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resettle the drought sufferers, from Oklahoma alone, some 12,000,000 acres of land would be required. To place the farmers, who, according to all available data, must be moved out of the drought belt would require in the neighborhood of 50,000,000 acres. To my best belief and knowledge there is only one portion of the United States where suitable homes may be found for a considerable number of these people, at reasonable cost, and that is the Delta, including the Tensas Basin, of course.
Fourth: Most authorities I have consulted agree that floods in the Mississippi Valley may be averted by retaining rainfall where it falls, and is, moreover, sadly needed. Even proponents of the proposed spillway have assured me that sufficient catch basins can be established at the heads of such tributaries as the Arkansas, Cimarron, Canadian, and Red Rivers to lower the flood level of the Mississippi sufficiently to avert devastating floods.
Fifth. The promise held out by proponents of the Tensas spillway that some $30,000,000 would be spent on the project in East Carroll Parish alone is, in my opinion, a rather cheap bribe for the economic suicide of the parish. The assurance given that land in the proposed spillway could still be cultivated and consequently would not lose its value is pure bosh, if not downright dishonesty. For what person of reasonably sound mind would think of locating a farm home in a gutter 5 to 10 miles wide, and carrying 20 feet of water-occasionally, or, perhaps "even only once in 20 years?"
Sixth. The fact that the proposed spillway would help or hurt our holdings in garden homes means very little to me, in spite of the fact that we have invested over $170,000 in the place and settled 40 families upon it. I am viewing the project purely as an American citizen at large. Aware of the national catastrophe that is threatening the Middle West by the steady eastward creeping of the desert, I regard even another 1927 flood as a mere bagatelle. The losses inflicted by that flood, I am told, totals around 270 million dollars. But even so, and leaving out the value of silt deposited by that flood, 270 millions is but a small part of the losses inflicted by the series of drouths that have devastated a great part of the Middle West. As far as our own experience at garden homes is concerned, our losses were fully offset by the gain in fertility, for even planting after June 15, 1934, we raised the largest corn and cotton crop of any year since we opened the tract.
I fully realize that floods of the magnitude of that of 1927 are anything but a picnic. But neither are the minor, yet in toto, much more destructive floods in the rivers tributary to the Mississippi, nor the sand storms which add air erosion to water erosion, both of which could be measurably reduced by a policy of water conservation.
And so, looking at the problem from the point of welfare for our country at large, I deem it highly preferable to spend billions on flood control at the source, than to spend the few hundred million transforming the garden spot of our country into a spillway.
May I also add that while some of our friends and neighbors in East Carroll and south of it may well secure an acceptable price by selling their idle land to Uncle Sam for a spillway, that a policy of bringing the advantages of the Tensas Basin to the attention of the Washington authorities in charge of rural rehabilitation, subsistence homesteads, and relocation of drouth victims would not only give them a fairer price, but what is of ultimate greater value, save one of the richest parts of our land for future generations.
While in Washington lately, I conversed with Mr. Harry Hopkins of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and Dr. William Zeuch of the Sub, sistence Homestead Corporation on the advantages of using the Delta for their purposes and found them very receptive. I have also written to Mr. Rexford Tugwell, who, I understand, will direct the resettlement of farmers who are now tilling submarginal land.
If time permits, I urge you most earnestly to call upon these gentlemen and add the benefit of your long experience and thorough knowledge of the problems involved to my plea.
Assuring you of every support I possibly can give you, both personally and through our publication, and in the devout hope that you may be able to stay what I believe would be the wrecking of the choicest part of "God's country'', I am Sincerely yours,
LAKE PROVIDENCE, LA., April 6, 1935. Hon. RILEY J. WILSON, Chairman Flood Control Committee, House of Representatives,
Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. WILSON: As an owner of property in East Carroll Parish, La., within the area of the proposed Eudora spillway, I ask the privilege of submitting the following:
Assuming that the said spillway will be constructed as proposed on the recommendation of the Chief of Engineers, with an east guide line east of the Tensas River-at present the Tensas drainage canal-my suggestion relates to that part of the spillway in the southwest portion of East Carroll Parish in wards 6 and 7. It may be of interest to the committee to give a brief historical review of this particular area.
