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for the reimbursement to the Government for funds expended on Indian irrigation systems, qualifies the reimbursement provision by adding the words "where the Indians have adequate funds to repay the Government. In keeping with that provision of the law, this department in issuing orders from time to time fixing the rates of irrigation assessments on the various projects of the Indian Service, has made provision by which Indian owners who are farming their own lands shall receive delivery of water regardless of the fact that they may be delinquent in their payments if found by the superintendent of the Indian reservation to be financially unable to make such payments.

In consequence of this provision of the existing law the proposed legislation, if enacted, would primarily benefit only white purchasers of Indian lands and white lessees of Indian lands, obligated by their contracts to pay the irrigation assessments. If a deferred-payment policy should be thus established for the benefit of white landowners and lessees on Indian irrigation projects, a demand would very naturally follow for the establishment of a similar policy on projects under the Reclamation Service. It is understood that the Reclamation Service is adverse to such policy on the reclamation projects because of the belief that it would not be practicable to grant extensions in some individual cases without finally reaching the stage of having established a general deferred-payment policy.

It is respectfully recommended, therefore, that s. 1533, Seventy-first Congress, first session, do not receive favorable consideration. Very truly yours,





2d Session


REPORT No. 587


APRIL 30 (calendar day, May 1), 1930.-Ordered to be printed

Mr. Walsh of Montana, from the Committee on Public Lands and

Surveys, submitted the following


[To accompany S. 107)

The Committee on Public Lands and Surveys, to whom was referred the bill (S. 107) establishing additional land offices in the States of Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, Idaho, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada, having considered the same, report favorably thereon with the recommendation that the bill 'do pass without amendment.

Justification for the bill so far as the land offices in Montana are concerned is made in a letter addressed by its author to the President of the United States under date of March 26, 1925, as follows:

MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: On the 17th day of March, 1925, an Executive order was issued abolishing a large number of land offices in the public-land States, including 8 of the 10 offices in the State of Montana, namely, Bozeman, Glasgow, Havre, Helena, Kalispell, Lewistown, Miles City, and Missoula, retaining only those at Great Falls and Billings, the State being redistricted accordingly. X copy is herewith attached for your information.

I believe you will be forced to the conclusion, upon further consideration of the subject, that the order is entirely indefensible, whether the subject is considered (even assuming that the drastic reduction is necessary in consequence of the limited appropriation) from a comparison of the importance of the various Montana offices as among themselves or with the number of offices retained in the other public-land States. The hardships to which the order will subject a multitude of our most deserving citizens who, through the staggeringly adverse conditions against which they have been obliged to contend in recent years, are endea voring to establish homes on the frontier can scarcely be conceived by one not intimately familiar with the conditions. Any reduction in the number of offices now existing greater than three would be in the nature of a disaster to our State, seriously retarding its development.

It is true that there are in Montana an unusually large number of land offices, but it is to be remembered that in respect to area it ranks second among the public-land States and first in the amount realized from its sales of public lands, as shown by the receipts going into the reclamation fund. (Report of Commissioner of the General Land Office for 1924, p. 59.)

I do not trouble you with a comparison of entries during the last 15 years as between Montana and the other public-land States, but for a considerable part of that period more than 25 per cent of all the homestead entries were made in Montana. I know how difficult it is to appreciate the extent of our territory and it may be a revelation to you to be informed that under the order referred to some settlers will be required to travel in the neighborhood of 500 miles to transact necessary business at the land offices. The city of Westby, in the new Great Falls land district, is approximately 500 miles to the northeast of the city of Great Falls, a distance greater than that from Boston to Washington, while Yaak, to the northwest, is 394 miles. Populous sections, in which nearly every adult' transacts business at the land office, are 300 miles distant from Billings. If the condition of the Treasury, however, or the paucity of the appropriation made by Congress renders imperative the general abolition which the order effects, I beg to call your attention to the figures showing that Montana has been most unfairly dealt with by it. Colorado, which had nine land offices, retains six, while its area of unappropriated land and unperfected entries is substantially equal to that in Montana, the aggregate in the case of Colorado, as shown by the report of the commissioner for 1924, page 64, being 11,816,690 acres, in Montana 11,076,124 acres.

The number of applications filed in Colorado in the same year were, however, less than in Montana-4,558 in the former and 4,807 in the latter.

The acreage embraced in original entries in Colorado amounted to 546,598; in Montana, 2,508,590. In Colorado, the area for which final proofs were made that is, for which entries were perfected-amounted to 670,525 and in Montana to 722,767. The area for which patents were issued in Colorado totaled 808,034, but in Montana 2,290,849. The total receipts from the Colorado land offices amounted to $227,382.99; from the Montana land offices, $479,559.18.

I inquire very respectfully, Mr. President, upon what basis or in accordance with what principle six land offices may be maintained in Colorado and only two in Montana?

Take the State of Oregon, which, having seven land offices, is to retain five. There is within its bounds a greater acreage of unappropriated land and unperfected entries than in Montana, approximately 15,000,000 as against 11,000,000, but the number of entries in 1924 in that State were only 2,941, against 4,807 in Montana. The Montana acreage the original entries was 508,590, as against 250,960 in Oregon. The average for which final proofs were made in Montana is 722,767, as against 358,948 in Oregon. The acreage for which patents were issued in Montana is 2,290,849, as against 390,862 in Oregon. The receipts in Oregon were far in excess of those in Montana, $1,105,028.45, as against $479,559.18. This signifies, however, no additional work of consequence for the Oregon offices, the heavier receipts coming from the sale of valuable timberlands in Oregon.

