C.S. Sargent


John Muir



Jamaica Plain, Mass., February 11, 1897.

My dear Muir:

I enclose drafts of a Dill which I am going to try and have passed at the extra session of Congress and which I shall accompany with a letter to the Secretary of the Interior describing the actual condition of the Reserves and the dangers which threaten them. I wish you could arrange to have this matter put before the new Secretary of the Interior before he leaves California and get him committed to the bill, as without his endorsement and support nothing, of course, will come of it. If such a bill could be passed this spring the Reserves could be saved another season's burning and pasturage.
I find, much to my surprise, that while the Secretary of War has the authority to protect the Yellowstone National Park, he has no authority whatever to station troops in any of the California national parks. The new Secretary of War may therefore, unless our bill is passed, refuse to send troops this summer into the Sierras. Of course you know what this would mean and how much all the California Reserves also need protection. The fact that the California reserves and parks are in more danger than those in the other states and territories will perhaps excite the Secretary to take some interest in the matter
.Of course it is not desirable to talk about this bill in the newspapers yet out as soon as it gets to the Secretary, which I sup-


pose will be before the middle of March, it will be desirable to make as strong a demonstration as possible in California in its favor. This of course can be done through the papers and perhaps by meetings in Los Angeles and other southern towns which are more interested in this matter than any other communities. I count on you for support in this matter.

I write in haste today out you will hear from me again shortly

Faithfully yours,

C. S. [illegible]

John Muir, Esq.
Martinez, Cal.




Jamaica Plain, Mass., February 1, 1897

Professor Wcicott GIDDS,
President of the National
Academy of Sciences.


The Commission appointed by you last year at the request of the secretary of the Interior to examine tae forests on the public Demainand prepare a plan for their ears now recommends the establishment of the following forest reserves:
1. The Black Hills Reserve.
This proposed Reserve embraces the central portion of the Black Hills of South Dakota and has an, estimated area of 967,660 acres, The mountains in this proposed Reserve are covered with forests of Yellow Pine, and in the valleys between them Spruces and Cottonwoods principally occupy the ground. These forests are entirely isolated and afford the only timber which is produced in the territory between Minister on the east and the big Mountains of Wyoming and the Rocky Mountains on the west. The region immediately north of the proposed Reserve contains a number of mines which depend on these forests for timber and fuel, and the settlers in the valleys of streams flowing from them have no other local timber and Tuel supply. It appears important, therefore, that these forests should be protected and made permanently productive, and that they should continue to guard the

sources of the numerous streams which head in the Black Hills and are essential for the irrigation of the desert region adjacent to their courses. The forests on this proposed Reserve have suffered serious! from fire and the illegal, cutting of timber, the mines in this whole region having been practically Supplied with timber and fuel taken from the public domain. It is evident that without Government protection these forests, so far as their productive capacity is concern will disappear at the end of a few years and that their destruction will entail serious injury and loss to the agricultural and mining population of western Worth and South Dakota. Within this proposed. Reserve there are thirteen quarter selections of land covered by existing entries, findings, selections or other claims on record on the Tract Book's in the General land Office up to the 20th of January of the present year. These quarter sections are situated near the boundaries of the proposed Reserve and do not include the township sites of Custer and other small towns on the line of the northern extension of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad which crosses the proposed Reserve from south to north.
2. The Big Horn Reserve.
This proposed Reserve has an estimated area of 1,108,080 acres and embraces both slopes of the Big Horn Mountains, a high, isolated and exceedingly broken range in northern central Wyoming containing a number of peaks varying from 9000 to 11,000 feet in altitude, and the



source of many streams watering broad valleys east and west of these mountains. The forests which cover the Big Horn Mountains are composed of Pines and Spruces of small size; they contain sufficient material, nevertheless, to supply the local demands of agricultural settiers and of possible mining operations, but are not commercially valuable. These forests, however, protect the sources of many streams capable of irrigating a large territory which without irrigation can produce only scant and uncertain pasturage. The forests on the big Horn Mountains have already suffered severely from fire as the country becomes more settled fires may be expected to increase, and as forests reproduce themselves slowly in this dry climate their loss will reduce the irrigating capacity of these streams and the value of many valleys of central Wyoming for agriculture. The proposed big Horn Reserve contains only fifteen quarter sections which are covered by existing entries, finding, selections or other claims on record on the Tract Books in the General Land Office up to January 20th of the

value. This proposed Reserve contains the Teton Range of mountains and Jackson Lake, and some of the grandest and most picturesque scenery or the Rocky Mountains. Within its borders are many streams flowing west, south and north, and as a reservoir of moisture it is important. Incidentally it may be mentioned that the proposed Reserve is a favorite home of the elk and other large game, and that as a gone Reserve it would well supplement the Yellowstone National park and the Yellowstone fork Timber Land Reserve. Within the proposed Reserve only two quarter sections have been entered. A number of settlers, however, are living on unentered lands in the neighborhood of Jackson Lake.
The Flat Head Forest Reserve.

