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I would hope that we could gather in this testimony something which we could evaluate where the equities lie in any particular proposal, if someone wants to make one definitely and certainly.
Mr. PIERSON. Well, I am certain that there are many, many proposals that will come before you and I am certain that this committee can make the value adjustments necessary to affect a compromise so we could make more and better use of this area.
Mr. BARING. Do you have a prepared statement, sir?
I do have a letter here, a copy of which I believe I sent you 2 weeks ago, which I asked be made a part of the official record.
Mr. BARING. I have received quite a number of letters from people in this area and have quite a number here on the desk at this moment along with various telegrams.
I now ask unanimous consent of the committee that they may be entered and made a part of the file.
Without objection, it is so ordered.
(Letters and telegrams, as identified, will be found in the files of the subcommittee.)
Mr. BARING. Thank you very much, Mr. Pierson.
Mr. PIERSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It was a pleasure to appear before your committee.
Mr. BARING. The subcommittee will stand in recess until 1:30 p.m.
(Whereupon, at 12:10 p.m., the subcommittee recessed to reconvene at 1:30 p.m. on the same day at the same place.)
Mr. BARING. The Subcommittee on Public Lands will come to order. I am calling Mr. Speicher back for some additional information.
Mr. SPEICHER. Prior to our leaving you this morning we offered to return this afternoon with some additional information.
So there will be no misunderstanding on this point, it has been the feeling of those in favor of the bill that we are here for the purpose of presenting testimony in order that the committee may have all of the information possible for the purpose of passing the bill and perhaps it will be found
necessary to add some amendments. The ski association and the people supporting our views want to make very certain that you as a committee may have the answers to any questions you may think necessary to make a complete and fair appraisal of the situation.
If you have any questions for me or my panel, please feel free to ask us those questions.
Mr. BARING. I have no questions.
Does any member of the committee have any questions for Mr. Speicher?
(No response.) Nr. BARING. Thank you very much, sir.
Now, we will call the next panel consisting of Mr. Bob Hale, Mr. John Page, Mr. Al Gonzales, and Mr. Elton Taft.
Mr. Hale, you may proceed.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT L. HALE, NATIONAL SKI PATROLMAN,
Mr. HALE. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, my name is Robert L. Hale. First, in order to establish my qualifications to speak to the committee in favor of public use development of Mount San Gorgonio, I would like to present relevant details of my backgrounds, as a skier of 20 years, as a member of the National Ski Patrol, and as a member of the ski patrol team responsible for the surveys of snow amounts and conditions on Mount San Gorgonio taken during the 1962, 1963, and 1964 winter seasons.
As a skier, I have-in common with ever-growing numbers of skiers-known the frustrations and disappointments associated with uncertain and inadequate snow in our local mountains. I, along with the others, have spent endless hours of driving to such areas as Mammoth, June Mountain, the Lake Tahoe resorts and others to find a weekend of skiing during our many dry seasons.
It was as far back as 1947 that I first learned of the marvelous potential of San Gorgonio, and it was in that same year that I learned of skiers' fight to have this area opened by the installation of up-hill facilities. † had little to do with the movement at that time—nothing, in fact, other than signing a petition in favor.
Several years later, I made my first trip into the area. It was an education. Nowhere before, in our local mountains, had I seen such profusion of snow, such treeless slopes, nor such a complete absence of people. Still I was little involved, although I did assist, along with other members of a local club, in carrying material into the area for the first aid caches. Those caches today remain the only protection available to the winter hiker or skier—if he can find them-and if he can get to them.
The issue of San Gorgonio took on the aspects of a lost cause for most skiers after the hearings in 1947. Meanwhile, the skiing crowd grew, and winters became more and more uncertain. I was particularly aware of this because in 1955, I joined an active ski patrol and was in the mountains virtually every weekend.
That same ski patrol work has taken me into many areas of the skiing world. I have become aware of the problems associated with lack of snow to an even greater degree than I formerly was as a weekend skier. I have seen graphically the traffic situations that have arisen with too many cars and too many skiers packed into areas that for a brief weekend had sufficient size. And, I have listened to bitter complaints from one skier after another concerning the inadequacy of both snow and area facilities. I have also become somewhat qualified as an avalanche control patrolman, ski mountaineer, and back country traveler.
This training has helped me to evaluate San Gorgonio from a more technical point of view, both as to the type of snow that exists thereas borne out by our own survey--and with respect to its potential for retaining snow cover and worthwhile skiing long after other local areas have dried out. Additional training that I have had, and offices that I have held have included assistant patrol leader at Mount Baldy, testing and training officer for Mount Baldy, and I am presently testing and training adviser for the southern region of the Far West division of the National Ski Patrol System. Once again, I state these qualifications only to demonstrate that I do know something of the skiing world, and to assist in qualifying myself to speak on San Gorgonio-certifying the results of the snow survey recently taken by National Patrolman Jack Page, myself and other patrolmen of this region. I am, incidentally, the ski patrol leader for Mount San Gorgonio, a function which is now largely imaginary, but which will become most real and important when the area is opened for public use.
Now, to get into the background of the survey and briefly analyze the reasons for its performance. A great many misconceptions have been held for a long time concerning Mount San Gorgonio and the need for the opening of this mountain as a major ski area. The ski population continues to grow. Instruction has improved to fill the need; areas have expanded their facilities as best they can; equipment has changed to bring about more safety and more enjoyment, highways have been improved; and many other changes have been brought about for the general betterment of skiing. The one glaring lack is the most vital item of all-creation of a local area that has sufficient snow to satisfy the skiing desires of the public.
A recent Forest Service report, entitled “National Forest Lands Adaptable to Winter Sports Use in Southern California," issued in May, 1964, has drawn a number of conclusions which would seem to be the product of short-term and hasty thought. San Gorgonio was extensively discussed in this report, in relationship to her areas in southern California, and I would like to briefly comment on those conclusions.
