work was accomplished by the Committee:

1. Sixteen formal meetings were held; and the executive officer represented the Committee at 12 meetings of the Federal Interagency River Basin Committee.

2. Recommendations designed to promote cooperation and coordination at the field level were submitted to, and received the approval of, the Secretary.

3. Consideration was given to a number of project and basin reports of agencies within the Department and the War Department, and definite recommendations were made tbereon.

4. Detailed information concerning water projects, laws, policies, and related features was assembled and made available to the interested agencies of the Department.

5. Operating procedures looking to the coordination of the waterdevelopment and water-conservation programs of the Department were established.

The progress made in the coordination of the water-development programs of the Department of the Interior has been encouraging, and the procedures laid down by the Congress in the Flood Control Act of 1944 and the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1945 have greatly strengthened the cooperation between the Federal agencies and the States. However, much remains to be accomplished before the degree of coordination essential to sound management in this complicated field can be fully attained.

PRINCIPLES OF COORDINATION Experience in the Department of the Interior during the past several years has clearly demonstrated the value of effective coordination and close cooperation in the field of land and resource management. It

673716446— 14

seems obvious also that the coordination of conservation activities of a Department organized on a bureau basis can be secured by devices less drastic than complete centralization and that a common plan of action which cuts across structural lines in the pursuit of an over-all interest is possible of attainment without seriously disrupting wellestablished bureau organizations.

The Office of Land Utilization, since its creation in 1941, has proceeded on the theory that the application of the fundamental principles of coordination and cooperation can be effected without overlapping or duplication and without interfering with the administrative authorities of the bureaus operating in the various functional fields. It has earnestly sought to promote a unification of action directed towards a common goal through cooperative efforts, the dissemination of information, and the rendering of efficient advisory service. The methods pursued have proved to be reasonably successful and have operated definitely in the public interest. It seems clear that the time has arrived when these principles of administrative management should be extended to all agencies operating in the conservation field, for the effective use and development of the basic wealth of the Nation-its soils and waters, its forests and pasture lands—will not be at its best until all interests involved have fully coordinated their responsibilities and activities.

C. L. FORSLING, Director

offf

INDER the administration of the Federal range, as provided by

the Taylor Grazing Act, the surface resources of the grazing districts on most of these public lands were in as good condition at the close of the fiscal year as they were at the beginning of the war, or better. At the same time they made their contribution in meeting the Nation's needs for war. This is in sharp contrast to the First World War when increased numbers of livestock, on the then unregulated, open public range, which, under the circumstances, did not contribute materially to food supplies during the war, resulted in overstocking that added to the already serious degree of depletion of the forage and soil resources.

The aim of the administration of the grazing districts is twofold; namely, the protection, improvement, and proper utilization of the natural resources on these lands and the stabilization of the livestock industry dependent upon them. These public lands, together with the non-Federal lands associated with them, continued during the past year to contribute to the Nation's needs of food and fiber, without material injury to their permanent productive capacity. While the Federal range on the whole is still far below its potential production capacity, due to past overuse and fire, extensive areas actually improved in condition as the result of weather conditions above the average, coupled with regulated use.

Nearly 40 percent of the range land in the 11 Western States is situated within grazing districts. Somewhat more than half of this is Federal land; the remainder is in private, State, and county ownership. Associated, both physically and economically, these grazing lands and the intermingled crop lands are the foundation of numerous livestock producing enterprises. Although range land makes large contributions by providing grazing for livestock and big game, its problems are closely related to those of other resources among which are water, wood, crop lands, and recreational use.

Settlement of public land under the homestead pattern of earlier years was reached and over-run during the aftermath of the First World War. New frontiers now lie chiefly in managing the remnant

« PreviousContinue »