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the public domain open. Because there come times to every man, in droughts, when he must overgraze.

If a man in Illinois, just for illustration, finds that his silage is gone, his corncrib depleted, but that he has a little pasturage coming on, even though that pasturage is too green, even though it has not come to the right point for him to use it, he has the right to take his cattle and put them on that land. That is one of the things that we absolutely must have in this country. We are up against ironclad necessity on the one side and the Forest Service regulations on the other. Sometimes we must overgraze, but we do not do it if we can avoid it.

The CHAIRMAN. That is not willful overgrazing?

Mr. MYERS. That is not willful overgrazing; that is necessary overgrazing.

The CHAIRMAN. You may overgraze by reason of necessity, but that is only temporary overgrazing; and after having so overgrazed, is it not a fact that you will undergraze in order to bring back the forage and enable it to recover from the effects of overgrazing? Mr. MYERS. We try to do so.

The CHAIRMAN. And would that policy be followed with equal fervor on the leased public domain?

Mr. MYERS. My opinion is that it would be if the tenure was secure enough so that they were pretty confident that they would get the benefit of allowing the grass to grow.

The CHAIRMAN. And do I understand it to be your opinion that if Congress enacts a general leasing law every incentive should be offered to a lessee to conserve the forage on his leased ground by giving him the benefit of that conservation?

Mr. MYERS. Oh, certainly.

The CHAIRMAN. And, in your opinion, is that a sufficient safeguard against overgrazing?

Mr. MYERS. Yes; I think so.

The CHAIRMAN. I believe that is all, Mr. Myers, unless you have a further statement.

Mr. MYERS. I would like to have a word or two about this grazinghomestead business.

The CHAIRMAN. Yes; we would be glad to hear you.

Mr. MYERS. These grazing homesteads now in our range, some of them are still making a go of it, and those that did not make a go of it, they have blocked our range with their holdings. My notion about the grazing-homestead business is that it is not an economic unit. It is not large enough to allow one of those men to graze a sufficient number of livestock so that they can live by so doing.

Now, instead of a single section, and a very restrictive proposition, requiring 21 months' actual living on that and those various factors that the Government insists on-if we could arrange it, as the chairman suggested a while ago, so that a man could live there long enough, and liberalize it in another way by making it three or four or posssibly sections of grazing land-we must admit that the old Illinois homestead is done with. The 160-acre homestead and all that it implies is done with, as far as this western country is concerned. The man that goes out and takes one of those grazing homesteads has to be a citizen that has money enough to come into some

irrigated community and buy a small quantity of irrigated land in order to winter his livestock. If in conjunction with that he had the privilege of going out and homesteading four or five sections of range land it would be amazing the amount of the State of Wyoming that would be taken up inside of the next five years.

The Kinkaid Act, to my notion, solved the public land question in Nebraska, because that is a heavier grazed region than ours is. If you would make that four or five sections in this State you would not have the public range question, as far as Wyoming is concerned, for very many years. You would not have the public range for very many years to lease. In New Mexico or some of these more arid countries you might 25 or 30 years from now have to provide a still more liberal law. To my notion that is the way, and I do not believe you can ever pass a law through the Congress of the United States that does not figure on a continuously liberalized policy toward the homesteader, because those folks look upon it as one of their inherent rights to come West and take up some land. If they come West and make a go of it, as they could under this plan, in my opinion, well and good. The land would pass into private ownership, and this very problem that you are here to-day to try to solve would be taken away.

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Myers. Mr. Frank Yates.


The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Yates, what is your vocation.

Mr. YATES. I am an attorney at law, and also interested in the sheep-raising business.

The CHAIRMAN. How long have you been engaged in the sheep


Mr. YATES. About eight years.

The CHAIRMAN. Do you own ranch property?

Mr. YATES. Yes; we do.

The CHAIRMAN. Are you grazing your sheep within the confines

of the national forest?

Mr. YATES. We do.

