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on the government? To correct or abstain from this abuse of legislative discretion would have a salutary effect on the finances of the State, and would be no more than an act of justice to the tax-payers and & discharge of our duty as faithful stewards of the public funds.
Your committee believe that if the suggestions contained in this report should be made effectual by legislative intervention, its pledges for retrenchment would be in a measure redeemed. The effect would be to relieve the treasury at once from no inconsiderable expenditure, and if fortified by an early introduction and adoption of the general appropriation bill, which should be limited to purposes purely governmental, would enable the Legislature to realize in good faith the expectations of the tax-payers.
While the people clamor for reform they do not expect exemption from taxation; they demand a cheap and effective government; they expect official incumbents to be official workers; they oppose all needless and wastful employment of the public funds, all useless offices, and unnecessarily high salaries. They demand honesty, economy, and fidelity from their representatives. To these things they are entitled. Pledges to that end have been given again and again. Upon their fulfillment the people mean to insist; nor is any. party, nor any combination of men, or of interests, sufficiently strong to disregard them, and continue in the offices of the goverment. All of which is respectfully submitted.
JOINT COMMITTEES OF THE ASSEMBLY
MINES AND MINING INTERESTS, AND AGRICULTURE,
RELATIVE TO THE
INJURY NOW BEING DONE TO LANDS AND STREAMS IN THIS STATE BY THE
DEPOSIT OF DETRITUS FROM THE GRAVEL MINES.
COMMITTEE ON MINES AND MINING INTERESTS.
Your committee, to whom was referred a proposed memorial and concurrent resolution of the Legislature of California to the Congress of the United States, and also, Assembly Bill No. 300, both relating to injuries now being done to lands and streams in the State, by the deposit of detritus, originally washed into the mountain valleys from the gravel mines of this State, has given the subject full consideration, and now submits the following report:
Agriculture and mining are, it is almost needless to observe, by far the most important industries in our State, and as this proposed legislation suggests the possibility of interfering with one of these great interests for the benefit of the other, it will be well to remark upon the conditions of mutual dependency which exist between them.
Agriculture was called into existence in California by the necessities of its mining population, and at the present time, although a considerable portion of our cereals are exported, the larger part of our farming products are consumed at home, and of the consumers of these products, the dwellers in the gold-mining counties, constituting nearly one-fifth of the entire population of the State, form no small fraction.
It is a well-known historical fact, that every country which has largely exported its cereals for many consecutive years, has, in the end, impoverished itself, and finally fallen into decay. As wheat is practically the only article which our farmers can export, with profit, to foreign countries, nothing but wheat has been sown upon many of our farms since they were first plowed. Should this planting of one staple be continued for many years to come, the result cannot be but most disastrous to our farming interests. Were a market created at home for the bulk of our agricultural products, this demand would necessitate the cultivation of very many articles of food, and would enable the farmer, by the proper rotation of crops, to preserve the fertility of his soil.
Any action by which mining will be fostered and extended, and the number of his neighboring consumers increased, will add to the
indirectly assist the farming, manufacturing, and commercial communities of the State. In order to work the gravel mines during the dry season of the year their owners have constructed, in different portions of the State, a large number of reservoirs, which are filled with water during the winter floods, and exhausted, to supply the necessities of the mines, in the summer and autumnal months. Many large reservoirs, for this purpose, are now being constructed, which, when completed, will have a perceptible effect in diminishing the floods in our rivers in the winter, and in affording an increased supply for navigation in the summer.
We are credibly informed that the united storage capacity of these reservoirs will, within two years from this, amount to an increased stream, during the dry season, of fully seventy thousand miner's inches, being a flow of one thousand eight hundred cubic feet of water per second. Were this seventy thousand inches of water used for irrigation, it would be sufficient to bring into cultivation three hundred and fifty thousand acres of foot-hill lands.
If, from any cause, mining should cease, and the value of the mines and improvements upon them be extinguished, the mining counties would in turn be destroyed, and the entire taxable property in the State be most seriously diminished, thus increasing the ratio of taxation in other parts of the State, and largely adding to the burdens of all our people.
The material coming from the gravel mines, and which has been swept down by the mountain torrents into the valleys below, has donc much damage to the farming lands in the bottoms of the Yuba and Bear Rivers, and incidentally to lands on the Feather and American Rivers, it has, also, filled up the bed of the Feather River, somewhat affecting its navigation,
Whether the Sacramento River has been injured is doubtful, and it will require careful instrumental measurements by competent engineers to determine the real facts.