California suffers almost but not quite so badly as Montana, having eight offices, four being abolished. The area of public land in that State still undisposed of is approximately twice that of Montana, but in 1924 Montana exceeded California in the number of applications filed, in the number of acres embraced in original entries, in the number of acres embraced in final proofs and in lands patented, but not in total receipts, the oil leases in California yielding heavily.

Idaho, having five land offices, retains three. Its area of public lands undisposed of is approximately equal to that of Montana, but its applications during 1924 were but 1,760, as against our 4,807. The area covered by the original entries was but 218,656, as against our 508,590. The area embraced in final proofs was but 219,137, as against 722,767 for Montana, and the area embraced in patents was 260,872, as against our 2,290,849. The Idaho land offices produced a total of $97,882.45, the Montana land offices $479,559.18.

Wyoming, having six offices, retains four. No such disproportion as is exhibited by the above comparison in the case of other States, but still the order is, even as to Wyoming, unduly discriminatory.

For convenience of reference I am sending herewith a table showing clearly the comparisons above made.

As suggested above, I find no theory upon which the Montana offices to be preserved were retained if but two are to continue. If the importance of the offices now existing is to be judged on the basis of the unappropriated and unreserved public land within the various districts, the order would be as follows:

1. Helena.

6. Billings. 2. Miles City.

7. Missoula. 3. Glasgow.

8. Bozeman. 4. Havre.

9. Great Falls. 5. Lewistown.

10. Kalispell. The land offices are retained at Billings, standing sixth in that order, and at Great Falls, standing ninth.

If by the number of unperfected entries, the order would be as follows: 1. Miles City.

6. Great Falls. 2. Glasgow.

7. Billings. 3. Helena.

8. Bozeman. 4. Havre.

9. Missoula. 5. Lewistown.

10. Kalispell. If by the area patented. the order would be as follows: 1. Miles City.

6. Great Falls. 2. Glasgow.

7. Missoula. 3. Helena.

8. Bozeman. 4. Havre.

9. Billings. 5. Lewistown.

10. Kalispell. On the basis of the relation of expense to revenue, the order is as follows: 1. Lewistown.

6. Bozeman. 2. Glasgow.

7. Havre. 3. Billings.

8. Missoula. 4. Miles City.

9. Great Falls. 5. Helena.

10. Kalispell.

A table fixing the order upon each basis as above indicated is submitted herewith. It might be remarked in this connection that both Billings and Great Falls are in the second congressional district.

I now call your attention to the fact that it was evidently the purpose of section 2249 to give to the land offices located at the seat of government of a State a preference when the state of public business suggested the abolition of land offices.

The order, so far as Montana is concerned, must be justified under the provisions of section 2252. Sections 2248 and 2250 contemplate conditions not present or impose restrictions not observed in the order. It is authorized, however, by section 2252 on the recommendation of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, approved by the Secretary of the Interior. I am advised that the commissioner, after giving the matter careful consideration, recommended the retention of four offices in Montana. I assume that the official approval required by the statute was given by him, but after consultation with that efficient and painstaking officer, I feel sure he will recommend to you, Mr. President, a modication of the order to conform to his original conception of what is due to the settlers in our State and to a proper regard to the public interest. I am looking confidently to you for a reconsideration of the subject dealt with in the order.

I am transmitting herewith copy of a letter addressed to the Secretary of the Interior by the Hon. J. D. Scanlan, register of the land office at Miles City, a gentleman of high character, who has had a prominent part in the public life of our State, a valuable contribution to the problem before you, which I commend to your considerate attention. With assurances of my high esteem, I am, Respectfully yours,


The White House.
SR-71-2-VOL 2-18

Area patented land in Montana land office districts

Acres 1. Miles City 259, 995 6. Great Falls...

49, 004 2. Glasgow

164, 415
7. Missoula..

45, 593 3. Helena. 116, 235 8. Bozeman.

41, 431 4. Havre.. 109, 990 9. Billings

30, 811 5. Lewistown. 68, 286 10. Kalispell.

14, 516 Unperfected entries in Montana land office districts Acres

Acres 1. Miles City 1, 635, 357 6. Great Falls..

286, 882 2. Glasgow

694, 433
7. Billings-

207, 689 3. Helena. 483, 880 8. Bozeman.

165, 452 4. Havre. 149 9. Missoula.

66, 843 5. Lewistown.. 299, 316 10. Kalispell.

20, 837 Unappropriated and unreserved public land in Montana land office districts Acres

Acres 1. Helena.

1, 668, 380
6. Billings-

253, 570 2. Miles City 1, 606, 741 7. Missoula.

236, 920 3. Glasgow 1, 381, 006 8. Bozeman

181, 156 4. Havre. 761, 957 9. Great Falls.

146, 392 5. Lewistown. 535, 545 10. Kalispell.--

32, 620


Basis of the relation of expenses to revenue in Montana land office districts
Per cent

Per cent 1. Lewistown. 5. 58 6. Bozeman..

77. 59 2. Glasgow. 12. 69 7. Havre..

77. 98 3. Billings18. 84 8. Missoula.

85. 37 4. Miles City. 32. 27 9. Great Falls

91. 98 5. Helena... 44. 63 10. Kalispell..

92. 00 Similar conditions require the restoration of land offices as indicated in the bill in the States of Oregon, South Dakota, Idaho, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada.

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