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Progress Report for J. H. Wittwer, 1940-41 program







List of activities and projects worked on by John Wittwer in 1940-41. Report has penciled comments in several places.

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Box 4 Folder 47 Flood Control Reports and Maps for Southern Nevada 1934-1950


hln000599. John Wittwer Collection on Agriculture in Nevada, 1898-1972. MS-00181. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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Progress Report for J. H. Wittwer 1940-41 program. Flood Control - SCS-SCD - #172 An outstanding activity was that of attending one day of the Reclamation Association Conference and the Colorado Basin Water Resources' Committee in Denver, Colorado. Thru cooperation of Clark County Commissioners, the Muddy Valley Irrigation Company, and the local County Farm Bureau, it was made possible for George Cummings, State Extension office; Edwin Marshall and the Extension Agent, appointees as members of Lower Colorado Basin Committee for Nevada, to attend sessions indicated above. Items of importance as followed up are enumerated herewith: REPORT OF TRIP TO DENVER, COLORADO November 15th to 19th, inclusive, 1939 Those accompanying the group attending the latter part of the National Reclamation Association Conference and meetings of the Colorado Basin Committee in cooperation with the National Resources Committee held during November 16 to 18, inclusive, were: J. H. Wittwer, County Extension Agent Edwin Marshall, President, Muddy Valley Irrigation Company George Cummings, Special Agent, Nevada Extension Service W. W. Cannon, Representative Washington County, Utah, planning committee Charles De Armond, Nevada Colorado River Commission. Mr. Cannon, of St. George, Utah, attended those meetings in behalf of flood control matters pertaining to the Upper Virgin River watershed areas. Finances were provided for by the Washington County Commissioners. George Cummings was assigned to special work of determining possibilities of securing sugar beet seed acreage for Southern Nevada Valleys. Edwin Marshall and J. H. Wittwer were assigned to matters pertaining to flood control, water conservation as it pertains directly to Clark County, indirectly to Lincoln County over the Meadow Valley Wash Watershed. Results: 2. Flood Control Water Storage. Approaches were made to the following organizations for information regarding these problems. (1) John C. Page, Commissioner, and Mr. Debler, Hydraulic Engineer, U.S.R.S. Upper Virgin River watershed now being covered by surveys to determine ways and means of providing flood-silt control and supplementary water storage for the protection and support of respective areas in Utah, and thus reduce the flood hazards of the Lower Virgin River (Clark County, Nevada) areas. As soon as potentialities of these Utah, and eventually, Arizona areas have been determined, and as soon as the necessary finances can be secured for further survey work in the lower (Nevada) areas, work will be carried forward accordingly to the rest of the Virgin River areas and tributaries. Progress Report for J. H. Wittwer 1940-41 Program Flood Control - SCS-SCD- #172 Hence, to secure earliest action possible in line with foregoing: Secure the cooperation of all local agencies possible in petitioning Nevada's Congressional Delegation to urge finances for furtherance of needs in the lower (Nevada), as well as the upper Virgin River watershed areas. If finances become available, the work will be done as soon as the necessary personnel can be secured. (2) Col. Kelton, U. S. Army Engineers. The Virgin River Watershed Flood Control Preliminary Flood Control Report completed by the Los Angeles office; said report sent to the Washington, D. C. office of the U. S. Army Engineers during August 1939. Now urged that all local interests petition Nevada's Congressional Delegation to vigorously follow up this report of approval of same by the U. S. Army Engineers and secure thier recommendations for further action. Secured further from U. S. Army Engineers confidential commitment that the Meadow Valley Wash watershed accrued flood damages amounting to a total of approximately $8,000,000.00 would provide the basic argument for an expenditure of approximately $4,000,000.00 on flood control within the said Meadow Valley Wash watershed area. Our problem: To maintain commitment of such an amount following final approval of reports now in hands of U. S. Army Engineers, then follow-up same to the end of securing the finances for such program that will be finally approved by all agencies concerned???the U. S. Reclamation Service, the U. S. Army Engineers, and the U. S. Department of Agriculture. Additional finances should be forthcoming for flood control work in the lower Virgin River and upper Moapa Valley areas. (3) Moapa Indian Reservation Drainage Problem. Owing to regular normal flow of the Muddy River containing, according to Dr. Schofield, U.S.D.A., Washington, D. C., maximum soluble salts for permanent irrigation use in the lower Moapa Valley lands, the question regarding the advisability of the Indian Service draining Moapa Indian Reservation lands naturally arises. The drainage program as proposed by the Indian Service, according to best authority on the subject, indicates that serious irreparable consequences could follow such a practice. Accordingly, a move was set on foot thru U. S. G. S. - U. S. D. A. technical service to have progress on such