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Water Power Conservation was one of the principal topics of discussion at The Fifth National Conservation Congress held in Washington, D. C., November 18th, 19th and 20th, 1913. The Committee on Water Power included in its membership some of the nation's best known students of the subject under the Chairmanship of George F. Swain, President of the American Society of Civil Engineers. This Committee presented a series of Unanimous Recommendations which were adopted by the Congress. From the Committee there also came a Majority Report and a Minority Report. Discussion of these three documents was free and spirited. Out of the discussion came action which marks distinct progress in the direction of constructive Water Power policies. By many close students it is believed that this action is one of the most important steps ever taken in the line of sane Conservation.
Herewith will be found the salient features of the work of The Fifth National Conservation Congress dealing with the Conservation of Water Power. In the interest of constructive results there has been partial elimination of purely controversial debate, as it was felt such discussion would add nothing to the value of this report. The proceedings as presented herewith give the nation the benefit of the constructive work achieved by the Congress and its able Committee. Because of this the officials of the Congress take pleasure in submitting the document, believing it to be an important contribution to Conservation history.
This book does not assume to offer a report of the Congress on matters other than Water Power. The forestry features are covered in a separate volume issued through the Forestry Committee. The deliberations of the Congress embraced much of interest along other lines of Conservation which will doubtless be given publicity in still another volume. Concentration on Water Power in this particular book is due to the belief that in this way can be obtained the most effective circulation and dissemination of the constructive results achieved on this subject.
OPENING REMARKS OF PRESIDENT CHARLES LATHROP PACK.
At First Session of the Fifth National Conservation Congress, the New Willard Hotel, Washington, D. C., November 18, 1913.
It is with unusual pleasure that I welcome you all, ladies and gentlemen, delegates to the Fifth National Conservation Congress. At any time and in any place it would be a privilege to greet a body of men and women of this character—so truly representative of the best spirit and the best endeavor of America —men and women unselfishly devoted to the practical altruism of Conservation. At this particular time and in Washington, the pleasure is intensified. This is true for the reason that the cause of conservation is face to face the coming winter with the most serious fight in its history. Your presence at the seat of the Nation's Government will afford the best possible opportunities for gaining counsel from those in authority and for making our own message widely heard by the American people.
As you all know, this is the first great gathering of Conservationists held in Washington since the year of the epoch making Conference of Governors at the White House in 1908. It was at the White House conference that the conservation movement first assumed concrete, definite and tangible form. To those of us who were privileged to be present, that gathering was an inspiration. To all it was historic. Its counsels were led by the President of the United States and its deliberations and activities had the benefit of the constructive energy and talents of such men as Gifford Pinchot, the late Dr. W. J. McGee of splendid memory, Mr. Frederick H. Newell, Hon. Walter L. Fisher —not to mention others.
From the first day of the White House Conference, there has never been a moment's doubt as to the ultimate success of the best conservation ideals. The cause was right. As a further fundamental, it commanded the confidence, the friendship and enthusiastic support of the American people. It is obvious that a righteous cause with the backing of the public can never fail. There may be differences of judgments, there may be moments even of conflict and there may be delays, but there will be no defeat. Truth loses some battles, but no wars. The main battle for sane and constructive conservation has moved steadily onward, making definite progress with each succeeding year, until now it is recognized as an essential part and parcel of good government.
The White House Conference was followed by other work for the cause. It was in 1909 that the National Conservation Congress was formally organized at a general gathering of public spirited men in Seattle. This assemblage and its far-reaching consequences were the general result of the previous meetings here in Washington, and the direct result of the wisdom, foresight and energy of that noble band of workers of the Northwest in the common cause, that noble band known as the Washington Forestry Association. The step was typical of the men of the great Northwest and illustrative of the spirit that has enabled them to build an empire and has made them at all times such forceful and valuable allies in the fight for conservation. This body held a convention in November, 1908, at which it was arranged that a Conservation Congress of national scope be held in Seattle during the Alaska-Pacific Exposition.
From the beginning thus made has grown this Annual Meeting or Congress in which we all take pride. The Seattle Congress devoted itself to Forestry and Water Power. A year later, the Saint Paul sessions were largely taken up with consideration of the conservation of public lands, one of the most important phases of the work involved in the scope of the organization. At Kansas City in 1911, Soil Fertility was the primary problem on which the talents, scholarships and practical experiences of the delegates were concentrated. Last year in Indianapolis we devoted our thought largely to the conservation of Human Life questions to which some of the nation's most earnest, conscientious and highly developed minds have given constructive thought with results that command our admiration.
This year we return to the seat of Government and to Forestry and Water Power, where we can anew synchronize the place and the subjects with which the Conservation movement found its birth and its first development. Since 1908, large results have been achieved in the conservation and proper utilization of these fundamental resources of the greatest, richest and most fortunate nation in the world. Let me emphasize the statement that the growth of conservation has been coincident with the growth of proper utilization of these resources. Conservation and utilization are synonymous. They cannot be divorced. Our opponents—sometimes we call them—would like to make it appear that conservation means reservation and the locking up of resources for the sole benefit of future generations at the expense of the present. We know that this is not true. We know that without proper utilization there can be no conservation worthy of the name. We know that perpetuation can be best achieved by present use along scientific lines, and it is to this policy that we stand committed. It is a policy which must be protected by constant vigilance—fought for when necessary. But one should not make the mistake of assuming that at all times all the laws and regulations that have been passed or made in connection with the handling of our public resources are all right and fit the situation, because it is not the fact. No one knows this better than those who have had actual experience. What people like ourselves stand for are the underlying principles and the frank correction of errors and amending of laws when found to be wrong. We are for the truth ! Another phase of combat arises from the insistence with which some interests strive to make it appear that there is popular clamor for state control of the great government properties in forest and stream. The growth of conservation does not please everybody. It is an economic problem. There are those who prefer a return to the old order of things, wherein wasteful gain was the keynote. It is inevitable that with these people true conservation should be unpopular. We must all recognize this even though such recognition forces us to feel we love conservation for some of the enemies it has made. Thus recognized, the enemy is half defeated. We must spare no effort, however, to insure complete defeat. That we can do it we all know. That we must do it is obvious. I greet you all most cordially as my fellow workers in the vineyard that shall yield perpetual fruitage for the use and good of the entire American people.