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It is my wish to testify in person before your group. Unfortunately however, I will not be able to be present on the date of the hearings. Therefore, I respectfully request this letter be included in the official report of your subcommittee hearings. Yours very truly,
JOSPEH B. CAMPBELL, Mayor.
November 27, 1965. HOUSE INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
GENTLEMEN : Please make the following comments a part of the record for the field hearings on H.R. 6891 and related bills, held recently in San Bernardino, California,
The San Gorgonio Wild Area should be preserved in its present state or expanded (taking in area to the SE in the Whitewater River drainage preferably)-certainly not decreased, altered, or sacrificed in any way to any kind of man-made developments, for the following reasons :
1. As a hiker and camper, YMCA group leader and photographer quite familiar with the San Gorgonio Wild Area, and with the few other southern California wilderness areas, I can easily testify to the fact that the area in question is the finest such remaining area for wilderness camping experiences. If this area is developed in any way (non-wilderness way), thousands upon thousands of children and adult campers will lose this nearby. opportunity for a wilderness experience nearly as rewarding as trips in the Sierra Nevada (such as in our great National Parks), Rockies, etc. In addition, cross-country skiers who enjoy wilderness skiing on uncrowded slopes would also suffer a great loss.
2. As of January 1, 1965 there were only 4 National Forest Wilderness areas and just 1 Primitive Area adjacent to the Los Angeles Metropolitan area, in the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountain ranges. In the same ranges, a recent map provided by the Ski Tow and Lift Operators of southern California shows 13 lifts and tows operating. Yet recent national surveys show that walking and hiking are enjoyed by far more participants than skiing! Now just why should another wilderness region be destroyed in order to put up another ski lift for the downhill skiers?
3. The reasons for preservation of the S. G. Wild Area, as stated in the accompanying letter of January 4, 1964, are as valid today as they were then. Please include these statements also in the records of the hearing. Very sincerely,
H. JAY DAVIS.
ORANGE Y's MEN'S CLUB,
Orange, Calif., January 4, 1964. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, Congress of the United States of America.
GENTLEMEN : WHEREAS, hiking, camping, and other recreational uses of our nation's wilderness areas is constantly increasing; whereas such use of wilderness areas is a major part of the outdoor programs of the YMCA, Boy & Girl Scouts of America, and many other youth groups; and whereas the individual's contact with the natural world is constanly diminishing in this technological age;
It is hereby resolved by the Y's Men's Club of Orange, California that the Congress of the United States of America, and all the appropriate committees thereof, be urged to expedite the passage of one of the several forms of a wilderness bill now in Congress, preferably S. 4 or H.R. 930. It is also earnestly recommended that NO areas be excluded from the protection of the final law. In our geographical area, we are particularly anxious that the San Gorgonio Wild Area be preserved in its present state for the general welfare of the rapidly increasing southern California population, and particularly for the benefit of the many fine youth camps in the Barton Flats area of the San Bernardino mountains.
The Orange Y's Men's club currently has an active membership of 33. It is a chartered club of the International Association of Y's Men's Clubs. Sincerely,
JOHN VALENTINE, President.
BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA,
Anaheim, Calif., December 6, 1965.
GENTLEMEN: We have recently learned of the Congressional Hearing to be held related to the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area in California and desire to express our firm opposition to the opening of this wilderness area. This is one of the few remaining areas in the country in which boys can completely get away from civilization and to spoil this opportunity for a small commercial group would be most shortsighted.
Literally thousands of Scouts and Explorers from our area use the trails in the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area every year, and I am sure that the program of high adventure which they receive as a result of these treks is a major facet in the development of character and training in citizenship which is a part of the total Boy Scouting program. Sincerely and cordially,
F. L. HINES, Scout Executive.
WEST COVINA, CALIF.,
November 5, 1965. HOUSE INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, PUBLIC LANDS SUBCOMMITTEE, Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
GENTLEMEN : I am writing you in regard to the review of the status of the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area necessitated by the placement of six essentially identical bills by California Congressmen to open up the area known as Dry Lake for “family winter recreation."
