Page images

true camping can only be experienced when the spirit of camping is present. It is the wilderness which provides this intangible spirit of camping. It is only in the wilderness where boys can enjoy the thrill of being alone with the equipment they can carry on their backs and the knowledge they can carry in their heads. If the element of civilization is added to the wilderness, the spirit of camping is lost.

Use of the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area varies with each individual troop which comes to Camp Tahquitz. Throughout the summers until 1963, troops from Camp Tahquitz made extensive use of the Slushy Meadows-Dollar Lake area for their back-country experiences. Some troops made day hikes to Slushy Meadows or Dollar Lake, while other troops spent as many as 4 days in the back country. For many of these 11-, 12-, and 13-year-old boys, it marked their first visit to a real wilderness. Most troops, however, hiked from Camp Tahquitz to Slushy Meadows or Dollar Lake, spent the night, and returned to camp the following afternoon. Many of the older boys climbed Mount San Gorgonio as part of their experience.

Beginning in 1964, several factors forced a shift in the use of the wilderness area from the Slushy Meadows-Dollar Lake to the Dry Lake-Fish Creek area. Slushy Meadows was too overcrowded. Troops often hiked for hours, only to find the meadows crammed with 200 and 300 other people. Dollar Lake was running out of firewood. Sanitary facilities were no longer very sanitary. Trails were showing signs of erosion from use and overuse and misuse. Trash and litter were accumulating at an alarming rate. In general, boys were no longer able to enjoy the spirit of camping, that intangible element without which true camping is impossible.

In an effort to relieve the overcrowded conditions of the Slushy Meadows-Dollar Lake area, and at the same time to restore the spirit of camping to the back-country program, troops from Camp Tahquitz began to use the Dry Lake-Fish Creek area. As this area became more familiar to the camp staff back-country guides, it rapidly gained popularity among the troops. This relatively little-used area was uncrowded, there was enough firewood, and it was uncluttered with trash. It was tremendously appealing because it was still in a virtual natural state, untouched by civilization. Use of this area restored the spirit of camping to our back-country program. We emphasized this area almost exclusively in 1965 and of necessity expect to continue doing so in 1966. Furthermore, we fully expect other youth camps in the area to follow suit.

Therefore, based on our extensive use of the Dry Lake-Fish Creek area and the expected use by other groups in the future, we are strongly opposed to any development in this area which will alter the present condition of the wilderness. Family winter recreation areas such as ski lifts will remove the spirit of camping so essential to any camping program by introducing the element of civilization to the wilderness. If this spirit of camping is removed from camping in the wilderness, we may as well stay home and camp in our backyards.

The elements of civilization will be visible in the form of roads and fallen trees. But elements not so obvious and often overlooked will include powerlines, pipelines, and access roads cut to lay those lines. Also not so obvious an element of civilization is the ultimate pollution of water resources by the huge network of sanitary facilities which will be necessary if the winter recreation areas are to provide for any great number of people.

Further, we feel that if such development were allowed, and then operated only in the winter months, the very presence of any forms of civilization would still remove the spirit of camping during the summer months. Thus, the members of the camp staff of

Camp Tahquitz, having provided the back-country guides for Camp Tahquitz for the past 40 years, are strongly in favor of maintaining the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area in its present state, untouched by the marks of civilization.

Thank you.
Mr. BARING. Thank you, sir.
The next speaker will be Mr. Richard A. Minnich.


CIL, BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA, LONG BEACH, CALIF. Mr. MINNICH. As a staff member of the Long Beach Area Council summer camp in Barton Flats, I have recently surveyed in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area in order to develop a 5-day trail for the purpose of primitive area hiking. I have spent considerable time and effort hiking through and becoming familiar with the area concerned in H.R. 6891 while completing the area survey of this trail. This primitive area trail, named the Broken Arrow Trail, is available for use to the Scouts of southern California and to the general public. The Long Beach Area Council plans extensive use of this trail in the spring of 1966.

The primary purpose of this trail is the practice of primitive area hiking and camping skills. This hike teaches modern methods of survival without contact with civilization. All supplies for this hike must be backpacked or obtained from the wilderness. The hikers are then solely dependent upon their own ingenuity. The hike also provides an environment in which the basic skills of outdoorsmanship can be practiced. The use of this trail will provide opportunity to observe and study a natural uncivilized environment. The success of this trail will depend upon its location in an uncivilized environment.

