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less official standing. All but one so far owed its existence to gubernatorial action, but other States were shortly to follow the Louisiana precedent of estab lishing a conservation commission on firm legislative foundation, as was done by Iowa, New Mexico, Oregon, and Utah within the following year. 1s


Other States were represented by their Governors, special delegates, or officials with various types of interest in the conservation problem. Several of the States which had failed to be represented at the Governors' Conference of the preceding spring were in attendance at the December conference. Thus, California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Oregon were repre sented by conservation commissions, and Maine, Nevada, and Tennessee were represented in some other form. On the other hand, the five States of Idaho, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Washington which had at tended the Governors' Conference failed to send any representative to the December meeting.16

The States had little to report. They had come to Washington to find out the content and methods of conservation and in particular to familiarize themselves with the findings and recommendations of the National Conservation Commis sion and be advised on how they could best prepare (and safeguard the interests of) their States for participating in the pending conservation move.

The conference reaffirmed the advantages of governmental cooperation and reiterated the recommendation that both Congress and the State legislatures “enact such laws as may be necessary to extend and apply such cooperation in all matters pertaining to the use and conservation of our resources. The con ference strongly favored "the maintenance of conservation commissions in every State, to the end that each Commonwealth may be aided and guided in making the best use of these abundant resources with which it has been blessed."

In order to provide a permanent working relationship between the Federal Government and the States, it was recommended that some Federal agency (as the National Conservation Commission) should be authorized by Congress, and provided with ample funds to "cooperate with State commissions, to the end that every sovereign Commonwealth and every section of the country may obtain the high degree of prosperity and the sureness of perpetuity naturally arising in the abundant resources, and the vigor, intelligence, and patriotism of our people."

To counter charges of Federal domination, the conference proposed to imple ment the emerging Federal-State program of conservation through the good offices of a joint committee consisting of six members of State conservation commissions and three members of the National Conservation Commission. Its assigned purpose should be to prepare and present to the State and national commissions, "and through them to the Governors and the President, a plan for united action by all organizations concerned with the conservation of natural

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The scene was auspiciously set, but the Federal efforts collapsed in a maelstrom of political controversy. Several of the States, however, under the initial mo mentum given from the center, had enacted legislation putting their conservation commissions on a more or less permanent foundation, and in one particular case (California) implemented it with liberal appropriations ($100,000).

Candid recognition of the creative effort of the Federal Government clearly appears from the preamble of the Louisiana law of 1908—the first State con

15 See the accompanying table, p. 93. By the end of 1913 this list included in addition the States of California, Nebraska, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

16 The New England Governors had held a conference in Boston, November 23-24, 1908, to discuss tree planting, protec tion of sea food, and the regulation of automobiles on the highways. "We form here no irresponsible House of Governors." Proceedings, p. 9.

17 Aside from casual mention in the early proceedings of the National Conservation Congresses, no further evidence of the activities of this interesting device has been found.

servation commission to be established by a legislature and one which has persisted in its essential form up to the present time. The preamble states:

Whereas the recent conference of governors, in the White House declared their firm conviction that the conservation of natural resources is a subject of transcendant importance; that these resources include the waters, the forests, the land, and minerals; that the Nation, the State, and the people should cooperate in conservation, and,

Whereas the conference declared that this cooperation should find expression in suitable action by the Congress within the limits of, and coextensive with, the national jurisdiction of the subjects, and, complementary thereto, by the legislature of the several States within the limits of and coex tensive with, their jurisdiction, and,

Whereas the conference recommended the appointment by each State of a commission on the Conservation of Natural Resources, to cooperate with each other and with any similar commission of the Federal Government, therefore.18

Perhaps the most comprehensive legislative definitions of what State conservation was intended to embrace at this early stage are to be found in the Iowa and Rhode Island acts. Iowa defined the duty of its commission as that of investigating the interrelationships of the State's waters, forest, soils, and minerals, under the following specifications:

ART. 1. The present condition of public drainage in Iowa and the benefits which can be derived by securing the best of drainage engineering practice, the most economical administration of drainage projects, and a more economical method of financing at lower rates of interest, and show methods by which all of these benefits may be secured.

ART. 2. The present condition of all overflow of flood plain lands of Iowa, showing losses due by floods in the destruction of farm crops, the losses due by the destruction of property, in the cities, towns, and built-up districts, the losses due by the withdrawal from crop cultivation of such flooded lands, and recommending the proper methods of prevention of such flood conditions.

ART. 3. The survey of at least one representative Iowa river to ascertain the available dam sites and the potential water power and report the best method of procedure to bring about develop ment of the water powers of the State, at the same time retaining the ultimate control of the water supply as a property of the State.