Sucht considerations for San Gorgonio are certainly not new. Based on a public hearing in San Bernardino, California, in 1947, to decide whether skiing or wilderness use was the highest public value; wilderness was decided as being the predominant value. Most recently the issue was vigorously debated in the 1964 deliberations pursuant to passage of the Wilderness Act.
During debate in process of formation of the Wilderness Act at an interim point, I believe action favoring the exclusion of 3,500 acres from wilderness status was favorably acted upon by the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee. Subsequently, the provision excluding 3,500 acres of San Gorgonio (the same 3,500 acres currently being sought) from wilderness status was deleted and a wholesome Wilderness Act was enacted that provided for a whole San Gorgonio.
The passage of the Wilderness Act was regarded as of such import that our president sent forth a message to the Congress; the first paragraph of which read as follows:
"To the Congress of the United States: The wonder of nature is the treasure of America. What we have in woods and forest, valley and stream, in the gorges and the mountains and the hills, we must not destroy. The precious legacy of preservation of beauty will be our gift to posterity.”
Soon the Congress shall consider further action to be taken on the six bills placed for consideration that would, if affirmatively acted on, remove from our National Wilderness System the heart of the San Gorgonio Wilderness. The basic question is not whether the area of concern shall be wilderness or developed for "family winter recreation." The real issue at stake is shall it be retained as wilderness or shall it be otherwise used.
Gentlemen, if you should decide that the area of concern shall be used for other than wilderness then and only then can we legitimately enter into land use considerations. The considerations to be passed on then are many and when entering into such considerations there arises the necessity for for evaluating the impact on the residual of the once upon a time San Gorgonio Wilderness.
San Gorgonio Wilderness as it is now constituted, though small and burdened with intense human traffic, is a joy to hike into. The range of scenery, smell and feel is extreme. This wilderness affords as much solitude as man can hope for these days; it presents pleasant physical challenge; it provides cool high retreats.
Though the need for San Gorgonio Wilderness is by some assessed by the numbers using it, these numbers are meaningless and provide no reason for holding it as wilderness.
If you are to satisfy our needs on an intensity of use basis, then this area should be removed from wilderness status; indeed this being the criteria, there is no justification in my opinion for any wilderness.
However, I feel that you will satisfy our needs on a basis of what these needs are. Certainly there are among us many that need a San Gorgonio Wilderness. Wilderness is recognized as having many values which are recorded in magnificent style. In a strict personal sense, I treasure wilderness as a place to hike, cloud-watch, be alone, bird watch, relax, enjoy a camp fire, a place to enjoy vicariously, etc.
San Gorgonio has repeatedly passed the test required of wilderness territory. San Gorgonio has served a need, is serving a need, and can continue to serve a need for wilderness in this area. Wilderness by all standards is recognized as being presently in short supply with the shortage increasing.
As it was urgent, in my opinion, to enact the Wilderness Act to permit preservation of the little remaining wilderness it is urgent to retain as an entity the San Gorgonio Wilderness.
There exists in the legislative, proposals designed to permit development of the Dry Lake area and adjoining slopes so I understand a requirement that the Secretary of Agriculture shall add lands adjacent to the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area with an area of at least 3,500 acres on removal of the 3,500 acres designated for development for "family winter recreational use."
Gentlemen, if there exists lands suitable in character for inclusion in the Wilderness System adjacent to the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area, they should be added as soon as possible. Our Nation's need for wilderness is crucial and the need for wilderness in California is critical.
Please note there are no lands adjacent to San Gorgonio of a character so as to properly replace Dry Lake and an acre is not an acre is not an acre.
I am sure you sense I regard the necessity for justifying the need for wilderness as ludicrous as its need has been well justified by no less a body than the Congress of the United States of America.
Following are a few points serving to illustrate the reason for supporting a continuance of the wilderness status of the present San Gorgonio Wilderness :
1. It is readily accessible to a region that conservatively estimated as having 30,000,000 inhabitants in our time.
2. It provides a readily accessible area for wilderness recreation to a surrounding area with many organizational youth camps (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church groups, etc.).