a program withheld pending a thorough investigation of resultant effects of such a program of drainage as that proposed by the Indian Service before any further moves are taken in direction of proceeding with actual drainage work. Other items of importance during the trip were conferences with representatives of the Kings River Reclamation- U. S. Army Engineers, Mr. Wittwer's Progress Report 1940-1941 Page 3 securing from them pertinent information regarding procedure toward insuring surveys, finances, and action programs; representatives of the South Dakota Supplementary Irrigation project, who thru combined efforts of the National Resources Board, the Water Facilities and W . P. A. financing, have secured approval of a $4,000,000 to $5,000,000 project in part of that which is known as the "Dust Bowl" area; Forest Service officials of the Ogden office thru whom, and following a field day by three Forest Service Engineers, a review of the entire southern Nevada program of Flood Control and Erosion was reviewed with tentative plans worked out for additional work for succeeding CCC Camp periods. #172 Flood Control for December 1939 Meetings were held with Forest Service officials regarding the completion of the Meadow Valley Wash diversion spillway and reviewing the program of the area for the next CCC camp period 1940 to 41. Consideration was given the Bowman Dam reservoir, raising Arrowhead dam, providing side-wash flood control protection on each the west and east side of Moapa Valley, and the improvement of the Moapa Valley flood channel. Furtherance of the flood menace for the entire area including the Virgin Valley communities and the Meadow Valley Wash watershed area was taken under advisement with C. J. Mackey of the local W.P.A. office, Mr. Jeffers, President of the Union Pacific System, and Deputy State Engineer, Hugh Shamberger of the State Engineer's office and H . D. Sanford, District Conservationist, of the Soil Conservation Service. #172 - Flood Control - January 1940 An outstanding feature of the entire proceedings on Flood Control of the U. P. railroad to make a study of flood control potentialities of each the Moapa, and the Clover Valley area east of Caliente. One day was spent in the Moapa Area, and one day in the Clover Valley Mountain area by Lincoln County Extension Agent, Gardella and representatives of the SCS. But one comment was offered by this railroad official namely: That the U. P . would not oppose a program in Saw Mill Canyon, if designs of structures for the area conform to needs concerned. The outlook for financial assistance by the Railroad toward a construction program was not favorable. The coming of a side camp for river bank protection in the Bunkerville area is still being promised by the Soil Conservation Service, but not yet in sight. Following the cooperation of C. J. Mackey, action on the part of the Soil Conservation Service became evident that assurance that a side-camp would be forthcoming, though the date had not yet been fixed. #172 - Flood Control - February 1940 Much of the time was spent in assembling and reviewing erosion-flood control material in preparation for a joint meeting of all federal agencies and Soil Conservation District Supervisors, Division of Grazing Advisory Board members and County Planning committees having to do with range management and erosion control on both private and public lands under management of so called land-free areas at the Beaver Dam Lodge. The tendency of data presented at that session to blame overgrazing Mr. Wittwer's Progress report Page 4. 1940-1941 over emphasized. Instead, while over-grazing might be a factor, the greater evil appeared to be that of a lack of properly directed use in management of one area as against another. Then too, emphasis placed upon over-grazing over much of the desert range areas where Geological processes are the major influences of erosion and consequent damages, requires a form of corrective measure and treatment entirely different from such areas as might be really suffering from actual over-grazing. #172 Flood Control - SCS- FS for March 1940 (1) Note petition for flood control under Farm Bureau Cooperation. (2) CCC Side-Camp from the Panaca camp arrived at Bunkerville to begin river bank protection under Soil Conservation Service supervision. In connection with this program the Bunkerville Irrigation Company received their loan of $1000 from the Disaster Loan Corporation, and all details pertaining to loan were completed early in the month. (3) In consideration of the Moapa Area having in sight possibilities of the lower Moapa Valley Flood Channel Improvement and Drainage projects the Moapa Soil Conservation District supervisors took preliminary steps to have called to the attention of each the Forest Service and the Soil Conservation Service the prospect of petitions to the Forest Service to supervise the flood channel improvement work and a petition to the Soil Conservation Service to supervise the drainage project. As a means of financing these two projects consideration was given to securing a representative of the Disaster Loan Corporation to survey the situation and as a consequence that organization sent Mr. J. F. Seeley, their appraisal agent, to check over the details connected with the different projects. After a careful study of the situation and following a meeting of Mr. Seeley with prospective co-operators in a position to finance the drainage project, but that it would consider favorably further study toward the end of