The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on November 21, 1968 · Page 75
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November 21, 1968

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 75

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Thursday, November 21, 1968
Page 75
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Page 75 article text (OCR)

10-Downtown Section, Ttaurs., Nov. 21, 1968 Vast Orphaned Land Tracts In 10 States Draw Interest instance, an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 holes in Riverside Coun- v, Calif., on public lands, on he sites of old mining claims. MMMMMffiiMMMMMMiMWMMMBSniMI LAMER FINE QUALITY )! r6 sheep. Some covet them for speculation. Some dream of the land reborn with the miracle of water. But chronically there Is not enough water, and too much land. Technically these vast acres are "unappropriated land" those acres remaining from the original public domain, which was everything except the original 13 states. The land Is held by the Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management, now trying to catalog the uses of these Immense holdings. More than 3,900 laws, many of them on the books for a century, govern these lands. The laws are anachronistic, contradictory and complex, wormed through with loopholes. Only in the last few years have Americans been able to begin a philosophy to guide the future of these approximately 452 million final acres, which represent about 60 per cent of all federally-owned lands. Other federally-owned lands are national forests, wildlife refuges, military bases, national parks, etc. Here, at the base of the Red Rock escapement, is a piece of this orphaned land. The eastern sun glints off the devil's crimson of its cliffs and pokes Into the canyons. Indian petro-glyphs on the wall of a cave portray a primitive stick man, arms and legs akimbo. Ten miles away, modern stickmen clear the losers' bets from the crap tables of Las Vegas. By JOHN BARBOt'B RED ROCK CANYON.iNev. (AP) There Is a strangely orphaned land In America, empty, the leftover after the best has been taken. It Is the land almost nobody wants. In a nation where cities press people together and each square foot is dear, It Is the last vast vacant lot. Desert and mountain, canyon and bluff, sagebrush and plnon pine it is huge. Its grand expanses and small weed-filled lots stretch from Florida to Alaska across 26 states. In the connected 48 states, it totals an area larger than California, Oregon and Washington combined. Counting Alaska, it amounts to one-fifth of the United States. It is neither Indian reservation, national forest, national monument nor national park. Yet it is public land. For nearly 150 years it has been there for the taking, and nobody took it. It is Just too dry, too rugged, too wild or too remote. Ruled by disappointment, these brutal acres break the men who seek to tame them. But now land-hungry eyes turn to these lands, mostly in 10 western states. Some want the lands for expansion, some for taxes. Some see them preserved forever as natural wilderness and watershed. Some seek gold In the hills and oil In the ar.clent strata. Some want them only as open range for cattle and 4 2 g BY HAMILTON 1 aOA(3)88 wmm 'i 'Wtt ... . " "" I , . . -'.""77 - , ..Li, . ,i , ,.i,iii. i , m.itatou ti m imrffm.n.imaini i rirv . . . - , DIJOllDS $11995 ALL MAKES ELECTRIC SHAVER Repairs s I I I ONLY I I ltel(S1 vi '-'-Mm v ... I S ALL MAKES liVSTAKT yyvu mm mm mm oi hancement to the value of the old ranches, so now tlje leases: and permits enhance the value of the present day ranches, even figure in the selling price. Not all ranching on federal lands is profitable. In the southwest, the land is stingy, yielding mesquite and small patches of Indian wheat amid the cactus. But ranchers graze cattle on these lands too. The desert is one long arid trek from Texas westward to California with few interruptions. But there are other ways to get rich on federal lands besides ranching. The real promise is oil. The United States retains those lands with known oil-bearing structures. Oil companies pay handsome royalties o drill and pump them. But ihere are other lands that hold aromise, and the chances