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It increases at a much more rapid rate than the population itself, and we are not planning for just now, gentlemen; we are planning for the future. The fact that our wilderness is never overused at the present time is just a lucky thing because soon it will be overused. It can only stand so much.
The proponents of downhill skiing and that is all we seem to be having here—want this area and they point to our Olympic desires. Unfortunately, I think the record shows the only success we have had in Olympics thus far has been in downhill skiing. The crosscountry skiing, we have done nothing and yet San Gorgonio would be an excellent ground for them to use.
There is nothing that says that the ski groups, like the hiking groups, can't find excursions into the wilderness for skiing if they so desire. The wilderness protected area for all cannot be replaced. We cannot reverse our decision here. I think we should stay within the precepts of the wilderness bill and keep it as it is today.
Mr. BARING. Thank you, sir.
THE NATURE CONSERVANCY,
HOUSE INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS COMMITTEE,
GENTLEMEN: As time to speak orally was limited at the field hearings on November 16 in San Bernardino to two minutes, I request that the following statement be added to my oral remarks and formal statement at that hearing.
I called these bills a blank check, and indeed they are. Thirty five hundred acres from the choicest portion of the San Gorgonio Wilderness is to be removed from the wilderness "whichever may be found most suitable for 'family winter recreational use' by the Sec. of Agriculture." This term is not defined or restricted. This area most deservedly entitled to this most restrictive, protective classification is suddenly stripped of any protection of the Act, the Congress, or the people for a use termed family winter recreation. Only the mechanical ski-lift and parking lots, food & lodging accommodations associated with them are not now permissive for the area in question. For down-hill's excercise eliminating ski-lift we must give up all other values.
This land to be set aside is not governed by any restrictive clauses, classifications whatsoever except the commercial cries of "protection of the investment", "necessary to induce customers to come", "essential to accommodate those who do come", "economic feasibility", "Public convenience", etc. in a vicious circle of exploitation. It is only because the 'fast buck artist' will not use restraint and consider the needs & desires of others that we need a Wilderness Act.
The proponents have discussed no other 'family winter recreation other than downhill skiing. Some have been willing to settle for a left here, or a lift there, others want several but the Bill provides that the Secretary of Agriculture shall set aside the area he finds most suitable for winter recreational use and development & installation of facilities. No mention is made of attempting to preserve the wilderness or 'natural conditions' of the area-anything goes. Only the acreage is limited, not even it's shape which could string out into a vast area. Again the proponents were divided whether parking needed to be inside or could be outside the wilderness area. Once the area is declassified, parking in the central area will be technically 'outside the wilderness'. Once there is a facility attracting many people, the parking will be nearby. People won't even walk the two blocks to the super-market anymore. They object to climbing up before skiing (coasting) down which is the motivation to provide a ski-lift.
The parking lot, besides being incompatible with the esthetics of a wilderness area experience will shortly become a more real threat. The unique north slope characteristics the skier prizes are the results of torrential thunderstorms of this region. The parking lot eliminating the important absorption of its area will turn it into concentrated runoff with devastating effects. To counteract this will require more of the works of man to be evident.
They speak of running the ski-lifts only in the winter and closing off the road so a rugged summer wilderness experience will be possible. The laws of eco
nomics says this won't happen for long. Ski lift operators will require fat fees and plenty of persons per peak days which means ample parking and fringebenefit inducements to come here for the day etc. They say that there won't be any overnight accommodations etc. All this is mere words-none of it is in the bill, or do they propose to put it in the bill. When YOU start filling in the figures on the blank check, it soon becomes apparent how great is the real cost they have hidden by mere omission in the bill.
They speak of the multiple use concept, and distort the true meaning. It is many different uses, some exclusive, some shared, if they are compatible, in a large area, NOT many uses of each small area. Wilderness is compatible with other uses, including all but the mechanical ski-lift of family winter recreation. We should not be so concerned with using every area to its full capacity now. Our exploding population will bring this to pass soon enough. We should concern ourselves with allowing the future generations to choose their needs for the land, not in making irrevocable decisions for them. You can change wilderness to other types but not create it if destroyed.
Conservationists have been asked to 'get together with the skiers' and work out a compromise. The householder does not tell the burglar how he can be robbed with impunity. We do ask you, the legislators not to take this area out of your control without a firm plan for its development and use, without ample safeguards for protection of the existing wilderness values. We believe that if you see the Whole 'economically feasible' plan, not a mere 'start', plan the exploiters have for this area, you will once again reject it. Their whole plan for success this time seems to be not to make any promises, have no qualification in the bill, but merely to get the area out of your hands, out of its present Wilderness Act protection. Only the words IN the law are legal, not the oral promises or visions.