The Broken Arrow Trail makes use of 40 miles of existing trails extending from one end of the wilderness to the other. The trail goes up Fish Creek Canyon over the Ten Thousand Foot Ridge to North Fork Meadows (Whitewater River drainage). It then follows the new North Fork Trail to the Dry Lake Saddle and then goes down to the bench between Christmas Tree Hill and San Gorgonio and Jepson Peaks. The trail will then traverse Charlton Peak to Dollar Lake and will then proceed up to the Dollar Lake Saddle and then along the San Bernardino Ridge. The hikers may then hike down the Forsee Creek Trail or continue along the ridge to Camp Angelus. Included as a highlight of the trail is the climbing of Mount San Gorgonio. Along the Broken Arrow Trail there are 10 primitive camps available for overnight camping, 8 of which have water.

If H.R. 6891 is approved; however, it will be impossible to conduct primitive area hiking as proposed for the Broken Arrow Trail.

The development of access roads and ski lifts will seriously disturb the relation of flora and fauna not only in the heartland of the wilderness, but also in surrounding areas. If many trees are removed or soils graded or water sources taken over, the balance will obviously be upset. At Mount Baldy ski development, where water supply sources have been taken up in the operation of flush toilets and other ski area water uses, I have observed that a natural waterhole has dried up as a result. The fauna, from small birds to bighorn mountain sheep, have been driven out of the Mount Baldy area. If the meager high elevation water supplies of the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area are taken up for commercial use, the results will be the same. This blighting of the wilderness heartland will also be felt in the surrounding area and in the remaining uncommercialized sections of the Broken Arrow Trail. This bill, if successful, will then make it impossible to observe and study a natural environment.

To take a primitive area hike along asphalt pavement, through cut forests, and beside bulldozed escarpments is fruitless. With items of commercialism near at hand, the incentive to practice and apply the skills of survival is gone. What value is there in practicing the techniques of survival in an area scarcely more challenging than a city park?

Proposed access roads and ski lift facilities will destroy about 8 miles of the trail itself. Specifically, the length of the Fish Creek Trail will be eliminated by construction of the access road up this canyon (6 miles), as will the portion of the trail which traverses along Dry Lake. The area of the Broken Arrow Trail from Dry Lake across the bench and traversing Charlton Peak (about 2 miles) lies directly in the path of the proposed ski developments.

If this bill is approved, it will be necessary to reroute the Broken Arrow Trail for primitive area hiking. There are, however, no alternate routes available to bypass the area of proposed development. The area which will be most likely added to the wilderness area if the bill is approved is not suitable for primitive area hiking because of its total lack of water. Furthermore, there is no major landmark which would constitute a goal or challenge in this new area. The only other wilderness in southern California suitable for primitive area hiking is the San Jacinto Peak area (the site of the previous Broken Arrow Trail), which has been intruded upon by the Palm Springs aerial tramway.

If H.R. 6891 is passed, primitive area hiking will be impossible in southern California because the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area is the only remaining suitable area.

Mr. BARING. Are there any questions of this panel?

Mr. HOSMER. Mr. Arnold, you pointed out the situation that occurred at Idyllwild when the tramway was put in. Both Mr. Schellhous and Mr. Minnich pointed out desirability of the primitive backcountry trails.

Would you be more explicit about what happened that diminished the desirability of Idyllwild ?

Mr. ARNOLD. At the Idyllwild area where we had our camp, civilization move in around it without any question, total civilization. The final crowning blow was when the tramway went to the top of the mountain from Palm Springs and people could walk in a very short

Thank you.

distance into the area that the boys had previously spent a full day hiking into

This now, and I only say this by virtue of what I have been told, this is developing into a very serious problem of people, so many people, going on the trails up there, that it is actually becoming almost a downtown civilized section of the area.

So they have completely taken out that backcountry, the place where boys could go and be in a country by themselves.

Mr. HOSMER. All right. What would happen here should this road go in but be closed during the nonskiing season? Would that ameliorate the situation any, or just what would it do?