This proposed Reserve embraces both slopes of the main Rocky Mountain Range or continental divide in northern Montana and extends from near the line of the Great Northern Railroad northward to the International Boundary. It has on estimated area of 1,882,400 acres and contains within its boundaries several high glacier-covered peaks, numerous takes and the sources of important streams. Nowhere in the United States is there more sublime mountain scenery. The eastern portion of this proposed Reserve consists of lands recently purchased from The Blackfoot Indians under a treaty ratified by Congress on the l0th or June, 1896. The eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains are here steep and rugged and are mostly covered with dense forests of



ceedingly rough mountanious territory watered east of the divide by the north fork of Sun River and west of the divide by the south fork of the Flat Head River and by the Swan River, a large tributary of Flat Head Lake. The forests on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains are here similar in character to those in the eastern part of the proposed Flat Head Reserve; they protect the sources of innumerable streams trioutary to the Missouri and essential to the existence of a considerable population residing on their banks and dependent on their waters for themselves and their stock. West of the continental divide the forests are heavier and are composed of Yellow Pines, Lodge Pole Pines, Larches, Douglas Spruces, Balsam Firs, and some White Fine these Forests are valuable for their influence on the flow of water in tributaries of the Columbia and for their timber which can be easily floated into Flat Head Lake and then distributed by rail. In this proposed Reserve there are no agricultural or grazing lands and no evidence of valuable mineral deposits; and no land whatever has been legally settled on. The desirability of this forest Reserve has been discussed for many years and numerous petitions favoring it have been filed in the office of the Secretary of the Interior.

6. The Priest River Forest Reserve.

This proposed Reserve occupies the basin of Priest Lake and Priest River in the extreme northern part of Idaho and in northeastern Washington, and extends from a point a few miles north of the line of



the Great Northern Railroad to the International Boundary; it is bound on the east by the summits of the ridges separating the waters flowing into Priest lake from those tributary to the Kootenay River, and on the west by the summits of the ridges separating the waters of Priest Lake from those flowing into Clark's fork of the Columbia. It has an estimated area of 552,960 acres, and is covered with what is believed to be the most valuable body of timber in the interior of the continent. This is composed of the western White Pine which grows here to its largest size and in its greatest perfection, Tamarack, Cedar and Spruce, all of large size. The forests on this proposed Reserve have no significance as protectors of moisture and the flow of rivers, for this region is abundantly supplied with water, and its streams will always be able to meet any drain which may be made on them by the needs of irrigation. The establishment of this Reserve is recommended, therefore, that this body of timber may be preserved [illegible] it is actually required by the demands commerce, and that the Government may obtain for it its true market value. If scientific management of the forests on the Reserves is ever attempted, the proposed Priest River Reserve from the nature of its forest-covering and the case with which its timber can be marketed, will be found admirablysuited for [silvicultural] experiments. No land in this proposed Reserve has been entered, out it is covered by the land grant to the



Northern Pacific Railroad.
7. The Bitter Root Forest Reserve.
This proposed Reserve includes a forest region of extremely precipitous and rugged mountains and lies on both sides of the boundary between Montana and Idaho; it contains an estimated area of 691, 200 acres in Montana and of 3,456,000 acres in Idaho, or a total of 4,147,200 acres. From its eastern border the Bitter Root Mountains rise abruptly from the valley and are cut by the deep canons of the streams which feed the Bitter Root River and make agriculture possible in the broad and fertile Bitter Root valley. West of the summits of the Bitter Root Range the proposed Reserve includes some of the tributaries of the Clearwater River, nearly the entire basin of the main Clearwater, and many of the tributaries of Salmon River, the waters of all the western part of the proposed Reserve reaching the Columbia by way of Snake River. The eastern and western portions of the proposed Reserve contain the sources of streams which can be used advantageously for purposes of irrigation; and the whole is covered with forests of Yellow Pine, Lodge Pole Pine, Spruce, fir and Cedar. Portions of the Reserve which lie in Montana are covered with forests of exceptionally large and valuable Yellow Pines which are being rapidly cut without any pecuniary advantage to the Government. In Idaho, especially toward the southern part of the territory which it is proposed to reserve and at high altitudes, the forests are often separated by large burnt areas, many of them of ancient date; out no lumbering has been done



