Page images
PDF
EPUB

I am certain that-I am sorry

Mr. SOLBERG. I am sure they are.

if I said they were not.

Mr. JOHNSON. All right, thank you.

Mr. BARING. All right, the next speaker, please. That will be Mr. Clinton Schonberger.

STATEMENT OF CLINTON F. SCHONBERGER, CHAIRMAN, DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGY, SAN BERNARDINO VALLEY COLLEGE

Mr. SCHONBERGER. I am Clinton F. Schonberger, chairman, Department of Biology, San Bernardino Valley College, former park naturalist, and affiliated with certain scientific societies including the Ecological Society of America. They would kill me if I didn't appear here.

To develop any commercial facilities or to erect any structures above the level of the yellow pine forest in southern California is (1) impractical, (2) unethical, and (3) shortsighted.

WHY WOULD THIS BE IMPRACTICAL?

The higher elevations of our southern California mountains have a very fragile forest cover, little if any soil, and a very unpredictable climate.

The area under consideration by your committee is a lodgepole pine forest, that in Colorado or Oregon might be considered a valuable natural resource, suitable for recreational development or even for logging. This forest on the high slopes of Mount San Gorgonio is not a typical lodgepole forest but a sort of relic forest. It is a southern extension of the continental lodgepole forest and it does not have the ground cover, the supporting trees and shrubs, nor does it have a soil profile comparable to the lodgepole pine forests of the Sierras, the Rockies, and the Cascades. In the Sierras, once you get above the yellow pine forest, you get into a high mountain forest with much snow but with a strong mixture of lodgepoles, Jeffrey pines, and red fir. This forest builds a good soil and forms a very stable forest community that can stand building and clearing for various purposes. Our local lodgepole forest is different.

In the San Bernardino Mountains, we have developed the yellow pine forest to such an extent that we have thriving mountain communities around Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake. These are commercialized areas that do not attract those seeking a more adventuresome type of recreation. However, there is no question that commercial establishments at the yellow pine level are practical.

You have seen the area under consideration but I suggest that very few parties to this debate have measured the soil or analyzed it or have eyed the forest cover critically. The soil in our lodgepole forest is so thin and fragile that it has no topsoil and only a thin subsoil incapable of remaining on cleared slopes, incapable of filtering sewage, and incapable of producing a satisfactory ground cover once trees are cleared from a slope. Ski slopes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire show a solid green carpet in the summer. There you have a different forest and a different climate. Ground cover regeneration checks erosion. Again, our lodgepole forest is different.

Because of the forest structure, I maintain that commercial development of the area in question is impractical for ski slopes or for buildings or for large numbers of human beings assembled at any one time or place. You will have erosion problems, sewage problems, and most of all, problems in maintaining good ski slopes.

WHY IS THIS PROPOSAL UNETHICAL?

This proposal is unethical principally because many of us have used this area as a wilderness and as a safe watershed for years. We do not look with favor upon any proposal that will pollute the headwaters of the Santa Ana River or any other water source for southern California communities. We do not look forward to the time when we will hike to a place heretofore free to all to find some commercial enterprise in control of our land with admission charges. We do not enjoy climbing up a hill to meet less deserving adventurers who have motored to the same spot, and who show their appreciation for this wilderness by tossing wrappers and other bits of litter about them as though they regarded this area as just another city park.

WHY IS THIS PROPOSAL SHORTSIGHTED

One of the most important reasons for keeping this area inviolate is that this particular plant community is rare and up to now almost intact. From Poopout Hill to Slushy Meadows on a very recent hike, I found only one batch of weeds along the trail. I was particularly alert that day because I was collecting pollen from native grasses. Weeds are commonplace in our mountains where people travel and abide. Very few intact natural areas remain in this country. We have no more frontiers. This is a frontier, valuable for its natural beauty and also valuable for its use in ecological studies. We are going to ask Congress for an expansion of ecological studies, not for destruction of perfect ecological situations. We hope for a national ecological survey before all of our natural areas have been subjected to invasion by weeds, domestic animals, and human alteration. The very delicate grasses and herbs found here are helpless against weeds. Weeds enter an area along roadways and spread out. Apparently the hikers have not carried weed seeds to any noticeable extent.

