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As one who has used this and a number of other wilderness areas, I consider invalid the argument that winter sports development will not affect the wilderness use of the San Gorgonio area. The necessary roads, buildings, ski lifts, other mechanical contrivances, and activity of the resort complex will destroy the wilderness character of this area and will effectively eliminate its attractiveness to outdoor people. The truth of this is recognized in the Wilderness Act (Section 2(b)) by the restriction of wilderness status to areas in which “the imprint of man's works is substantially unnoticeable," and it seems to be recognized also in section 3 of the proposed legislation, by the provision for a real replacement of the wilderness lands to be developed.
The fact is that the lands to be developed constitute the heart of the existing wilderness area. I am familiar with the surrounding terrain, including lands in the upper Whitewater River drainage proposed as replacement areas. In my opinion, the proposed replacement lands are not comparable, in terms of beauty and attractiveness, to the wilderness area that would be eliminated by the proposed legislation.
It is recognized in the Wilderness Act (sec. 2(b)) that a wilderness area must be “of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition.” Implicit in this requirement is not only the acreage involved but its geographical disposition. Although the proposed legislation would maintain the areal extent of the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area, it would alter its configuration from a compact area to a fringe surrounding a resort complex. Both administratively and ecologically such a configuration is not viable. Even if influences emanating outward from the central resort complex could be eliminated, which is unlikely, the wilderness usability of the remaining peripheral fringe would be greatly inferior to the compact area, with central high peaks, as it now exists. The "outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation,” to use the language of the Wilderness Act (sec. 2(b)), are guaranteed in the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area primarily through the isolation of the central high peaks, which isolation is afforded by the surrounding wilderness fringe. The unspoiled central peaks provide the primary attraction that draws people to take advantage of wilderness recreation in this area, and that thus creates the opportunities sought for in the Wilderness Act. This is demonstrated in the use that is made of the area by children's camps located around its periphery: the children are drawn into the wilderness area primarily by the challenge of climbing the high peaks and by the attraction of camping in their midst. To develop this heartland into a ski resort, with the attendant mechanization, will effectively spoil the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area for wilderness recreation.
The national policy of wilderness resource preservation, embodied in the Wilderness Act of 1964, is based on a commitment to the human benefits of wilderness recreation, and it in effect encourages dissemination of these benefits. Wilderness areas should accordingly be chosen not merely because they are so remote or desolate as to be unattractive for development, but rather because of their inherent physical attractiveness; but this then makes them prime targets for development as population pressures increase. To remove for development the most attractive, sought-after parts of our wilderness areas, in exchange for progressively less attractive lands, is to subvert the entire philosophy and purpose of wilderness preservation. The developers' argument that "other wilderness lands are available" rests on the erroneous assumption that the other lands” are equally attractive to wilderness recreation. It is my opinion, based on familiarity with the wilderness areas in southern California, that of these the San Gorgonio area in its present form provides the most attractive opportunity for wilderness recreation.
The argument that increased recreational and economic benefits would come from developing the San Gorgonio area is an argument applicable to all proposed developments of wilderness lands. The expected benefits to the resort operators and to the local economy are evident. To weigh them against the benefits from the existing and future wilderness use is to weigh dollar values against intangible human or spiritual values. In prosperous times, a judgment between the two is not difficult to make, and particularly so when we are faced with widely-recognized evidences of a need for renewed sources of spiritual strength
and for greater and more meaningful opportunities for leisure-time recreation. However, the comparison that must be made between recreational benefits of downhill skiing versus wilderness uses involves, first, an undesirable judgment between different forms of recreation, and, second, a counting of man-days of expected use, as though sheer numbers were the only standard of value or comparison. Without trying to enter into this argument, which cannot ever be settled, I wish only to point out again that wilderness recreation has been considered of such value as to justify a national policy in support of it. The adoption of this policy by the Congress is recognition that in this question of human values, the principle of greatest good for the greatest number does not necessarily favor land development, and that the question should not be judged simply on the basis of man-days of use or of sheer popular appeal. The seeming restriction on mass enjoyment of wilderness lands, often used as an argument for development, is in fact no more than the need for adequate health and initiative, a restriction imposed on many other human activities also.
