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per acre. This act confined its benefits to citizens, or those who may declare their intentions to become such, no one person or association of persons to enter more than 160 acres. Proof must be shown of the non-mineral and non-agricultural character of the land desired.

This act also provided for the sale of lands valuable chiefly for stone in the same quantity and on the same terms as timber lands. Application must be made to the district land office, which is posted for sixty days and published in a newspaper for sixty days. If no adverse testimony as to the character of the land is shown after sixty days, then he or they can pay for and enter it. (See circular General Land Office, August 15, 1878, and especially circular of May 1, 1880.

The fourth section of that act is a trespass act for the States and Territory named, with a penalty of not less than $100 nor more than $1,000 for violation of the provisions against remuving, or causing to be removed, timber from public lands with intent to export or dispose of the same.

By act of June 3, 1878, Congress provided that all persons, citizens and bona-fide residents of Colorado or Nevada, or either of the Territories of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Dakota, Idaho, or Montana, and all mineral districts of the United States, shall be permitted to fell and remove for building, agriculture, mining, or other domestic purposes, timber or other troes on the public lands which are mineral and subject to mineral entry only. Railroad corporations are exempt. Registers and receivers are to ascertain as to the execution of the above from time to time. (See circular Commissioner General Land Office, August 15, 1878.)


The stone and timber act has not been of much practical value, and furnishes but small relief to the settlers in the States and Territories named.

Under it, from 1878 to June 30, 1880, there have been sold 20,782.77 acres at $2.50 per acre.

The following exhibit shows the total entries, location, and areas of lands sold under the timber and stone act of June 3, 1878, from June 30, 1878, to June 30, 1880, inclusive:

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For details of depredations and trespasses on, and destruction by fire of, the timber on the public domain in the West, together with recommendations as to sale and disposition of timber lands, with testimony of experts and persons practically engaged in lumbering, see Preliminary Report, with Testimony, of the Public Land Commission, Washington, D. C., 1880; Annual Reports of Secretary of the Interior, 1849 to 1880; Annual Reports of Commissioner of General Land Office, 1854 to 1880.




The attention of Congress was early called to the necessity of legislation on the subject of the treeless public domain of the West. Many of the Western States, Kansas as an illustration, began, under authority of law, a system of bounties for tree-planting. By local usage and consent of the people, a day was set apart upon which a festival was held, and all planted trees; this became a holiday. Planting groves of trees became the method of providing windbreaks against the fierce winds of the plains. The lack of fuel was the principal inducement, coupled with the belief that forests of trees cause an increased rainfall, and knowledge of the fact that wooded countries retain moisture much longer than treeless plains and give a more equal and beneficial distribution of water. Government aid was solicited ; agricultural, horticultural, and arboricultural societies petitioned; State legislatures took action; and timber culture became a subject of general discussion in the West.

The reports of the geological surveys of Hayden and Powell, for 1870, and following, called attention to the subject.

It was and is conceded that where land can be irrigated (below the timber line) trees can be grown. Irrigating ditches and canals are usually lined with trees; but trees cannot be grown in the West or elsewhere without water.

The first timber culture act was passed by Congress March 3, 1873, and amended March 13, 1874. It was for the promotion of the growth of timber on the Western plainsmeaning within the humid or subhumid region. This act provided a method of acquiring title to public lands on condition that timber should be grown thereon, so that persons might take “timber" farms as well as “agricultural” farms—the land to be given them as a reward or bounty for raising trees. It is a timber bounty act, with the additional clause (sec. 2,468) that land in cultivation for timber is not liable for debt or debts contracted prior to the issuing of the patent therefor. Entry of not more than 160 nor less than 40 acres can be made under this act. One-fourth part of the tract entered must be devoted to timber for eight years; after eight years, on proof of these facts at the district land office, certificate for patent will issue. The fee at date of filing application is $10; the fee of the register and receiver is $2 each, and the same at final proof and entry; in all, $18. The effects of this act cannot be stated. The first filings under this law were made in the fall of 1873, but they were few and of small area. The eight years' limit has as yet expired in but a few cases, and no reports have been received as to the practical effects of the law. A person files an application with the district land officers, and need not under the law take further action until the expiration of the legal time to make final proof to obtain patent, viz, eight years. The act thus far is experimental so far as practical effects are officially known.

Statement showing the number of timber-culture entries, with areas, made in each State and

Territory under the timber-culture act of March 3, 1873, to June 30, 1880, inclusive.

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Revised Statutes, section 2317, in the chapter relating to homesteads, is as follows:

Every person having a homestead on the public domain, under the provisions of this chapter, who at the end of the third year of his residence thereon, shall have had under cultivation, for two years, one acre of timber, the trees thereon not being more than twelve feet apart each way, and in a good, thrifty condition, for each and every sixteen acres of such homestead, shall, upon due proof of the fact by two credible witnesses, receive his patent for such homestead.

This is also a bounty for planting timber.


Regulations General Land Office.
Public Land Commission, Preliminary Report, with Testimony, 1880.

Report on the Lands of the Arid Regions of the United States, Prof. J. W. Powell, 1878, Washington, D. C., as to water supply of the arid regions.

Report upon Forestry, vols. 1 and 2, prepared under direction of the Commissioner of Agriculture, in pursuance of an act of Congress approved August 15, 1876, 1878, Franklin B. Hough; containing statistics of lumbering, laws of States and Territories on forestry, suggestions, and a vast amount of practical information on tree culture in all lands. Also, Report of State Forestry Commissioners.

Report from Committee on Public Lands, first session Forty-third Congress (H. R. 259), on cultivation of timber and the preservation of forests, by Mr. Dunnell, of Minnesota, in reference to the special message of President Grant of February 19, 1874, on the subject.




The act of March 3, 1875, providing for the sale of desert lands in Lassen County, California, permitted the entry of 640 acres of land, and required that water be put upon the same by claimants, and the land paid for at the rate of $1.25 per acre, within two years.

March 3, 1877, Congress enacted the “Desert land act,” which applies to California, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, and Dakota. It is for the reclamation of desert lands, an entry of 640 acres being permitted, and three years are given from the date of filing ili which to conduct water on the same. At time of filing application 25 cents per acre is to be paid at the district land office, and on proof of compliance with the law, final payment of $1 additional per acre can be made at any time within three years. All lands, exclusive of timber and mineral lands, which will not, without irrigation, produce some agricultural crop, are deemed and held to be desert land under this act. The determination of what may be considered such desert lands is subject to the decision and regulation of the Commissioner of the General Land Office. (See circulars of General Land Office of June 25, 1878, and September 13, 1880.

Under this act, since March 3, 1877, to June 30, 1880, there have been made 2,855 entries embracing 897,160.57 acres; the first payments received (25 cents per acre) being $223,470.72.

For estimates of areas and conditions of desert lands, see “Report on the Lands of the Arid Region of the United States," by Prof. J. W. Powell, 1878; and for details of irrigation and methods, see “Preliminary Report, with Testimony, of the United States Public Land Commission," 1880.


The following table gives full exhibit of totals of operations under this act:

Sales of desert lands under the act of March 3, 1877, to June 30, 1880.

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