1903 letter to the Secretary of the Interior
To the Honorable,
Secretary of the Interior
Matter of reclaiming arid lands.
We the undersigned citizens of the United States, residents if Butte County, South Dakota, and of lawful age, do respectfully show that:
The county of Butte, South Dakota, is a very large county comprising 7689 square miles, (larger than New Jersey) is within the arid region, and within the act of Congress of June 17, 1902, and contains suitable reservoir sites from which large tracts of arid and very fertile land could be irrigated and reclaimed.
2. That there is in each and every year an abundance of water, at uncertain periods, if held back, to sufficiently irrigate all the land through the dry season, which usually occurs in June, July, or August; and that the reclamation of large tracts of land within this county can be had at comparatively small expense.
3. That special attention be called to a location in T. 9 N., R. 3 E., B.M.H., lying north of the Belle Fourche River, in this county, as a suitable site for a reservoir, from which at least 100,000 acres of agricultural land can be irrigated and reclaimed. That it is practicable to fill said proposed reservoir, both by the flood waters of adjacent hills, and also by a canal from the Belle Fourche River; and that said reservoir can be cheaply made by the construction of a dam composed of earthwork. About 6 miles of canal will tap the river.
4. But a small part of the land to be reclaimed is now privately owned, only 116,091 of the 4,923,960 acres in the county being on the tax list. (State Auditor's report, 1902)
5. That there are many other natural and suitable reservoir sites in this county to which we would respectfully call your attention.
We respectfully ask that you make an examination and survey of said proposed site to be made, and that such steps be taken in the premises as the law contemplates.
Signed by about 200 citizens.