Not satisfied with the restrictive boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park, Mather used his energy and connections trying to find ways to provide the public a more expansive view. In November 1921, he wrote the President about his summer visit to the "very largest area of virgin forest in the country". The Kaibab forest was splendid and extraordinary, and should be preserved. Emerson Hough had been with him and suggested the name President's Forest to signal their high estimate of its national worth. As a Forest Service opponent put it, "Mather has broken out in another place". At the time, the designation Kaibab National Forest applied only to the Kaibab Plateau, north of the Colorado River, today's North Kaibab Ranger District. Although part of Arizona, there was only ferry access, and in any case, the use and settlement of the entire Arizona Strip was oriented northwards, part of the Mormon expansion in the late XIXth century.
The visit stirred up rumors, which, 17 Nov, E.G. Marshall of Grand Canyon Cattle Company (GCCC) confirmed to Kaibab NF supervisor Roak. Mather and a Union Pacific man were the moving spirits, Marshall wrote, visiting me, and asking if I would vacate my grazing leases in favor of preservation ideas. On the 30th, Marshall wrote to the President: Mather has brought the idea of a Presidential Forest to my attention, and we are willing to vacate our lands on the Kaibab and to the east. We ask only for time to dispose of sheep and that no one else be given a grazing permit. There would need to be an arrangement for buying our lands for the government.
Then as now, much of the Kaibab and House Rock Valley were grazed by a single large outfit. Then as now, there were strongly held ideas that the Kaibab deserved special treatment, not oriented toward exploitation. Then as now, grazing hangs on as an administrative adornment, rather than for wealth creation.
In December, Roak summed up Kaibab resources for his bosses: 6500 cattle (4000 were GCCC's) and 5000 sheep. Numbers were low because the forest had a low capacity due to misuse in the "quite distant" past. There were 20,000 deer. KNF has a grazing function, but the main concern is the timber, which will be a big business, supplying a good part of Utah demand. There are 1,322 million board-feet total; the Park has 257 mbf of that, and wanted 138 mbf more. The presence of the deer herd would justify adding the area to the Park. We have been trying to work with state for three years, but it is complicated, in part because "game cranks can influence public sentiment". The Park would drop any management attempts.
Forest Service officials provided each other with the following version of events:
Mather convinced Utah governor Mabey to go with him to visit Senator Smoot, to urge him to introduce a bill to put Kaibab in GCNP. But Mabey objected because there would be no way to sell timber. Mather argued that a log sold only once, but the standing tree could be "sold" to the tourist many times, and Smoot seemed to agree. Mather had big ambitions for the Kaibab, but the governor remained unconvinced.
In early January 1922, Mather presented the idea of a congressional resolution for a President's Forest to Smoot and Hayden, which would allow grazing, but not logging. There were GLO and FS officials at the meeting, and Mather was told that under Forest Service management, the Kaibab had all protections save a mining withdrawal. Little timber was being cut. Grazing had been reduced by 60% in 10 years [there had been about 25,000 animals at one time; the current 1,100 may still be too hard on the land]. The deer herd was getting very numerous. In that conversation, Mather claimed he was only responding to the ideas of Hough and Marshall. Speaking up, Hayden said he would not be stampeded and would sit on the lid until he heard from Arizona officials. Smoot seemed receptive to the idea, but wanted Mather and Forest Service to agree; otherwise it would be futile to continue. FS commented afterward that over half the timber would be "tied up in this peculiar jurisdiction". Marshall probably appreciated there had to be a grazing reduction due to over-grazing, and he had lost his monopoly of House Rock winter grazing. Many of their pipelines have deteriorated, and the certainty of his operations was in doubt, so his interest may not be totally in the public interest. Even if we take up his offer, we should continue grazing, while opposing Mather's proposal.
From the field came a categorical opposition by telegram: We should reduce GCCC cattle by half or more, and redistribute allotments to others. He has been trying to dispose of his holdings for years; amusing that his patented land was gotten through mining claims. We could fence cattle away from roads and parks, and not cut trees along roads. Area is dry and not needed for Park; 600 mbf of timber would be tied up. Grazing will have to be limited in VT Park because grass is eaten to the roots. In response to an overture from a local Mather supporter, KNF's Roak turned down any ideas that grazing or logging would be curtailed. "We stand for use. We would cut carefully, but we will cut." And grazing allotments could not be easily redistributed.
Hough's articles in the "Saturday Evening Post" came out later in January. The Presidential Forest on the Kaibab would be a forest of America to remind us of our heritage. It is the last real wilderness, and ought to be set apart unchanged and uncheapened in its august beauty forever. [Intensive, industrial logging did not start until after World War II.] The cattle and deer there are all in poor flesh; grazing is a losing proposition, according to the GCCC owner. It might be best to have it managed by a new bureau. He discussed intensive lion hunting, including inside the park; there were maybe a hundred left.
Hayden followed up the meeting by consulting Arizona officials, saying that perhaps a name change would be enough. He wondered to the Governor whether Arizona would be deprived of revenue. To Coconino County officials, he was more forthright: When Mather made his suggestion, I promptly declined it. Easy for outsiders to propose that Congress lock up Arizona resources and throw key away. I told Mather that if someone else introduced such a bill, I was confident of my ability to throw enough monkey wrenches into the machinery so the bill would not pass." [What else do we need to know about Hayden's 50+ year career-- What his over-arching goal was; how he operated.] Finally I told him I would be absolutely fair and submit it to local people, knowing they would oppose it. Forest Service is also opposed, saying it can do everything necessary. Mather later informed me that Smoot was not pressing the resolution he had introduced in January. Hayden had checked with Arizona Senators, who did not like the idea.
T.Riordan, as a local man, tried a more conciliatory line, and said it was objectionable from a purely commercial viewpoint. But he put the preservation of such unique scenery above dollars and cents. He suggested a reservation so mature timber and grazing land could be used under restrictions. He praised Mather for working for the "very best thing" for the country while keeping local rights in mind.
However, a petition went to Senator Smoot of Utah from citizens of Kanab and Fredonia opposing any Park extension or alteration of the National Forest. There would be "absurd" rules for the traveling public. The administration would not use local, knowledgable men. Timber and grazing resources would be lost. Anyway, tourists go along roads, and would not be bothered if the strip along them is cared for. A business organization emphasized that the Forest Service could do the job, and wanted nothing that would restrict river development. [This point, made by more than one respondent, emphasized the excitement generated by the idea of hydropower, booming for barely a decade.]
The owner of the sawmill for the Kaibab wrote Smoot that he had recently cut an area that had been logged 45 years before, and there was no sign of the old work. He attacked Hough as fancy and slick, and doubted Marshall's land claims and park interest.
In April, the Flagstaff newspaper suggested Mather was working with a Los Angeles railroad to
develop the north side. Hayden was attacked for siding with Utah; the Grand Canyon is in Arizona and Arizona should be for Arizonans. We want park developed and also the river for hydro power. Hayden defended himself, scoffing at north side development. He planned to get appropriations for over a million to get a road in the National Park, which will make Flagstaff the greatest auto tourist town.
Hayden must have been satisfied with the many responses opposing the Hough-Mather idea, since after the Jan-Feb 1922 flurry of activity, the idea of the President's Forest died. Maybe Warren G. Harding was not the appropriate President.
Nat. Park Service archives: Washington DC
Forest Service archives: Kaibab NF @ Laguna Niguel NARA
Dist. III (Alb.) @ Denver NARA
Carl Hayden papers @ ASU