Friday, March 11, 2011

GC's National Monument # 2: Groomed for Graduation, 1939

With the opening of the 76th Congress, Senator Hayden introduced S. 6 on 4 Jan 1939. He clearly aimed, after all the previous negotiations, for a resolution. The concept was very different; the lands kept would not be added to the Park, looking toward a time when all dams were built and a proper division could be made between Park and a reservoir recreation area.

These later files say that Hayden's aide Paul Roca actually handled all the discussions, and tended to the drafting of S.6, drawing the north boundary as agreed the year before (see previous entry). With the major players, including the several stockmen factions, placated, surely passage would be easy. 

In January, NPS technical staff (Gould & McDougall) commended a couple of additions which, although they had not seen them, were biologically and geologically important. However, they also thought the boundary was "most unnatural" and NPS in future would regret exclusion of desirable areas, something they had argued in their Oct 1938 report. However, NPS hierarchy replied that Hayden had said what he wanted, and the Director had agreed.

In February, McCormick claimed that he and Tillotson had agreed on adding a few more sections, which included springs M thought should be NPS's. These, NPS was willing to add. In May, there seemed to be trouble with the map because of the use of the term "quarter-section corner" (intersection of a section line with a half-section line), the use of "standard parallel" (which caused a jog) and anyway, the surveys were not quite accurate. 

A new name pops up here. Harold Bryant, GCNP Superintendent following Tillotson's elevation to the regional directorship, visited Toroweap in March. He noted the road's mudholes. Though praising the scenic and scientific values, he as a biologist was unimpressed. He looked at Kanab, fussed about the north boundary, and complained about incursions on the Monument by stockmen and the new federal Grazing Service. Tilliotson generally agreed with Bryant's conclusions, and cautioned him that there were a number of factions among the stockman; Kent being a wild one with his tourist development schemes. In general, at this point the local stockmen were pressing for quick action.

In mid-March, the Budget Bureau reported that the bill did not conflict with the President's program. The administration then reported to the Senate Public Lands Committee that with the original boundary, there was no equitable way to eliminate private lands. Therefore, the bill would instead adjust the boundary to return lands to the public domain, since the area's "present economic status" was dependent on grazing. The extension south of the river was ignored by the bill. The extension west of the hydrographic divide was dropped, and two pieces on the north were added, as McCormick had suggested. Here is what the boundary looked like in committee after the changes, the diagonal dark magenta indicating what was dropped or irrelevant, and the two rectangular pieces on the north, additions. The southern boundary was now "along the north bank of the Colorado River".

Not so fast. Senator Hayden then memoed the committee to remind them that the bill did not affect the 36,160 acres of the southern extension. which meant that all the river was in the Monument where there was the southern extension, and in either the Monument or the Park upstream of that extension, and thus "on the north bank" along the Hualapai Reservation. Most of that memo however was spent in corrrecting the "difficulties" posed by the incomplete surveys and inaccurate NPS map. It involved the definition of the quarter-section corner and the correction introduced to deal with the earth's curvature using standard parallels. 

The acreages involved were 273 kac overall. 148 kac would be returned to the public domain, leaving 125 kac in the Monument -- 89 kac north and 36 kac south of the river. The legislation represented agreement between stockmen and NPS, leaving the latter with lands that contain "archeologically valuable ruins as well as mountain sheep and antelope". Interior approved; the Bureau of the Budget had no objection; Senator Hayden endorsed it. S. 6 was reported by the Public Lands Committee on 11 July. It was passed by the Senate on the 18th. The House  passed it two weeks later after cursory consideration, and the bill was enrolled on 3 August and sent to the President with the Secretary of the Interior's favorable recommendation. Surely the great labor of the past decade was over. 

On Aug 7, President Roosevelt vetoed the bill. "I have withheld approval", he wrote, because insufficient consideration has been given. Grazing can be continued, so "stockmen will not  be harmed by the delay necessary for full investigation through a further survey on the ground". I want a thorough investigation from representatives of NPS. "I seek especially a report on the possibilities of this area for tree growth". TREE growth? Did jaws drop? Did the wiseacres who knew the Strip, smack the knees of their jeans, and fall over laughing? How dumb could those eastern dudes get? Well, it is worth remembering that trees, particularly in their relationship to the dust bowl and how a green belt of trees could furnish wind breaks, were a particular passion for FDR. If nothing else, this tiny, minor action illustrates the power a President has on a specific issue in which he has a great interest, and on which he is willing to spend time and political capital. And ill-informed as his concern may seem in this particular case, the result was quite unpredictable, not to say pregnant with future possibilities of trouble -- and benefit.

Sources: Archives at ASU of Senator Carl Hayden
National Park Service, Washington office, Archives in NARA, DC depository

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