Page images
PDF
EPUB

reation for a great many years in southern California, I think it is utterly and completely wrong to take young people who cannot afford this kind of equipment and impose it upon them in a very short period of time. I think there are kinds of recreation for free that are present in our mountain areas, and that we could do a great deal in introducing these people into a form of recreation and tobagganing and the precise things that would be of no cost to them. I think we do irreparable harm when we introduce young people to things they will never be able to afford. I think it is fine to see them from the standpoint of seeing this kind of activity and making it available to them. But from a standpoint of trying to introduce something that is as expensive as skiing, I think we are way out of line as a deterrent to delinquency.

I thank you, gentlemen, very much, for hearing me today.
Mr. BARING. Thank you, sir.

The next witness, please.

STATEMENT OF FRANCIS L. POST, CHAIRMAN, SKI MOUNTAINEERING COMMITTEES, UNITED STATES SKI ASSOCIATION, AND FAR WEST SKI ASSOCIATION; AND NATIONAL MOUNTAINEERING ADVISER, NATIONAL SKI PATROL SYSTEM; AND MOUNTAINEERING ADVISER, FAR WEST DIVISION OF THE NATIONAL SKI PATROL SYSTEM

Mr. PosT. My name is Francis L. Post. I am currently chairman of the ski mountaineering committee for both the United States Ski Association and the Far West Ski Association. I am also the national mountaineering adviser for the National Ski Patrol System and the mountaineering adviser for the Far West division of the National Ski Patrol System. Today I speak as an individual.

Both proponents and opponents of commercialized skiing on San Gorgonio realize that San Gorgonio Peak itself is the true heart of the wilderness area. It is the ultimate goal of the skier who dreams of the Big Draw and the young camper who looks forward with great anticipation to his first major mountain ascent. The very reason for the existence of the complex of youth camps on the wilderness area perimeter is the great unspoiled peak open to any with the ambition to climb it. In my youth I served as a cabin leader in the old camp SanY-Ca and by far the greatest experience for the majority of the boys was their climb to the summit of San Gorgonio; for them, it was an experience not to be forgotten.

If this area is commercially developed the annual usage will probably run to one half million skier days. I don't think anyone can hide the evidences or the mechanical and structural devices necessary to this amount of usage. Wilderness and commercial skiing are not compatible.

We have heard much testimony relating to teenage morals and I submit that the young people involved in the camping programs which already exist and the young people who ski-tour in the undeveloped mountains of California are every bit as moral as the youths who ski in the commercial resort environment.

Regardless of the amount of snow deposited, normal temperature variations in late spring on San Gorgonio create snow surface condi

tions which make skiing unenjoyable during most of the daylight hours because of ice, slush, and rotten snow. At present in its wilderness state the problem is mostly rotten snow. If lifts are built and thousands of skiers pack the runs, the problem will be mostly in the form of ice and slush. Many skiers recognize this and for this and other reasons hang up their skies near the end of March and prepare for other spring and summer activities. I would point out that one of the oldest and best-established ski areas in California, Badger Pass in Yosemite National Park, closes after Easter Sunday regardless of snow conditions because of lack of interest in their clientele.

In regard to the conflict of interest between downhill skiers and wilderness usage by the general public I can only offer a personal opinion. I feel that we will lose much more in general public wilderness usage than we will gain in downhill skier usage if we allow commercial development of the very heart of the present wild area.

Thank you very much.

I also have a letter from Robert J. Schenek, past president of the National Ski Association, now known as the United States Ski Association, which Bob has asked me to read into the record:

PUBLIC LANDS SUBCOMMITTEE,

House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.

GENTLEMEN: I am deeply concerned by the efforts of private enterprise to take over part of the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area of Southern California. In order to give my views some weight, and my observations some qualification, I should like to tell you of my skiing background.

I started skiing during the winter of 1929 and retired from active participation in the ski sport in 1963, a period of 34 years. During this time I have skied most of Central Europe and the United States. I have held the following offices in organized skiing: Vice-President and Director of the National Ski Association, which is now known as the United States Ski Association; Trustee of the National Ski Patrol System; and I am a National Ski Patrolman #1570. I have been chairman of several National Ski Committees, director and president of the Far West Ski Association (a Division of the United States Ski Association); Chairman of the Southern District of the Far West Ski Association; co-founder and life member of the Penguin Ski Club of Los Angeles; former member of the Big Pines Ski Club ski-jumping and cross-country ski teams and formerly an early member of the Ski Mountaineering section of the Sierra Club of California. In addition to the above, I am a Life Member of the Trailfinders and a member of their Advisory Board; (The Trailfinders is a boys' organization devoted to good citizenship and the conservation of our wilderness areas.)