The land in cultivation, and arable, and now being developed and put under cultivation, lies along the Bayou Macon and Joe's Bayou. The settlement of this section began as early as the 1830's. By 1860, there were many large plantations developed along these two ba yous, and from the Monticello landing on the Macon there were shipped as many as 30,000 bales of cotton grown on what the river front now designates as the “back country", and shipped
After the Civil War, with the freeing of the slaves, this entire section was abandoned, the old plantations, some of them with from 1 to 2,000 acres in cultivation, growing up in what we know as second growth. This section was once possibly the choicest cotton lands in the entire Mississippi Delta.
Not until about 1900, when a gap in the levee in Arkansas was closed, and this section relieved from annual overflow, did a reclamation of these lands commence, and not until roads were built and some means of transportation afforded was there any worthwhile development in this section. With the construction of gravel roads the Lake Providence and Epps Highway and a gravel road leading down the Macon from the Bayou Macon Bridge to the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Pacific Railway, the development of this section became very rapid. These ante-bellum plantations were cut up into small tracts, and today, within the sixth and seventh wards of East Carroll Parish, there are more than 200 families, hard working, progressive, small, white farmers, who have purchased their small tracts of from 40 to 80 acres, gone in as pioneers, clearing their lands, building their homes, schoolhouses, churches, etc. There cannot be found anywhere a more splendid type of the progressive small farmer than those above referred to. They purchased their small farms on long-time payments, much of the purchase price of their homes being still unpaid. The basis of their purchases was around $25 per acre on long-time payments. The cost of clearing and improvements would easily represent a value of $50 per acre. For these small farms the present assessment is approximately $20 per acre for the improved and $5 per acre for the unimproved land. By reason of the depression, and to encourage the development of this very productive section, the assessments upon this land have been very low.
A very considerable part of the lana' lying east of Joe's Bayou is within the Tensas Drainage District, against which bonds are outstanding, and such land as is within the drainage district bears a drainage tax of 50 cents per acre.
It must be conceded that lands falling within the spillway area will lose their potential sales and borrowing value. They will be subject to overflow upon very high stages of the river, to a depth of possibly 10 feet. To what extent shall these landowners be compensated? One and one quarter of the assessed value of their lands less than the purchase price of the lands undeveloped? It is inconceivable that the Congress would impose this injustice upon its citizens.
Bear in mind that these lands within the spillway are being appropriated for the public good. Those lands lying with the spillway, if and when immune from danger of overflow, will be largely enhanced in value. Should not a most liberal consideration be given those within the spillway, whose lands have been taken and devoted to this purpose of the general good ?
There is but one measure of value that can be adopted which will do absolute justice to those affected: A fair and reasonable value for the property taken. I submit that, as here shown, a fair measure of value cannot be arrived at by taking the assessment as a basis of value. I further submit that an assessment is not evidence of real value. For instance, East Carroll Parish has to provide a budget showing the amount of money required to meet its
obligations, interest on bonds, schools, etc. On a low valuation the millage tax would be proportionately higher than it would be on a high valuation.
May I here submit that there is a practical basis for value of these improved lands in question. Many loans have been made by the Federal land bank and the insurance companies in this section. Take some of the appraisements of the Federal land bank within the past 2 or 3 years-appraisements made within the period of the depression. I am confident, operating upon an injunction to hold values down on account of the depression, it will be found that the appraised value of these improved lands is around $50 per acre. Aside from th land improved, as heretofore mentioned, there are two other classes of land in the area in question of definite difference in valuation. This land cannot be fairly classed and valued as "uncultivated land.” It should be classed and valued as “second-growth” and “cut-over virgin timberland.”
The second-growth land is that part of the ante-bellum plantations that has not yet been reclaimed but is arable, and when cleaned and developed is of equal value to those lands now in cultivation. Their fair value is that of the land in cultivation, less the cost of development, from $15 to $25 per acre. This acreage area can be easily determined, as it is not large.