ART. 4. To cooperate with the United States survey provided by act of congress and investigate the possibilities of navigation upon the rivers or upon adjoining lands by canal, and to secure the aid of Government experts when practicable in the several matters investigated by this commission. ART. 5. The question of forests, and their preservation and their culture in the State, and espe cially with reference to the influence of forests upon the flood conditions of the rivers and the erosion and waste of the soils.

ART. 6. It is the clear intent and purpose of this bill that the close inter-relation of the several phases of river development shall be shown, and the necessity for a broad comprehensive treatment of our rivers shall be studied and reported upon.

ART. 7. The general question of the relation of the State to the preservation of the fertility of the Iowa soils.

ART. 8. The general question of the wise and conservative development and use of the mineral resources of the State, especially with reference to the mining of coals.

ART. 9. And the general question of the nature and condition of such lakes in Iowa as now belong to the State, the relation of lakes and streams to the preservation of such varieties of fish, birds, and native animals as are desirable and the preservation of the peat beds which now belong to the State. 19

The Rhode Island act in transferring the natural resources survey, which had been established in 1909, from the commissioner of industrial statistics to the new conservation commission (of which the former was chairman) defined the major task of the new agency as including the preparation of—

a census of the idle and unproductive farm properties and other lands in the State, including so-called "abandoned farms," sprout land, swampland, waste land, marshes, meadows, rocky, stony, hilly, and barren land, and embracing all territory of the State that is unimproved, unworked, or at present yielding no returns or products of commercial value whatever, the character of the present growth thereon or the nature of topographical formation. Such census shall show the area, location, ownership, and assessed value of each of such properties, the character, dimensions, and conditions of any buildings or other improvements thereon located, the nature of existing vege tation, the proportionate area suitable for woodland, pasture land and tillage, the topography, drainage, and general slope, the locations and flow of wells, springs, streams, and other sources of water supply, the acreage of sprout land, with age and kind of growth, the acreage of timber, and 18 La. Laws 1908, No. 144. In 1921 the conservation department was madea constitutional office (VI, 1). 19Iowa Laws 1909, c. 249, sec. 2.

the character of the soil, whether gravel, sand, clay, or loam, and whether said properties are for sale or can be leased for purposes of production or development of their resources; the facilities and means for transportation, the liability to frost, the condition of roads and other approaches, the distance from markets or commercial centers, and authentic information, based upon a scientific analysis of the soil, rocks, or other components, as the purposes for which such lands can be most profitably utilized.20

The specific subject entries in the accompanying table on "State conservation legislation, 1908-13" are self-explanatory in most instances. The legislative definition of the specific scope of inquiry usually adopted the fourfold classifica tion of lands, forests, water, and minerals that was originally employed by the National Conservation Commission. In two or three instances the legislature merely made a general authorization to investigate or survey "natural resources," without further itemization, as in the case of Oregon and Wisconsin. The Wisconsin act required its commission "to consider the natural resources of the State of Wisconsin with reference to their remaining unimpaired so far as this is practicable. "21

Most of these new State agencies were concerned with natural, not human, resources. In striking contrast, the State of Nebraska provided for a "conserva tion and public welfare commission "to—

act in an advisory capacity in correlating the work of the various State surveys, and other statistical departments of the State and to use the data furnished by these surveys in securing the greatest development of the resources of the State of Nebraska and the highest economic and social welfare of its citizens * * *. To make plans, based on conclusions from these facts and execute such plans for the purpose of developing the resources of the State and improving the welfare of its inhabitants.22

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NOTE.-Session laws for all the 48 States were examined for the period 1908-13, but no other laws were found. Michigan, however, established a Public Domain Commission in 1911 (No. 280) with functions somewhat similar to the State Conser vation Commissions.

The Oregon act declared that the conservation commission was created "for the purpose of ascertaining and making known the natural resources of the State of Oregon, and for cooperating with the National Conservation Commission to the end that the natural resources of the State may be conserved and put to the highest use. Other States specified the United States Geological Survey, the Department of Agriculture, and the Forest Service. Cooperation on the same levels of government, i. e., between the States, was contemplated by the Rhode


10 R. I. Laws 1909, c. 438; 1910, c. 644, sec. 4. Kansas employed the phrase "the duty of exploiting the resources." Laws 1911, c. 302.

11 Wisc. Laws 1911, c. 644, sec. 1. Cf. the New York constitutional provision in art. VII, sec. 7, discussed infra., pp. 28-29.