In making a judgment in favor of wilderness preservation and in opposition to ski development at San Gorgonio, I do so as a skier who thoroughly enjoys downhill skiing and who well recognizes the convenience that a ski center at San Gorgonio would provide at times of poor or marginal snow conditions in southern California. But I do so also as one who has skied San Gorgonio and appreciates its great potential as a wilderness ski area for ski-touring, a winter recreation that, unlike downhill skiing, is unavailable elsewhere in southern California.
On the basis of criteria laid down in section 2(b) of the Wilderness Act of 1964, the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area in its present form well qualifies in terms of its suitability for wilderness preservation and use. With reference to point (4) in this section of the act, it should be noted in addition that the area contains geological features unique to southern California: traces of seven ice-age glaciers. These represent the southernmost ice-age glaciers in the United States and the only glaciers known to have existed in southern California. They are accordingly of considerable scientific interest, and are of potential interest and educational value to the public as unique features of the southern California landscape. A careful documentation of the gla. cial deposits is contained in a paper by my colleagues Prof. R. P. Sharp, Prof. C. R. Allen, and Dr. M. F. Meier, published in the 1959 issue of the American Journal of Science, volume 257, pages 81-94. I include a copy of the paper as an exhibit to this testimony. I have examined the features described and vouch for their authenticity.
I would like to offer to the committee this reprint of the paper in question for their inspection.
Mr. BARING. Without objection, the reprint referred to will be made à part of the file.
Dr. KAMB. The San Gorgonio Wilderness Area is thus worthy in all respects of the special protection provided for it by the Wilderness Act of 1964. The question raised by the proposed legislation is the question whether the basic principle of wilderness preservation, embodied in the Wilderness Act, can long withstand the local pressures generated because of some immediate advantages that can be gained in the breach rather than in the observance of the principle. The San Gorgonio case, if it differs from other proposals for wilderness development, differs only because the population pressure in southern California is already more intense than elsewhere. But by the same token, our need for the benefits of an enduring resource of wilder
to use again the language of the Wilderness Act (sec. 2(a) ), has already grown proportionately more acute here than elsewhere. The present pressure for development of the San Gorgonio area represents the ultimate fate of all of our attractive wilderness lands, large and small, as the population expands and the pressures on our lands everywhere increase. If we recognize the value of our wilderness resource so clearly now as to adopt a national policy in behalf of its enduring preservation for the future, and if we intend that this policy be meaningful, we must be prepared to resist the reasoning for development of the San Gorgonio area now, just as we expect our successors to resist this reasoning when it is used in the more difficult times that they will face later, when pressures on our lands everywhere have grown far beyond what they are now.
Thank you gentlemen.
STATEMENT OF SYLVESTER HEINBERG, ATHLETIC COACH AND
DIRECTOR, SAN BERNARDINO VALLEY COLLEGE, SAN BERNARDINO, CALIF.
Mr. HEINBERG. First, I represent myself and do represent the position of the college.
I have a vested interest in the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area as a resident of San Bernardino County, as a citizen of the United States and as a father of growing children who have benefited spiritually and experientially from the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area by camping and camp counseling in its shadows.
Not only should this immediate wilderness area be preserved intact, but it and other like areas should be preserved and expanded to meet the needs of our growing State and National population. This Wilderness area is vital for its own innate worth, a heritage for untold millions to camp, hike, ski, and recreate in; an undeveloped uncommercialized wilderness located, fortunately for southern California citizens, in a Mediterranean or dry subtropical climatic zone.
You, as Members of Congress, who have witnessed the icebergs of detergent foam flowing down the Potomac River daily can appreciate the concerns of many of us here for our valley and its underground water resources that descend to us from the San Gorgonio watershed. These water resources may not seem significant with the anticipated flow of Feather River water coming from the North, but in future unforseen emergencies or major catastrophies, this resource could be vital to all the people of southern California.
