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The President's News Conference

August 27, 1929

SAFETY OF AMERICAN CITIZENS IN PALESTINE

THE PRESIDENT. I have a question about the disturbance in Palestine.1 We are naturally very much concerned for the safety of our citizens there. I am advised that the British Government has taken very strong and extensive measures for the restoration of order, and I am in hopes that we will have no more loss of life.

1 Arab-Jewish hostilities broke out in Jerusalem on August 23, 1929, and spread to Hebron and elsewhere. On August 25, the United States Consul General reported casualty estimates of 100 killed and 300 wounded, including 12 Americans dead and others wounded at Hebron. The British sent troops by air and rail, as well as a battleship and aircraft carrier.

WESTERN GOVERNORS CONFERENCE AND PUBLIC LAND SUGGESTIONS

I also have some questions about the Western Conference of Governors and the suggestion that I made for the appointment of a commission to examine into public land questions.2

2 See Item 185.

I have a telegram this morning from Governor [H. Clarence] Baldridge, of Idaho, who is the Chairman of the Conference, in which the Governors express their very warm approval of the suggested appointment of a commission and of the suggestions for its consideration. So that I will appoint that commission at as early a moment as we can select the men.

Q. Mr. President, is he an officer of the Conference?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, he is the Chairman of the Conference. The Conference passed a resolution yesterday to that effect.

This is background on that matter for you. The proposals there are entirely of conservation order. There never has been any consideration given to the conservation of the ranges. We have neglected them during the whole history of the Government. They have been overgrazed. They are today probably not worth 50 percent of what they were 20 years ago from a pasturage point of view, and I am advised that in another 20 years they will be to a considerable extent ruined and beyond remedy. Only natural grasses are possible--they are being eliminated by overgrazing.

This is fundamentally a proposal to not only simplify the Federal relations with the States but to secure a positive conservation program under the management of the States and for the benefit of the public schools in those States of the unappropriated public lands. It is not a suggestion to transfer the mineral rights, so there is no question of mineral conservation arises in it at all. It is proposed only to transfer the surface rights.

There is a suggestion also for better conservation of water--the devotion of the Reclamation Service to water storage, and the simplification of the Government relations with the States over reclamation and land projects. Some change is necessary in the Reclamation Service from a legal point of view, because, as I pointed out in the letter sent out to Salt Lake, the Reclamation Service was rounded on the reclamation of public lands. Practically all the lands in the West that are available for reclamation have now passed into private hands. It will require some reorientation of the Reclamation Service if it is to continue its activities. Laterally, the Reclamation Service has secured private agreements with private landholders by which the landholders contribute under the Reclamation Act. Voluntary agreement at best is very unsatisfactory. The States are the only political entity which have the power to enforce contributions in the matter of reclamation of private land. That is only one of many reasons, but it is a very pertinent reason for requiring some reorientation of the Reclamation Service.

And it is a part of these suggestions that this commission should consider the rounding out of the Federal Forest Reserves from such forests as may still be on public domain and not already so far appropriated. There is very little forest left not incorporated in the Forest Reserves. There may be some, however, and this will offer an opportunity to investigate as to what remaining forest can be embraced in the Forest Service before any transfer of the domain should be made. But all those suggestions are purely tentative for investigation.

I have one question as to whether or not those suggestions as to the setting up of a commission have been approved by the Service in the Department of the Interior. I should have thought that would have been obvious. The entire staff of the Interior--the Director of the Geological Survey, the Land Commissioner, and the Director of the Reclamation Service, all sat in in the preparation of that communication. And that is all that I have before me at the present moment.

Note: President Hoover's forty-sixth news conference was held in the White House at 12 noon on Tuesday, August 27, 1929.

Herbert Hoover, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/211822

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