The CHAIRMAN. What forest?

Mr. YATES. The Bridger.

The CHAIRMAN. Do you graze your

public domain?

Mr. YATES. Yes; we do.

livestock upon the unreserved

The a statement that you will make to this

committee, Mr. Yates?

Mr. YATES. I have, sir.

The CHAIRMAN. Will you proceed?

Mr. YATES. I did not know until yesterday afternoon that I was

therefore, been hurriedly prepared, without the time and thought that such serious questions as are now before the committee require. I have been interested in the sheep-raising business for about seven and one-half years, and during this period conditions have been alternately good and bad, and taking this period as a whole

I can not see that I am very much, if any, financially better off than I was when I went into the business, although we are looking forward to fairly good conditions the next two or three years unless bad weather conditions or slumps in markets should occur.

The CHAIRMAN. May I interrupt there? When you speak of the improved prosperity you are referring only to the branch of the livestock industry in which you are interested, and that is the sheep industry?

Mr. YATES. Yes, sir. I take it that probably the most important question which your subcommittee desires to investigate is the advisability of some kind of control over the public domain. This part of Wyoming is purely a sheep country, although considerable cattle raising is carried on about 100 or 150 miles northwest of this point, and it is purely from a sheepman's point of view that these remarks have been prepared.

If any form of control is attempted by the Government of the public domain used by the sheepmen in this part of the State, it seems to me that almost insurmountable difficulties will be found, and I seriously doubt whether any scheme can be devised that would be practicable from a sheepman's standpoint or satisfactory from the Government's point of view.

The public domain can not be compared to a forest reserve.

On the forest reserve we each have our own particular allotment with a permit to graze so many head of sheep from the first of July to the middle of September. For this privilege we are now paying, I believe, 734 cents per head per season, and although minor difficulties occasionally crop up, still on the whole they can be overcome by a little giving and taking between the Forest Service and the sheepmen. I therefore personally feel that the forest reserve we us and the method by which it is controlled at the present time is a good thing from the sheepmen's standpoint, and on the whole works out fairly satisfactory. Much depends, of course, upon the individual supervisors and rangers upon a particular national forest, and one can readily see that where incompetent Forest Service men are in charge of a forest reserve much unnecessary trouble can be caused stockmen by arbitrary and unfair rulings to which appeals are not very often practicable. However, when our sheep are off the forest reserve, I do not believe the principle of allotting each stockholder a certain given territory would be all satisfactory. We each have our spring and fall range, which is controlled by owning springs and land adjacent to water, and when we have an abundance of rain. as we have had this year, sheep can go farther afield for better feed and use water holes formed by rain which are dry during seasons when there is less moisture.

The distance between our winter range and the forest reserve is all the way from 100 to 200 or 250 miles, and how the public domain in between our summer and winter ranges could be controlled is a problem that is too deep for me.

In the late fall, winter, and early spring months we must have snow to water our sheep on, and one year a portion of the range might carry fair feed when during another season the same range might be entirely or practically bare, for the reason that in this

part of the country rain distribution is peculiar, some portions of the country getting plenty when other portions get hardly any at all.

Under these conditions it would, in my opinion, be impracticable to allot a sheep outfit a certain particular territory, as is allotted on the forest reserve, for the reason that it might be impossible to care for the stock of the permittee during some seasons on the territory allotted.

We have our winter grazing range, which consists of a strip of land about 50 or 60 miles long by 40 miles wide, which lands have been purchased mostly from the Union Pacific Railroad Co. by the association to which we belong. Each share entitles its owner to graze one band of not more than 3,500 head of sheep on the grazingassociation land; but no shareholder has any particular allotment, as the range is grazed wherever possible, according to accessibility by reason of snow conditions.

