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Senator ODDIE. Do you think that the Government has any right to take away a man's property without due process of law?
Senator GOODING. I do not think so. Senator ODDIE. Well, do you not think, then, following up this line of thought, that the action of the Government in depriving these men of their range is unconstitutional !
Senator GOODING. Well, it is everything that is un-American, and the Constitution, of course, is the first principle of Americanism. There isn't any doubt about it in my mind. I think that these men are entitled to some consideration, to a right to live there, and they can not live there if they are going to be forced to keep their cattle in their homesteads or in their corrals until the 1st of June, because, as a rule, the grass that is around their own homesteads is too coarse to eat at that time, or anything else, and they move on into the higher hills.
The CHAIRMAX. Unless you have a further statement we will excuse you, Mr. Phipps.
STATEMENT OF MR. A. C. WELLS, FAIRFIELD, IDAHO
The CHAIRMAX. Will you give your name and address to the reporter?
Mr. WELLS. A. C. Wells, Fairfield, Idaho. The CHAIRMAN. Will you make your statement, Mr. Wells? Mr. WELLS. I have been running a small bunch of sheep and have been a landowner-let's see—I own 320 acres at the present time, and have agreed to take over 420 more the 1st of October, having signed the option, and it is up to the Forest Service officials whether I get on the reserve or quit the business altogether.
The CHAIRMAN. Are your land holdings within the boundary of the forest reserve.
Mr. WELLS. Within half a mile.
Mr. Wells. Sawtooth, and they virtually forced me out. They couldn't come to any understanding as to whether I could get range. We feed our sheep together in the winter time and each helps the other to get financed to get started in the sheep business, and the supervisor told the other fellow that he would have to raise 250 tons of hay to 1,000 head of sheep in order to get range, and he promised to do that, but I couldn't see where I could do that, so I didn't promise, so I haven't got any promise of forest-reserve range. A man can not pasture them and run on the 640-acre homesteads. They take up the free range, that and the outside, and the State selections, the State comes in, the big interests come in and shut us out of that. They just push on. So it looks to me like there isn't much chance to do anything.
Some time ago I was in Haley and stopped to see the supervisor a little while, and a man told me then that I could never get any satisfaction from our local ranger there, Mr. Minier, so I thought in that case if I had to quit I might just as well let her go. I am a man with a family, and a man gets started in in this stock-raising proposition—why, the stock-raising proposition is one of the hardest propositions on earth to master, in my estimation. To be a successful stock grower is one of the hardest occupations on earth. You see more failures in that than in any other business. And some people try it, and after trying for a while they have to back up.
The local ranger, I understand, went and looked up my financial status last spring before I was granted any allotment at all. I had an allotment this year that I was allowed to go on the 20th of June, and if I had been there the 15th of May I would have gone back, but when I got there it was burned up. I was too late. It lay to the south. And I have been a permittee on the national forest for six seasons straight, and I have never had a full season's feed yet.
Senator ODDIE. Does that mean that that feed was a complete loss?
Mr. WELLS. Yes, it is a complete loss. Now, in 1924 I got the best deal that I ever had with the Forest Service officials.
Senator ODDIE. What was the average date that you turned out your cattle or your sheep in years gone by?
Mr. WELLS. Well, I was running up until three years ago a few sheep, too. The cattle was the 15th of May; the 15th of May, I think, I was allowed to turn on the cattle most of the time. And sheep we never did get on earlier than the 1st of June.
Senator ODDIE. I mean before the creation of the forest reserve.
Mr. WELLS. Before the forest reserve we have turned out as early as the 15th day of March. Senator Ondie. Did that ever injure the range any?
Mr. WELLS. No; not that I could see. We always had plenty of feed. I have been raised practically in that country, and I was in the forest before there was any forest reserve, and they used to turn the stock in as soon as the stock could use it. If they got a patch big enough bare for a cow to lie down she would live. And as early as they could be turned out they were turned out. And the pasture then seemed to be better than to-day.
