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improvements" and representatives from the local planning boards authorized by the law of 1925. The objectives of this planning board were stated to include, among others, the following:

To broaden out the valley belt, to develop logically the undersettled regions, to give aid to farming and lumbering, to prevent further overcentralization in cities while assisting economy for the manufacturers by proper use of hydroelectric power, to coordinate water supply and to furnish a proper basis for local action.

The "final aim of the State plan" was stated as follows:

With the powers that are now at our command, with the technical insight and the social vision which the State can now summon to its service, we may reverse this situation; instead of being the passive creatures of circumstance, we may become more and more the creators of our future. By

The concrete achievements of the commission on housing and regional planning, before it was superseded by the State housing board, are principally to be found in the stimulation of loca. planning efforts. It secured the passage of legislation enabling local authorities to establish planning commissions,12 and it saw two very active agencies come into being, as a result of its efforts—the Niagara Frontier Planning Board and the Monroe County Planning Commission. Unfortunately its successor, the housing board, was forced to limit its interest in the cause of comprehensive planning to promoting housing, principally through the device of limited-dividend corporations (so far established only in New York City.) 43

In 1931 Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed a commission of rural planning and housing to study the decentralization of population and industry. In his address to the American Country Life Conference meeting at Ithaca, Governor Roosevelt outlined among other objectives the following:

1. That the commission explore the possibilities of the enlistment of priva capital to aid in the establishment of rural homes within a reasonable distance of industry.

2. That the commission make recommendations as to experiment by the State alone or by the State with the cooperation and assistance of private capital in establishing wholly new rural com munities of homes for workers on good agricultural land within reasonable distance of which facilities shall be offered for the establishment of new industries aimed primarily to give cash wages on a cooperative basis during the nonagricultural season.

If we find that the movement of workers to rural homes ought to be encouraged, then it seems to me that we ought to find means of meeting the needs of those who wish to establish themselves in the country. Their requirements suggest themselves to me as follows: First, Information as to the right type of home to build; second, Guidance and assistance in obtaining the most economical use of funds in acquisition and construction; third, Advice as to the right area of land to be acquired; fourth, Assistance in financing.

When the National Planning Board suggested to the State of New York in the latter part of 1933 that it create an official agency for State planning, th Board referred to this rich background upon which New York could draw.

42 N. Y. Laws 1925, c. 539.

43 For the details of the activities of the State Housing Board, see Edith E. Wood, Recent Trends in American Housing (1931), pp. 202-204, 259–273.


Chapter 2. LAND


Many of the principal techniques of land-use planning (as land survey before settlement or specific reservation from settlement) were fully recognized during the Colonial period and were, in fact, incorporated in the early laws for the disposition of the public domain according to a "systematic plan." Since these techniques were hardly acceptable to the prevailing frontier conditions, they were flagrantly violated and shortly repealed. A comprehensive system of land classification (into areas suitable for ordinary farming, irrigation, grazing, lumbering, and mining) was proposed by Major Powell, but it went unheeded. Such land-settlement activities as were undertaken by State promotional agencies were largely designed to serve the needs of railroad profits and land speculation. Post-World War landsettlement agencies (designed primarily to aid returning veterand) have been almost unmitigated failures. On the positive side, distinct progress in technical land planning has been made by the Michigan Department of Conservation (starting in 1921), and similar work has been taken up in other States, notably in New York and Wisconsin.

Wildlife management was usually the first step in the State
conservation of natural resources, starting with specific police
legislation during Colonial times and evolving from a system of
special enforcement officials at the local level during the early
period of statehood to the establishment of State-wide adminis-
trative agencies (1870), especially in the New England region,
whence the institutional pattern of wildlife conservation
rapidly spread to the rest of the country. Forest management
likewise had its origin in Colonial times in legislation encourag-
ing tree planting, restricting tree cutting, prohibiting fires,
establishing preserves, and experimenting with cooperative
forestry. Permanent institutional agencies for forest manage-
ment derive from the New York commission of 1885, but even
then forestry did not become a regular function of most State
governments until after the passage of the Weeks Act of 1911
which made available Federal aid. Probably the most compre-

hensive efforts in State resources conservation are to be found
in forest management.