are distributed in a drawing system that amounts to a lottery. This is the wav the drawing works: Once a month, the federal government publishes lists of land parcels available for gas and oil exploration. Any citizen, 21 and over, can file. He is allowed one application per parcel, for as many himself- or "if mav sell..the lease to another party. Since oil exploration is chancey and expensive, most of those who win valuable plots choose to sell. The profit may be small, or It may range to more than $100,000. The federal government can't lose. It retains a 12-y per cent royalty on all oil-or gas discovered. Oil drillers are not the only ones the United States allows to put holes in the ground. The mining Law of 1872 bared the land to more shovels than any other piece of legislation, encouraging the search for valuable minerals. There are, for FOR LESS '4 IAKAI 0 A ft A FINE QUALITY LAOIES OR GENTS WATCHES! EARS PIERCED I 151 i: WITH PURCHASE OF 14k EARRINGS CKK1HT HAROLD BURNHAM CREDIT JEWELERS 1606 Broadway Rivitra Bach Ph. 848-2988 w $29500 j?mJt INSTANT CREDIT Wylf THE LAST EMPTY SPACE The map shows pub- parcels as he wants to or can lie lands in the western states in black, representing afford. The only practical lim-rnost of a national total of 450 million acres held by ! S Z.lSfSS the Department of the Interior s Bureau of Land acres in any one state. He Management. Even the lure of possible wealth from must pay a $io filing fee and gold, oil or speculative development has been unable Put UP casn t0 cover tne fllst to outweigh the basically Intractable and unhospita- ble nature of areas such as these in Nevada (above a! government publishes and center) where rugged, mountainous cliffs rise names of winners, from the desert vegetation of vucca and blackbush. a winner may drill for oil Canyon stretches an area I-3 1-H GAITOR BAITOR IT'S SOFTER THAN IT SOUNDS At the foot of the mountain is the tumbled ruin of a homesteader's tentative home, a crumpled dream in native stone. Nearby, a small forgetful trickle of water emerges from a cave and blinks in the sunlight. It twists and wastes Itself In a thin wet trail through rock to sand, a puny giver of life with fragments of green clinging to Its skirts. A few cottonwood trees haunt its broader, disappearing bed, trading shade for sustenance. In a dry land, this Is a precious year-around spring. Ignored for years, this canyon was visited by only a few campers escaping the clatter of coins In the neon-lit valley below. The bureau recognized Its potential as a camping and picknlcking area. But then the Girl Scouts of Las Vejjas filed for a key part of it as a permanent campsite of its own. Thus began an awesome contest: The Girl Scouts of Las Vegas versus the United States of America. The bureau kept putting off the claim, and in public print found Itself in the worst mismatch since Gretel popped the old witch In the oven. But the bureau stuck to its point, compromised at length and gave the Girl Scouts another tract considered separate but equal. Now, with limited funds, the Red Canyon site Is being developed into a general recreation area. Ludicrous though the dispute was, it phrased a basic question about public lands: federal ownership for general use, or ownership and use by special interests? But let's not quibble over small parcels. The public domain lands stretch far away. They include, for Instance, 77 per cent of Alaska, 68 per cent of Nevada, 43 per cent of Utah, 28 per cent of Wyoming, 25 per cent of Oregon, 23 per cent of Idaho. Gov. John Love of Colorado, where public lands total only 13 per cent of the state and all federal lands total 36 per cent, decries wfiat he calls the federal fiefdom. The land Isn't taxable, ins't salable, isn't really Colorado. In all, the federal government holds 87 per cent of Nevada, a state of endless, isolated, mountain-rimmed basins, high desert, low rainfall and three wilderness counties where the total population of some 2,000 Is greatly outnumbered by the cattle. Sixty miles northwest of Elko, Stanley Ellison's Spanish Ranch sprawls in the dull green of late summer across the brown streams and pools of Independence Valley, a welcome and lush Interruption in the hot brown hills. A