In order to protect an area, one must control the watershed, which the present Wilderness boundary does-all the way to the top as it should. Mis-use or abuse at the top will affect the areas below. These steeper slopes are naturally more erosion prone. Man-made scars will be widely visible as well as destructive above and below. It is fantastic how the geological, meteorological, ecological guides are ignored by the promotor-builder. It is the public, their 'suckers', who cry loudly for help when the 'rare storm' produces another gully-washer where it has had so many before, as happened just last week in nearby Palm Springs and Palm Desert which were cut in two by the raging waters. The signs are there to see in San Gorgonio, don't ignore them on the hope that it won't happen-it has and will again and again.
We urge that all these bills be set aside for lack of merit as well as the precedent they might set, if enacted, in circumventing the procedure for change incorporated in the Act.
This Wilderness Act has already shown the World that we recognize other values besides the dollar sign. Emerging Nations are trying to emulate us. This will have a stimulating effect to efforts to preserve other areas of natural wonder, beauty throughout the world most of us have only heard about. If we haul up the dollar flag so soon, much of this impact will be lost. Let us keep our new image and the Wilderness to which we owe our greatness as a Nation. Sincerely,
Mr. BARING. Next witness.
I believe that will be Dr. Vogl.
JOHN TYLER, Chairman.
STATEMENT OF DR. RICHARD J. VOGL, PLANT BIOLOGIST, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF BOTANY, CALIFORNIA STATE COLLEGE AT LOS ANGELES
Dr. VOGL. Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of this subcommittee, I am Dr. Richard J. Vogl, plant ecologist at the California State College at Los Angeles.
I would like to say first of all that I am not a hiker, I am not a nature boy, and I am not a Boy Scout. I am not a skier, and I am not an adventure boy.
What I am is a researcher No. 1 in time, in plant ecology; and, No. 2, I am an educator. I have a bachelor's and master's degree in science.
I am not an evaluator of people's esthetic values. As far as most people are concerned, what they feel is esthetic and what I feel is esthetic are two different things. This is not an issue here.
Most people feel that Tiki-torches in front of a nightclub, that is esthetic.
What we are really doing is changing this whole country into one big armpit, as far as I can see. The real thing is and the whole strength of our country is our educational system and our scientists and technological advances, and in that realm of science, there is a whole group of scientists that need outdoor laboratories to research. We have just started to use them. We have just started to see the importance of them. We are building indoor laboratories, indoor classrooms, like crazy; as fast as they can pour concrete, we are building laboratories, but we cannot build any more. We cannot recreate outdoor laboratories.
Let me give you an example of the importance of this: I happened to be connected at one time with the University of Wisconsin. They are doing a continual briefing program. They want bigger and better potatoes along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Every time they get in trouble with potatoes, they say they have too many scabs on them or they have too many grubs or they are not strong enough or the frost killed them, they go look for a new genetic variety; they go look for new potatoes.
You know where they go? They go to the High Andes. Suppose when you got to the High Andes there was a parking lot there where the wild potatoes were, or there is a go-cart there, or there is a pizza stand, or there is a ski-lodge, or a ski resort? What would they do for bigger and better potatoes? They would say, "Oh, to hell potatoes. Now, what would Congress say about that, huh? Now, you say compromise, that we should compromise, that they have two sides. The scientist has already compromised. He is letting millions of slobs in every day on foot; and the scientists say that no one should be in there, that that should be reserved for research, and we are finally forced to compromise to let people in there. But now you want to ruin it all, spoil it; you have to let it remain undisturbed to compare it. Biology, agriculture, physics, chemistry, all of these fields finally have to go to the outdoor laboratory; because, you see, we are all animals and we all live in an environment and no matter how thick the walls or how spiritual or how thick-skinned we are, sooner or later we have got to face the environment. We need to know more and more about that. This is where the strength of our country lies.
I ask a few questions in summary here. What you would find in science now, how about tomorrow?
No. 2, what is more important: USC first in downhill skiing and the Olympics; or USC first in agriculture and science?
Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mr. HOSMER. Before you go away, Dr. Vogl, assuming everything you said is good in principle, how does it apply to this particular matter?
Dr. VOGL. Sir, one of the things you have been saying is that we have a problem here, we need this area for skiing, and why not go to the next hill?
Now, everybody in the country is doing this; they are all "going to the next hill." Same way for scientists.
Mr. HOSMER. Your emphasis was placed on this being a natural laboratory already in existence.