Last, but not least, it was my great pleasure to serve for four years as ViceChairman of the United States Olympic Ski Games Committee for the Winter Olympic Ski Games at Cortina, Italy, in 1956.

With this background I feel qualified to express, most respectfully, my views regarding the present San Gorgonio situation.

I was greatly distressed to view on television a ski coach, of our present Olympic Committee, espouse the commercial development of the San Gorgonio Area. In my opinion this man should be directing all his energies to coaching the present Olympic ski team and not promoting dollar interests in the name of the Olympics. It is regrettable that his information regarding the use of the area is incorrect and his knowledge of the area so very meager. He implied that the area would be excellent for the training of Olympic Skiers if ski lifts were permitted in the area. May I point out that the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area, as it now is, without a ski-lift complex, is a fine training area. If our Olympic skiers were required to climb up for every foot of terrain they skied down, they would be in magnificent physical condition and they would be able to compete with foreign skiers on equal terms. With skiing legs developed and strengthened by climbing the term "spiral fracture" would be eliminated from the skiing vocabulary. Without physical conditioning one can never become a winning skier. Ski lifts do not help physical conditioning.

Some skiers would like us to believe that this area is used only by a very few people during the winter and early spring ski season. Please be assured that this is simply not the case. I have skied the north slope of Mt. San Gorgonio during the winter and springtime for 24 years and I can truthfully say there were always skiers in the area during the time I was there.

This is the only location near the Los Angeles and San Bernardino areas where the art of Ski Mountaineering, Ski Touring, and winter camping can be accomplished under true alpine conditions. It is also the only area near these centers of population where the conditions permit the holding of Ski Mountaineering proficiency tests required by organized skiing.

Private ski area developers try to sell the skier on the idea that by moving into the San Gorgonio area, they will be giving the skier something. Well, they are giving the skier something, a place to spend his money at the expense of his heritage. The ski area operator gets rich and America is poorer. Let us not be naive.

The greatest value of the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area is not to the skier, but to our children. This is the only area near the large urban centers of Southern California where the youngsters of our communities have the opportunity to camp and hike in a real wilderness. If the San Gorgonio area is commercialized it will be necessary for them to travel about 300 miles to the High Sierra. This is a long trip and most youngsters cannot afford to make it. I believe we owe our children the right to become acquainted with the unspoiled out of doors, to learn the art of wilderness survival and to become acquainted with the flora and fauna of the region. Once concessions are granted to profitmaking groups our wilderness area will be lost forever. I believe the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area to be a priceless heritage and it must be saved for those who come after us.

I pray the Public Lands Subcommittee will take all necessary steps to save this Wilderness Area from any form of commercial exploitation, now and forever. I most respectfully request this letter be made a part of the hearing record. Sincerely,

ROBERT J. SCHENEK.

Thank you very much for the opportunity of appearing here today. Mr. BARING. Thank you, sir.

The next speaker, please.

STATEMENT OF CLIFTON R. MERRITT, DIRECTOR OF FIELD
SERVICES, THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY

Mr. MERRITT. I am Clifton Merritt, director of field services for the Wilderness Society. The Wilderness Society is a national conservation organization of some 32,000 members who are actively concerned with the preservation of wilderness.

The Wilderness Society is opposed to legislation that would remove 3,500 acres from the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area, since it believes that development of a commercial ski lift in this area is totally incompatible with preservation of the area for present and future generations to use and enjoy as wilderness.

I wish to defer further testimony and comment for subsequent hearings, should they be held, in Washington, D.C., on H.R. 6891 and related measures.

Thank you for the privilege of appearing here today.

Mr. BARING. Thank you, gentlemen. Are there any questions by the subcommittee?

Mr. JOHNSON. I have a question or two.

There is one general question which I think all you gentlemen spoke about, and that is that you fear a private development in there and commercialization of the area.

How would you feel about it if it were carried on by a nonprofit organization which is located just outside of the area at the present time but who uses the area for their work and training?

Dr. KAMB. I would like to make a statement at this point.

I think when you put in personalized-type skiing you concentrate humanity. When you have ski touring or cross-country touring, you disseminate or spread this over a far wider area than you have the recreation in a true wilderness area.

I think most of us who have been to Yosemite in the summers know that it is more tightly knit than Fifth and Broadway in Los Angeles. There is still beauty there, but it is not a wilderness area any longer.

