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my own upon each of these topics. Of course, the first to which I have referred, that of land, embraces the entire subject, because, broadly speaking, the land is supposed to include the mineral within it, the water which flows over it, and the forests which grow on it. Nevertheless, there are many problems included within the public domain which distinctly relate to land as land, and contradistinguished from the other main subdivisions or topics that I have mentioned.
NOT A NEW PCLICY.
Now, there is a great hue and cry, in certain sections, that in some way the Nation has departed from its ancient policies, with reference to land. It is my personal conviction that no change has been made that has not been necessitated by changed or different conditions. For instance, when we started out in this country, the forest area as a whole was not particularly valuable for lumber, but on the contrary it was an obstacle to agricultural development. The forest had to be cleared before the land itself could be put under cultivation, and that related particularly to the most valuable land. It was covered with forests. As we got into the central West that particular problem began to disappear. We had less difficulty in removing forests. We found more prairie and upland ready for the plow, and the result was that the question of forestry, the question of the removal of the timber became of diminishing importance. When we got into the extreme West we found a great subdivision in the character of our federal domain. While we found forested areas in the mountains, and in the more broken country, we found that the great territory lying west of the Mississippi river was in the main free from trees. But we have only recently learned that the land which never had the tree upon it, which has upon it today nothing but the sage brush, is after all the most valuable agricultural land which the Nation has possessed. We have found that the great problem of today in the West is how to get water upon the desert so that it may blossom like the garden and may become the most fertile and most productive portion of our national domain. As a result, the relative importance of the forest from the agricultural point of view has diminished, and the problem in the West today, as I have seen it during weeks of travel through irrigation projects, Indian offices, land offices, is how to get the water on the land, and the settler to follow the water. And I think if our friends who are particularly concerned about excessive forest reservations would devote their attention, first to getting settlers on those lands, which are worth ten times what their forest area is worth for agricultural purposes, the development of the West will go forward more rapidly than in any other way. (Applause) There are, however, many special problems connected with the land question that it is necessary to solve, and I shall pass rapidly to some of them.
Let us take the question of coal. There is a large area of coal reserved in the Western country from present entry. This coal land, under the statute which now prevails, is rapidly becoming available. There is considerable disappointment or disapproval of the policy of withdrawal of coal lands in certain portions of the West. Usually, as I have found by personal contact with the people of those areas, and by discussion at public meetings, the disapproval is on the part of the people who wish to exploit coal by getting it and holding it without present development, in expectation of reaping the unearned increment from the future growth of the country. Recently a letter was written to me, and given wide publicity by a member of Congress, to which I intend shortly to pay some attention, and I think perhaps at this time it would be just as well to discuss one or two of the features that are embodied in this correspondence. Congressman Mondell, of Wyoming, has written a letter in which he complains that the present policy of classifying public coal lands has resulted in increasing the price of coal to the consumer from fifty cents to a dollar a ton; that it has created a monopoly in the hands of the government, and that the prices are prohibitive.
SOME RESOURCE FIGURES.
I think that at this time, perhaps, it would be well to give some figures upon these various points, and I shall take this opportunity to do so. There are estimated to be, west of the 100th meridian, 620 billion tons of anthracite and bituminous coal; 650 billion tons of sub-bituminous, and 720 billion tons of lignite. The valuation which the Department of the Interior, through its geological survey, has placed upon these lands, is based upon the theory that the purchaser, instead of paying a flat rate per acre, pays by the ton for the coal which he buys at values graded according to the character of the coal. For instance, the price of land underlaid by anthracite and high grade bituminous coals is computed at the maximum of three cents a ton, whereas sub-bituminous coal of only moderate fuel value is rated at one-half cent per ton. An exception to the tonnage basis is made in cases of lignite in the lowest grades of sub-bituminous coals. These are valued at the prices fixed by law as the minimum prices at which coal land can be valued. No lignites whatever have been given values of hundreds of dollars an acre, as has been claimed, nor any value better than the minimum, $20, fixed by the statute if within fifteen miles of a railroad and $10 if at a greater distance. The tonnage value for coal sold in the ground, according to the best information obtainable, should be in general from one-fifth to onehalf of the royalty value of the same coal if paid for as mined. The classification prices used by the Geological Survey are, in fact, lower— in some cases very much lower. It is plainly impossible that the result of the classification policy has been to increase the cost of coal to the consumer as much as fifty cents on a dollar a ton, as claimed, since the maximum government price is only three cents a ton.
The State of Colorado charges a royalty itself of ten cents a to
for coal mined from the state lands regardless of the quality of the coal. The State of Wyoming fixes royalties for all grades of coal mined from state lands at from three cents to six cents per ton, depending upon the quality produced. Private leases in Wyoming require as high as ten cents, and for small local mines, much higher rates. Fifteen cents, for instance, is the royalty in the Mills City and Roundup districts of Montana, and in the Trinidad and Boulder countries in Colorado it runs from eight to twenty-seven and one-half cents. The government price on federal lands is in no case more than three cents a ton, and the great majority of the Western fields are being classified at from half a cent to two cents a ton. Now, that system of valuation results in prices of which only a comparatively small part are $150 or more. Great areas are valued at the minimum fixed by statute, and other great areas at comparatively low figures. Values running into the large amounts will be found only in the anthracite and the other high grade bituminous fields.