Now, I have a 640-acre homestead that has been fenced up for six years, and the feed was better six years ago than now after it has been fenced up. We had the idea that fencing would protect the feed, but that earlier feed on the low foothills is only around six weeks in the spring that that feed is any good. Then it is dry and dusty until the next year, until the moisture brings it out in the spring of the year.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you think if the people who use the range were allowed to determine when to put the stock on the range that it would be better for the range?
Mr. WELLS. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. And do you think it would be to their interest tu see that it was kept in good condition?
Mr. WELLS. Yes. The way they handle it now they don't have a man who understands range conditions, and that is one thing that is the trouble, that the men who have the handling of it don't understand it. They should be practical men that learned it from the bottom up, graduated right there on the ranges. Why I think that men that know the conditions are entitled to decide when that should be used.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you any further statement, Mr. Wells? Mr. WELLs. There was on thing. I would like to make up an affidavit and send it in. Several fellows wanted me to ask if they could do that, to get up an affidavit and send in. We would like to get it up and sign it and send it in before the final windup.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; they can do that, and mail the affidavits to the committee on Public Lands and Surveys of the United States Senate.
Mr. Wells. All right, sir. The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Nesbitt. STATEMENT OF MR. GEORGE F. NESBITT, PRESIDENT OF THE
IDAHO CATTLE AND HORSE GROWERS' ASSOCIATION, PAYETTE, IDAHO
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Nesbitt, will you give your name and address to the reporter?
Mr. NESBITT. George F. Nesbitt, Payette, Idaho. President of the Idaho Cattle and Horse Growers' Association.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you have a statement, Mr. Nesbitt?
Mr. NESBITT. Well, the ground has been thoroughly covered in a general way. I noted down some of the questions asked on which I figured that possibly I could give you a little more information. One was in regard to the differences in the cost of raising cattle on and off the forest reserve. As a rule they raise them cheaper where they graze off the forest reserve than on, for the reason that through regulations and so on we are required to do a lot more riding and expending more money than the other fellow does. It creates that much more expense in that way, and puts more cost on them.
And another question was with reference to the opening of the season and going in. Now, I have felt a number of times that we are held off too late. Our cattle shrink too much when they are ready to go on. Our permit calls for the opening date on the 16th of May, and we have been held off as late as the 15th of June.
Senator ODDIE. What has been the average date of turning the cattle out in years gone by?
Mr. NESBITT. Well, we go on either private lands or public domain when we first can go out. We go out on the first of March. But the average date on the forest reserve has been around the first of June.
Senator ODDIE. That has been because of the rulings of the Forest Service?
Mr. NESBITT. Yes. There are years of course when that is early enough. Last year was not. We were held up last year, and we should have been let on earlier.
Senator ODDIE. Do you think that the cattle industry in this section of the country has been injured because of this ruling of the Forest Service in determining the date of putting the cattle on the range in the spring? Mr. NESBITT. It was last year owing to the dry season.
Senator Opdie. Do you think the amount of precipitation has more to do with the condition of the range than the amount of grazing on the range?
Mr. NESBITT. Yes, sir; it does.
Senator ODDIE. Do you believe that the extra handling of the cattle that is necessitated by holding them back from the range to a certain time is injurious to them?
Mr. NESBITT. Yes, sir; it is, for this reason: Cattle as a rule understand conditions and know better than we do what the conditions are, and they take a notion to go on the range, cattle that are used to the range, and they go. You can not hold them back. You can drive them back in the daytime and they go back there at night. Now through our allotment we have a high range, and in 1923–24 we were held off, and when we went up we got into a lot of poison. I lost in the neighborhood of 80 head of cattle in two nights by poison. This spring I took it up with the Forest Service officials and requested that we leave those cattle drift up when they decided to go and not drive them; to let them go. So he said we would try it. And he notified me that this high range would be ready on the 20th of July. I went up to put the cattle on and they were all already there with the exception of 30 head. And we have found 1 dead cow on that range this year where the past two years I lost 80 head. Now whether it is due to the fact that conditions are different, or whether the cattle get on better when they go on of their own accord rather than holding them back and then driving them on, I don't know, but I think that is the case.
