« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
reservations, while others that do not require enlargement do require a change of form; that is, they are required to be diminished in one way and enlarged in another.
The Secretary of War appeared before the committee and stated that such adjustments could, in his opinion, be made with greater economy to the Government if authority were given to exchange public lands for private lands.
Your committee have therefore carefully prepared the bill in such manner as to prevent the issuance of scrip, and have provided for specific exchanges and limited the aggregate area to 20,000 acres that may be exchanged under the act.
PROTECTION OF PUBLIC LANDS ON THE LOWER
FEBRUARY 4, 1907.-Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the
state of the Union and ordered to be printed.
Mr. SMITH, of California, from the Committee on the Public Lands,
submitted the following
[To accompany S. 7776.]
The Committee on the Public Lands, to whom was referred the bill (S. 7776) to protect the Colorado River, having had the same under consideration, respectfully submit the following report:
That with the following amendments the bill pass :
Amend the title so as to read: “An act to protect the public lands on the lower Colorado River, and for other purposes.
On page 1, line 3, strike out"two” and insert" one."
On page 1, line 10, strike out “and in connec-," and on page 2 strike out all of lines 1, 2, 3, and 4.
After section 3 add:
SEC. 4. The sum of one million dollars herein appropriated shall be treated as a loan to the reclamation fund, and shall be repaid out of said fund in five equal annual installments.
This bill aims to carry into effect the suggestions made by the President in his message of January 12, 1907 (S. Doc. 212). The importance of controlling the Colorado River from the international line, near Yuma, southward can hardly be overestimated. Unless this be done the entire irrigation system supplying water to the Imperial Valley, in California, will be discharged, ruining the entire agricultural interests of 8,000 to 10,000 people. It is thought also that the sluicing out of the river channel would continue upstream till the great Laguna reclamation dam would be destroyed, thus terminating the work now under way for the irrigation of a large amount of rich bottom land in Arizona. Should the sluicing out continue still farther upstream it will produce conditions which will prevent the irrigation of approximately 400,000 acres of Government land still farther up the river. Altogether the future irrigation of
more than 700,000 acres of rich land, chiefly owned by the Government, depends upon the preservation of the Colorado River in its former condition.
At the urgent solicitation of the President the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, whose roadbed was threatened by the overflow, began the work of closing the break in the levee and strengthening the same about December 20, 1906, and at this date is prosecuting the work with vigor. The fair division of the cost of this work is by the bill left to the President.
The following extract from the message referred to presents the salient features of the same:
The Imperial Valley, so called, in San Diego County, Cal., includes a large tract of country below sea level. Southeast of the valley and considerably above its level is the Colorado River, which flows on a broad, slightly elevated plain upon which the river pursues a tortuous course, finally entering the Gulf of Cal. ifornia. The lands in the Imperial Valley are 200 feet or more below the lerel of the Colorado River. Down as far as the international border they are protected from inundation by low-lying hills. South of the boundary, in the Republic of Mexico, the hills cease abruptly and only the broad, low mud banks of the river protect the valley from being converted into an inland sea or lake. In order to get any water to this vast tract of fertile but desert land or, on the other hand, to protect it from too much water, works of supply or protection must be built in Mexico, even though they may tap the river in the United States. The United States can neither aid nor protect the interests of its citi. zens without going upon foreign soil.
The California Development Company, a corporation, undertook the work of taking the water from the Colorado River for the purpose of irrigating the lands in the Imperial Valley. The first heading of the canal of the California Development Company was in the United States immediately north of the Mexican border. This not giving sufficient flow of water, a cut in the river bank was made 4 miles farther south, in Mexican territory. This cut on Mexican soil was made in the fall of 1904. It was gradually eroded by the passage of the water, and in the spring of 1905 the floods of the Colorado River entering the artificial cut rapidly widened and deepened it until the entire flow of the rirer was turned westwardly down the relatively steep slope into the Imperial Valley, and thence into what is known as the “Salton Sink ” or “ Salton Sea." This break was closed on November 4, 1906, but a month later a sudden rise in the river undermined the levees immediately south of the former break, and the water again resumed its course into the Salton Sea. Effort is now being made to close the break a second time.
It is estimated that there are from 6,000 to 10,000 people in the Imperial Valley, and if the break in the river is not closed before the coming spring flood of 1907 it is probable that a large part of the property values in the val. ley will be wiped out, including farms and towns, and ultimately the channel will be deepened in the main stream up to and beyond the town of Yuma, destroying the homes and farms in that vicinity and the Government works at Laguna dam, where the Government has already expended more than $1,000,000 and there are outstanding liabilities under contract amounting to nearly a million more. Private agencies are now at work to close the break through which the Colorado River is flowing into the Salton Sea, and are repairing and building levees to keep the river within its banks when it rises by reason of the spring floods.
