Items of Interest

Gradual purchase of forest lands during a period of five years, and an annual appropriation of fifty thousand dollars to buy land not devoted at present to the growing of timber, are two recommendations made by the special commission created by the last Massachusetts Legislature to investigate the taxation of wild and forest lands.

"It is the opinion of the commissioners," said the report, "that even with the additional incentive offered by a better system of taxation, there will yet remain several hundred thousand acres of wild or waste lands within the state, in large part covered by brush or scrub growth of no commercial value, which private capital will be slow to develop. Such lands not only prevent the development of the potential wealth of the state, but they are in addition a serious fire menace in each community. Nearly a million acres of such land are lying idle in our various towns. It is important that the commonwealth should take the initiative in the solution of this problem by the establishment not only of a fair and encouraging system of taxation, but also by the establishment of a number of state forests of substantial area."

The claim of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway Company to sixty-two million dollars damages against the government for the latter's failure to turn over alternate sections of land along its line through Oklahoma, will furnish one of several important oral arguments to be made during the coming week before the Supreme Court. In 1866 Congress offered to grant alternate sections of land as soon as the Indian title thereto should be extinguished, along a line of railroad to be constructed across the present state of Oklahoma to Denison, Texas, to the first railroad to build a line from the eastern terminus of the Union Pacific on the Kansas and Missouri state lines to the southern line of Kansas. The Kansas & Neosha Valley railroad, which has since become the Missouri, Kansas & Texas, won the race. The government has not turned over the land, however, contending that it never became a part of the public lands of the United States. The railroad claims twenty dollars an acre damages, but the court of claims decided against it.

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Neither Mystical nor Miraculous
February 7, 1914

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