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Wisconsin. State Conservation Committee (1908-15) / First report of the conservation commission of the state of Wisconsin
(1909)

Birge, Edward A.
Report on water powers,   pp. 10-15 PDF (1.2 MB)


Page 14


14   REPORT OF THE STATE CONSEXRVATION COM ILSSION.
on investment as the State regards as equitable, having due re-
gard for depreciation and expense of renewals.
  a. Rentals or taxes on these franchises, if levied on streams
coming from the state forest reserve, should be applied to the
enlargement and improvement of that reserve.
  6. Franchises should expire, if the improvements are not in-
stailed, witnin a jimited period, and if tue power lies idle for a
term of years to be specified, the State should have the right to
ass.gn tie franchise to a niew applicant.
  'l he Uommissiol respectfully represent to the Governor the
great importance of the subject of water powers. TIhe care with
which tile legislature of 1]JU0 framed the act to 1ncorporate The
\\ isconsin River lImprovemnent Company is evidence that the
State is ready to give the matter careful and intelligent consid-
eration. It would seem as though a general act might now be
passed which should at once encourage industrial development
and aid in securing to the public some share in the control and
in the future worth of this valuable asset of the State. The
matter will be deternined in a very few f ears in one way or
another. The State will either establish general principles as
the result of framing a general law, or such a law will become
unnecessary as the result of granting unlimited franchises for
utilizing all of the important water powers.
   The Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, with
the aid of the United States Geological Survey, has examined
part of the rivers of the state with reference to their water
powers. Nearly five hundred miles of the most important
rivers of the state have been carefully surveyed. A report on
these streams has been published by the Survey, and the United
States Government has issued detailed maps showing the streams
and the topography immediately adjacent to them. The report
also contains mueh information regarding other streams, espe-
cially those in the southern part of the state. Since these
streams flow through a well-settled region, and most of the water
powers are already more or less utilized, much information
could be collected concerning them without making the careful
survey necessary on the other rivers. There still remain to be
surveyed four hundred or more miles of important streams,
chiefly in the northern part of the state, whose water powers
are now for the most part undeveloped, but which will soon be
utilized. It would be of great advantage to the State to coM-


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