Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Anyhow, we are thankful for small favors. If it had been the intention and had been carried out, it would have been a mistake, for the reason that the Conservation movement is national in scope, and is a part of no section and no State alone. The Conservation movement—in other words, the public conscience—received its awakening some two years ago, and Theodore Roosevelt did the awakening (applause); and I am pleased to note that the sentiment created by President Roosevelt has ripened into practical action by President Taft (renewed applause). I resent the insinuation that Montana and the Northwest, and in fact the entire West, is opposed to Conservation; in fact, I insist that the Northwest is the leader of the Conservation movement (applause), and that the first practical act in Conservation was taken by a western State, Montana (applause). I am proud of the fact that the first Conservation commission, either State or National, was appointed by me, in the State of Montana (applause). I am further proud of the fact that the first Conservation law, comprehensive in extent, was, under my recommendation, passed by the Legislature of Montana; and in that respect we have led the National Government in the Conservation movement (applause). Therefore, just for a moment, and not desiring to be personal, permit me to state what we have done. And in every respect we have kept step with the National Government and in the majority of cases we have led the National Government, and you can come to us for a lesson as to how to properly conserve the natural resources of the country (applause). The Legislature which assembled in Montana in 1900 enacted a law conserving the resources possessed by us in our public lands, so generously given us by the Government on our admission. That measure provided for the disposition of the land to actual cultivators of the soil, in 160-acre tracts where irrigated, in 320-acre tracts where it is suitable for dry farming, and in 640 acre-tracts where it was only suitable for the raising of hay or for grazing purposes—that is, in the high altitudes, in the mountains. So in that respect we have gone hand in hand with the Government in the passage of the 320-acre homestead act, applicable to entries where irrigation could not be had. In that same law, passed in 1909, some eighteen months ago, Montana forever reserved from sale, and in every patent on every acre of its lands that might thereafter be issued retained the coal rights, and provided for the leasing of those rights from time to time and for periods not exceeding five years (applause). So today, when President Taft says he hopes Congress will do the same with the Government coal lands, we say, Mr President, we are with you and hope Congress will do this (applause), and if you wish an illustration proving that the title to coal lands can be retained and the coal rights