providing a loan with which to carry on the flood channel improvement work inasmuch as it involved serious hazards of loss of property and dangering human life. (4) A special study was made of side flood damages and possible remedies for same at the Kaolin Wash area which was given the Nunn SandMines considerable trouble. This matter was also given attention at a meeting of Moapa Valley-wide interests, culminating in petitions being forwarded to each the Biological Survey and Nevada's Congressional Delegation for assistance in this matter. #172 - Flood Control April, 1940 - (l) The Meadow Valley Wash Flood Control Project Spillway neared completion with the closing of the month. This is an imposing structure and a real monument to the excellent work done by CCC boys under the U . S. Forest Service supervision. This structure with automatically operated steel gates can be so regulated as to enable either the major portion of small floods coursing down through the old channel, thus preserving the side spreading flood dissipating grounds for the peaks 6f the occasional large damaging floods; or in turn beginning of floods can all be diverted over the flood plain, with steel gates so gauged as to provide for peaks of largest floods only to escape through the spillway into the old channel. Floods of approximately 20,000 cfs or more, can thus be safely controlled at this point; and by means of the adjustable structure (3) Encouraging progress has been recently effected toward an action program for the proposed realignment and enlargement of the lower Moapa Valley Flood Channel in accordance with surveys of the channel as completed by the Soil Conservation Service. Upon completion of these surveys, the Moapa Soil Conservation District supervisors petitioned the Forest Service to assume the responsibility of carrying on with an action program through the use of a fully manned CCC Camp with such equipment as might be made available thereby in cooperation with land owners in the area who may be required to provide finances with which to secure the use of a drag-line equipment not now available to the Forest Service. Preliminary steps have been taken to secure the cooperation of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation in securing the necessary finances with which to carry on such a program that might be recommended. Advises have been received indicating a favorable attitude by the RFC toward making a loan provided an adequate organization set-up is perfected to carry on the business of financing and maintenance necessary to insure repayment and permanence in operation and protection from erosion and flooding. Lester Mills has been selected by the Moapa Soil Conservation District supervisors to act as the chairman of the committee designated to promote the program in cooperation with such agencies that might have to do with completion of the project. (4) The side CCC Camp under supervision of the SCS has made splendid progress toward construction of tetrahedrons from car frames purchased by the Bunkerville community from the proceeds of the loan from the Disaster Loan Corporation and an appropriation secured through cooperation of the Clark County Commissioners. The program has also been very much enhanced through cooperation of the SCS and the Bristol Mining Company near Pioche, in providing an adequate supply of substantial cable used in making for greater security in the structural program of bank protection under way. (5) Through a meeting of representatives of Arizona, Utah, and Nevada Page 6. Progress Report for 1939-40 Flood Control April Continued. areas of the Virgin River watershed, resolutions urging action programs in known critical areas were unanimously passed for consideration of departmental agencies and congressional representatives of states concerned; further urging completed detailed survesy of the watershed for an early effective erosion-flood control program. #172 Flood Control May 1940 Flood Control and drainage correspondence was prepared for the Moapa and Virgin Valley Soil Conservation district supervisors in furtherance of a meeting of representatives of the Soil Conservation Service, Division of Grazing, Forest Service, Bureau of Agricultural Economics, Farm Security Administration, Counties of Nevada, and northwestern Mohave County, Arizona. The culmination of this correspondence was a meeting of representatives of the foregoing federal agencies in cooperation with representatives of Soil Conservation District Supervisors of each Southern Nevada and Southern Utah. Questions pertaining to the Public Domain and other land areas within the boundaries of Southern Utah, Northwestern Arizona and Southern Nevada were discussed with the objective of determining cause and effect of grazing and procedure to overcome the excessive erosion and the flood menace which, from various studies, appear to be coming increasingly which was held at St. George, Utah, reviewed reports as prepared by the Soil Conservation Service, Forest Service and the Division of Grazing. Same served to give all people concerned a vision of that which might become necessary to overcome the danger of continued indifference toward proper management, by also recognizing there is a flood and erosion menace which in many parts of the watershed, must be given consideration because of the geological erosion, rather than abuse through excessive use. The flood channel in the lower Moapa Valley and the drainage project for the same area was also given serious consideration