Hearing before the Senate Committee on Public Lands (Sixty-third Congress, First Session) on H.R. 7207, a bill "granting to the city and county of San Francisco certain rights of way in, over, and through certain public lands, the Yosemite National Park and Stanislaus National Forest, and certain lands in the Yosemite National Park, the Stanislaus National Forest, and the public lands in the state of California, and for other purposes."
After the expiration of the recess the committee reassembled.
The Chairman. The committee will come to order.
Mr. Johnson. There are only one or two of us left to say anything, Mr. Watrous to speak for the American Civic Association, who will read some letters which he has, and I will also speak myself.
The Chairman. All right; you have 25 minutes of your time yet remaining.
STATEMENT OF MR. RICHARD B. WATROUS, OF WASHINGTON, D. C., SECRETARY AMERICA CIVIC ASSOCIATION.
Mr Watrous. I am going to be very brief. I am secretary of the American Civic Association, with my office here in Washington.
I desire to say, My. Chairman, that the American Civic Association, from the start, has been a national organization, with thousands of individual members and many hundreds of societies, and our principal object is and has been from the first ro work for a beautiful America, both in the cities and in the development of parks and the preservation of natural scenery. The American Civic Association has had more or less to do with the Yosemite National Park, which we are considering here to-
I deeply regret the conditions of health which will not permit me to appear for the American Civic Association at the hearing set for Wednesday, September 24, before the Senate Committee on Trouble on Public Lands, in relation to the so-
It seems proper to record the position of the American Civic Association upon two points: First, we can not and do not doubt the sincerity of Congress in setting aside, under the act of October 1, 1890, the territory now generally called Yosemite National Park, with the specific provision that the Secretary of the Interior shall "provide for the preservation from injury of all timber, mineral deposits, natural curiosities or wonders within said reservation, and their retention in their natural condition."
Second, with all right-
In view, however, of the distinctly expressed intent of Congress to preserve the Yosemite National Park, and in view of the limit in the qualifying act of February 15, 1901, under which attempts have been made before the Secretary of the Interior to secure access to the Park, it is at least reasonable to insist that inquiry be made as to the necessity under which San Francisco now applies.
I ask you to urge upon the committee, including as it does in its membership men who are known to look upon the national parks as worth while to the United States and the world-
It is easy enough to talk about our getting other areas in California for park purposes; but you gentlemen in Congress know that that is not so easy a matter; that it is no easy matter to set in motion machinery which creates a new park. We have an existing park; the machinery was set in motion and we have it there. We are in danger of taking a backward step and encroaching upon that park. [Reading:]
It has not been hard to discern in the figures submitted as to the cost of alternative water supplies very large differences as to cost factors, as that the conclusion has been forced upon me that in figuring the cost of the Hetch Hetchy water supply San Francisco has adopted a most sanguine view and made the expense very much less than it is likely to be; while in considering the cost of alternative supplies, upon which after nearly 11 years of investigation seemingly no adequate information is yet available, she has used factors very much larger than those in the first instance, with the result of greatly magnifying the possible cost of any of these supplies.
Taking all these matters into account, I can not avoid the feeling that for herself San Francisco is making a great mistake in now insisting at this special session of Congress called for other purposes upon the passage of an enabling act to permit her to do that which is almost certain to prove inadvisable when the facts are fully known.
Further, the conclusion can not be avoided that it would be a misfortune-
If, under the conditions existing, San Francisco should prevail in her present contention, it is obvious that there can be no safety whatever for any part of any national park upon which municipal engineers may cast a wishful eye. I do not believe that the American public is desirous of diverting to the use of a very small percentage of its entire population these natural wonders which are increasingly a source of pleasure, recreation, and enormous revenue to the Nation as a whole, except and only upon such a showing of absolute necessity as shall be generally and completely conclusive.
I sincerely trust wise counsels will prevail in the committee, and that the act will be reported with a negative recommendation, so that Congress can in due course inform itself upon this matter without dependence upon prejudiced statements, such as those which will doubtless be made before the committee by the representatives of San Francisco.
To Mr. Richard B. Watrous,
Secretary American Civic Association, Washington, D.C.Mr. Chairman, there is just one matter which I am going to present, because it has come to my attention this morning in a telegram from San Francisco, relating to a change in the bill. They propose that restrictions shall be placed about this new lake, extending for a distance of 300 feet instead of 50 feet, as recommended by the Army Engineers in their report.
I have not been in the Hetch Hetchy, as I feel that I should so state to this committee. However, I am informed by Mr. Whitman that this restriction would make absolutely impossible camping in the Hetch Hetchy; that the people would be put right back to the rocky edge of the Hetch Hetchy-
Representative Raker. Mr. Chairman, may I ask the gentleman a question?
The Chairman. Yes; with his consent.
Representative Raker. Is it not a fact that in the national parks and even in the forest reserves practically the same restrictions are now being applied by the Secretary of the Interior to those who visit those parks and those forest reserves? Is it not also a fact that with those restrictions it will not prevent the people going there at all of even camping there, but they are simply requirements of ordinary decent sanitary conditions-
Mr. Whitman. The Army engineers recommended that no refuse from camping of any kind, not the variety the gentleman described, but anything, should be put within 50 feet of the stream. The bill as now reported makes is 300 feet from the stream, with the result that many of those streams with steep banks will be made practically impossible to camp anywhere, because the valley and the bottom is so narrow.
Senator Thomas. Is not that a necessary sanitary restriction to insure the purity of water used for the domestic supply?
Mr. Whitman. The Army engineers said 50 feet was enough. That was reported on the recommendation of the sanitary expert employed by the city.
Senator Thomas. I am informed that the officials of the department wrote that change in the bill-