22 Nebr. Laws 1913, c. 248, sec. 4.

13 Oreg. Laws 1909, c. 81.

Island and Utah acts. "This cooperation movement constitutes the first great step for cooperation among the States and of the States with the Nation." 24 Perhaps the most comprehensive direction for sharing the findings and experiences of other agencies, governmental and private, is found in the California act which provided for the examination of Federal, State, and foreign legislation, “reports and recommendations of persons, officials, commissions, societies, and associations upon the subjects of forestry, water, the use of water, water power, electricity, electrical and other powers, mines and mining, mineral and open lands, dredging, reclamation and irrigation.25

Other features of the acts, which do not appear from the accompanying table, included a strongly worded section in the California act authorizing agents of the commission to enter private property for surveying and measuring water and land areas, enforceable by regular penal sanctions; experimentation with reforestation by the Louisiana commission; the establishment of a "Resources Museum" by the New Mexico (territorial) commission; and specific authorization of the Utah commission to collect and publish “statistics and data relative to the natural resources of the State.”

The structural pattern of the new conservation agencies was that of a board upon which ex officio or university representation was conspicuously heavy.26 In cases where citizen members were eligible it was provided that no compensation would be paid other than reimbursement for actual expenses," as traveling to national conferences called by the Federal Government.28

Small appropriations were authorized in Louisiana ($900, for the annual salary of the secretary of the board), Oregon ($1,000), Wisconsin ($1,000), and Utah ($3,000 per annum). California outdistanced all others by appropriating $100,000 and engaging Louis Glavis as its secretary, following his dismissal from the Federal service in connection with the Pinchot-Ballinger controversy. More than half of the money actually expended during the first 18 months of the existence of the California commission (to wit, $30,000 out of $54,760) was used for cooperative work with the Geological Survey and the Department of Agriculture on irrigation problems.

The first tangible accomplishment of the State conservation commissions was the preparation and publication of reports. These have been analyzed in the accompanying table on "Scope of activities of the State conservation commissions, 1909–13.” The first reports naturally were very general, usually following a rambling essay style, and frequently quite inspirational in tone. Quite excep tional was the California report of which the following is a tabular outline: Discussion of natural resources.

Water and water rights.


School land investigation and data.

Mineral lands.

Fish and game.

Lake Tahoe.

Wasting of arterial waters.

Irrigation lands in California.

Irrigation staff reports (in cooperation with the Federal Government).
Exhibits (ownership of forest lands; forest taxation by counties, etc.).

24 Oregon Conservation Commission, Report, 1908, p. 7..

Calif. Laws 1911, c. 408, sec. 3.

The Rhode Island act provided for a completely ex officio board consisting of the commissioner of industrial statistics, the director of the State agricultural experiment station, the secretary of the board of agriculture, the commissioner of forestry, and the secretary of the metropolitan park commission. Louisiana provided that the professor of horticulture at the State University and the State engineer should serve ex officio in addition to five other members to be selected by the Governor. Laws 1910, c. 644.

Wis. Laws 1911, c. 644. Vermont forbade even expenses. Laws 1909, No. 479. * Utah Laws 1909, c. 103, sec. 4.

Few measured up to this standard, and some reports could not be considered a comprehensive survey of the State resources in any sense.29 These shortcomings were obviously due in large part to the lack or inadequacy of appropriations. Unlike the present State planning boards, no financial assistance was available from the Federal Government to supplement State fiscal support.

Table 2.-Scope of activities of the Roosevelt State Conservation commissions as indicated by reports,

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! Typewritten copy made available through the courtesy of Henry B. Kummel, State geologist for New Jersey. Typewritten copy made available through the courtesy of South Dakota State Planning Board from a copy in the posses sion of the State historical society.

NOTE.-No other reports have been found in the Library of Congress or by means of correspondence with the secretaries of state and State libraries.

Such interest as was indicated in the broad aspects of conservation went little beyond quoting the Roosevelt utterances at the Governors' Conference. On the whole, the reports contributed little to working out State conceptions of comprehensive conservation programs. Notable exceptions were the reports of California, Iowa, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont, whose commis sions adapted their activities to the special problems of their particular State. Vermont visualized decentralized industry made possible by "white coal," and insisted upon the need for governmental control of water-power development, especially through the granting of dam franchises. The growing accumulation of abandoned farms so concerned the Rhode Island Conservation Commission that its second and third publications consisted of detailed lists of individual farms for sale or lease. Irrigation, particularly in its economic aspects, interested California and Utah, the report of the latter recommending the collection of further data for the guidance of investors, and scheduled a comprehensive survey of dry farming. Iowa published only one report, but it was very inclusive on drainage and waterways. The West Virginia commission recom mended legislation for the protection of forests from fire, the prevention of natural-gas waste, the establishment of an engineering school, the conduct of irrigation experiments, and the creation of a permanent agency of inquiry armed with adequate legal powers and reinforced by regular appropriation to safeguard and promote the orderly development of resources.

"The New Mexico report was particularly one sided, restricting its attention to wildlife and geology.

Date of report

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