To Edward J. Wheeler on February 1, 1917, he had written:—
“It is an outrage that we should have a total of nearly six million acres of land withdrawn for oil, three million for phosphates, and one million for water power sites, potash, etc., and allow session after session of Congress to pass without producing any legislation that will sensibly open these reserves to development. The extreme conservationists, who are really for holding the lands indefinitely in the Federal Government and unopened, and the extreme anti-conservationists, who are for turning all the public lands over to the States, have stood for years against a rational system of national development.”
Although a great part of the energy of the Department of the Interior was, of necessity, diverted to forward war enterprises and to supply war necessities—chemical, metallurgical, statistical—Lane steadily pressed forward the conduct of the normal activities of the department. In his report for the year 1918, he briefly summarizes this work,—“The distribution, survey, and classification of our national lands; the care of the Indian wards of the Nation, their education, and the development of their vast estate; the carrying forward of our reclamation projects; the awarding and issuance of patents to inventors; the construction of the Alaskan railroad and the supervision of the Territorial affairs of Alaska and Hawaii; the payment of pensions to Army and Navy veterans and their dependents; the promotion of education; the custody and management of the national parks; the conservation of the lives of those who work in mines, and the study and guidance of the mining and metallurgical industries.”
To Walter H. Page
Washington, March 16, 1918
My dear Mr. Ambassador,—I am the poorest of all living correspondents, in fact, I am a dead correspondent. I do not function. If it had not been so I would long since have answered your notes, which have been in my basket, but I have had no time for any personal correspondence, much as I delight in it, for I have a very old-fashioned love for writing from day to day what pops into my mind, contradicting each day what I said the day before, and gathering from my friends their impressions and their spirit the same way. For the first time in three months I have leisure enough ... to acknowledge a few of the accumulated personal letters.
Let me give you a glimpse of my day, just to compare it with your own and by way of contrasting life in two different spheres and on different sides of the ocean. I get to my office at nine in the morning and my day is broken up into fifteen-minute periods, during which I see either my own people or others. I really write none of my own letters, [Footnote: This referred to routine letters.] simply telling my secretaries whether the answer should be “yes”