Mr. BARING. Mr. Hosmer, do you have any questions?

Mr. HOSMER. No questions, sir.

Mr. POST. May I say just one thing at this point.

When I used the phrase "commercialized ski development," what I meant, or what I perhaps should have said, is "mechanized." It is not the profit that we contest. Because I am a patron of many profitmaking resorts; I am a ski patrolman; I aid and abet profitmaking. What I am against is the machinery, the structure, and the great masses of people, and that is about the best way I can put it.

Mr. HEINBERG. In addition to this, in taking people into the area, I think you feel rather foolish if you climb up one side of the mountain-it is difficult to convince youngsters and I have seen California youth authority groups as well as many other types of groups using the area to convince them that this was a worthwhile experience to climb up one side of the slope when, if, at the top, they come across a lift.

Mr. BARING. Thank you very much, gentlemen.

The next group will be Dr. Walter Schuiling, Dr. John Goodman, Mrs. Gertrude Hagum, Mrs. Henry Hoddle, and Mrs. John Gerhart.

I would like to advise you that we are running very short on time and I would appreciate it if the witnesses would confine their statements to as brief a period of time as possible.

All right, we will have our next speaker.

STATEMENT OF DR. WALTER C. SCHUILING, PRESIDENT, SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY MUSEUM ASSOCIATION

Dr. SCHUILING. The board of directors of the San Bernardino County Museum Association wishes to reaffirm its strong conviction that the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area should be preserved in its entirety as a living outdoor museum of our wilderness heritage. By unanimous action of the board last August 12, 1965, defeat of H.R. 6891 and related proposals pertaining to the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area, was urged.

Following are a few of the reasons for our stand:

(1) H.R. 6891 and related proposals are a direct attack on the "wilderness concept" as enunciated in the Wilderness Act of 1964.—That legislation in its introductory statement of policy spelled out the need for wilderness areas and stated that it was the intention of the Congress to insure the preservation of the then-existing wilderness areas.

San Gorgonio was not excluded from the protection of the Wilderness Act, although an attempt was made toward that end. That issue was resolved by House debate and floor action on July 30, 1964. San Gorgonio's position is no different from that of any other wilderness area. To exclude a portion of it now, to withdraw an area for uses incompatible with "wilderness values," is to invite the piecemeal destruction of the entire wilderness system.

(2) Ski development is not compatible with wilderness preservation.-According to the definition approved by the Congress last year, a wilderness is "an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, and where man is a visitor who does not remain." It is further defined as an area "without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions." A U.S. Forest Service report made following a study of the San Gorgonio area made in May of 1964 pointed out "that the introduction of ski lifts and adjacent parking would be incompatible with the continued designation of the immediate surrounding area for wilderness preservation." In other words, the integrity of the entire San Gorgonio wilderness is involved, not only the 3,500-acre enclave mentioned in H.R. 6891.

(3) The San Gorgonio wilderness is now a unique outdoor nature museum and laboratory whose value would be greatly diminished by the introduction of mechanical equipment, buildings, highways, and parking lots.-Botanists find here one of the few remaining high mountain areas in southern California in its original state. It is the refuge for many animals, including a rare herd of bighorn sheep. Here is found the only evidence of southern California Pleistocene glaciation-in an area where previous plans for commercial development called for a parking lot to be bulldozed and blacktopped.

The natural ecology of an area is altered by the invasion of any alien forces. The building of an access highway alone, with its resulting noises and exhaust fumes, destroys the wilderness by upsetting nature's original balance for some distance on either side. Even man on the trails has some effect upon the wilderness environment— too great a use, even by hikers and campers, can harm a wilderness. For this reason we cannot afford to reduce the size of the San Gorgonio wilderness. It needs more trails and more campsites so that the many people who use it may be more widely dispersed. To remove the heartland of 3,500 acres from wilderness protection will place an additional burden—perhaps too great a burden-on the remaining area. And once a wilderness is lost, it is lost forever. death of a wilderness is final and irrevocable.

The

(4) The San Gorgonio wilderness is now being put to its most beneficial use. This has been the consistent finding of both the U.S. Forest Service investigations and congressional hearings when the subject of commercialization within the area has been brought up. Not only is it now being used by thousands of people, but these thousands are drawn from all races, creeds, and economic levels of our society. The young especially, including many underprivileged children of minority groups, make use of this wilderness because of its accessibility to many organization camps. The wilderness personifies democracy-it knows no class. A downhill skiing facility, on the other hand, caters to a definite economic and social strata.

58-133-67—17

« PreviousContinue »