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dredging should be made to the State Water Commission.
The applicant was required to show the location of the proposed operation, the amount and character of the soil to be dredged, whether it had ever been cultivated, and the approximate value of the last crop taken from it; whether, in the opinion of the applicant the soil were more valuable for agriculture than for dredging, and, if so, whether, in the opinion of the applicant, the soil after the dredging operations could be restored to a condition of usefulness and fertility for agricultural purposes equal to its condition at the time of the application.
The Water Commission, on receiving such an application, was required within thirty days to have the soil
tions cut the timber and underbrush from the mountain sides for fuel and other purposes, with reckless disregard of the consequences to the agricultural lands lying below.
"The Northern Sacramento Valley at one time produced enormous crops of wheat but the yield per acre decreased year by year on account of the unscientific method of production and use of the land.
“That deterioration in the quality of the land has a present effect upon the number of people who can be supported by agricultural pursuits upon the land in that valley. It is needless to argue that what California needs today is more population of the right sort and particularly of the kind which can and will support itself upon small farms. If to deteriorate the quality of our farming lands by reckless and unscientific methods of production is contrary to the present and future welfare of the State, what must be said of any industry or enterprise which permanently destroys agricultural lands, for the sake of securing an amount of gold which is less than the value of the agricultural products of the same land for a very limited period of time? It is a suicidal policy and ought not to be tolerated by any enlightened civilization.
"I have personally seen much of the fruit land which is being destroyed by dredging in the Northern Sacramento Valley. One of the most striking examples of the destructive character of this dredging was furnished by the land which constituted the Natomas Vineyard. It is said to have been the second largest producer in the State at the time it was taken over by the dredging company. The vines were all turned up and the former vineyard now consists of a solid mass of cobble stones about twenty feet in height. It is a sickening sight to any one who recognizes the
examined. Within thirty days after such examination the commission was required to give the applicant a hearing, and within thirty days thereafter render a decision.
The measure provided that the Commission should:
(1) If the land were found to be more valuable for dredging than for agricultural purposes, grant the application, and issue a license for such dredging.
(2) If the land were found to be more valuable for agricultural purposes than for mining, but that the soil could be restored after such dredging operations to a condition of usefulness and fertility for agricultural purposes equal to its condition at the time of the filing of the application, the Commission could grant the petition and the license to dredge.
(3) If the soil were found to be more valuable for
fact that posterity has some rights which the present generation ought to respect and protect.
"Unfortunately, golā dredging is only conducted on river bottom lands because the gold is only found in paying quantities in these old river beds which are covered with soil. It probably took millions of years for nature to create and deposit this soil, which man destroys permanently, from every practical standpoint, in a few years, or even months.
"I am informed that patents exist of dredging machines which will reverse the present process and redeposit the cobble stones on the bottom and the soil on top, but that this kind of machinery is not used by the people who are doing the dredging for the simple reason that the expense of extracting the gold would thereby be increased a few cents and the profit of the owners proportionately decreasd.
"The dredging industry is unprofitable to the State of California. from every standpoint, as at present conducted. True, it furnishes employment to a few hundreds of men but this fact is more than offset by the permanent injury to the productive capacity of the State, and especially so when you consider the fact that most of the dredging is now being conducted by absentee landlords and that the gold which is taken out of the soil finds its way into the pockets of Eastern owners instead of remaining in California and being invested there in the development of the other resources of the State.
“The proposed dredger legislation ought, by all means, to be enacted by the Legislature. It is a wise and sound policy for the State of California to adopt."
agriculture than for dredging, then the application, unless provision were made for restoration of the land as described above, had to be denied.
In the event of the Commission's determining the soil to be more valuable for agricultural than for dredging purposes, but should decide to issue a dredging permit on condition that the soil be restored, the measure provided that the permit set forth as the conditions under which it was granted:
(1) That the soil should be restored to a condition of agricultural usefulness equal to that before the dredg. ing operations.
(2) That if the applicant failed or refused to restore the soil, the permit could be revoked, and such other penalties imposed as the law provided.
The Commission, in determining the relative value of the soil for agricultural and for dredging purposes, was not limited to consideration of the annual product of the soil alone, but was required to take into consideration the future and natural continued use of the soil for agricultural purposes.
