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AGO 1951 No. 026 - April 26, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

COLUMBIA BASIN PROJECT ACT ‑- IRRIGATION AND RECLAMATION DISTRICTS --PLATTING, SUBDIVISION, APPRAISEMENT AND SALE OF STATE LANDS.

Chapter 275, Laws of 1943, as amended by chapter 200, Laws of 1951 is constitutional and may be administered in cooperation with Federal officials under the Columbia Basin Project Act.

                                                                  - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                   April 26, 1951

Honorable Jack Taylor
Commissioner of Public Lands
Public Lands-Social Security Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 26

Dear Sir:

            In your letter of January 15th you referred to the Columbia Basin Project Act (57 Stat. 14; secs. 835,et sub., Title 16, U.S.C.A.); chapter 275, Laws of Washington for 1943 (sec. 7525-20, et seq., Rem. Supp. 1943) and Senate Bill No. 125, which is now chapter 200, Laws of 1951 (secs. 89.03.05-.07-.10-.13, RCW [[RCW 89.12.050, 89.12.070, 89.12.100, 89.12.130]]), and asked a number of questions, which we state and answer as follows:

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            1. Can an appraisal by the Bureau of Reclamation be considered a proper appraisal or is it still necessary that the Board of State Land Commissioners officially fix the appraisals?

            While it is still necessary for the Board of State Land Commissioners to fix appraisals, they may, very properly, recognize and accept the appraisal of the Bureau of Reclamation as they are directed to do.

            2. Is an appraisal fixed by the Bureau of Reclamation under the antispeculation bill considered to be the full market value of the land or is it necessary that the state officially fix its own appraisal?

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            The appraisal made by the Bureau of Reclamation will be considered to be the full market value of the land, when recognized and accepted.

            3. Is the state estopped from selling its land on the ten-year payment plan by section 3, chapter 200, Laws of Washington, 1951, (sec. 89.12.100, RCW [[RCW 89.12.100]])? by section 3, chapter 200, Laws of Washington, 1951 (sec. 89.12.100, RCW)?

            Yes.

            4. Can the sales price be limited to the appraised value under section 3, chapter 200, Laws of Washington, 1951 (sec. 89.12.100, RCW [[RCW 89.12.100]])?

            No.

            5. Can the sale of farm units be limited to one farm unit per person under section 3, chapter 200, Laws of Washington, 1951 (sec. 89.12.100, RCW [[RCW 89.12.100]])?

            Yes.

            6. Can applicants be selected, as nearly as practicable, in accordance with subsection C of section 4 of the Act of Congress of December 5, 1924 (43 Stat. 702) under section 3, chapter 200, Laws of Washington, 1951 (sec. 89.12.100, RCW [[RCW 89.12.100]])?

            No.

            7. Can each applicant be required to execute a recordable contract under section 3, chapter 200, Laws of Washington, 1951 (sec. 89.12.100, RCW [[RCW 89.12.100]])?

            Yes.

            8. Can the Bureau of Reclamation plats of irrigation blocks be accepted as official plats from which the state can make sales?

            Yes.

            9. What right does the state have to refuse to sell a tract that has been bid in at public auction by a party who does not own the portion of the farm unit not owned by the state and who is unable to acquire it?

            It has no right to do so.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            10. Can the irrigation districts demand payment for water purchasers from the state who refuse to sign recordable contracts?

            Yes, unless the lands are excluded from the district.

            11. Does chapter 200, Laws of Washington, 1951 (sec. 89.12.100, RCW [[RCW 89.12.100]]) correct conflicts with state law and the Constitution of the State of Washington? correct conflicts with state law and the Constitution of the State of Washington?

            Yes.  The Federal authorities do not object to the state's disregarding the price ceiling and selection of applicants' requirements.

            12. Are farm unit plats legal plats?

            They are.

            13. Do farm units in farm unit plats constitute legal subdivisions?

            They do.

            14. Are state lands, intermingled with private lands in farm units, and constituting only portions of farm units, isolated tracts within the meaning of section 24, chapter 255, Laws of Washington, 1927 (sec. 7797-24, Rem. Rev. Stat.)?

            They are.

            15. May more than 160 acres of any granted lands be offered for sale in one parcel?

            No.

            16. Does the ten dollar minimum sales price per acre requirement of the Enabling Act on lands granted the state for educational purposes apply when state lands are sold at appraised values, determined in accordance with section 3, chapter 200, Laws of Washington, 1951; and the Columbia Basin Project Act?

            No, if bid in at those appraised values.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            We have carefully considered every aspect of the many questions you present, have familiarized ourselves with the position of the Federal officials, and are confident that chapter 275, Laws of Washington, 1943, as amended by chapter 200, Laws of Washington, 1951 (sec. 89.12.100, RCW [[RCW 89.12.100]]), which we have impliedly recognized as valid in our opinion of May 3, 1949 to the Honorable Lawrence Hubble, Chief Examiner of the Division of Municipal Corporations, [[Opinion No. 49-51-24]]may be administered in cooperation with the Federal officials involved.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

E. P. DONNELLY
Assistant Attorney General

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