William C. Bartlett
Please return to J Muir
Porterville Cal. Jan 7, 1899
My Dear Mr. Muir -
I am moved to write to you about a matter which seems to me of great public importance. I came here last August - with a commission as Federal Forest Supervisor of the Southern Sierra Reservation (4000,000 acres or more). Last season 200,000 sheep invaded the reservation by virtue of a temporary concession made by the Secretary of the Interior. I need not relate to you the damage and desolation which these sheep have wrought? You know all about such results from personal observation.
Certain land and sheep speculators have sent on
agent to Washington to obtain leases of the entire Reservation for sheep grazing purposes during the coming season. Unless some strong counter influences are brought to bear on this point about a dozen sheep men will have the men of this Reservation.
They or their backers, have give out that the Sierra Club has expressed a favorable opinion of this leasing project I do not believe that report is true. This Reservation is in the dry belt. The conditions and
radically unlike the climatic conditions which prevail in the reservations in more nor thermo latitudes when on account of the great rainfall, the under growths one dense and the streams may not be greatly deminished by sheep grazing.
In this Reservation I do not think the rainfall has for some year exceeded 5 inches. No sequoias are found beyond 25 miles south of the line of this town. If sheep are to have the run of the Reservation, deforesting will go one, and in less than 50 years
there will be no forests here to require any care or supervision Two of the most important streams heading in this Reservation, sent no water down into the valley last season beyond a narrow strip where the water was used for irrigation. I need not go into any details as to the way sheep grazing has abridged the volume of water in these mountain streams You know all about that
Now here is a small number of sheep men not exceeding 20, who propose to take
possession of this Reservation and to put their comparatively small interests over against the immense agricultural interests of this Valley. In short, they propose to perpetuate the evils which have been patent to every close [absenses?] If the purpose of making a public reservation is to preserve the forests and to conserve the water resources for the benefit of all the people, then that purpose would be defeated by making the Reservation a [runway?] for sheep, with
the incidental evils of fires and general devastation.
It has occurred to me that you would be willing to [extend?] your influence in behalf of better things by addressing a letter to the Department of the Interior or to the Land Commissioner, or Senator Perkins, or all setting forth your views which have been expressed with so much force on other occasions. I am persuaded that if the facts were as well known in Washington as they are
to you and others, no leases would be granted for sheep grazing in this Sierra Reservation.
Wm C Bartlett
Forest Supervisor South Sierra Reservation
1899 Jan 7
Original letter dimensions: 26.5 x 20.5 cm.
Bartlett, William C., "Letter from William C. Bartlett to John Muir, 1899 Jan 7." (1899). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 2337.
Reel 10, Image 0601
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