The remaining area, uncultivated and here classed as "cut-over virgin timber land” is possibly 50 percent of the area under discussion. It has but little productive value, and is composed largely of large tracts that were purchased by mill and timber interests, the timber removed from the land, and considerable of it permitted to go back to the State for taxes. Possibly $5 per acre would be a maximum value for land of this character, as it is not arable, and can never be brought under cultivation except at a very large (prohibitive) cost. There may be some land within the last class that could be developed, but this acreage would be comparatively small.
If the land within the area is to be classified and valued, I submit that the improved land should have a minimum value of $50 and a maximum value of $75 per acre.
The second-growth land should have a maximum value of $25 per acre and a minimum value of $15 per acre. The cut-over timber land should have a maximum value of $10 per acre. Much of it, as stated, is of nominal value.
If I may conclude with a personal reference, and mine is a typical case:
About 30 years ago, and at a time when there were neither roads nor bridges in what I have designated as the “back country", I purchased 1,048 acres, a part of what was known as the “ante-bellum Berry plantation ", lying for 142 miles along Joes Bayou, and through which ran an old abandoned public road. Of this land, 800 acres was second growth, lying on the east side of Joes Bayou and 248 acres lying for 142 miles along the west bank of said Joes Bayou. I was the first white man pioneer who started development in this back country. The purchase price of the 1,048 acres was $8,000. It was a tract selected by me as the best prospective farm acreage in that section. Five hundred and forty acres of this land is within the Tensas drainage district, the drainage tax being 50 cents per acre, $270. I have cleared about 300 acres of this land, further development being retarded by the depression and other financial difficulties. This land was assessed at $30 per acre for the land in cultivation, and $8 per acre for that not in cultivation. Recently, by reason of the depression, and without request from me (the action was general as to all land in that section), the assessor has reduced the assessment to $20 and $5 per acre. Thus, I have 300 acres assessed at $20, or $6,000; 748 acres assessed at $5 per acre, or $3,740, a total of $9,740; only $1,740 more than I paid for it 30 years ago, located as it then was in a wilderness.
Now I have a gravel highway through the place; another highway being constructed into the present highway; the Tensas Drainage Canal, giving perfect drainage for 800 acres; have cleared 300 acres; have 10 good cypress houses on the land ; fencing, ditching, etc. I have expended in development easily from twelve to fifteen thousand dollars. One and one-half the assessed value of this land would give me $14,610, far less than the land and improvements cost, and the sales and loan value of my land will be absolutely destroyed.
In a recent application for a loan of $20,000 to the Federal Land Bank of New Orleans, I was tentatively offered a loan of $12,000 on the 300 acres in cultivation, with 200 acres second growth added. As the appraisers of the Federal land bank are largely limited in their appraisement to the value of land in cultivation, this appraisement must have shown a valuation on the 300 acres of land in cultivation of around $60 an acre. The committee can
easily get this and other appraisements in that section upon request to the Federal land bank in New Orleans.
I submit that the following should be included in the bill for the protection of the landowners within the spillway area :
1. Payment upon a fair value for the land according to its classification and values as hereinbefore set out, for the spillway right.
2. Assumption by the Government of all bonded indebtedness imposing a lien upon such lands,
And for such other relief as the Congress may deem those dedicating their land entitled to. They should have fair and liberal consideration, Your respectfully,
HARRY PEYTON. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Jacobs, you asked permission to make a statement to the committee?
Mr. Jacobs. I want to make this statement to the committee with respect to Mr. Whittington's question to Senator Ransdell. What I understood was that the 1927 flood would come every 12 years. Here is a profile in the Chief of Engineer's report that shows that we have had only one 1927 flood since 1900, and it gives the different floods.
The CHAIRMAN. They did not fix that as definite.