and the whole region is remarkably rough and broken; it has no value for grazing except over a few small scattered areas, and the few deposits of valuable minerals known to exist within its borders are already exhausted. With proper protection the burnt areas will in time become covered with trees and the forests in this proposed reservation will be able to supply a large amount of material to the inhabitants of eastern Oregon and Washington, now one of the richest wheat-product regions of the United States, and to the people of treeless southern Idaho. The region embraced in this proposed Reserve appears to be the largest unsettled region in the United States, there being but three quarter sections of land entered in Idaho, while in Montana no entries have been made; few persons pass over its rough and difficult trails and it can therefore be easily protected from fire.
8. The Washington Forest Reserve.
This proposed Reserve extends in Washington from about the one hundred and twentieth degree of west longitude to nearly the one hundred and twenty-second degree and from the International Boundary southward to a little below the forty-eighth degree of latitude, the settled valley of the Skagit River being excluded in the west, and contains an estimated area of 3,594,240 acres. The region embraced in this proposed Reserve extends over both slopes of the Cascade Mountains and is exceedingly broken and entirely clothed with forests. These east of the Cascade divide have already suffered in places se-



riously from fire; they consist largely of Yellow Pine and are more open and less commercially valuable than those on the western slopes of the mountains, which are composed of Spruces, Firs, Fines, Cedars and Hemlocks of large size and of the first commercial value. Within this proposed Reserve east of the Cascade summits are the sources of the Stehekin River, the principal feeder of Lake Chelan and of the [illegible] how River, a considerable northern tributary of the Columbia and, like all the rivers of Washington flowing eastward from the Cascade Range, important for the irrigation of a region which needs only water to become exceptionally fertile. The forests in the eastern part of this proposed Reserve should be preserved to protect the streams which head here; west of the Cascade summit for the timber which they contain. Only three quarter sections of land in this proposed Reserve are covered by existing entries, findings, selections or other claims on record on the Tract Books in the General Land Office up to the 20th of January of the present year, although there are a few settlers living on unentered lands on the Stehekin near the head of Lake Chelan, and a few others on a small tract of arable land in the valley of the upper Methow. The territory in this proposed Reserve is one of the most rugged, difficult, least known and unsettled parts of the United States.
9. The Olympic Forest Reserve.
This proposed Reserve occupies the high and broken Olympic



Mountain region in northwestern Washington, and contains an estimated area of 2,188,800 acres. This is a region of steep and jagged mountains, their highest peaks clothed with glaciers and with perpetual snow. The forests here, watered by more copious rains than fall on any other part of the United States, are composed of enoribus Spruces, Firs and Cedars, and in productiveness are surpassed in the world only by the Redwood forests of the California coast region. Few explorers have penetrated far into this region which from, the denseness of its forest-covering offers exceptional difficulties to travel; and there is no record that it has been crossed in a north and south direction. This proposed Reserve no doubt contains for its area the largest and most valuable body of timber belonging to the nation; and here is probably the only part of the United States where the forest unmarked by fire or the axe still exists over a great area in its primeval splendor. Toward the northwestern borders of the proposed Reserve five hundred and fifty-two quarter sections of land appear to have been entered principally under the provisions of the Timber Claim Law, but this entered land cannot be readily excluded from the Reserve without seriously complicating its boundaries or without omitting a large body of unentered land which should properly belong to it. There is no agricultural or grazing land whatever in this proposed Reserve; and no traces of precious metals have yet been found in it. The character of its forests which can be made to yield permanently vast



any reason way this Reserve should not bear the name of Mt. Ranier. The proposed extensions of this Reserve contain as estimated area of 1,207,200 acres which with the 967$,$ acres contained in the Pacific forest Reserve make a total of 2,234,880 acres. The preservation of tae forests in the proposed southern extension will protect east of tae Cascade summits the flow of several of the principal tributaries of the Yakima River which furnishes the water for the most important system of irrigation in tae state, and west of the Cascade summits timber of great eoi.mercial value. This whole region, which has suffered from fire and the unlawful pasturage of sheep, is practically unsurveyed and unsettled. One hundred and one quarter sections of land have, however, been entered upon within its boundaries ; these are principally situated in the extreme southeastern corner in the valley of little Salmon River; there are also a few seltlers on tributaries of the.Cowlitz River close to the western borders of the proposedReserve.
The Stanislaus Forest Reserve.
This proposed Reserve extends north over six townships along the sumaits of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, and emoraces an estimated area of 691,200 acres. Many streams flowing east and west head in this territory and are fed by innumerable small lakes and alpine meadows. The forests, except in a few townships, are scanty and without value except for preserving the flow of springs and streams

