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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.


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-day. The matter was beginning to come before the attention of the Interior Department in 1909, and at our convention in Cincinnati we passed resolutions, of which I am going to read a part, which is at follows. This was sent to Secretary Ballinger. [Reading:]

Recognizing the wisdom of the Congress in setting aside for public use the great national parks and believing that any avoidable interference with the scenic integrity of these parks is in the highest degree undesirable, the American Civic Association, in the convention assembled, urges the Secretary of the Interior to revoke the permit and the Congress to refuse to confirm such permit under which the city of San Fransisco is assuming to control eventually for a domestic water supply more than 500 square miles of the best of the Yosemite National Park, unless after a full and impartial inquiry it shall be shown to the satisfaction of the Congress that no other sufficient source of water supply is available to San Fransisco. We further respectfully insist that the granting and confirmation of such a permit to invade the public domain would create a most dangerous precedent under which other scenic possessions on the United States would be unsafe from individual or corporate assault.
J. Horace McFarland,President.
Richard B. Watrous,Secretary.
Now, Mr. Chairman, one of the men who has been at all of the hearings before the Secretary of the Interior, who was at the hearings when this matter was brought up before Congress, is the gentlmen who has been president of the American Civic Association for the past six or seven years, Mr. J. Horace McFarland. Mr. McFarland has been in the Hetch Hetchy Vally; he has attended all these hearings, and he has sent me a letter which I desire to read to the committee. He was unuable to be at the hearings had this summer for the reason that for the first time in his life he has been a sick man. The letter which he has asked me to read to you is brief, but it brings out many of the points that have been asked about, and for the benefit of the Senator from Wyoming, I may say that I think this answers the demand for arguments [reading]:
Dear Ms. Watrous:

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-called Hetch Hetchy matter.

Owing to the absence attendant upon my illness, I have not had the opportunity to see or read the bill which I understand has passed the House and is now before the Senate Committee, intended to give to San Francisco the right to proceed contrary to the permit of the Secretary of the Interior, given May 11, 1908, which permit specified that the Lake Eleanor reservoir site must be first developed to its full capacity before the Hetch Hetchy Valley could be used as a reservoir.

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-minded people, the American Civic Association agrees that the highest use of water is the domestic use, and therefore if the city of San Francisco can secure a pure, safe, and ample water supply nowhere else than in the Hetch Hetchy Valley, I should feel that despite the expressed purpose of Congress to preserve the Yosemite National Park, of which the Hetch Hetchy Valley is so important a part, the city should be permitted to do that which it desires to do.

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-I wish the committee would give attention to this paragraph, because I regard it the most important one [reading]:

The propriety and necessity of a complete and impartial investigations as toalternative sources of water supply available to the city of San Franciscobefore a favorable report is made upon a bill which, if it should become law,would undoubtedly result in practically cutting in half the reservation includedin the act of October 1, 1890, constructively creating the Yosemite NationalPark.

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:]

I have read volumes of literature on this subject, and have been present atnearly all of the hearings had upon it in Washington before the variousSecretaries of the Interior who have dealt with it. I have heard and read thestatements of the engineers, and I have also had the advantage of seeing thesituation on the ground, in company with the recent Secretary of the Interior,Hon. Walter L. Fisher, as well as with the recent city engineer of SanFrancisco to Mr. Marsden Manson. I have noted the complete absence of consistence between the claims then made by Mr. Manson and now made by the city of San Francisco, through its present engineers and advisers.

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-indeed, a catastrophe-to have half a great national park, involving natural features not found anywhere else in the world, segregated to the purposes of a municipal water supply, without the clearest and most definite showing of absolute necessity on the part of the community to be benefited.

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.

Yours, truly,
J. Horace McFarland,

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-and that is one of the things we have contended against all the time-that in the creation of this lake it is going to be the means to deny everybody access to the edge of the lake. We have been assured in former hearings that there would not be these restrictions. We have predicted that they would arise. This seems to be quite a noticeable illustration of the fact that they have, and tends to bear out our predictions when we are informed of the purpose to extend the restricted limit over an area not of 50 feet from the lake but 300 feet from the lake. That is a provision of the bill which, it seems to us, is extremely objectionable.

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-no dead cats and rabbits and things of that sort shall be deposited within 300 feet of the river?

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-the Geological Survey and the Forestry people.

Testimony of Mr. Robert U. Johnson
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