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R E POR T.
Mr. SPEAKER: The undersigned. Committee on Yosemite Valley and other matters pertaining thereto, to wbom was referred substitute for Senate Bill No. 100, entitled “ An Act granting certain lands in Yosemite Valley to J. M. Hutchings and J. c. Lamon,” respectfully report that they have bad under consideration said bill; also, a memorial addressed to your Committee from the Commissioners of the Yosemite Valley and Big Tree Grove (herewith presented); also, the memorial of J. M. Hutchings in reply thereto.
From a careful investigation of the premises they adduce the following:
Messrs. Hutchings and Lamon bad, at the time of the cession of said lands to the State certain rights and equities, which it was not in the power of the Congress to invalidate without a violation of its faith, in that the said parties bad gone upon and improved the portions of the said valley, under the Act of Congress of September, eighteen hundred and sixty-two, relative to the unsurveyed lands of the United States. (See U S. Statutes at large, p. 410, Sec. 7.)
Second-Tbat it is evident, if the fact of lands being pre-occupied has been brought to the knowledge of Congress, such reservations would have been made as would have secured to the said settlers their claims or provisions made for indemnification.
Third–That the cession by the State of the unoccupied portions of the land under the supervision of the Commissioners would be advantageous to the public and the State, and would fully insure the objects of the grantors, viz: public use, recreation and pleasure.
Fourth—The State, baving accepted the lands upon certain conditions, one of which was, that no portion should be alienated, cannot pass á title without the consent of Congress thereto; and believing the substitute bill deficient in this vital particular, we present a substitute for the Senate Bill and recommend the adoption of the substitute.
F. GILTNER, Chairman of Yosemite Committee.
MEMORIAL OF COMMISSIONERS.
To the Honorable FRANCIS GILTNER,
Chairman Yosemite Committee : SIR: A bill having passed the Senate, by the terms of which, as we understand (not having been favored with a copy), Messrs. Hutchings and Lamon have been granted a quantity of land lying in the Yosemite Valley, and supposed to be six hundred acres in all, and said bill having been referred to the Committee of which you are Chairman, we, the “ Commissioners to manage the Yosemite Valley and the Big Tree Grove of Mariposa," beg leave to address you the following statement of facts, with the request that you will lay the same before your Committee:
We are a body of men, nine in number, with the Governor of the State at our bead, legally appointed according to Acts of Congress, and of the Legislature of California, to manage the affairs of the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove; and this communication bas been adopted by, and is the unanimous expression of the opinions and wishes of our body, as ascertained at a meeting at which more than a legal quorum was present.
The tract of land known as the Yosemite Valley was ceded by the United States to the State of California on certain conditions, of which the more important were, that it should be held by the State " for public use, resort and pleasure," and "that it sbould be inalienable for all time.”
The grant by the United States was accepted by the Legislature of the State of California, “on the conditions, reservations and stipulations” contained in the Act of Congress by which said valley was donated to this State.
In spite of the above solemn engagement of the State, as expressed by its Legislature, to hold the Yosemite Valley inalienable for all time, and for the public benefit, a bill has been introduced into the Legislature, and has passed one branch of the same, by the terms of which a large portion of the accessible and inbabitable part of the valley is alienated, so far as it is in the power of the Legislature to accomplish it, while the assent of Congress is asked, through our Senators and Representatives, to give validity to the Act.
This bill has been prepared and has passed the Senate without any consultation with the Commissioners, who are the legal and authorized agents of the State in the matter of the land and premises thus granted, and on an entirely ex parte statement of facts presented by the claimants to said premises.