Kehoe, in his efforts to give the principle of soil conservation expression in law, had the support of such men as Congressman William Kent ;162 former Governor
162 "It is the first principle underlying common law,” said Congressman Kent, “that a man may not use his property to the damage of another. It is upon this broad principle that the bill to restrain destruction of arable land by dredging for gold was drawn.
“If we have any regard for history, if we have any regard whatever for the struggles of the past or the sacrifices made by our predecessors in order that our lives may be better and happier, we must realize that the only recognition in our power to accord to those who have gone before, is to so act in the brief trusteeship of our existence that those coming after may find the world a better place to live in.
"It is obvious to any one who has given the matter thought that the destruction of arable land is, in this view of our duty
George C. Pardee; Francis J. Heney, the San Francisco graft prosecutor, and Charles K. McClatchy, of the Sacramento Bee, who is thoroughly familiar with the gold dredging conditions in the Sacramento Valley. The directors of the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce, fully informed of dredge-mining operations, which are going on at Sacramento's doors, adopted resolutions supporting the bill.
On the other hand, the measure had the determined opposition of the dredge-mining companies, and their agents in and out of the Legislature. Their opposition was very effective. Chambers of Commerce the State over adopted resolutions condemning the proposed act; newspapers and mining publications declared against it; bankers who had dredge-mining securities on their hands joined in the expression of disapproval. The first line of attack was to convince Kehoe there
no good reason why the measure should be
to those coming after us, the ultimate crime. If it had so happened that any large proportion of the arable areas of the world had been underlaid with gold and the sort of destruction had been going on through the centuries that is now evidenced in the finest portions of the Sacramento Valley, we, in our time, asking for bread would be literally given a stone.
“The bill is not a bill to destroy the entirely legitimate business of dredging for gold. It merely calls for a proper replacement of arable conditions. If the profits of the dredging do not justify replacing the soil in as good a condition as it was prior to dredging, then the bill would work an estoppel on the pretended right of the individual to destroy the assets of the State of California and to so use his property that the unborn generation will be damaged by such use.
"It seems idle to contend that rock piles that cannot be cultivated are as valuable in the production of food as the orchards and vineyards turned up to create those rock piles. It is time that the State of California looked after the continuing interests of its own people and if it shall be shown that dredging for gold, under existing conditions, does in some localities result in permanent destruction and waste, it is time that the State should exercise its power."
passed.163 It was represented to him that the acreage profitable for dredge-mining is limited; that comparatively little of it is fit for agricultural purposes; that it could all be sacrificed without the State suffering material loss.
The figures presented Kehoe in support of these contentions were definite and convincing. S. L. G. Knox, vice-president and general manager of Natomas Consolidated of California, extensively engaged in dredgemining, furnished Kehoe what purported to be a detailed statement of all the available land fit for profitable gold dredging, in California. The statement showed only 10,885 acres capable of being profitably dredged.10 Knox claimed that not above 3,500 acres of it were fit for agricultural purposes.
163 The efforts made to get Kehoe's ear were many of them amusing. At the time of the adjournment for the constitutional recess, Kehoe was to have left San Francisco for Eureka on a certain steamer. By a strange coincidence a representative of the Natomas Consolidated Dredge Mining Company of California took the same boat. Kehoe was delayed, however, and did not sail for Eureka until the day following.
Elaborate investigation was made into Kehoe's record and affairs. His associates were hunted out, and every possible influence brought to bear upon him to influence him to discontinue his efforts for the bill's passage.
164 Mr. Knox made practically the same statement in an article printed in the Sacramento Bee over his signature, March 6, 1913, in which he said:
"The total amount of known dredging land in the State, according to the report of the State Mining Bureau, was, in 1909, about 19,000 acres. Since that time it has been reduced to about 12,000 acres.
“The total amount of dredging land suitable for agriculture is, in fact, a little over 3000 acres-1-300 of one per cent. of the area of the State, or 1-80 of one per cent. of its agricultural area.
Similar statements were made by other opponents of the bill.
"The amount of land attacked by the (Kehoe) bill is not great,” said Charles Janin in the Mining and Scientific Press in its issue for March 8, 1913. “Compared to the total area of arable lands in the State it seems almost infinitesimal. At the present time there are approximately 12,000 acres of land thought to be suitable for dredging in the State, and only about 3500 acres of this could be classified as agricultural."