Senator Gaylord Nelson is going to introduce and maybe he already has a bill to have an ecological survey of the United States that is long overdue. We have several rare formations that have completely disappeared.

Who will pay for the road which will bring weed seeds into this strange and feeble landscape? Who will reap the expected monetary benefit from the use of land heretofore part of our outdoor playground where we walk unaccosted by property owners and unmolested by dogs, cars, or ugly signs? Please resist the temptation to give our land to someone who will "do something with it." What special group will gain by our loss? Do they deserve the land more than we? Just because we don't deface it doesn't mean that we don't use it.

Do you want an alternative? Let the ski developers find suitable terrain. They have already taken up positions in the Lake Arrow

head-Big Bear area. Look to the north slopes of the Los Angeles National Forest where the forest is more commonplace and much sturdier. You should help us expand hiking facilities so as to scatter the hundreds of hikers about more. We already have a use problem in this area from hikers alone. We don't need any additional use. Please judge carefully.

Thank you very much.

Mr. HOSMER. I would just like to ask Mr. Schonberger here a ques

tion.

I do not think I have heard any testimony like you have given. Mr. SCHONBERGER. No; you have not, but I am the only ecologist so far.

Mr. HOSMER. I wonder if it may be passing through some of the people's minds that "Is this some kind of nut or something?" You said you were a forester and an ecologist.

Mr. SCHONBERGER. I am an ecologist and a former park ranger. Mr. HOSMER. Are there other people who have made studies and who agree with your findings?

Mr. SCHONBERGER. Apparently they have not spoken yet.

Mr. HOSMER. I beg your pardon?

Mr. SCHONBERGER. Apparently they have not spoken in quite this vein today.

FROM THE FLOOR. I will be appearing tomorrow talking about the same subject.

Mr. SCHONBERGER. All right, there is another one.

Mr. HOSMER. That will be another ecologist, I take it?

Mr. SCHONBERGER. Any ecolologist will side with me.

Mr. HOSMER. What I wanted to get on the record and what we did not have on the record is that this is not a unique view that you hold; but, it is a view from another side, to a degree that has not come in as yet?

Mr. SCHONBERGER. No; you have to look at the forest in its entirety and, when you know all the plants in it, you realize there is nothing else like this; but, it is a fragile forest; it is very fragile.

Mr. HOSMER. I am not going to ask you tonight to explain but tomorrow perhaps one or more of those witnesses will cover the point as to why this area, underneath the ski lift slope will not be permanent.

Mr. SCHONBERGER. May I add just one thing. The weeds that come in with the road from the lowlands, we have got some pretty tough weeds there. Those little plants up there could not withstand them and they would be-well, I took the trip up that trail and I saw one patch of weeds from Poopout Hill to Slushy Meadows, and I want to say that the hikers must have been mighty clean, without shedding weed seeds all these years.

But trucks and roads shed weed seeds just like railroads.

Mr. HOSMER. Thank you, sir.

That is all I have, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. BARING. The next panel, John Tyler, Dr. Richard Vogl, Dr. Edwin Woodhouse, Gordon Cleaver, and Mr. Richard Witz, and Mr. Tirso Serrano.

STATEMENT OF JOHN TYLER, CHAIRMAN, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHAPTER OF THE NATURE CONSERVANCY

Mr. TYLER. The southern California chapter of the Nature Conservancy is opposed to any boundary changes or exclusions of any portion of the San Gorgonio Wilderness to permit commercialized development of the excluded area.

The ink is hardly dry on the signing of the wilderness bill establishing the principle of the importance of the wilderness to the people of this Nation before the despoilers are at work tearing at the heart of nearby San Gorgonio Wilderness. Seven identical bills have been introduced with the "sole" purpose of providing a complete hearing on the matter. Yet this area was one of the most completely discussed areas in the entire wilderness system. Why did there need to be seven?