Dr. VOGL. That is right, and it is unique.
Mr. HOSMER. And, that it would become extinct by letting somebody in there.
Now, if it is already to an extent contaminated and it is within reaching distance of a large number of people, why should all the mountains in the world, plus this one, be preserved as a laboratory? You have brought a whole new issue in here.
Dr. VOGL. We will find that the environment is not the same from one area to another. If you have been born and raised in Michigan, you find that southern California has a different kind of climate, a different kind of environment; and, as a result, it has a different kind of impact on the plants and animals that have resided for centuries and centuries and eons and eons in those areas. We need to study each one of these types of environments, each kind. We need representation of each one set aside for future generations. For things that technology may develop in the future, we have no concept.
Your son may die of cancer and the cure for cancer may be in a rare plant that is found only on the top of Mount San Gorgonio, and there are quite a few rare plants.
Mr. HOSMER. The burden of your argument is that this is the last one of its type?
Dr. VOGL. That is right, in southern California. In the Mediterranean climate of southern California.
Mr. HOSMER. Doctor, how do you know there is not one of the same type someplace else? It does not necessarily have to be in the area of southern California for these purposes; does it?
Dr. VOGL. Yes; it does, because southern California has a particular kind of environment that exists no other place in the world; therefore, these plants have become extremely important.
Mr. HOSMER. Do you suggest then that this is the only one in the world, rather than the only one in California, southern California, that has that peculiar or particular ecological and other natures; is that what you are telling us?
Dr. VOGL. It is
Mr. HOSMER. There are none in South America; there are none anyplace else in the world?
Dr. VOGL. Of the identical type, there is none at any other place in the world.
Mr. HOSMER. You mean it is that rare?
Dr. VOGL. There is none anyplace else in the world.
However, there is even a more important point, sir, and that is the accessibility of it and the expanding of our universities and colleges and a need for this kind of research area that is accessible.
Mr. HOSMER. You have a pretty good biology department, in your part of the State?
Dr. VOGL. That is right, but we are all paying for National Science Foundation money to send those researchers to places where the field laboratories still exist. You and I are paying the money for them.
Mr. HOSMER. All I am asking you to do, Dr. Vogl, is to find out why this is a particularly extraordinary and unusual and unique mountain and should be preserved?
Dr. VOGL. I think this is going to be brought out by some students tomorrow; the main thing is it has certain plants and animals and the type of an environment that is unique to this Mount San Gorgonio. It exists no other place in the world.
Mr. HOSMER. Thank you very much, Dr. Vogl.
Mr. BARING. All right, the next speaker, Dr. Edwin Woodhouse, professor emeritus, Los Angeles City College.
STATEMENT OF DR. EDWIN D. WOODHOUSE, PROFESSOR EMERITUS, LOS ANGELES CITY COLLEGE, LA CRESCENTA, CALIF.
Dr. WOODHOUSE. The question was asked, "Why here?"
I think I can answer that question, because, on the fringe of the San Gorgonio wilderness are over two dozen youth camps, including many church camps, YMCA, Boy Scouts, and the likes. If those ski lifts go into the San Gorgonio area, the San Gorgonio wilderness ceases to exist and the benefit of all of these camps for youth will be greatly depreciated.
That is the answer to "Why here?" because, all of these camps that are here already making use of that area need to stay here and the area would be changed for them if the commercialization is permitted.
A couple of other points have occurred to me, with the talk of intercollegiate skiing, and I believe that is utterly ridiculous. By their own definition of requirements of being able to get in and back in an afternoon and have training in skiing, that would leave out USC, UCLA, LA State, Occidental, they could not partake that sport at Mount San Gorgonio by their own definition of the requirements for training in that sport.
Again, as a former scoutmaster and Scout troop committeeman, unless there has been some change made very recently, skiing is not included in the scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America. I hope I am correct in that, unless there have been some changes made very recently.
So, why here? There are thousands of children, youth, at the camps at the fringe or the margin of that wilderness and the wilderness would cease to exist; there is no question about that. The colleges have given you the facts and I will not take time to repeat what they have said, but I know them to be fact.
That is why the answer applies here, because those camps for youth are in the margin of that area.
We have all heard at some time or other, a cracked phonograph record repeating over and over the same words. I hold in my hand the record of hearings held before this body in Las Vegas last year. One hundred and one pages of this record (725-826) contain just about all there is to be said in regard to the wilderness preservation of Mount San Gorgonio. Yet the proponents of the commercialization of Mount San Gorgonio would have you waste your valuable time repeating that which has already been said since 1947.