Mr. Jacobs. And they are supposed to operate at 51. By operating at 51 on the Vicksburg gage, you will have possibly an operation once in 12 or 15 years. That is my understanding of the way it is to be operated. But we did pass the 1929 flood that was within a food and a half of the 1927 flood at Arkansas City, and we did pass it by the fuseplug levee.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I do not want to leave the impression that I stated that the 1927 flood would occur every 12 years.
Mr. Jacobs. No; I did not think you did.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. What I was reading from was General Jadwin's report, that this fuseplug levee at 60.5 would be topped every 12 years on the average; that it has been since 1927, that we have had a flood, and we have about 4 years more coming to us before it would be over the top. Those estimates are not mine; they are the estimates of the Chief of Engineers of the United States.
The CHAIRMAN. Those estimates are nothing definite. It might be one in a 100 years.
STATEMENT OF J. W. SUMMERLIN, REPRESENTING THE BOARD
OF COMMISSIONERS, TENSAS BASIN LEVEE DISTRICT
Mr. SUMMERLIN. Gentlemen, we have been wrestling with this fuseplug area since the adoption of the 1928 Flood Control Act. As I have before stated, we are very peculiarly situated. Our entire taxing district is situated in the State of Louisiana, composed of eight parishes in the northeast part. We are in that gas-producing belt. We have the largest gas field there in the world. We have a good agricultural country,
Mr. GREEN. Pardon me; is that near the Arkansas line?
Mr. SUMMERLIN. Yes, sir. We built our levees in the State of Arkansas, quite a few of them, for our protection on the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers. Our levee protection district begins about 20 miles south of Pine Bluff, and extends along the south bank of the Arkansas River to the Cypress Creek territory, thence on the
west side of the Mississippi to the State line, embracing something like 148 to 152 miles of levee.
Our levees really are about the highest on the Mississippi River. We have some that are 42 feet high, the one especially across Cypress Creek, and other places. That line of levee protects a greater area than any one line of levee in the entire Mississippi Valley. tect our own district, 1,300,000 acres; the Fifth District, 1,450,000 acres, and the Southeast Arkansas District at this time, with something like 500,000 acres. Then if we have a breach in our line of levee it would extend down to the Atchafalaya and endanger those levees to the extent of maybe 1,500,000 acres-something over 4,000,000 acres of land altogether.
We of course have had this fuseplug idea to contend with since the adoption of the act. Our lands in that territory have been materially reduced in value. In fact, there have been very few if any sales made of that land, no improvements going on. We have been afraid to go in and build a cotton house, even, for fear in the next high water, even as high as 1927, it would wash it away.
The idea in General Jadwin's fuseplug plan was to put 900,000 second-feet through that fuseplug section. We got only 450,000 second-feet in 1927, and it was from 2 to 4 feet higher than the previous high water, 1882. That would have meant double the amount of water that he proposed to give us at this fuseplug. That would have gone over the top of some of the trees and washed away nearly all the houses in that section. We had possibly 100,000 acres in that district that was above the overflow in 1927. One of the guide line levees protected that acreage.
I have been studying this proposition for a number of years. When I was a young man I was up in Arkansas during the 1897 flood. It was our purpose and it has been our plan during these high rivers to send people from Louisiana up to Arkansas as guards. In 1922 we had as many as four trainloads of workmen going from a distance of 150 miles away in Louisiana up to Arkansas City, to participate in that fight.
To go back to where I started in 1927, we had built up our levee in front of Arkansas City about 31/2 feet higher with sacks boarded up, and held it, of course, against the Mississippi side. That is why our Mississippi people want that diversion there, because we generally outhold them, I do not know why. But I believe they had a crevasse in 1927 and 1903. We both went under in 1912. In 1913 we held the line of levee. At any rate, gentlemen, this proposition of reservoirs that I have been favoring for the last 20 years, our statements I made at the hearing last year
Mr. DEAR. You favor the reservoir ?
Mr. DEAR. Are you in favor of building up the fuseplug to the
Mr. SUMMERLIN. Yes, sir. I think I can show you where we will be amply protected. I take issue with the Government engineers as to what the height of the stage is. If that levee had held, we would