To this course of procedure the Commissioners are entirely opposed, and they consider it a duty which they owe to the State and to the people of the United States to remonstrate against it, submitting a part of their reasons for so doing in the following pages :
The State bas, through its Legislature, entered into a solemn engagement to hold tbe Yosemite Valley in trust, for the benefit of the public, and never to alienato it to private parties, but only to lease such portions of it as the Commissioners may see fit, and that for no longer time than ten years. It has accepted tbis trust from Congress, and if it refuses to fulfill the conditions of the trust, then the grant can and probably will be revoked by that body. By no possibility can the State claim to hold the premises if any portion of them is ceded to private
parties, as this would be a violation of tbe fundamental condition on wbich the grant was made. The action of Congress was an exceptional one. The Yosemite Valley being an exceptional and in every way remarkable locality, it was the object of the Act by which it was donated to the State to make of it sometbing of the nature of a public park, a place of resort where, unlike other famous objects of natural scenery, the visitor would not be bampered with petty exactions and tormented by extortionate demands-a place of resort which should be preserved in all its pristine beauty and not be shorn of some of its attractive features, according to the whims and caprices of wanton or malicious visitors or malignant settlers, but which should be made and kept accessible and attractive according to a general and far-seeing plan.
By actual survey there are found to be only eleven hundred acres of land in the Yosemite Valley, inside the debris of rock fallen from the walls, and of this only a little over seven hundred are arable land. The assignment of six hundred acres and over to private parties, supposing such assignment to be confirmed and made valid by Congress, would therefore be absolutely equivalent to putting the whole valley under the control of those parties, as no general plan could be adopted for the preservation and regulation of the premises which would be of any effect. So large a portion of the valley being withdrawn from the action and supervisory power of the Commissioners, the trees cut down, the flowers destroyed, and the natural features of one balf the valley defaced, tbe result would be fatal to the beauty of the whole.
If Congress is to be asked to confirm the action of the State Legislature giving away six hundred acres or more, then it would be better to go still further and demand that the grant be absolutely revoked, and that the valley be thrown open to squatters and claimants of all kinds, to settle it among themselves, by process of law or otherwise, how it sball be divided. Either the State must abandon the valley entirely or it must retain exclusive control of it, as provided for in the grant by Congress, and as it has fully bound itself, by the Act of its Lexislature, to do. In the latter case, it abides by its pledged faith; in the the former, it seeks to evade the performance of a bigb obligation to the public, which it has voluntarily assumed in the presence of the nation, and with Congress as one of the parties to the agreement.
The Commissioners have carefully examined into all facts connected with the history of the early settlement and the present occupation of the Valley, and are aware that there are several claims of parties to different portions of it, some of which they believe to be as equitable as that of Mr. Hutchings. They are fully convinced that none of these par. ties have any legal claim, under any law of the State or of the United States, to any portion of the Valley, on the one hand, as they have never fulfilled the requirements of the Pre-emption Law of the State ; while on the other, the land bas never been surveyed, and could not, therefore, be pre-empted under United States laws. W bat the claims of these parties may be in equity is another matter, but they should not be acted on without careful investigation; and then, if the bona fide bolders of these claims are to be remunerated for supposed damago done them by tbe action of the State and the United States, it must be done by a grant of money, since the State is estopped by its own action from making any grant of lands for that purpose.
The Commissioner would call the attention of the Legislature to the fact that the grant of the Yosemite Valley and the Big Trees to the State by Congress is a munificent one and one which will ultimately be
como of great pecuniary importance, if faithfully and liberally managed with an eye to the interests of the public in the future, and not heed. lessly thrown away almost at the very moment of its acceptance. Retaining possession of these unique and wonderful localities and freeing them from the drawbacks usually attending a visit to such places, by wisely refusing to private parties the right of levying toil on the beauties of nature, the number of persons who will be attracted to the State from all quarters of the globe to enjoy this stupendous scenery under such favorable circumstances will be greatly increased from year to year, and be the means of bringing a large amount of money and a very desirable class of visitors—some of whom will be induced to become residents, while others will send their friends to visit the scenes in which they have found so much enjoyment. Let the Legislature persist in the shortsighted policy which the proposed bill contemplates, and this stupendous Valley will become in time as notorious as Niagara Falls and many other places in this country and in Europe now are for the extortions practiced on travellers.
It is not true that Messrs. Hutchings and Lamon have furnished the only accommodations for visitors to the valley, and that they thus have earned a claim to remuneration from the State. On the contrary, Mr. Lamon has never kept a public house in the Yosemite, while as good ones as any bave been sustained by persons who are willing to recognize the rights of the State, and who are not permanent residents in the valley. There are now, indeed, several applications on file for leases for sites for public houses in the valley.
