Items of Interest

During the last decade the forest service has classified as agricultural and opened to public entry more than 15,500 individual scattered tracts of land in the national forests, comprising more than 1,700,000 acres, says an article by the chief forester, published in the year book of the department of agriculture, just issued. Within the last two years, in addition, several large blocks have been eliminated, aggregating more than 2,500,000 acres, while nearly 2,000,000 acres more are now under consideration for elimination. All the remaining agricultural land in the national forests is confined chiefly in isolated tracts scattered here and there; to restricted areas requiring irrigation, where water cannot be obtained; and to certain river bottoms and benches which are not covered with very heavy and valuable timber.

A constant pressure is being brought to bear on the government by private individuals who want to acquire possession of these heavily timbered agricultural lands; single quarter sections of which often have a value as high as $20,000 for the timber alone. In spite of the fact that some of these lands have soil suitable for agriculture," to throw them open as homesteads would not result in farm development. This has been proven over and over again where lands of this kind, acquired under the homestead law, are today held not by homesteaders but by lumber companies, who promptly purchased them from the settlers as soon as title passed from the government, a speculative process which effectively prevents men of small means from acquiring land and establishing homes. The government is withholding from agricultural entry all such heavily timbered land until after the timber is cut off. As soon as this is done the land will be open to entry, and settlers will be able to acquire it directly from the government without cost, instead of having to pay from forty to sixty dollars an acre to land speculators.

Confidence in Truth
September 11, 1915

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