The report in a number of places implies that the snow on San Gorgonio is little, if any, better than that found at other local areas. Our survey, though covering only two winter seasons, establishes the fact that the most reliable snow, and the greatest quantity in southern California was on San Gorgonió during the period of the survey, and there is no reason to suppose that this period is atypical of other seasons.
The report also states that expansion of existing areas should be undertaken to account for the existing need. This obviously is not the answer since the lack of snow still persists regardless of facilities. The report suggests artifical snow as an answer. Artificial snow is a limited answer. No area locally has been able to produce this snow in sufficient quantity to cover anything much more than a beginner area, and, even there, such production is limited to the caprice of the weather—temperature and production conditions having to be just right. The report points out an area called Rebel Ridge near Big Bear as an excellent example of what can be accomplished with artificial snow. I know that area and its owner. Rebel Ridge is a good beginner area, nothing more, and, in spite of hard work devoted to making it a success, has recently closed due to insolvency.
The report states that snow on San Gorgonio as of May 1964" * * * was not impressive.” This can be shown to be a faulty conclusion based on long-distance observation. An in-depth survey on April 18 of that same year showed 74 inches of wind-packed granular snow existed at 10,400 feet. At the lowest survey altitude of that date, 8,600 feet, the snow cover was a uniform of 12 inches in depth. The conclusion cited in the report is a good example of the type of observations that has been made concerning San Gorgonio by people who were not informed by on-the-scene measurements.
The Forest Service report discusses at some length other areas which are considered suitable for development in the future. Mount Pinos is the first of these. From my own observation and skiing experience at Mount Pinos, I feel that, because it is a coastal alpine zone area, Pinos would not have the reliable snow found in middle alpine zone areas, such as San Gorgonio. Mount Pinos offers, also, a rather indifferent terrain for intermediate and advanced skiers, and is more suitable for a beginner area and snow play. Even in the "snow play” category, however, San Gorgonio is more desirable since it offers much more area readily adaptable to such use with a minimum of timber clearance required.
Mineral King, another area discussed in the report, has already been opened for
development bids. Those bids, from well-known promoters, are presently under consideration. However, Mineral King is not within the day use range of the Los Angeles area. It is 220 miles away—certainly much more than a day's drive for the average skier or the average family looking for snow play. All of the alternatively proposed areas in the report, Mineral King, Horse Meadow, Mount Pinos, and Trout Creek are acknowledged to be difficult of access. The report itself makes such a qualification. Of the San Gorgonio access road, however, the reports says that it is 6* * * iously estimated at from 6 to 9 miles long.” It should be obvious that building a road into San Gorgonio would pose no great problem, nor require any great expenditure of funds.
With respect to effect on regional economy, an aspect given consideration in the Forest Service report, not enough can be said about the beneficial effect that the opening of San Gorgonio would have on the economy of San Bernardino and
surrounding cities. An article which appeared in the Daily Sun in San Bernardino on Monday, January 20, 1964, placed strong emphasis on the economic aspects of opening San Gorgonio and estimated the annual benefit to the community at something in the neighborhood of $10 million. The same editorial also advances a strong plea for development of this area for the masses of population and for the opportunity for private enterprise to provide uphill facilities in the area at its own expense paying taxes for the privilege of doing so.
All of this background information leads to the reason for the snow survey done by ski patrol members. San Gorgonio has been described by many as the best skiing within 500 miles of Los Angeles, and by its detractors as an unexciting mountain with little or no snow cover. Skiers say that the season at San Gorgonio begins in November and lasts until June or July, while others say that the San Gorgonio season varies little from that of existing areas. A great deal of confusion
has existed, and much misrepresentation has been indulged in concerning the actual conditions that exist on this wonderful mountain. Our survey was done to answer, in a small way, some of these questions, and to clear up misconceptions that have and do prevail. Actually, the timing was most fortunate. We began the measurements during a season in which many areas had no skiing at all. Thus, the results found at San Gorgonio are even more impressive. The techniques of the survey were agreed upon and maintained to standard as much as possible on each trip. Measurements were not taken in drift areas, nor in any fashion calculated to prejudice the result. Each measurement was taken at a marked or staked area. Not only was the snow measured, but snow type and conditions were analyzed. The area was examined for avalanche hazard, previous avalanche activity was noted, and all indications of stabilization are reported. We also took advantage of trips to examine the rescue caches for conditions and to insure that the minimum required contents were still intact. The following table presents the results of the survey and show the date, snow depth, snow quality, and, for purposes of brevity, shows the reading for altitudes from 9,000 to 10,000 feet. You will note that on the 3d of March 1963, the survey was concluded at 9,000 feet due to failing light and bad weather conditions.
Measurements were taken on the north side of Mount San Gorgonio in the area which is proposed for ski development. The locations of the depth measurements ranged from Slushy Meadows under Christmas Tree Hill up to both Big
and Little Draw and back down through the Dry Lake area. The survey altitudes ranged from a general low point of 8,600 feet to a maximum altitude of approximately 10,500 feet. Readings are available for all altitudes taken, but, as stated before, only the range from 9,000 to 10,000 feet are given herein. It is in this altitude range that most sking activities would be conducted and it is, therefore, of greater interest than other readings. One other statement should be added to the survey figures. The last measurement of the 1962–64 season was taken on May 5, however, based on the snow depth found in the draws, averaging about 44 inches of wet spring snow, San Gorgonio had at least 1 more month of good skiing ahead.
By way of contrast to the figures presented above, I would like to offer readings for several local areas as reported by the Ski Tow & Lift Operators of Southern California in their daily telephone snow re