quantities of timber, its wildness, the picture soreness of its Surface and its remoteness, make the proposed O1ympic Reserve one of the -most valuable of all the Forest Reserves which have bean made or proposed.
10. The Mt. Ranier Forest Reserve.
It is suggested that the existing Pacific Forest Reserve Should -be enlarged by the addition of a narrow strip of territory along its western $order, in order to correct an error made when the boundaries of this Reserve were first laid down, and to make it thus incluce some of the Salient features of Mt. Ranjer; that it should be extended southward along the two slopes of the Cascade Mountains nearly to the Columbia River, and that the name Pacific Forest Reserve should be changed to Mt. Ranier Forest Reserve. The name paoific Forest Reserve is meaningless, and it is fitting that this He -serve should wear the name of the great glacier-covered mountain, one of the highest, most beautiful and interesting mountains in the United States which is its chief xiaturai feature. This was felt when the Reserve was established out to the people of Tecoma ait. Ranjer is Mt. 'Teeoma, and to avoid exciting locai jealousies the Secretary of the Interior at the last moment adopted an inexpressive and inappropriate ame. The untain is now known officially in this country and by all foreign geographers as Mt. Ranger and is nowhere oailed Teeoma beyond the limits of the city of that name; and there seems no longer



and the establishment of this Reserve is recommended solely for the influence it can exprt on the flow of Sierra Rivers if its naturalfeatuares are preserved. This region is now being injured by the illegal pasturing of sheep and by the fires which always follow the shepherd on the public domain, and its value as a water-storage basin is likely to be seriously impaired. For reasons which are not easy to explain much of this high rocky timberless region has already been surveyed at tae expense of the Government; forty-nine sections of land have already been entered and ten sections have been retained for reservoir sites.
12. The San Jacinto Forest Reserve.

This proposed Reserve enoraces the San Jacinto Mountains in southern California and is separated from the existing San BernadinoForest Reserve by the San Gorgonio Pass. It contains an estimated area of 757,280 acres. The whole region, especially east of the Mountains, is arid and the lower slops of th range when not too steep are clothed only with a bushy chapparel growth. Seanty forests of stunted conifers, however, exits on the sides of some of the canons facing the Ocean, in the high valleys and on the elevated slopes, and the preservation of these forests seems essential that the mountain streams may supply water ot irrigate the valleys of southwestern California, which, without water, are desert wastes, but irrigated, blooms into the fairest orchards of the continent, within this proposed Reserve four hundred and twenty-one quarter sections of land have been already entered as well as twenty-nine quarter sections reserved for Indians. Much of this reserved land is in San Jacinto valley where considerabletimber has already been cut, and in [Hemit] valley where a large stronge basin for irregation has been built. This proposed Reserve is covered by the land grant of the Southern Pacific [Railroad]. The people of the Southern California appear unanimous in their desire that this Reserve should be made.
13. The Uintah Forest Reserve.

This proposed Reserve embraces both slopes of the eastern part of the Uintah Mountain Range in northern Utah and the northern slope only of the western part of this Range, the southern slope here being included in the Uintah Indian Reservation. The Uintah Mountains are covered with valuable forests of spruce wich protect the sources of several large streams which eventually discharge into Green River, those flowing northward from the Range being already utilised for irregation. The region within the borders of this proposed Reserve is practically uninhabited, only twenty-five quarter sections of its land having been entered. There is, however, a large agricultural population already living in the territory immediately adjacent to it on the north and east who find in the forests of the Uintah Mountains, there only local timber supply; and this population will suffer for water it the fires which have now for many years swept through these



forests are allowed to destroy them. It the Uintah Indian Reservat to is over purchased by the convernment all the northern mountainous portion embraeing the southern slopes of the western end of the [illegible] Range should be included in this forest Reserve.
The total area of these thirteen proposed Forest Reserves, which are plotted on the secompanying maps, is 21,379,840 acres. The Commission fully recognizes the fact that the Forest Reserves established and proposes cannot be maintained unless a plan can be adapted under which their boundaries can be modified so as to take from them air lands better suited for agriculture than for the production of forests, and under which their timber can be made available for domestic and mined within their boundaries. The commission is now engaged in perfecting a scheme of forest management which it believes will more the administration of the Reserves possible and which in due time will be submitted to you. It believes that the solution of this difficult problem will, however, be made easier if the reserved areas are now increased, as the greater the number of people interested in drawing supplies from the reserved territory or in [mining] in them, the greater will be the pressure on Congress to [illegible] laws permitting their proper administration. For this reason it is the unanimous opinion of the Commission that the establishment, by prociamation, of



the Reserves described above is now a matter of the almost importance to the development and welfare of whole country.

Very respectfully,




Jamaica Plain, Mass

Date Original

1897 Feb 11


Original letter dimensions: 26 x 20 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 09, Image 0713

Collection Identifier

Online finding aid for the microform version of the John Muir Correspondence

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10 pages


Environmentalist, naturalist, travel, conservation, national parks, John Muir, Yosemite, California, history, correspondence, letters



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