few stands of cottonwood mark where men live and where water Is. Miles away a car leaves a dusty property line hanging in the air. There is a quiet beauty to this kind of summer, but like wit and wine, it is aged and dry. Ellison runs the ranch from the cluster of buildings that center on his solid white home and the annex that houses his office. Between them the dusty earth is held by the small sage grass, the horse dung, the flies. Ellison, a buckaroo as a youth, still wears the blue den im shirt, the cowboy hat will, rolled brim, the boots. This has been a dry year, he complains, and a"s usual an expensive one, pointing to the new mowing machine in the next field. Forage is in short supply. erosion, flood and drought. at it as their own. For a time it almost was. In the early days ranchers sent their cowboys out to stake claims on all the water points. Controlling the water, they controlled the range. The federal government organized the use of the range with the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934, setting up districts with the authority to lease or grant permits for grazing. Just as the open range was an en- (ALSO MAKES A It's softer than it looks, ISICE CHRISTMAS GIFT) too. m mm HAROLD BURNHAM CREDIT JEWELERS 421 Ckmatit St. W. Palm Beach Ph. 832-25)5 I Combos raw KM) It's made of soft cowhide leather to look like alligator. It comes in Lime and Brown. With just a touch of gold elegance. Now if it bothers you that our look-alike isn't the real thing, consider the following: It costs a lot less than alligator. It's a lot softer than alligator. And, of course, it's a whole lot softer on alligators. Cailor Bailor by LADY B UXTON YOUR SKLECTION MONOGRAMMED FREE OF CHARGE NO ONE UNDERSELLS MUNTZ TV . . . King of HIGHEST STANDARD OF QUALITY trail COMPLETE HOME ENTERTAINMENT CENTERS 329 Clematis St. West Palm Beach 832-6515 313 Worth Ave. Palm Beach 832-7910 Open Daily 9 AM to 5:30 Below, south of the Grand scourged successively by He seems out of place in his air-conditioned, walnut-paneled office, behind his simple, modern desk where he totes up the economics of his 135,000 acre ranch, his 9,000 sheep, his 10,000 cattle, his perhaps 100 hired hands Including a dozen shepherds imported form the Basque country of Spain, the last place where reliable shepherds are born and not made. His telephone bill ran $8,148.61 in fiscal 1967, mostly long distance charges tracking his herds over three states. Often the telephone is no help, and he is frequently out in the field. He sends 300 calves north to Idaho where a farmer has a forage surplus, or he checks the shepherds as they move the sheep on a spring to winter circuit from the high forest across Nevada to the southwestern desert, a trek of some 300 miles by foot and hoof. The land is not his. It takes an estimated one million acres of public lands to graze his herds. It is poor land mostly. On the average It takes 15 acres of sparse grass to satisfy the appetite of one cow one month. Some of it is so bad it takes 40 acres per cow per month. He pays the federal government for each cow-monlh a price based on the cattle market. It Is running about 33 cents a head now, a third of which is put back into the land to improve the range. Ellison is only one of some 27,000 ranchers who use the federal lands for grazing. They put up their own fences, but in this country fences have a different meaning. To cattle, horses and wildlife, this Is open range. It Is men and their property that are fenced In. Many ranching families have used the open range for generations. Some tend to look s MUSIC GO. mmmokb ieaiei PALM BEACH MALL PHONE 683-7567 (MMMMtlMMMMMmMMMMMIMMMMMMM 1 S3 am 1 Precision TuneiiHM , t , , 1 Model PIAIIO-ORGAJipjU J ? MUSICAL INSTRUMENT s Si FULL 88 NOTE SPINET DIMM INCLUDES BENCH WITH TRADE CHOOSE FROM 3 YEARS TO PAY I iMiiw DAMP CHASER, TUNING fc 10 YR. WARRANTY REG. 693.00 MORE THAN FIFTY COLOR MODELS TO EASIEST TERMS - NO MONEY DOWN NO PAYMENT 'TIL FEBRUARY, 1969 51 vovt snmwAT 206 CLEMATIS ST. PHONE 832-0537 STUDENT 1 1 HAMMOND SPINET GUITARS ORGAN $1 A95 araTcqi; I 25.00 VAL SERVICE UwW COMPLETE practice electronic 4 PC. DRUM SET ORGAN W" II "" $14400

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