through meetings in Reno with Extension, Soil Conservation, and Forest Service agencies. Likewise in Logandale in cooperation with State and County Extension Service, State and District Soil Conservation Service, Biological Survey and Forest Service representatives, the flood channel in lower Moapa Valley and the drainage project was given serious consideration. The conclusion of the month's activities regarding these two projects finally concluded with the Moapa Soil Conservation District Supervisors petitioning the Forest Service to supervise the necessary work that might be involved in general improvement for the Moapa Valley flood channel areas. The Soil Conservation Service was petitioned for their cooperation in questions relating to the latter two projects were Thomas E. Buckman, Acting Director of Nevada Extension Service; Otto Schulz, Extension Soil Conservationist; George Hardman, H. D. Sanford and Tom M a c L e o d , of the Soil Conservation Service; Mr. A . McQueen, A . E. Briggs, and Mr. Anderson of the Forest Service; and Mr. Wardwell of the Biological Survey. Another item of interest was that of securing movie film pictures of flood control "works" in each Moapa and Virgin Valleys for publicity purposes. The cooperation of an experienced movie camera operator was secured from 6:00 A.M. to 7:00 P. M . of one day, during which approximately 35 exposures were secured on flood control and related subject matter. Flood Control and Drainage Page 7. - J.H. Wittwer- 1939-1940 #172 Flood Control and Drainage - June 1940 1. Following the meeting of May 24, 1940 at which time George Hardman, State Soil Conservationist, suggested that the Moapa Soil Conservation District the lower Moapa Valley Flood Channel to the Wells Siding CCC Camp under Forest Service supervision, and the proposed drainage project to the Soil Conservation such end, then sent to Secretary Wallace thru Soil Conservation Service channels. 2. In the meantime work on the drainage project with dragline secured thru cooperation of the Soil Conservation Service and the Moapa Soil Conservation District supervisors was begun. Thus far, no record nor report of assignment of the flood channel project to the Forest Service has been received. However, the latter service agency has begun its checking and survey of work to be done in addition to securing rights of ways from adjacent landowners, 3. Difficulties in securing necessary rights of ways and failure to collect from one prospective cooperator has made it necessary to alter the main routing of the main drain, and which in turn may deprive an additional 400 to 700 acres of land of drainage. #172 Flood Control - July 1940 Outstanding features for the month were: 1. Follow up by the Moapa Soil Conservation District supervisors in the matter of securing thru Secretary Wallace, the assignment of the Lower Moapa Valley Flood Channel for grade realignment, and Bank protection to the Forest Service. Cooperation of F. Morrell, Chief, CCC Division and C. W . Creel in Washington, D.C. was being secured for this purpose. 2. Rights of way in preparation for work along the Flood Channel have been prepared by the Forest Service and are now ready for agreement thereto by adjacent land owners. 3. Securing the dragline for use by the Forest Service on the flood channel following completion of the drainage project now under way by the Soil Conservation Service. 4. Gratifying progress on drain construction under supervision of the Soil Conservation Service on the upper portion of the proposed program,? the lower portion being held up pending the securing of the necessary rights of ways thru certain parcels of land necessary to completion of the entire program as originally planned and designed. 5. A visit by the U. S. A. Engineers, who are making a careful, their work already having covered the Meadow Valley Wash, the upper Muddy, and the lower Virgin River including the Virgin Narrows east of Beaver Dam Lodge in Arizona. During August, the upper reaches of the watershed will be covered by these same representatives. Page 8. Flood Control Progress report 1939-1940 - J. H. Wittwer Flood Control #172 - July 1940 6. A one reel film showing major flood control CCC construction and future needs of the Moapa area was shown a total of six times, with total attendance of 371,--all interested. #172 Flood Control - August 1940 Through conferences with committeemen and representatives of the SCS., The Forest Service, and the Soil Conservation District Supervisors, projects of the Moapa Valley Flood Channel and the Bunkerville River Bank Protection became focused toward action programs. The S.C.S., completed plans whereby the S.C.S. drag-line would be loaned to the Moapa Soil Conservation District Supervisors, who in turn were authorized to turn over same for operation on the flood channel under Forest Service Supervision. Assurances were received that the S.C.S. would again occupy the CCC Camp at Bunkerville with a side-camp for Bank erosion work in accordance with plans that had been approved the previous year. Farm Bureau Directors gave assurance of support to the organization individuals who were assured of Farm Security loans in financing their drainage flood channel requirements on a temporary basis in order that the construction work might not be delayed. Assistance was also assured the Soil Conservation District Supervisors that support would be extended them by the Farm Bureau in matters of financing the trip to Great Falls, Montana on flood control and water