Senator ODDIE. Do you think that if the cattle were allowed to follow their natural inclinations that they would be better off!
Mr. NESBITT. Yes.
Senator ODDIE. And do you think that under those conditions the range would be better off ?
Mr. NESBITT. Yes.
Mr. NESBITT. No, sir. The most damage that I find done to the range is through the policy that the Forest Service has followed of taking on new beginners and new cattle. Those cattle are not rangeraised cattle, and they are not used to climbing up on the higher ranges the way the range cattle are used to doing. These new cattle that are not range-grazed cattle because of that fact are poor in the fall; they do no good in the summer, and they tramp out your bottom lands, while the cattle that are used to running there come out fat.
Senator ODDIE. Do you think that this extra driving of the cattle results in decreasing their weight, and that consequently they do not put on as much weight as they ought to in the summer?
Mr. NESBITT. Absolutely.
Senator Oddie. And consequently does this result in a decrease in the quality of the cattle?
Mr. NESBITT. Yes, sir.
Senator Oddie. And a decrease in the price per pound as well as the weight?
Mr. NESBITT. Yes, sir.
Mr. NESBITT. They require us to either ride ourselves or hire herders. In a number of instances the permittees employ a rider and they run jointly. So far I have run my own cattle; done my own riding. But my neighbors have a rider out.
Mr. Bowdex. Who supervises those riders in their duties?
Mr. Bowdex. You mean an officer of the Forest Service?
Mr. Bowdex. Do you have allotments in common or do you have individual allotments on the forest reserve where you graze?
Mr. Nesbitt. Well, through a condition that I have it is supposed to be an allotment in common, generally speaking, but my
cattle are held in pastures and held separate from the other cattle, and in going in on the forest reserve I have always gone in on one particular part of the forest reserve for a number of years.
Mr. Bowdex. Practically all of your cattle ranges are community ranges?
Mr. NESBITT. Yes, sir.
Mr. Bowdex. Do you think that you could allot those ranges between the forest reserve users and give each user a lease of a certain forest reserve area?
Mr. Nesbitt. I don't think it would be practical unless you could afford fencing. I don't see how you could do it. I think we should run in common; I think that to run in common is the only practical way on the forest reserves.
Nr. Bowdex. What would you think of the proposal to lease to a community a certain range!
Mr. SESBITT. Well, as far as the Forest Service is concerned, with cattle I think it is the only practical way, with some exceptions, of course. There are places where conditions are such as to make it practicable to run separate, such as creeks and dividing lines and things, natural barriers, where they could be run separate. But on the allotment that we have there it would not be practical without a lot of fencing.
Jír. Bowdex. Wherever it is feasible, would you recommend that individual allotments be made?
Mr. NESBITT. Yes, I believe I would. Mr. Bowdex. What are the advantages, if any, of the individual allotments?
Mr. Nesbitt. Well, the advantages would be this: If you had cattle that were used to the range and were not mixed up with the fellow that had cattle that were not, you would not have to do as much work. Your salting is all you would have to do. Your salting would do your riding. While the other fellow, if he needs to drive his cattle, stirs up your cattle in driving his own. The less the cattle are moved the better condition they are in.
Mr. Bowden. Then, if a permittee had a range allotted to him, if there was any improvement of the forage there increasing the carrying capacity, he would get the benefit of it? Mr. NESBITT. Yes. Mr. BOWDEN. That would be an incentive? Mr. XESBITT. Yes. There is another point that I would like to bring out, and that is this: While our permits call for a specified number of cattle, why years vary and conditions vary and it is hard to keep a specified number of cattle and run them. Now, last year, 1924, I used all the permit that I had, and still had cattle that I could not get on,