The fundamental American land policies have not evolved without some plan ning. From their very inception they have characteristically, and at times quite comprehensively, looked far ahead at an ideal-the quick settlement of a con tinent under such conditions that most newcomers might more or less ade quately participate in sharing the traditional promises of American life. It may be possible to quarrel with the validity of particular types or examples of Ameri


can land policy, but any denial of the actual presence of planning must ignore a whole series of rather obvious facts, one of which is the present map of the United States, partitioning off the States from one another along straight lines drawn by the surveyor's ruler. It may not have been a good plan, but it was planning nevertheless.

It is the purpose of this chapter to trace broadly (a) the origins and trends in the general land policies, (b) the rise of the techniques of survey and land classi fication without which basic land planning is meaningless, (c) land economic inventories, and then three special phases (d) wildlife, (e) forests, and (f) parks— will be presented to show how three traditional outposts of resources conservation have grown from the earliest times to dominate strongly the whole sphere of the governmental management of natural resources.

Public Land Techniques and Policies.-The major contribution of the colonial period to the technique of land planning was the invention of the rectangular survey, which was generally employed by New England towns and also in Carolina and Georgia where

in one or another of their plans can be found such modern, national ideas as survey previous to disposal, square units of territory, square subdivisions, and the section of 640 acres.1

Under the New England policy of compact settlement considerable attention was paid to laying out communities in relation to surrounding land uses; no one could engross the best lands for himself, and as the town grew the people shared in each division of the unappropriated land.2 Lands were specifically set aside for school needs and other community wants. In the South, on the other hand, where scattered settlement was favored, the laws may have required regularity in form of settlement, but surveys did not usually precede settlement, and a few men were able to obtain "virtual monopoly of the choicest land." 3


The precedents for the rectangular survey fell conveniently into the hands of the committee appointed under the Confederation to draw up a land ordinance, including in its members Thomas Jefferson, "fresh from ** planning the bounds between Pennsylvania and Virginia according to a new scientific scheme by means of astronomical observations." The resulting ordinance of 1784 required as a condition of sale that the lines of the familiar township surveys be straightened to "run invariably east, west, north, and south," thus contributing to the security of land titles, and making for comparative simplicity in conveyance procedure. In the 1785 ordinance, sec. 16 of each township was reserved for schools, one section for religious purposes, and four other sections held for future disposition by the Congress, in addition to reserving one-third of the product of all gold, silver, and lead mines.5

With the formation of the Federal Government in 1789 and the gradual surrender of the claims of the seaboard States to the western interior, the issue was presented of what should be the Federal policy for disposal of these public lands. Two widely different plans were current-called the Army and Financiers' Plans respectively, for local or national ownership of the unappropriated lands. In the very first session of Congress the establishment of a Federal land policy and the location of its machinery of administration in the western section were debated. When at the next session a petition was presented for purchasing a

1 A. C. Ford, Colonial Precedents of the National Land System (1908), pp. 25–26. B. H. Hibbard, A History of the Public Land Policies (1924), pp. 36-37.

Ford cites a North Carolina Act of 1777 ordering that every survey should be bounded by natural boundaries or right lines running east and west and north and south, but it was "neutralized by the permission to use natural boundaries as an alternative." Op. cit.

Ibid., p. 82. "There can be little doubt that he saw in this land question another opportunity for carrying out his theories and of establishing this new country on the most enlightened principles."

In 1785 the Congress appointed a surveyor for each State to operate under the direction of the geographer (appointed in 1781). But after surveys of four out of the seven ranges had been made sales began, in this way defeating the provision against settlement before completion of the surveys. Hibbard, op. cit., p. 41.

50,000-acre tract by a Mr. Dobbyn of the "Kingdom of Ireland," Boudinot, of New Jersey, sensibly pointed out that

The business of selling lands was of considerable consequence. If they went into a des ultory mode of selling lands they might do material injury. He wished a general and systematic plan might be adopted, which should not be receded from.