3. San Gorgonio has a use density now that is well in excess of the national average.
4. San Gorgonio combines the highest peak in Southern California with a wilderness area.
5. The proposed development will necessitate roads and structures that can only contribute to the destruction of the wilderness value of the San Gorgonio Wilderness.
6. Presently the San Gorgonio Wilderness shelters significant wildlife which will be grossly disturbed by any ski development.
7. The present San Gorgonio Wilderness Area has a reasonably unified boundary. The Gerrymandered configuration that would result from the pro posed ski interest consideration would effectively destroy this.
8. San Gorgonio has repeatedly passed the test for wilderness areas.
9. The San Gorgonio Wilderness Area should be expanded if suitable contiguous land is available.
Our national need for wilderness is critical. Indeed all land that we view was but a short time ago wilderness in character but our growth pattern has reduced our wilderness reserve to a dangerously low level. Let us act swiftly and affirmatively to conserve what little wilderness we have.
Failure to act in this manner will ultimately present us with the more costly and perhaps impossible task of restoring wilderness areas.
In closing I urge you at this time to take steps to conserve this small but significant element of our nation's once great wilderness heritage.
I respectfully request my views be incorporated into the official bearing record regarding the status of the San Gorgonio Wilderness. Sincerely,
LYLE A. TAYLOR.
LUCERNE VALLEY LEADER,
Lucerne Valley, Calif., November 16, 1965. Hon. WALTER BARING, Chairman, Public Lands Committee.
DEAR SIR: As publisher of a newspaper in a community on one of the main highways used by skiers traveling to the mountain areas, it is my opinion that opening San Gorgonio to skiing would be of great economic benefit to our valley.
And what is more important, it would allow our citizens another outlet for their camping and skiing recreation.
May I respectfully submit that this letter be included in the official report of the hearings. Yours truly,
JOHN HUDSON, Publisher.
RIVERSIDE, CALIF., November 8, 1965. PUBLIC LANDS SUBCOMMITTEE, House of Representatives, Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
GENTLEMEN : Before me are the four parts of the hearings before the Subcommittee on Public Lands, 88th Congress, Walter Baring, Nevada, Chairman. These hearings comprise, with inclusions, 1394 pages. Also on my desk are the copies of the Congressional Record of April 8–9, 1963, which contain statements in the House and Senate concerning the Saylor, Duminick and s-4 Wilderness Bills. Finally, I have a copy of the Congressional Record of July 30, 1964, containing the debate, voting and passage of the Wilderness Bill of 1964. In spite of all this great effort to provide a fair and strong preservation of the last remaining wilderness in our nation today, we are again faced with commercial interests who will spend millions and waste our time, and yours, to prostitute these last areas for their own profit. These persons, who are now masquerading their efforts under the poorly disguised name “to provide family recreation," have threatened to "get the San Gorgonio” at any cost.
Today and throughout the year there are thousands of families enjoying recreation in the last remaining untainted wilderness of Southern California. No development is needed for true family recreation, for hiking, for camping, for backpacking, for ski touring. This nation is growing so fast that we must preserve this wilderness area intact. Should this proposed amendment be passed by the Committee and then by the Congress, it would seriously weaken the Wilderness Bill which was nearly ten years in the making. That bill was strongly supported by President Kennedy and President Johnson, both of whom considered it one of the most important pieces of legislation of our time.
Mr. John Saylor, Pennsylvania, made the point in his introduction during the debate on the Wilderness Bill, that lost wilderness is not something which can be reversed should we change our minds later. This is not a construction mistake that can be changed by consultation with an architect or engineer. Once the wilderness is gone, it is lost forever. Man does not create wilderness, he only destroys it; only God can create something so fragile as this.
I urge all members of this Subcommittee to obtain and read the debate on the Wilderness Bill of 1964. Note particularly the point that if one crippling amendment is made to this bill, it will set a precedent which will undermine the whole bill and lead to the loss of many other areas which we thought were preserved for the nation. Note the words of Mr. Fogarty, page 16863 of the Congressional Record just cited: “I call attention to the fact that while this version of the Wilderness Bill includes the wild, wilderness and boundary waters canoe area in the wilderness system on the effective day of the act, the existing San Gorgonio Wild Area, established many years ago, is specifically excluded at this time from the wilderness system.