The proponents wishing to remove the heart of this wilderness say that an equal area outside the present wilderness can be added to the periphery to "replace" the area to be removed. Was it not required to study and determine suitability as to wilderness and include all those areas "suitable?" Did someone err in not including enough at first? Conservationists may well concur that an increase of the periphery would protect the true wilderness with a buffer strip, but to exchange the heart of the wilderness for an edge is nonsense. Because of the noted transition zone, a nearly circular wilderness area is the best shape, a crescent or doughnut shape the poorest, but that is the proposal here. This is as ridiculous as the lumber interests who advocate removing timbered valleys from the forest and replacing the acreage with rock peaks to "keep the balance."

They say that this area is needed for family recreation; namely, downhill skiing, and skiers are being denied. No one has yet prohibited skiing in the wilderness, only that it be on the wilderness terms, no mechanical assists which leave a permanent mark upon the wilderIt is only with this provision that the adventurous skiers can find the exhilarating new snowfield his skis are the first to traverse. Wilderness welcomes the entire family now, the same terms for every

ness.

one.

We are a strange people, appreciative but selfish. We find a beautiful area, build our home in the middle to enjoy it better, are then joined by others with similar desires and equal rights until suddenly the original purpose is destroyed, and the only reason for the "city" we have built is to provide for the material wants of one another. We force the farmer from the rich soil of the bottomland, it is easier to build on the flatland. We destroy the fragrant orchards and deplore the smog the green leaves assimilate. We cement our streambeds and deplore the dropping water table; we denude the hills and deplore the muddy streams; dam rivers, flood valleys until they fill with brown silt. We flush our sewage into rivers and deplore the lack of drinking water.

Those who attack the wilderness concept by their advocacy of these bills indicate that they don't understand the wilderness needs, or the act itself because they are not trying to use its provisions for change.

58-133-67- -11

Perhaps they attach for personal gain knowing full well that they have nothing to lose. Conservationists can't invade their domain and create wilderness by the use of bulldozers. Unlike the conservationists, they have only to win once to have won forever.

A scant six generations ago, when this Nation was founded, it was virtually all wilderness. All but 2 percent is gone already. Only the Wilderness Act is a check upon the complete elimination of wilderness within the next generation. It is our good fortune that the present earthmoving machines are only about a generation old or we could be the first generation that received no heritage from our forefathers.

There is a great need for wilderness and developed recreation areas. There is little we can do about wilderness areas, there are so few left, unfortunately, but man's machines can create the conditions for other recreation uses. The rest of the 98 percent is available to the ingenuity of man for this purpose.

It is cheaper to the developer, that is to convert a beautiful wilderness area into a recreation development. The rest of us are the losers in wilderness value. It is better to "develop" the less-endowed areas and increase our total of wilderness and recreation areas, a choice in which we all gain.

I urge that we keep intact the spirit of the Wilderness Act as it was intended, and leave the San Gorgonio wilderness with its heart undefiled.

Thank you.

I would also like to discuss some of the comments which have been made today.

May I say that this bill is a blank check; it merely gets the area out of the wilderness so that commercial interests can move in and develop it and nothing more.

The public will continue to ask for more improvement, the commercial interests will bring continually more pressure and we will have a development which we cannot control because we have taken it out of Congress, we have taken it out of the protection of the wilderness bill.

I might indicate that San Jacinto Tramway is just about the same way. One proposal got in and several kept making requests for changes on the economic basis and they are now defunct.

Commercial interests who endorse this bill seem to think we are not going to have any overnight participation, that they will all have to come down off the mountain and stay overnight in their areas, and they are in favor of it.

Commercial interests will not develop any other area near San Gorgonio as long as it is felt that San Gorgonio may be opened up for development, where development might exist.

We must close this door very, very firmly and we do not want commercial interests developing in this area.

It can be developed in the area, but not if they feel that the best area will be opened up after they have made their play.

Most wilderness and recreation needs are increasing with population. Wilderness areas are limited and they will not increase. Recreation can be expanded with the ingenuity of man and his schemes. The wilderness needs increase greatly as popularity and density in

creases.

« PreviousContinue »