storage. #172 Flood Control - September 1940 Accompanying Edwin Marshall and Clarence Lewis to Ogden for a conference with the Forest Service officials on flood channel improvement work, arrangements were concluded with an agreement entered into by the Moapa Soil Conservation District Supervisors and the Forest Service for the district to provide $3200 for the 1940-41 CCC Camp period at Wells Siding, Logandale, and to be under Forest Service Supervision. Correspondence was also prepared asking the Congressional Delegation to secure adjustment of the CCC Camp funds now frozen to enable more elasticity in the use of those funds in cooperation with locally secured funds to enable meeting more nearly the vital needs of local interests. With the enclosing of the month the question of Wells Siding CCC Camp and the flood channel improvement project being supervised by the Soil Conservation Service again rose, owing to the memorandum of understanding with the Forest Service, the delayed action from previous requests for that program to be kept under Forest Service Supervision Supervision, it again became necessary to re-open requests to the Nevada Congressional Delegation to hold that camp under Forest Service supervision. Should the program not carry through thusly, indications are that the Moapa Soil Conservation District Supervisors will bolt, which in turn might eliminate any further work in line with channel improvement in that area. With the time at hand for the camp to move in, and with this situation maintaining, the outlook is one of grave concern and question, not only to the people of Moapa Valley, but likewise to the Soil Conservation Page 9. Flood Control Progress report 1939-1940 - J. H. Wittwer - The White Narrows water storage and flood control site near the head of the Moapa Indian Reservation again came in for further consideration through the office of the Nevada State Engineer in cooperation with the Muddy Valley Irrigation Company and the Indian Service. Hugh Shamberger, Deputy State Engineer, secured the services of Mr. Meizner, geologist, U. S. G. S., and with the services of the Indian Service Engineer they re-checked the foundation and side walls of the proposed damsite of this project. The preliminary study gave indications of serious need for a well designed carefully worked out detailed investigation of all factors concerned from standpoint of utility and safety as a flood control water storage basin. Finances for this program have already been provided for through special appropriations through the cooperation of the State Engineer's office with the Nevada Congressional Delegation. The work of this investigation is to proceed at an early date through the use of a diamond drill to determine foundation material. During the month the usual September storms on the Virgin River watershed gave clear evidence of the value of tetrahedron structures installed during the spring months in cooperation with the Soil Conservation Service and the Bunkerville Irrigation Company-Disaster Loan Corporation financing. These structures did a splendid bit of protection, building up heavy silt banks by the structures and the main land bank and causing a distinct channeling of the stream bed for the main flood flow. Areas under protected bank areas were again cut into seriously damaging given areas along the course of the river bordering Bunkerville fields. The demonstration shows clearly the need for additional work of this kind, which if it can be supplied, according to needs, will make the community secure from further floods. An additional report indicating the status of river bed lands, farm lands washed away, and the reclamation of same through a bank erosion flood c o n t r o l , program was prepared and submitted to the U. S. Engineers. The report indicated a possibility of increase, through development, an additional 700 acres in the immediate vicinity of the Mesquite-Bunkerville Riverside community area. #172 Flood Control - October, 1940 1. An agreeable working understanding was arrived Moapa Soil Conservation District Supervisors regarding the improvement of the Lower Moapa Valley Flood Channel by the Wells Siding CCC Camp under Forest Service Supervision,?the District Supervisors committing themselves for a cooperative fund of $3200 to be placed at the disposal of the Forest Service, and to be collected thru,? 2. The organization of a drainage district embracing channels and drainage facilities of areas concerned. 3. Assurance that a side CCC Camp would be established in Bunkerville for the purpose of continuing Bank erosion control work along the Virgin River adjacent to the Mesquite-Bunkerville-Riverside Communities. Flood Control Progress report 1939-1940 - J. H . Wittwer - 4 . Reviewing the Flood Control facilities of the Moapa Area and thru a preliminary survey, check prospects of carrying on further with a more completed flood control?water storage program for the Moapa Area in conjunction with upper reaches of the Meadow Valley Wash watershed areas, specific representatives of the Water Facilities Division of the SCS?with indications that, since water as developed in the three wells in Moapa Valley was not satisfactory, way of either removing such equipment that has been installed or dispose of same to cooperators on such terms as might be mutually agreed upon by parties concerned. What the future activities of the Water Facilities will be in the area is not as yet settled,?but an effort is being made to proceed with deeper well construction.