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4. Recommendations of the Secretary of the Interior with respect to modification of acreage limitations (a) under S. 2541, or (6) on a broader or any other basis.
Since the Secretary of the Interior is charged with responsibility for administration of the reclamation law, your views are solicited so they may be studied in advance of the review to which the subcommittee is committed. In other words, we are anxious to have the current thinking of the Department on the subject of the acreage limitation provisions of the reclamation law. Sincerely,
CLINTON P. ANDERSON, Chairman, Subcommittee on Irrigation and Reclamation.
LETTER TO SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE
SEPTEMBER 10, 1957. Hon. EZRA TAFT BENSON, Secretary of Agriculture,
Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. SECRETARY: A review of the acreage limitation provisions of the reclamation law is under consideration by the Subcommittee on Irrigation and Reclamation, Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. Informal discussions of some phases of this problem have been had with the staff of the Farm Economics Research Division.
The subcommittee would appreciate having your Department's views with respect to principles which should govern acreage limitation provisions of the reclamation law, as well as any practical suggestions of a formula for determining size of ownership that your trained personnel in farm economics may have or be able to develop. You will understand, of course, that the acreage limitation provisions apply
, to irrigable areas only and to the arid and semiarid areas of the 17 Far Western States.
We will appreciate any information the Department may develop on this subject, either specific or general. In order that the data may be reviewed before Congress reconvenes, we will appreciate having any material that may be developed by December 1, 1957. Your cooperation will be appreciated. Sincerely,
CLINTON P. ANDERSON, Chairman, Subcommittee on Irrigation and Reclamation.
LETTER FROM DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY,
Washington, D. C., December 31, 1957. Hon. CLINTON P. ANDERSON, Chairman, Subcommittee on Irrigation and Reclamation,
United States Senate, Washington, D. C. DEAR SENATOR ANDERSON: This is in further reference to our letter of December 5 concerning your inquiry regarding land limitation provisions of reclamation law.
Pursuant to your request, we are enclosing a list of exemptions, waivers, and modifications of the acreage limitation provisions of reclamation law. Brief reference has been made to the legislative history of each act of Congress involved to facilitate your reference to the various congressional documents containing Department of the Interior reports and similar informative material. The provisions of the several acts have also been briefly summarized for your convenience.
A status report of excess lands on reclamation projects for 1957 has just been completed and we are enclosing a summary tabulation thereof. As soon as the detailed report has been duplicated we will provide copies for use by your committee. For the sake of comparison you will find comparable totals for 1946 included on both the summary and on the detailed report to follow.
Please note that in 1946 nearly 274,000 acres, or 6.1 percent of the total irrigable area, on reclamation projects were in excess status. Similarly, slightly over 165,000 acres of irrigable land, or 3.7 percent of the total irrigable area, were excess lands in violation status. That meant that 60.3 percent of the 274,000-acre excess land total was in violation of reclamation law.
Today, with over 7 million acres of irrigable land on reclamation projects, only 271,529 acres, or 3.7 percent, are excess and only 40,617 acres, or 0.56 percent, are clearly in violation. Thus 40,617 acres in violation represent only 15.0 percent of the 1957 excess land total as contrasted with the 60.3 percent figure that prevailed in 1946. Criteria used in the 1957 computations are essentially the same as applied in the 1946 analysis. For these criteria see Landownership Survey on Federal Reclamation Projects, 1946. On the Columbia Basin project there are acres in certain ownership patterns which are currently under active consideration, which involves also consideration of Public Law 85-264, referred to in the attached list, to determine their status. These areas are not included in this summary as being in violation.
With reference to the acreage in violation, it should be remembered that the particular lands which make up the total do not represent a static condition. On most of the projects, especially older projects with a well-established irrigated agricultural economy, changes in individual ownerships are continually taking place in varying degrees.
Accordingly, transient instances of excess ownership in violation of the law occur and are in turn resolved through subsequent land transactions.
