Page images
PDF
EPUB

not been blinded by this wonderful petroleum development that has taken place here, but are willing to see the light, that the most substantial foundation that this community can have would be a real agricultural development such as this project proposes.

It seems to me that if a project ever had what we might term extenuating circumstances to support it this propsed Alcova-Casper project certainly has.

And then there is a third way that I would like to have this committee analyze this project, and that is to place the test of the general benefits that would accrue. In the first place attention has been called to the fact that the highest economic development of the North Platte water supply would be from the headwaters down. This development of this great river is of interest to the whole country, and why should not consideration be given to its highest economic use?

Second. From the standpoint of economics there would be the economic waste to this fine community that has been built up. I believe that I can look out from this window and see the Elks' Home across the way, this magnificient church across this fine city park, some modern school building, and thousands of residences, that would much more than represent the value of $12,000,000 that it would cost to construct this project. Of what use will all this fine plant be that we can see from this window if the need for the same were outgrown in this community to a large extent ?

The flush production in the Salt Creek field, as outlined last night, is over, and now the field will not continue increasing production but will probably gradually go back. Although no doubt much production will continue over a term of many years. But the slack will gradually come, and already it is said that men, good, reliable citizens, find that their work is no more needed and already are leaving the community. That process must necessarily continue by reason of the very nature of a mineral production which becomes gradually exhausted. If this project can be started that slack will gradually be taken up and this fine plant can be continued.

I further submit that Casper is a logical center for a real city. If you will look at a map of the State of Wyoming or of this section of the country, you will see that the city is ideally located. Two railroads now come to the town, and a third is proposed. The chairman came over a highway yesterday from Rawlins to Casper that makes a fine outlet for a highway transportation to the South. You will find the same true to the other four points of the compass and to many intermediate points.

The development of a substantial and progressive community here means a great deal to Wyoming as a public-land State, and therefore I feel that the matter should appeal to this committee as a Senate Committee upon Public Lands. You can not have a substantial and enduring development here without advancing the interests of the surrounding territory for a large distance.

And then again in consideration of the general public interest I wish to call attention to the fact that a substantial development from the water supply of the North Platte River in the Wyoming territory would mean that it would solve a great deal of the controversy that now exists. It is pointed out in the brief presented by the chamber of commerce that the “ Pathfinder permit” was allowed under certain conditions. In so many words this permit was quali

fied by the State engineer by the indorsement that it was for the reclamation of lands lying under Government canals as per applications.

This indorsement has not been lived up to-only in part to date. Two of the five canals that were proposed have been constructed. Three have not been. The three that have not been constructed lie entirely in Wyoming. The two that have been constructed lie part in Wyoming and a part in Nebraska, with over 75 per cent of the lands reclaimed lying in Nebraska. Therefore, Wyoming has a right to expect further development, and from the legal standpoint I feel confident that we have the right to insist that Pathfinder was intended for the purpose of this large development in Wyoming, allowing at the same time for the development that was proposed in the State of Nebraska.

We do not wish to have any quarrel with the Bureau of Reclamation or with the State of Nebraska in this matter, and I do not believe it is necessary. Why should it be necessary when there is water enough for all? And when all the equities point to the development that the city of Casper and the surrounding country now ask.

I am inclined to think that the program to date has not been ill advised. That the areas under the Interstate and the Fort Laramie Canals of the North Platte project were no doubt ready for development from the standpoint of agriculture first. But the time has come now when we are certainly ready for this development in Casper and in the region below Casper as far as the Whalen diversion to these two interstate canals.

And I do wish to submit that if this economic loss that threatens this community is to be avoided by the construction of this great project it must be done now. Now is the time for the construction, both from the standpoint of the interests of this community and of the proper development of the North Platte River water supply as a whole.

A recent statement of the Secretary of the Interior is not in favor of the development of new areas.

It has been submitted with very excellent ground work and reasoning that this project is only a part of the general North Platte project which conceived the construction of the Pathfinder reservoir in this State and the irrigation of a large acreage of land included under five different canals. Therefore if we consider this as a part of the North Platte project it is not a new project. It will be a new area, but it certainly seems to me that what I have been pleased to call extenuating circumstances makes this project outstanding as an exception.