leased from tinne to time orovidinor for the riorht to on; one the coal

at not less than 12% cents per ton, come to Montana and we will show you half a dozen coal leases with such provision which have been in force for the last sixteen months (applause). Have we lagged behind the National Government? Oh, no! In fact, we have led the National Government in the matter of Conservation. (Applause) And as to the metalliferous ores of the mines—the same laws are applicable to State lands that are applicable to Government lands. As to the forests: in the making of those laws, I corresponded, and our commission corresponded, and we made those laws with the consent of, and they were afterward approved by, Mr Gifford Pinchot (applause). There is but one provision which we made then differing from those of the Government. We provided in that law, passed eighteen months ago, that lands more suitable for agriculture than for reforestation should be used for agricultural purposes and not for reforestation purposes. President Taft described this morning how the Government had in the last few months been doing the same thing, so it seems that, after a while, the Government will catch up to Montana in that respect (laughter and applause). Now, then, on the water-power question: That same commisision is now operating, and it is going to prepare suggestions for submission to the next Montana Legislature with reference to adequate provisions for conserving the waters of the State of Montana, and I have no doubt that the recommendations of the commission will, at the next session, be adopted. We would have done that two years ago except we cannot do all these things at once; our session only lasted sixty days, while Congress is in session all the time (laughter and applause). If we had even six months instead of two years for it, we would have had those water resources conserved long ago (laughter). Is Montana entitled to take a place in the kindergarten class in the school of Conservation 2 And are we who have conserved our resources to be distrusted as Governor Noel says you must distrust the Legislature and the people of the State of Mississippi * (Applause) I thank my God that I can trust the people of Montana to protect their own (Applause) And let me tell you one thing: the whole can never be greater than the sum total of its parts, and the Federal Government can never adequately preserve its resources until you get at least a majority of the people in a majority of the States to so agree, because it takes a majority for the Federal Congress or the Federal Government to act (applause). You start at the wrong end. You have got to start with the people of the State and build up. Now, are we capable of passing legislation to preserve our water resources? I think we are ; and let me tell you some of our plans. In the first place, the water and the land, during the territorial days of each State, belonged to the Federal Government. When the State was admitted, the lands were reserved by the federal Government, but the waters flowing in the streams of the State passed into the control of the State. You heard Senator Nelson, an able lawyer, refer this afternoon to the fact that that was the law. Now, they tell us that you cannot trust the States, you must trust the Federal Government; and yet I listened for nearly an hour to one of the ablest presentations I ever heard of how the Federal Government for a hundred years wasted its resources with all the prodigality of a drunken sailor (applause). Trust the Federal Government! Why, the Federal Government has been the greatest sinner in that respect. I am glad the Federal Government has awakened and is going to preserve its resources, but Montana, at least, woke up a little before (applause). In this matter of the water-power: The most valuable use that water can be put to, or, in other words, the most valuable function that water can perform, is not the development of electrical power; in the semi-arid States it is the applying of that water to irrigation and the reclamation of the arid lands of the West (applause). So bear that in mind. In the State of Montana—and what is true in that State is true largely in every other State in the West—not one-third of the arable lands that can be irrigated have as yet been reclaimed; less than 2,000,000 acres have been reclaimed in Montana, while there are 6,000,000, in fact there are 10,000,000 acres that can be reclaimed. In other words, there are from six to ten million acres yet to be reclaimed by use of the water that flows in the streams of the State, and that is largely Government land. So that when you talk about conserving the water for water-power purposes, we say conserve it for reclamation purposes (applatlse); for the reclamation of Government land, too (applause), that may make homes for settlers who will come in and take it under the Homestead Act. There is the reason why we say that the Federal Government must not by its superior power step in and insist upon using the waters of the streams of the West for power purposes, unless when it so does it makes provision that the rights for irrigation purposes shall forever remain inviolate; otherwise, what does it amount to, the building of a dam across the stream? When the Government conveys the right to build a dam across a stream, it means that the amount of water flowing over that dam will determine the amount of power that may be developed ; hence, when that dam is built the Government, if it conveys anything of value, must convey the right to the use of that water, and the right to the use of that water flowing over that dam must accrue as of that date, and forever thereafter the franchise-holder will have the right to demand as a concession from the Federal Government that the same amount of water, all the natural flow of that stream, must go over that dam forever. You thereby absolutely prevent the diversion of any water on that stream above that point for irrigation purposes. The use of water for irrigation purposes does decrease the amount flowing in the stream. That is the reason we object to the Federal Government coming in and taking charge of our water-power and giving it out—we do not care so much about the little income that may be received; that is the reason we are insisting upon the rights of the State. Now, remember this: In the first instance, there is no contention but what the regulation of water for irrigating purposes is absolutely vested in the State, and that the Federal Government cannot acquire that right; hence a number of irrigators have already appropriated a part of the flow of the stream. The Federal Government grants the right of franchise for the building of a dam. Suppose we assume, for the sake of argument, that it can grant the right to the remaining flow of a stream; it not only thereby forever thereafter prohibits the use of that stream above that point for further reclamation purposes, but the rights of every irrigator, either before or after appropriation is made, comes in conflict, or may come in conflict, with the Federal franchise-holder? In other words, you transfer from the State courts and from the State forum the right of every irrigator to use the waters of a stream to the seat of power of the Federal Government at Washington. In other words, you practically stop irrigation in the arid West when you insist upon having that power (applause). Is that Conservation? True Conservation demands that every acre of land shall be used for its highest purpose and be made to serve its highest productive function (applause), whether in a forest reserve or out of it. Therefore, in order to serve its highest productive function in the West, water must be applied to the land. Now, take the 6,000,000 acres of land that may be reclaimed in Montana. If you do not insist upon the Federal Government taking charge of the water-power and preventing its further reclamation, it means 6,000,000 acres of land reclaimed. It is fair to say that each year those reclaimed lands will produce a total of $25–yea, and if I did not want to be ultra-conservative, I would say $50—per acre; and at $25 per acre, you have an annual income from those 6,000,000 acres of land of $150,000,000. Isn't that worth thinking about Isn't that a resource worth conserving : Why, the 6,000,000 horse-power that might be developed in Montana is not worth one tithe of that. You say, Give to the Federal Government the right to the water-powers of the State and forever prevent the further reclamation of our land * \\ hy, you are asking of us the most priceless gift that we have to convey—far more priceless than our mines yielding $50,000,000 yearly, possibly the richest in the world—because you ask us to surrender not $50,000,000 a year but the opportunity to make $150,000,000 a year. Has the Federal Government this right? We insist, as a matter of law, that the Federal Government has no authority to grant any right to the use of water on any power site that it may have. If the power site is situated along a stream, the title to the power site rests in the Federal Government and it can grant the right to erect a dam on that site, but the water that flows down the stream by that power site belongs to the State, and unless the State gives you the right to appropriate and take water you will develop no power by a damsite' (Applause) Now, is the State ready to surrender any rights that it may have in the waters of the stream to the Federal Government? The State of Montana is not ready to so do, for the reasons I have given. The State of Montana will insist upon every right it has. Let the Federal Government have that which of right or in law belongs to it, but let the State keep that which of right or in law belongs to it (applause ). So sure am I that the State has the right to use of its water that I think the next Legislature of Montana will pass a law to regulate the use of water, making its use for power forever subordinate to its use for irrigation purposes, and then say to the Federal Government, You own your power site, but you do not own the water; we own the water, but we do not own the power site. Your site is worth nothing to you because it is valuable only for power in connection with the use of water. We cannot develop power on that site, but we can go a little farther down the stream and divert that water for the irrigation of land, and it is valuable to us. Now, that is what we mean by the rights of the State in and to the waters of the State. You cannot trust the State? Why not? If you cannot trust the people of Montana to conserve its resources, if you cannot trust the State of Wyoming to conserve its resources, can we trust the State of Maine, or the State of Florida to conserve them for us? What reasons have we to assume that the people of the State of Massachusetts or the State of Louisiana are more patriotic in that respect than are our own people? The creation of the forest reserves was the greatest act ever performed in recent years. We would not have that act repealed. We have a double purpose in supporting the forest conservation policies. You think of it as valuable for the timber that it will grow. That timber is worth just as much, and will shelter just as many people, in Montana as it will in the Mississippi valley, but we desire it for a further purpose. The forests of these mountains are Nature's reservoirs, builded there by an Omnipotent Creator, and can better conserve the waters that fall in the form of rain and snow than these artificial

« AnteriorContinuar »