Compliance with land limitation provisions is usually obtained through the cooperative efforts of the irrigation districts with which repayment or water service contracts have been executed. This is accomplished through examination of recordable contracts, land ownership records, tax rolls, and similar sources of information as a phase of preparing the annual assessment of the irrigation district. An additional check is maintained through examination of water applications, water delivery records, crop report tabulations, and comparable data compilations customarily undertaken by the contracting districts. Although the acreage limitation is by no means uniformly acceptable to all individual water users, the contracting districts have, for the most part, made commendable and conscientious efforts to reduce violations on the part of district water users to a practicable minimum.
You have also requested the views of the Department on the acreage limitation problem, both in broad overall aspect and as related specifically to S. 2541. In consideration of the broad aspects of S. 2541 we believe your inquiry can best be answered concurrently with the submission of this Department's legislative report on the bill in question. Accordingly, we shall be pleased to provide your committee with copies of our report as soon as possible after its completion. Sincerely yours,
FRED G. AANDAHL, Assistant Secretary of the Interior,
EXEMPTIONS, MODIFICATIONS, WAIVERS, AND SPECIAL PROVISIONS
APPLICABLE TO LAND LIMITATION PROVISIONS OF FEDERAL RECLAMATION LAWS
1. Boulder Canyon project
Imperial Irrigation District, California. Letter dated February 24, 1933, from the Secretary of the Interior, Ray Lyman Wilbur, to Imperial Irrigation District, El Centro, Calif., advising that "this limitation (i. e., 160-acre limitation) does not apply to lands (in the district) now cultivated and having a present water right." (Copy is attached.) But see Solicitor's Opinion M33902, May 31, 1945, holding that under the Boulder Canyon Project Act the excess land provisions of the reclamation laws apply to lands of the Coachella Valley County Water District. (Copy attached.) 2. Colorado-Big Thompson project, Colorado
(a) S. 4027, 75th Congress, 3d session.
session, on June 16, 1938 (52 Stat. 764). Provides that excess land provisions not applicable to lands having an irrigation water supply from sources other than a Federal reclamation project and will receive a supplemental supply from the ColoradoBig Thompson project.
3. Water conservation and utilization projects
(a) H. R. 10122, 76th Congress, 3d session.
3, 5, 13, 1940.
September 13, 1940, containing Department of the Interior
report on H. R. 10122. (d) Enacted and approved as Public Law 848, 76th Congress,
3d session, October 14, 1940 (54 Stat. 1119). Section 4 (c) (5) grants authority to the Secretary of the Interior toestablish the size of farm units of irrigable lands on each project in accordance with his findings of the area sufficient in size for the support of a family on the lands to be irrigated. It further provides that, No water may be delivered to or for more than the farm unit area of irrigable lands in the project owned by a single landowner. (Under this authorization farm units have been established on the Èden project, Wyoming, containing 200 irrigable acres, more or less, depending on land classes). 4. Truckee River storage project, Nevada-California
(a) H. R. 10543, 76th Congress, 3d session.
session, November 29, 1940 (54 Stat. 1219). Provides excess land provisions not applicable to lands in Washoe County Water Conservation District, Nevada, irrigated from Boca Reservoir, nor to lands in Pershing County Water Conservation District, Nevada, irrigated from Humboldt River Reservoir. 6. San Luis Valley project, Colorado
(a) S. 2610, 82d Congress, 2d session.
12, 1952, containing Department of the Interior Report.
11, 1952. (d) Enacted and approved as Public Law 415, 82d Congress, 2d
session, June 27, 1952 (66 Stat. 282). Provides excess land provisions not applicable to lands or to ownership of lands receiving supplemental or regulated supply of water from San Luis Valley project, Colorado, provided that in lieu of acreage limitations no landowner shall receive a supply greater in quantity than that reasonably necessary to irrigate 480 acres of land. 7. Owl Creek unit, Missouri River Basin project, Wyoming
(a) H. R. 4721, 83d Congress, 1st session.
25, 1954, containing Department of the Interior report.