The Rock Springs sheepmen have not been seriously inconvenienced by the 640-acre homestead law, as the land in this part of the State is of such character that it is absolutely useless for homestead purposes. I do feel, however, as I believe do most other stockmen feel, that this law has done a great deal of permanent injury to the livestock business and has broken 90 per cent of the ex-soldiers and other homesteaders who took up land under it. Only this week a young ex-soldier came into my office and stated that a few years ago he proved up on his 640-acre homestead in the upper country and he expected to be able to sell it before long, as he thought conditions were improving and that some rancher in the vicinity would be willing to buy his place. I met this particular fellow about the time he filed on his homestead, and I know at the time that he made his filing the only object he had in mind was that of exercising his rights as an ex-soldier in connection with establishing his residence and proving up on his place, and then selling it at a remunerative figure to some rancher. In other places I know of, where upon entries under this law the land has been plowed, the native grasses have been ruined and the places afterwards abandoned by the homesteaders when they found it was impossible to make a living on

640 acres.

The public domain, we all concede, is suitable for nothing else but livestock grazing, and after the Government has been unable to give it away through the 640-acre homestead law it is now coming back on the sheep and cattlemen to lease or buy this land which nobody wants and which homesteaders will not accept as a gift in tracts of a square mile each. We admit as sheepmen, and I suppose the cattlemen will admit the same thing, that we need the public domain to operate our sheep and cattle outfits; but it can not be leased and fenced in large tracts as it is in Australia and in Some of our Southwestern States on account of our severe weather conditions, and on account of the method by which we operate I do not believe any form of governmental control would be satisfactory or practicable.

We only produce approximately 50 per cent of the wool consumed in the United States, the remaining 50 per cent being imported by

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our manufacturers from foreign countries. It therefore seems to me that the least we can expect from our Government is that we should be encouraged rather than handicapped. We feel we are raising a commodity that is an absolute essential in time of peace and more so in time of war, and rather than saddle us with additional bureaucratis departments controlled by swivel-chair officials 2,000 miles away and be compelled to pay a rental for or purchase something which the Government can not give away we should be let alone to pursue our work as we deem best and according to the established methods that have been in existence the last 30 or 40 years.

The livestock industry of the West, particularly the cattle business, has been through and is still suffering from the effects of one of the worst periods of depression in the history of the business. In 1920 our own output through especially bad storms and a shortage of feed on the range lost approximately 25 per cent of its sheep. We sold our wool in the spring of that year, the most expensive clip we ever raised, for 122 cents a pound, and we are just now recovering from the experience we had during that and the following year. The way conditions are at the present time we might be able to pay a small rental for the use of the public domain, but who can tell what conditions we will have to face during the next years? We may and probably will have a recurrence of our experiences in 1920 and 1921, and if we are saddled with additional burdens, it simply means more outfits going broke and more banks closing their doors in the Western States.

The livestock business has contributed probably more than anything else to the upbuilding of the West, and toward this end the public domain has contributed its share, but the fact that scores of banks in the Western States have closed their doors during the last few years indicates in no uncertain manner that we have not been waxing fat off the public domain, or from any other source.

What little the poor old ewe salvages from these bare hills and plains is nothing more than that which is replaced by nature year by year, and our business will not stand the leasing or purchase of the public domain.

We don't consider we are thieves or robbers, but on the contrary feel we are engaged in a necessary and vital enterprise absolutely necessary and essential for the well being of our country, and only ask that we be left alone without being compelled to submit to further governmental rules and regulations with the endless red tape, inconvenience, and embarrassment which is so distasteful to us all. We therefore again ask that we be left alone.

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Yates, with full cognizance of the fact that you have voiced your opposition to the enactment of a law providing for the leasing of the public domain, if such a law should be enacted, regardless of that position, what in your opinion should be the maximum rental charged for the use of the public domain for grazing purposes?

Mr. YATES. I feel the absolute maximum should be the cost of administration and nothing more.

The CHAIRMAN. If such a law is to be enacted, how in your opinion should the leases be distributed? By that I mean, to whom should preference be given in awarding the leases?

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