RELIEF OF HOMESTEAD AND OTHER ENTRYMEN PAYING
EXCESS LEGAL FEES, ETC.
FEBRUARY 5, 1907.- Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state of
the Union and ordered to be printed.
Mr. Martin, from the Committee on the Public Lands, submitted
[To accompany H. R. 22588.]
The Committee on the Public Lands, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 22588) for the relief of homstead and other entrymen who have been required to pay more than the legal fees, commissions, excesses, and purchase money, having had the same under consideration, respectfully submit the following report:
The committee recommends that the bill be amended in the last line thereof by striking out the words “legal representatives” and inserting the word 'assigns," and that the bill as so amended shall
pass. In the administration of our public-land laws it is unavoidable that some mistakes should be made by the officers of the Government, and that in many instances money should be paid into the Treasury of the United States for the public lands in excess of the legal amount due therefor. It has always been the policy of the Government to return to the persons entitled thereto such amounts as have been paid into the Federal Treasury by mistake. However, when money is once paid into the Treasury it can be disbursed only under specific Congressional authority. For this purpose an act was passed January 12, 1825 (Rev. Stat., secs. 2362-2363), which provided for the refundment of purchase money where the Government could not convey title to the land entered, and by the act of June 16, 1880 (21 Stat. L., 287), this character of relief was extended to include the return of fees and commissions on homestead entries that could not be confirmed and of the illegal excess where double minimum price had been paid for lands afterwards found not to be within any railroad land grant.
The effect of these laws is to exclude from their beneficial operation all cases not specifically included therein. As a result there is a large class of cases where by mistake the local land officers have collected more than the lawful fees or purchase money on valid entries, or where illegal amounts have been collected by such officers through misinterpretation of the laws or instructions or by clerical error. There is no principle of equity or good conscience by which the Government can retain moneys which have been paid into the Treasury under these circumstances, and yet as the law now stands there is no authority for returning such funds to the persons entitled thereto. The purpose of the present bill is to provide for repayment in cases of this character.
The present bill is identical with section 2 of the act of 1880, except in lines 6, 7, and 8, on page 2 of the bill, where it is provided that repayment may be had in all cases where parties have been “required to pay more than the lawful fees, commissions, excesses, or purchase money." This is the only amendment in the law as it now stands, and it is believed that this provision will meet all meritorious cases not already included under the law.
The passage of this bill is recommended by the honorable Secretary of the Interior and the honorable Commissioner of the General Land Office, whose communications thereon are attached as a part of this report.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, January 23, 1907. SIR: In letter of the 9th instant you inclosed, for the views of the Department, H. R. 22588, entitled “A bill for the relief of homestead and other entrymen who have been required to pay more than the legal fees, commissions, excesses, and purchase money."
In reply to your letter I have the honor to inclose copy of a report on the bill by the Commissioner of the General Land Office, who recommended its passage as drawn.
The bill amends section 2 of the act of June 16, 1880 (21 Stat. L., 287), which provides that where an entry is canceled for conflict or has been erroneously allowed and can not be confirmed, the fees and commissions, amount of purchase money, and excess paid upon the same shall be repaid “to the person who made such entry, or to his heirs or assigns,” and in case of double minimum excess paid for land, "to the purchaser thereof, or to the heirs or assigns.”
The proposed amendment is in the final clause of the bill, and provides for repay. ment "to the entryman or to his heirs or legal representatives." In my view, the words “legal representatives” should be replaced by the word "assigns,” used in the first part of the bill and also in the act of 1880. This change is believed advisable. not only to secure uniformity of expression in the bill, but also because the word "assigns," as used in the act of 1880, has received construction by this Department, the Treasury Department, and the courts, and has thus come to have a well-defined meaning in connection with the repayment law.
With the foregoing suggestion, I concur in the recommendation of the Commissioner of the General Land Office. Very respectfully,
E. A. HITCHCOCK,
Secretary. The CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE PUBLIC LANDS,
House of Representatives.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
GENERAL LAND OFFICE,
Washington, D. C., January 18, 1907. Sir: I am in receipt, by reference of the 11th instant, from the First Assistant Secre tary, "for early report in duplicate, with recommendation, of H. R. 22588, for relief of hoinestead and other entrymen who have been required to pay more than the legal fee, commissions, excesses, and purchase money," the same being accompanied by