Those interests that urge a commercialized downhill ski investment into this wilderness area represent what I believe is an absolute minimum use when we consider the area's wealth of recreational use, in its present state. America and southern California does not need the 5 hour a week investment in minimum physical effort in downhill skiing that those supporting H.R. 6891 want. The United States and southern California needs to better educate its citizens on the values inherent in ski touring: Granted this type of skiing is more rugged, takes more in physical condition and physical stamina to participate in.
As an athletic coach and athletic director here at the San Bernardino Valley College for the past 17 years, I have been most pleased with the national emphasis on physical fitness. I personally see the conversion of this great area and its wonderful potential growth for ski touring into a downhill ski resort area as incongruous to our national aims. Furthermore, I am alarmed when a young Olympic coach, along with other downhill ski enthusiasts and those persons who have commercial designs on this wilderness area, decide that they can link our future success or past failures in international ski competition and the Olympic games to the specific withdrawal of a portion of the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area. This cure-all is quite hollow in its design.
We might as well reason that opening this area and building running tracks at the high elevation will win the next Olympic track and field championships because Mexico City, the host of the next Olympics, has an elevation of 7,440 feet.
There is further incongruity in suggesting that southern California should be a developmental area for the top skiers in international competition. To conceive that a dry subtropical area, because it is highly populated, should produce our national representatives in skiing, ignores that natural athletic development that occurs in those climatic regions where our skiers have come from in the past. I would prefer to think that track and field, swimming and boating, are indigenous to our geographical region and that skiing and winter sports are more indigenous to our colder climatic zones.
My next major concern is relative to the terminology used in H.R. 6891, when it refers to the proposed use “to provide family winter recreational use." The area is now being used for "family recreation" at no greater cost to the user than his investment in his equipment. Today the parking is free in this wilderness area. If some members of the family can afford ski equipment, they can ski at no cost and other family members can ride their sleds and toboggans at no cost to the family.
In contrast, if one wishes to ski at nearby Snow Valley it would cost $6 to ride the ski lift per family member. For a family of four this would cost $24 a day. According to a member of the ski patrol this year Mammoth Mountain will be charging $7 per person to ride the ski lift or $28 for a family of four per day.
If this area were opened up would it create new opportunities for metropolitan Los Angeles families to participate? And what sociological cross-section of our society could provide a family of four the $16 for transportation, the $24 for skilift tickets and about $10 for meals? Now, let's add the costs of equipment which would be necessary to either the family that ski tours for free or the family that downhill skis: Skis
$20.00 to $200.00 Ski poles
5. 00 to 20. 00 Ski boots..
15. 00 to 150. 00 Stretch pants
20.00 to 60. 00 Parka
20.00 to 100. 00 Gloves
2.00 to 20.00
52. 50 to
330.00 to 2,200.00 If this area is opened to commercial downhill skiing, we can count on the need for commercial-type parking. According to Warren A. Johnson, Assistant Park Engineer at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, their parking areas assign 130 spaces per acre.
His letter reads as follows: Mr. SYLVESTER HEINBERG, Athletic Director, San Bernardino Valley College, San Bernardino, Calif.
DEAR MR. HEINBERG : We do not keep an inventory of the acres of parking provided in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Many areas are used for parking that are not specifically designated such as along roads. As an average our designated parking areas have approximately 130 spaces per acre which includes roadway adjacent to the space for access. The average number of people per car is 3.5 on weekdays and 3.7 on weekends and holidays.
Your fourth question concerning the number of acres of forest terrain per acre of parking would be difficult to answer. It depends on the topography of the area. If it was level, the acres of forest terrain would about equal the acres of parking. On steep sites area would be consumed by cut and embankment. I hope this information will be of value to you. Sincerely yours,
WARREN A. JOHNSON,
Assistant Park Engineer. The inferences that the promoters make is that if San Gorgonio is open that very little timber will need to be cut near the ski runs. Nothing has been said about the loss of timber where the parking will take place. Let's open up all the factors in this case if H.R. 6891 is to pass. The expansive parking area would have to be at the elevation where we now maintain a great many youth camps.
The youth coming to the mountains look forward to natural beauty, not a continuation of their asphalt jungles that they have tried to leave behind them. These acres of parking would in addition detract from our needed watershed.