I would not want to close without paying tribute to the men who have represented the United States Government in the work of reclaiming areas of arid lands in the west. The contact I have had with those men has given me all respect, both for sincerity of purpose and their ability. We have had serious differences of opinion, but I have not found the time yet when we could not get together with the representatives of the Government and discuss the matters that we might have under consideration. And when it has come to a final determination we have always found a way out. And I do not believe we should approach this matter in the spirit of antagonism either with the Government or with Nebraska, but in the spirit of cooperation, presenting with all force the equities of the situation, the logical development of this great water supply, and the other reasons that seem to me to point to the advisability of an early undertaking by our Government of this great project.

And now I would like to touch just for a minute upon one other matter that now faces this community, and that is in regard to the release of water from Pathfinder Reservoir during the off-irrigation season. Until a short time ago—I should say not over two weeks ago—a release of about 3250 second feet of water was being made from Pathfinder Reservoir for the purpose of supplying the water to irrigation under the North Platte project and other rights established upon the North Platte River below Pathfinder. This would amount to 6,300 acre-feet of water per day. From information that has come to me it has been my understanding that it was the decision of those representing the North Platte project to close the Pathfinder gates entirely, by reason of the low stage of storage now in the reservoir.

Anyone at all familiar with the situation upon this river, especially in this section, would realize what a disaster that would mean. A water supply is the very lifeblood of any community. Below Pathfinder and above Casper the only stream that might be considered of any size at all is Bates Creek, with a nominal flow possibly of 12 or 15 seconds feet of water. It is doubtful if this head of water would carry through in any amount to the city of Casper if it had to come alone in the broad river bottom.

It seems unthinkable that this great community here, and the industries that have been built up should be denied a reasonable amount of water for their use during the off-irrigation season. One hundred second-feet of water would give it a good supply. One hundred second-feet would amount to 200 acre-feet of water per 24 hours. They were releasing from Pathfinder an amount of 6,300 acre-feet of water per 24 hours up to two weeks ago. That amount of water would supply the 100 second-feet that is necessary for the proper maintenance of this community and industries along this section of the river for a period of more than 30 days. A week's release of water at the rate of 3,250 second-feet would supply a sufficient amount of water for the use of this section during the entire off-irrigation season.

Under a strict technical interpretation of the Wyoming law it seems that the right established for Pathfinder with its 1904 priority would allow the Government, controlling the Pathfinder Reservoir, to do the very thing of shutting those gates tight. It seems that beyond that strictly legal consideration should come the great public interest represented upon this river. And this is a question that I think that those in control at Washington should well consider, and which this committee as interested in the welfare of these public-land States can well take into its counsel.

commend these matters to the careful consid tion of the committee.

The CHAIRMAN. Have you any questions, Senator?
Senator KENDLICK. None.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Emerson.
The committee will now stand adjurned.

(Thereupon, at 6.20 o'clock p. m., Friday, October 2, 1925, the committee adjourned, to reconvene at Pueblo, Colo., Tuesday October 6, 1925.)

Х

HEARINGS

BEFORE A

SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC LANDS AND SURVEYS

UNITED STATES SENATE

SIXTY-NINTH CONGRESS

FIRST SESSION

PURSUANT TO

S. Res. 347

TO INVESTIGATE ALL MATTERS RELATING TO NATIONAL
FORESTS AND THE PUBLIC DOMAIN AND

THEIR ADMINISTRATION

[blocks in formation]

COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC LANDS AND SURVEYS

ROBERT N. STANFIELD, Oregon, Chairman REED SMOOT, Utah.

KEY PITTMAN, Nevada, PETER NORBECK, South Dakota.

ANDRIEUS A, JONES, New Mexico. RALPH CAMERON, Arizona.

JOHN B. KENDRICK, Wyoming. TASKER L. ODDIE, Nevada.

THOMAS J. WALSH, Montana.
PORTER H, DALE, Vermont.

HENRY F. ASHURST, Arizona.
C. C. DILL, Washington.

R. J. DOOLEY, Clerk

SUBCOMMITTEE ON S. RES. 347

ROBERT N. STANFIELD, Oregon, Chairman RALPH CAMERON, Arizona.

ANDRIEUS A. JONES, New Mexico. TASKER L. ODDIE, Nevada.

JOHN B. KENDRICK, Wyoming. PORTER H. DALE, Vermont.

C. C. DILL, Washington.
HERNY F. ASHURST, Arizona.

II

« PreviousContinue »