Mr. ARNOLD. Well, it is always a very difficult thing to get boys to feel that they are in a wilderness if they hike down a road. Of course, if a road goes in, this would be the obvio'is place they would be going because they headed into that country.

Mr. HOSMER. Then, there could be the other effect, as Mr. Minnich mentioned ?

Mr. ARNOLD. Yes, sir. Mr. HOSMER. Thank you, sir. I have no further questions. Mr. BARING. All right, gentlemen, you now have 40 minutes. The next group of speakers will be Mr. Vincent Verinati, Rev. John Birch, the Redlands Fish & Game Conservation Association, and Marjorie Hambly,

Again, I am going to caution you to keep it brief, because we want to let as many speak in the time allowed as possible.

Now, the next speaker will be Rev. John Birch. STATEMENT OF REV. JOHN W. BIRCH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF


Reverend BIRCH. Mr. Chairman and honored Members of the Congress, my name is Rev. John W. Birch, not to be confused with any other John Birch, living or dead.

My business, for the past 30 years has been boys and girls and their moral and spiritual development. I am a minister, engaged in religious education.

The San Gorgonio Wilderness Area is the laboratory, you might say, where part of my business is conducted.

As the executive director of Camp Evangel, located in Barton Flats, I have, as director and in other capacities, served in Barton Flats camp life for the past 19 years.

As a member of the executive board of the Barton Flats Camp Association, it is my privilege to share in the mutual camp problems of the other 25 to 26 nonprofit organizational camps in Barton Flats.

My request to testify before this committee stems from a concern that the Congress be fully aware of alternate land uses for the “ultimate public welfare” of wilderness areas referred to in bill H.R. 6891 as "most suitable for family winter recreational use."

Your committee and the Congress faces no small task in gathering information from strongly partisan groups and making a judgment on a basis of the “ultimate public welfare," whether the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area should be kept intact or be divided.

Since wilderness areas as they are now constituted by law, are national resources, their true value can only be assessed on the basis of the contribution they make to the “ultimate public welfare."

It is true—the San Gorgonio Mountain slopes have tremendous commercial value as winter sports developments. Thousands of dollars could be realized each season by the group fortunate enough to gain the contract for the development and operation of the “necessary facilities.” But is how much the public will pay to engage in certain activities the criteria of determining the “ultimate public welfare"? I wish to submit testimony of possible public welfare value of these areas that cannot be measured in dollars and cents.

I wish to list six points of fact that will be supported by testimony before this committee and make a reasoned judgment based upon them and submit an alternate land-use proposal for a section of San Gorgonio.

1. The heart of the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area is a valuable asset to the programs of the various nonprofit organizational camps located in the adjacent Barton Flats Recreational Area.

2. The large majority of the camp organizations in the Barton Flats Recreational Area are in contract with the U.S. Forest Service for special-use permits of approximately 5 acres each on which thousands of dollars have been invested with the understanding that the surrounding Government land, including the wilderness area, is available for hiking, camping, horseback riding, and nature education.

3. Recent highway construction and increased general public use of the Barton Flats Recreational Area in the past few years has made the use of the wilderness area much more necessary to gain the seclusion so vital to a significant outdoor, next-to-nature experience.

4. The rapid population growth of the areas (Greater Los Angeles area) served by the various nonprofit youth organizations represented in Barton Flats indicate an overwhelming demand for the expansion of their facilities and services. The demand for increased usage of the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area is a natural result.

5. Any changes in the boundaries of the area now classified as "wilderness" that will permit access roads or any form of commercial development within a proximity of 1 to 112 miles of the trails and the campsites presently used by the majority of the camping youth is of vital concern to the administrators of these nonprofit programs and the public which they serve.

6. How important is it that the areas used in the camping programs of these organizations should be kept isolated from any commercial development or access roads?

It is of major importance to the very preservation of our society.

Documented evidence is not needed to substantiate the fact that the phenomenal growth of disregard for law and order and the swing away from the conventions on which our society is stabilized is a result of a breakdown of moral and spiritual values in our society.

Such youth agencies as the Sunday school, religious youth" programs, YMCA, YWCA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, Woodcraft Rangers, boys and girls clubs and various other nonprofit youth organizations are our first line of defense against the rising tide of juvenile and youth delinquency. They are deserving of the very best tools and facilities available.

« PreviousContinue »