In response to the congressional request to prepare a uniform plan of land disposal, Hamilton filed a report 6 months later, favoring a modified system of indiscriminate location of settlement. Not so well prepared as his famous report on manufactures and seeming more impressed with the expediencies of the mo ment than the needs of a long-range plan, Hamilton's report stated in a char acteristic fashion the land attitude of eastern finance, foreshadowing the main emphasis of the American public land policy for the first half century of the Nation's existence.

In the formation of a plan for the disposition of the vacant lands of the United States there appears to be two leading objects of consideration: One, the facility of advantageous sales, according to the probable course of purchasers; the other, the accommodation of individuals now inhabiting the Western country, or who may hereafter emigrate thither. The former, as an operation of finance, claims primary attention; the latter is important, as it relates to the satisfaction of the inhabitants of the western country.7

In its official origin the American public land policy seemed to be primarily concerned with the revenues to be obtained from the Federal domain, and was called by such financial terms, as "credit" and "cash sales" systems.

But the West wanted land and it wanted it cheap. By 1828 the Public Lands Committee of the House was prompted to defend the squatter as entitled to "a privilege greater than other purchasers," because he rendered

a benefit to the public, who by his enterprise and industry has created to himself and his family a home in the wilderness *** and brought into competition lands which otherwise would have commanded no price and for which there would have been no bidders, unless for his improve ments.8

In 1841 Senator Benton's bill for preemption-shrewdly designated the "log cabin bill"-was passed, over the mild opposition of the seaboard submitting more or less to the inevitable, for both the Whigs and the Democrats had committed themselves to some such measure in the last Presidential election. Benton's bill provided for "permanent prospective preemption," as its title read, and thus inaugurated the land policy that remained dominant in American his tory for almost a century-settle the lands quickly by placing them in private ownership and on the tax rolls. This underlying policy was exemplified in the graduation law of 1854, the famous Homestead Act of 1862 and its successive variations.

The public lands policies evinced little governmental concern with the specific location and establishment of settlement, but left any and all "guidance" and control to private developmental and speculative enterprises and officialized immi gration bureaus blaring forth rosy (if untrue) facts of the "resources of the State"

The proposal was presented in the House by Mr. Scott of Ohio on May 28, 1789. He opposed the system of large sales, objected to the great cost of surveys, and proposed to sell land in small quantities, with the purchasers paying the cost of surveying. Annals of Congress, I, p. 415. It was promptly sidetracked by Gerry who proposed a committee of investiga tion, whereupon "a desultory conversation arose." Ibid., p. 632.

7 American State Papers, Public Land, I, p. 4.

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Quoted by Hibbard, op. cit., pp. 151-152, who added, "one could well believe the above words formed by a committee at some squatters' meeting in Illinois or an enthusiastic editor in a frontier village."

Cf. National Resources Committee, Supplementary Land Planning Report, pt. VII, pp. 60–75.

Land skimming or soil exhaustion as a deliberate policy has been a settled agricultural practice in America from colonial times. See A. O. Craven, Soil Exhaustion as a Factor in the Agricultural History of Virginia and Maryland, 1606-1860 (1926). Traditional prejudice had strongly fought attempts to replenish the soil by fertilization. When the lands failed as the growing number of abandoned farms, even in the pre-Civil War period gave poignant evidence of-the people emigrated to fresh lands. The "wave of immigration passed like a devastating scourge." This policy was despite the fact that many of the techniques of soil improvement were known to "the more intelligent and progressive farmers of the South from a very early period, and failure to employ such methods was due rather to lack of motive than to lack of knowledge." See L. C. Gray, History of American Agriculture in the South to 1860 (1933), pp. 198-199, 446-448, 800.