"Now, this is not only unreasonable, it would be a dangerous precedent. We would be saying that we are only giving lipservice to the creation and protection of these dedicated areas—that anytime the pressures are strong enough we would back away and let the wilderness be dismembered."
Following those remarks are several pages of debate, including testimony on the history of the San Gorgonio Area. It has been studied and restudied no less than four times since it was first set aside in 1931. Each time the conclusion was that wilderness was the best use. Yet here you gentlemen are a fifth time saying that it should be reconsidered. Behind all this effort there must be a tremendous amount of money and profit involved. Are we to see the Wilderness Bill killed here by profit for a few at the expense of the public? Were those of you who have been members of Congress during the previous sessions paying "lipservice” to your trust to the public good? If you recommend that the San Gorgonio be opened, you will cut a loophole in the entire Wilderness Bill which can never be plugged.
Once again I urge you to obtain and read the Congressional Record of July 30, 1964. The portion on the Wilderness Bill should be your guide in this matter, for the arguments to prseerve it still hold true at this time a year and five months later, Each day there is more pollution, more waste, more lost opportunity. Gentlemen, let us preserve what remains. There will never be any more than exists today. Sincerely yours,
RICHARD E. PANZER.
LONG BEACH COUNCIL OF CAMP FIRE GIRLS, INC.,
Long Beach, Calif., November 12, 1965. CONGRESSMAN WALTER S. BARING, Chairman, Subcommittee on Public Lands, Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, House of Representatives.
GENTLEMEN : I am speaking for the Long Beach Council of Camp Fire Girls, which serves over 6700 girls, men, and women in Long Beach, Lakewood, Dominguez, Signal Hill, Hawaiian Gardens, Dairy Valley, and Artesia. During each of the past four years, the adults in our Council have voted to inform our Congressman, the Honorable Craig Hosmer, that we are opposed to the development of roads and structures in the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area. I can also speak as one who is very familiar with the area, because during the past seven years my husband and I have hiked on every trail within its boundaries plus most of those on the fringe. We have also explored the desert lands in the vicinity of Mission Creek and the North Fork of the Whitewater, as well as the wooded areas at the base of the Big Draw on the north slope of Gorgonio. Our Camp Fire Council owns a resident camp near Green Valley Lake. But inasmuch as the San Bernardino Mountains are crowded with camps and cabins from Arrowhead to Big Bear, we transport our teenage campers to the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area in order to give them the experience of hiking away from civilization for periods of two to four days. Why do we feel that this activity is a very valuable one?
First, the wilderness is an integral part of our American Heritage. Only by living in the wilds—even for a few days—can today's citybred students really come to appreciate the tremendous accomplishments of our ancestors who trekked across this continent.
Second, the value of the wilderness to refresh body and spirit has been recognized since Biblical times. Closely confined by a complex civilization, we have begun to develop a recognition of the necessity of preserving a few islands relatively free from the touch of man.
Third, almost conversely, the girls learn to appreciate the comforts of civilization, which they have always taken for granted. For example, after a week in the back-country, they become quite certain that the greatest achievement of mankind was the invention of a simple table and chair.
Fourth, a group which undertakes a backpack hike becomes welded together in the finest example of a unit of democracy. Each girl must accept responsibility in order to make the trip a success. She carries not only her own equipment but also her share of what is necessary for the common good. She arranges her own sleeping spot, but she also performs some of the general tasks of fire-building, cooking, and clean-up. Differences of race, religion, color, or wealth are of no importance on the trail. Instead, a girl learns that each citizen has a contribution to make to the welfare of the group.
Fifth, there is the challenge of attempting a different and difficult activity. After hiking for a week in the wilderness, one of our seniors wrote that, “Sometimes you have to put yourself to a test so that you will learn how great your physical and spiritual resources really are.” A long trek requires both stamina