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372
F. G. Young

the setting apart large tracts covering water sheds for national forest reserves. The state was entitled to indemnity school lands for all these losses. It was in connection with the securing of lands in lieu of these losses that the most grievous blunders were made.

The conduct of the work of selection throughout creates an impression of dilatoriness and lack of intelligent procedure. The salt springs' grant of 46,080 acres was wholly forfeited through neglect.[1] The state would have fared likewise with other grants had not extensions of the periods within which selections were to be made been allowed by congress. It must be admitted that there was little to suggest to the early Oregonians that the lands away from the centers of the valleys would ever be worth securing. An unlimited timbered wilderness and beyond that to the east a continental stretch of semi-arid plains hedged about the small settled areas in the valleys.[2] These were mitigating circumstances that excuse the early dilatoriness, but they in no way exonerate the state from blame for----

  1. It is a question whether Oregon had the kind of springs or the conditions that originally inspired the custom of a salt springs grant. Yet there is no evidence that the state officials were deterred on that score from attempting selections.
  2. The first governor in his first message spoke of the difficulty of making selections of value. He says: "Although this grant [Oregon's aggregate endowment in 1860] appears liberal and generous, yet, it may be difficult to find lands in any of the valleys west of the Cascade range of mountains of a desirable quality, unoccupied, subject to be located under the provisions of this bill."—House Journal, First Session, 1859, p. 27. The following also indicates somewhat the ideas entertained concerning the resources in the public lands: The "Memorials and Resolutions" of the session of 1864 contain the copy of a memorial praying for favorable action on a bill the legislature proposed to have presented by the Oregon senators and representatives, asking for the granting to the State of Oregon all the unsurveyed lands within her boundaries. The ground on which they made this request was that "the great body of lands now unsurveyed within the boundaries of Oregon is of little value; and that scattered through it are many small tracts of comparatively small extent, that the expense to the government to extend the surveys to include these small isolated sections of good lands and to bring them into the market, can never be repaid by their sale; that, therefore, while being to the government of no value, they may be by economical systems of surveys under state authority be of much value to the state, and might be applied to create a fund for internal improvements to great advantage to Oregon."— Special Laws, 1864, under "Memorials and Resolutions," pp. 11-12.