The Department of the Interior's vast building in Washington is a homey place.

Its terrible-tempered ruler, Secretary Harold L. Ickes, bolts about switching off lights to save electricity. The gesture is noble in purpose, and—to those who appreciate the endless, grab-bag complexity of Interior's duties—understandable. Interior sells electricity, protects the Indians, manages forests, preserves historic buildings, sets minimum soft-coal prices, interferes in the government of Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, rules Western cattle ranges, settles irrigated areas in semi-arid regions, watches over wild life and fish. All these sprawling activities are linked by a central theme: conservation of...

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