In many of the cases the prices fixed are less than the actual market price of private land of the same character in the same field. For example, coal lands in the Rock Springs field of Wyoming are reported to have been sold from $100 to $430 per acre. The government prices in this field will run from $20 to $465, the high price being for land with greater tonnage than that which would be covered by the S430 price paid by private interests. In the Colorado Springs district of Colorado these private land sales are reported from $100 to $500, while the classified price in that district ranges from $20 to $50. Now, it is true that in some of the cases prices by the acre are greater than the prices fixed for corresponding acreage elsewhere, even in the Eastern field, but the reason will be found to be in all those cases that the extent of the coal, the thickness of the vein and the number of the veins is greater. Land in certain fields of Pennsylvania is selling at $2,000 an acre, on the other hand, whereas the highest price fixed by the government on any of its lands is $600 an acre.
THE CLASSIFICATION POLICY.
It has been said that these prices are prohibitive. I have had a table prepared showing what the results have been in the four fiscal years that have passed since the adoption of the classification policy as compared with the preceding four years, and as a result I find that the sales of public coal land have increased 12% per cent in acreage and 36 per cent in value, as compared with the four preceding fiscal years.
I am giving these figures, and discussing this somewhat dry question at this time because of the fact that public attention is being attracted to these questions, and that a certain amount of either misunderstanding or misrepresentation is going vigorously on. The truth of the matter is that the government has offered incentive to development along this line greater than prevails in the private field. Why has it not been more
vigorous? May I put the question to you, whether it may not be that we are making the mistake which Australia and New Zealand have already recognized and corrected? And that we should put our coal lands where the conservation movement, where the National Conservation Association and the other conservation organizations have advocated placing it, under a rational leasing system : If I am right (applause) the present objections largely disappear. I was very much interested at the reception which was given to the presentation of some of these facts to the audiences that I addressed in Seattle and in other places, and to find that the suggestions made to them met with hearty concurrence so far as I could judge, when they clearly understood the facts, when they once clearly understood what had been the history in other fields where coal was put under a leasing system. For instance, I find the suggestion made that Canada was proceeding much more wisely and much more profitably and successfully in its coal development policy than the United States. But when I read the statutory law of the Yukon territory, and ascertained that every foot of coal land that is disposed of in that territory now is under a leasing system, I found that the argument went home. So it is with all of these other questions. There are great problems to solve, and it should be up to us to help solve them, although not entirely to us. The gentlemen on the other side, who are complaining of delay, have their share; but the responsibility, gentlemen, is upon us all, and we should all frankly recognize it. What is the ordinary history of coal lands in this country? What has been the history in the East and the central West? That the coal lands have been originally entered or acquired in one form or another by private owners, and that the original private owner seldom developed the mines. He sold or he leased to someone else. If he sold, the chances are that the purchaser himself leased the land; until you will find that a great part of the coal lands of the United States that are now under development, are being operated under leaseholds of one kind or another. So in the far West. Take the railroad mines. I had the pleasure of riding with the officials of some of these railroads in the West, who have control of the coal lands of the companies. And when I asked them what their policy was for the development of these lands, without exception thus far—there may be exceptions, although I haven't heard of them—without exception this far, they stated they were developing their coal lands under the leasing system, and regarded it as the only proper way. If that is so we should at least pause long enough to consider whether that policy is not the right one for the Nation, and adopt it if right, and discard it if it is wrong. After this coal is leased what do we find We find that unrestricted development, that development which is thrown open to the laws of commercial competition, does not always work wisely. Our coal fields now generally throughout the country, are largely overexploited, with the result that during a considerable portion of the time the coal mines are empty, the miners are idle and depression reigns, and we find what always happens—demoralization and frequently disorder; for it takes, gentlemen, steady work to make steady men. And you have got to get that principle in your coal fields if you are going to be successful with them. (Applause)
THE HISTORY OF THE FOREST.S.
Take the history of the forests to which I must hastily turn. When I talk with the lumber interests of the country—and inquire about the real facts as to the condition of the lumber trade—I find that large holdings throughout this country are being held in private hands and undeveloped, uncut, although they admit that much of it is ripe and ready for the ax and the saw. Why? Because of conditions in the market. I find them complaining of the fact that large areas have been thrown open to people without capital who have thought that there was a way to quick and easy wealth, who have made their obligations to the banks, and who have to meet the interest charges, and the minute that the price of lumber goes down the only way they can meet it is by throwing upon the market more lumber, with the result of consequent demoralization of the trade. And all the while the large interests protect themselvs by buying at the lower prices and holding out of development as much of their areas as they can. Now, that, it seems to me, is fundamentally unwise. We should wish to dispose of our national resources in such a way that development will be absolutely assured and that holding them for future profit will be absolutely prevented (Applause), because in the last analysis, all of this burden comes back upon the consumer's shoulders. We never escape it. If we sell the coal land to the individual, and he sells to another at an added price, and he to another, and then finally it is leased to the fourth, who actually operates, we can depend upon it that the consumer is paying the carrying charge upon each of the profits that the first three have successively obtained. If we adopt the policy, as in Australia, that the mine holder cannot hold his lease unless he develops, that he must pay a fixed rental of a certain amount in any event, we will create an automatic check which will work largely to remedy the evil of which both the public and the honest dealer complain. (Applause)
Now, I want to turn for a moment to the irrigation question, because no one can have traveled over this Western territory as I have done and made personal investigation of the work of the Reclamation Service, and of the work being carried on by private interests in the same direction, without being tremendously impressed with the immense public benefit derived from activities of this sort. And yet that service presents certain concrete difficulties. For instance, our reclamation law provides that we must divide our payments into ten annual installments, and that the