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6. Repairing trail up Chilnualna Creek.
I would further recommend that authority be obtained from the State of California for the establishment of a camp for troops within the Yosemite Valley, that being a more central and convenient point from which to patrol. The only objection is the difficulty of getting in supplies in bad weather.
A permanent camp should be constructed in the vicinity of Wawona. The weather in the fall is cold and wet, and the snow liable to be very deep. My horses and mules are now suffering very much from this
A good shed stable is a necessity; a mess house and kitchen and a large room for a library should be built. Lumber is easily obtained from the Miami sawmills, 14 miles from Wawona, at a reasonable cost. The total expense of the three buildings, in my opinion, would not exceed $1,000. Troops will always be necessary here for the proper protection of the park.
It is a grand and beautiful country, abounding in interesting flora and fauna, and the scenery I believe to be the most magnificent in the world. There has been this year a large increase of tourists and sightseers, and the increase will continue from year to year if facilities for travel and conditions of park improve.
As far as I can learn the national park has not been properly surveyed and monumented. This is a most important matter, and should receive attention as soon as possible. The owners of patented lands should all be bought out by the Government, thus removing one great source of trouble and destruction within the park limits.
I earnestly recommend that penalties be fixed for violation of park regulations, as is the case in the Yellowstone National Park. In the absence of fixed laws in this respect little can be done beyond harassing and making it uncomfortable, as far as possible, for trespassers.
With regard to forest fires there have been several large fires in the northeastern part of the park, above the Yosemite Valley, also one fire on the southern border. Everything that was possible was done to extinguish these fires, but they were entirely beyond control. They did little or no damage. In reference to this matter, these fires only destroy the fallen and dead timber and dry underbrush, doing little damage to live trees, but making them unsightly on account of the blackening of the bark. In my opinion a systematic burning out of fallen timber, underbrush, and dead trees along the traveled part of the park would be a great benefit and prevent the recurrence of forest fires. These fires have been extinguished by recent heavy storms.
The question of diverting waters flowing into the park has been reported to the honorable Secretary, and a definite decision in this respect should be arrived at. The particular instance brought to my attention was that of a lumber firm which has dug a ditch for the purpose of diverting the waters of Raynor Creek. Raynor Creek supplies most of the water that flows into the South Fork of the Merced River, through Big Creek, and Big Creek is the only source of water supply for drinking purposes of the Government camp near Wawona. This
ditch is constructed on private lands, but, in my opinion, the riparian law ought to have effect in this instance. It would be a bad precedent to permit the diversion of waters flowing into the park.
The preservation of the park is a matter of national interest, and this interest will increase as years go by; therefore it is well worthy of all the care and attention that can be bestowed upon
it. I can, at the present date, report the park free from hunters and stock. The old residents and guides here have informed me that they bave never seen the park in better condition. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. F. WILLCOX,
Captain, Sixth Cavalry, Acting Superintendent Yosemite National Park. The SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, D. C.
PRESIDIO OF SAN FRANCISCO, CAL.,
October 28, 1899. Sir: I have the honor to make the following report upon the condition of affairs in the Yosemite National Park during the time I was acting superintendent, June 19 to August 3, 1899. During this time I found stock, in several instances, had been allowed to graze on Government land, and in each case coming to my notice it was driven out. Some of the stock was found just inside of the park boundary line, having been allowed to wander over by the herders from without to graze on meadow grass. In other cases stockmen with permits to drive their stock to their patented land would, after having it there, allow the stock to stray onto Government land. In most cases it was found that the fences were in poor condition, and consequently the stock could not be kept within bound unless herders were kept on the watch at all times. In several instances I had the stockmen repair their fences before the stock was driven in.
Hunters and fishermen did not violate the park regulations; at least no one was found killing game or with it in their possession. I granted permits to persons wishing to fish, but to no one did I grant a permit to kill game.
In some instances, however, persons were found carrying firearms within the park limits without permits; in such cases the arms were taken up.
Forest fires were the most difficult problem with which I had to contend, the underbrush being very thick in some places, and a fire, once under headway, is difficult to control unless a large force of men, about one hundred, with proper implements, be immediately put to work. In making recommendations I would recommend that about twenty shovels and about one hundred strong iron rakes be kept at all times within the park. These implements, I think, should be under the charge of the acting superintendent of the park during the time the troops are there; and when the troops are not there, I recommend that these implements be kept at some central point, say near the Sentinel Hotel, and under the charge of some responsible person who understands how to fight fire, whose duty will be to look after the interests of the park and who will have authority to hire men in case of fire.
Another means of lessening the danger of fire would be to burn out the underbrush. This could be done without great danger by doing so after the first rains or snows. This means would, in a manner, mar the rugged beauty of the park. I think the former plan the better one. My reasons for making the above recommendations are as follows: Troops stationed within the park do not have many rakes and shovels with them, and sometimes not the proper kind, and therefore could not be depended upon to furnish the necessary implements in case of fire. I could not furnish one-tenth enough in such
and could not get the necessary implements within the park unless I purchased them, and then only a few. Very respectfully,
WILLIAM FORSE, Second Lieutenant, Third Artillery.
ACTING SUPERINTENDENT OF THE SEQUOIA AND GENERAL GRANT
NATIONAL PARKS, CALIFORNIA.
OFFICE OF ACTING SUPERINTENDENT,
Camp of U.S. Troops, Weishars Mill, Cal., August 31, 1899. SIR: I have the honor to submit herewith my annual report of duty performed in these parks during the current year.
Pursuant to Special Order, No. 123, Headquarters Department of California, a detachment of Battery D, Third Artillery, was detailed to relieve the detachment of Twenty-fourth Infantry and perform the duty of guarding the Sequoia and General Grant National Parks. The detail arrived at Three Rivers, Cal., on June 19, establishing a temporary camp at Red Hill, wbich it occupied until June 28, when the head. quarters were removed to the present site.
Camps of outlying detachments were established as follows: At Hockett Meadows, 1 noncommissioned officer and 4 privates, on June 20; at General Grant National Park, 1 noncommissioned officer and 4 privates, on June 21. A noncommissioned officer was left in charge of the Red Hill camp, which has been maintained through the summer as a base of supplies. During the month of July, subposts were established at Halstead Meadow and at the South Fork entrance to the Sequoia Park.
These detachments have been visited frequently by details from the main camp, and have kept up a daily patrol of both parks. The total distance covered by the patrols and reconnoissances of the detachment between June 20 and August 31, aggregate 12,312 miles.
THE SEASON OF 1898.
Pursuant to the direction of the Secretary, I would report briefly upon the care of the reservations from the 1st day of July, 1898. On account of the Spanish-American war the regular military patrol of the parks was suspended during the tourist season of the past year. Civilian custodians were duly appointed, but in numbers altogether inadequate to the demands of the situation. A detachment of the First Utah Volunteer Cavalry reported at the park on September 4 and continued in charge until October 6. Their arrival was too long delayed to remedy the evil already done, and nothing like an effective execution of the Department's orders was accomplished. Much of the valued work of preceding superintendents was suffered to decline, and the effects of the wholesale devastation of last year can be plainly traced