The great flood of eighteen hundred and sixty-one-two, caused the first considerable amount of damage, and since then it has been increasing until at the present time perhaps thirty thousand acres of arable land have been covered with this detritus from the mines. The amount of damage in dollars which has thus been done is not, in our judgment, more than three millions of dollars. Estimating the land at the high price of seventy dollars per acre, and admitting a most liberal estimate for the damage to the town of Marysville, and the cost of its levees, the total will not exceed the amount above stated. As, however, the beds of the Yuba and Bear Rivers increase in width, the future vertical increase in the height of their beds will be much diminished, although the amount of detritus coming from the mines may be greatly increased. This slow annual increase in height will allow the levees, protecting the adjoining districts, to be kept in repair at an annual cost which will not be prohibitive.
The deep mountain cañons where the tailings are first washed retain, and thus become the receptacle of much the larger portion of the deposit, and the amount of earthy matter carried down in suspension into the valleys becomes less and less, until at Sacramento, according to experiments made by Dr. T. M. Logan, the proportion by weight of earthy matter is to the water as one to one thousand. This would make by
bulk about one to two thousand, and is less than is carried by many of the world's great rivers. Most of the sediment
vidual interests, and also that some plan should be devised for their relief.
The General Government has conveyed, by its patents to our citizens, nearly all the more valuable gravel mines in the State, and has, by its laws, expressly authorized and encouraged gravel mining.
It has also sold to the farmer the land he occupies, and ought, therefore, to shield him with its protecting hand.
The production of gold is, at this period of our country's history, when we hope that it is on the eve of specie resumption, a question of surpassing importance, and especially at the present moment, when the rapid depreciation of silver threatens to demonetize that métal throughout the limits of the civilized world, and consequently to increase in an inverse ratio the demand for gold. Were the
production of our gold mines stopped, it would be a physical impossibility for the General Government to resume specie payments within the time now confidently contemplated ; and hence, any measure affecting even indirectly their production, becomes at once of national importance.
The debated question, whether our rivers and bays are being injured by these gravel washings, is also a matter in which the interests of the nation are at stake.
It is the opinion of your committee that, from these reasons, it will be proper to memorialize the Congress of the United States, asking that it appoint a commission of its engineers to investigate into the subjects touched upon in its report.
Your committee, therefore, advise that the memorial, and bill submitted to them for reference be not passed, but instead thereof, the accompanying substitute: Memorial to the Congress of the United States.
T. C. BIRNEY,
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE.
Mr. SPEAKER: Your committee, consisting of the Joint Committees on Mines and Mining Interest and Agriculture, to whom was referred Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 17, relative to hydraulic mining, have for a long time had the same under considération, with the view of framing a substitute which would be acceptable to the whole committee. Our efforts have been futile; consequently, a portion of your committee, whose names are hereunto attached to this report, after mature deliberation, beg leave to offer this accompanying substitute for Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 17, hoping it will be adopted by this House.
We find that, while in years past mining was the paramount industry--almost the only one of our State that the gold hidden in our mountains and along our streams was the only inducement to those who came here in early years, that it thus was enabled and allowed to overshadow all other industries; to take within its grasp the rights pertaining to the tiller of the soil, until it became a maxim that no farmer or horticulturist had any rights which the miner was bound to respect."
This feeling largely influences our feelings even now, and permits the miner to wash down the hills and mountain sides, and deposit the tailings, sand, gravel, and debris on the valley lands below.
It is a principal of law," that no man, or body of men, have a right to follow any calling which inflicts damage or wrong.on other men; yet this has been done for years, and, notwithstanding their immunity from damages, which this industry has inflicted on others, we find the production of gold steadily on the decline.
Your committee find, from evidence adduced, that the valleys of the American, Bear, Yuba, and Feather Rivers, commenced to be injured by the detritus from the hydraulic mines about the year eighteen hundred and sixty-two. That the owners of lands in the river" bottoms, did, for a series of years, and at very great expense, hold the increasing debris in check by levees, until the spaces between them became filled up; the water would then break through, carrying sand, gravel, and mud upon the lands adjacent, thereby destroying their fertility, and rendering lands once the richest in the State, unproductive and valueless.
This system has continued until nearly all the valuable bottom lands of these rivers have been utterly ruinant and where once .ctnad