It is decidedly advisable that as few persons as possible should reside in the valley during the Winter, as the amount of land is limited and the destruction of trees and flowers by wandering stock is very great. Fully as good accommodations have been furnished to travellers by parties coming into the valley for the Summer as by persons permanently residing there.
It is not true that the Commissioners have acted barshly towards Messrs. Lamon and Hutchings. On the contrary, these gentlemen bare been offered the greatest privileges which it was in the power of the State to grant-namely, a lease of their premises for ten years, rent free. And when we consider how greatly the value of land in the Yosemite Valley will be enbanced by the action of the Commissioners, if their doings and plans are sustained by the State, and how largely the travel will be increased under the new system of things, it musi be conceded that, under the circumstances, their offer was a munificent one, especially when it is considered that Mr. IIutchings had only moved into the valley about one month before the cession of it to the State, and that all bis improvements have been made under protest of the Commissioners and with a full knowledge of all the facts in the case.
Finally, the Commissioners respectfully suggest to your Committee that they, being in full possession of all the facts in the case, should be consulted and heard in this matter, that it may not be laid to the charge of your Committee that they have acted on a subject of great importance to the State without availing themselves of all the sources of information which it was in their power to obtain.
Respectfully submitted, by order of the Commissioners to manage the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove.
J. D. WHITNEY, Vice President. H. W. CLEAVELAND, Secretary.
MEMORIAL OF J. M. HUTCHINGS.
To Hon. FRANCIS GILTNER,
Chairman of Assembly Yosemite Committee: SIR: Inasmuch as some of the Commissioners of Yosemite bave thought proper to make to you a statement that is not substantiated by the facts of the case, I invite your attention to the following:
It is not for me, or they, to decide whether the Legislature of California, in concert with Congress, the original owner and grantor of the land in question, can or cannot unite in disposing of a portion, or even the whole of said valley, if they see fit, both being parties to the original bargain. Nor does it now become a question whether or not Congress, after throwing open all unreserved public lands of the United States, whether surveyed or unsurveyed, to the bona fide settler, under the general Pre-emption Laws of the United States, can or cannot revoke that right after the settler has, in good faith, entered into actual possession, without a violation of at least an implied contract. That is not for the Commissioners or myself to decide, but the Supreme Court of the United States.
But, in justice to myself and Lamon, it is my duty to say that “it is not true” that we, as settlers, “on the one hand, have never fulfilled the requirements of the Pre-emption Laws of the State.” The State has no Pre-emption Law. “ While, on the other hand, it has never been sur, veyed, and could not, therefore, be pre-empted under the United States laws." Before Vice President Whitney or Secretary Cleaveland state the above axiom as a fact in law, I respectfully refer them to the United States Statutes at Large, eighteen hundred and sixty-two (page four hundred and ten, section seven), where the following words are recorded : "And be it further enacted, That in regard to settlements which by existing laws are authorized in certain States and Territories upon unsurveyed lands, wbich privilege is hereby extended to California, the
preemption claimant shall be,” etc. The Act goes on further to state the duties required from pre-emptors after the land has been surveyed by the United States. But as the land in question, according to the testimony of the Commissioners, “has never been surveyed,” there were no duties required from us except actual residence upon the land in common with all other settlers. This, I presume, those gentlemen will not deny. Therefore, the statement that we have “never fulfilled the requirements of the Pre-emption Laws” is simply untrue. At the most, it would have been but a technical quibble if the statement had been true.
Then, again, “it is not true," as stated in their communication, that “there are several claims of parties to different portions of it (the valley); some of which they believe to be as equitable as that of Hutchings Now, although the above wording is very unique in its deceptiveness, the Commissioners know that in point of fact it is "untrue.” They know that Lamon and myself are the only actual settlers; they kncw that we are the only persons against whom suits of ejectment bave been commenced. And wherefore? Simply because we were the only actual residents, and consequently the only bona fide settlers who could bave any claim under the Pre-emption Laws. It is true, however, that Black bas interests there which he rents during the season to different parties; but Black resides some thirty miles from Yosemite.
The Commissioners therefore “ believe” that he is a settler, and enti