"It was in vain that the American proclaimed to the heavens that he loved his rocks and rills, his woods and templed hills: his actions were a derisive commentary on these pious words." Lewis Mumford, The Brown Decades (1931), p. 75.

for the "guidance of capitalists and emigrants." Immigration bureaus have been reported for such diversified States as Maryland, Georgia, Wisconsin, and in at least nine States the promotion of immigration was made a constitutional function.10 In Colorado the immigration bureau was recently consolidated with the State planning agency. During the 1920's, especially after Secretary of Com merce Hoover began the enormous expansion of the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, a number of States began officially to undertake chamberof-commerce functions in the promotion of land settlement and development, as through the New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia Departments of Conser vation and Development, the Alabama Industrial Development Board, the Greater Pennsylvania Council, the Maine and Massachusetts, and New Hamp shire Development Commissions, and the South Carolina Natural Resources Commission."


When shortly after the World War the country was confronted on an unparalleled scale with the problem of absorbing returning service men, one of the methods proposed was guided land settlement. Between 1917 and 1923, approximately 13 States passed laws providing for purchasing, improving, and selling agricultural lands to the veterans under preferential contracts. Since no financial assistance (other than training pay) was actually forthcoming from the Federal Government, only 6 States out of the 13 actually attempted to carry plan beyond the paper stage. These State attempts at developing and selling "ready-made farms" appear to have "failed to accomplish the ends contemplated. In the case of a few projects (as at Delhi, Calif.), initial success attended the venture, but with the falling prices of farm crops, general post-war agriculturaldistress, and high construction costs, these few temporarily successful experi ments also collapsed. In 1929 the California Legislature took steps to withdraw State participation in land settlement, and the final report for 1931 placed the cost to the State at $2,500,000, excluding interest. The story of the remaining 5 States is, with the notable exception of Oregon, equally or more dismal. Even in Oregon whose demonstration farms were reported on a paying basis, no new demonstration farms appeared to have been added by the end of 1931.12

The States have also sought to control settlement by discouraging development of poor lands through blue-sky laws in practically all the States, licensing realestate dealers in 27 States, supplying information to prospective settlers, and most recently by means of the zoning device.13 In some States, notably Michigan, Montana, and Washington, provision has been made for technical examination and certification of land colonization projects on the request of the colonization company, but little use thereof is reported. The zoning technique undertakes to regulate under the police power the various uses to which rural land may be put, i. e., whether forestry or open to agriculture. It was first extended to nonurban situations by Wisconsin in the case of Oneida County in 1933, and has since been adopted by twenty-three other rural counties in the State."

Land Classification and Withdrawal.-It is rather difficult to understand how so little progress was made in the technique of land planning after the invention and practice of the rectangular survey at the very beginning of the national land system. As will be shown in the chapter on minerals, early efforts

10 Md. Laws 1896, c. 295; Ga. Laws 1895, p. 104; Wisc. Laws 1893, c. 235. Made a constitutional function in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. On the other hand, one State (Texas) later constitutionally forbade the State to engage in such activity. Most of the States later abolished the boards See also B. Henderson, "State Policies in Agricultural Settlement", Journal of Land and Public Utility Economics, II, 284296 (1926).

11 Ala. Agricultural Code of 1927; Me. Laws 1935, c. 180; Mass. Laws 1929, c. 351; N. H. Laws 1931, c. 92; N. J. Laws 1915, c. 241; N. C. Laws 1925, c. 122; Pa. Laws 1931, No. 131; S. C. Laws 1929, No. 226; and Va. Laws 1926, cc. 169, 368. 12 W. A. Hartman, "State Land-Settlement Problems and Policies in the United States," Department of Agriculture Technical Bulletin No. 357 (1933), pp. 35, 45. The 6 States were California (1917), Washington (1919), South Dakota (1919), Arizona (1921), Minnesota (1917), and Oregon (1919). The other 7 States whose legislation remained ineffective were Utah (1917), Colorado (1919), Idaho (1919), Wisconsin (1919), Montana (1921), Michigan (1923), and South Carolina (1923). 13 Supplementary Land Planning Report, pt. VII, pp. 134-135.

14 Wisc. Laws 1929, p. 468. See Rowlands and Trenk, Rural Zoning Ordinances in Wisconsin (University of Wisconsin. Extension Circular 281, 1936).

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