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LONG BEACH COUNCIL OF CAMP FIRE GIRLS, INC.,
Congressman WALTER S. BARING,
Chairman, Subcommittee on Public Lands,
GENTLEMEN: As professional workers in the Camp Fire Girls, Inc. organization, we would like to make a plea for the preservation of the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area. Since our work is for the benefit of the Nation's youth, we are speaking in their behalf.
Much has been stated and written about man's progress and our fanatical application of this scientific knowledge toward a better world and a better life. We are constantly looking ahead, and give little thought to what we were once, what it was like before electricity, automobiles, freeways, skyscrapers, gasoline and oil, and prepared foods.
This progress is wonderful and indeed necessary in our present way of life; however, why progress us to a complete state of mechanization and commercialization? Let's save something for our children and their future generations that will show them firsthand what the country looked like when Daddy was their age, or when George Washington and Daniel Boone lived. Also, let's save someplace for them to go when they feel that our fast pace and modern life is endangering their mental attitudes.
With the present population explosion-450 net increase per day in Los Angeles County alone-areas such as San Gorgonio are going to be at a premium. Since Gorgonio is the most heavily used-over 50,000 annually-wilderness area in the country and one of the last in Southern California, we plead for its preservation.
Of the 50,000 people using Gorgonio, half are children. The bulk coming from over 50 non-profit agency camps which train their campers in specific campcraft skills and then use Gorgonio to practice hiking, cooking over an open fire, and eating out-of-doors. These children using the facilities will pass their education and experience to their children and grandchildren and in this way will preserve our heritage.
The Wilderness Act, passed last year, provides for an orderly evaluation of areas which are presently designated as wilderness. The bills introduced, regarding San Gorgonio, appear to circumvent the intent of the Act and raise the probability of piecemeal actions, instead of a unified overall policy throughout the country. Also, the decision to run a road into a Wilderness Area is not reversible. Once a road is built, the trees, flowers, birds and animals are gone. If we don't completely preserve this San Gorgonio Wilderness Area, the youth of Southern California will have no area to find solitude, to experience nature unscarred, to reflect on man's progress from the beginning, to find mental relief from their everyday life, or to find satisfaction from a physical feat completely independent of a mechanical device. They will never have the opportunity to experience a day or two of America in its natural state, without the indications of telephone and electricity lines, automobiles, and roadways that are constantly about them. America the Beautiful will be just history to them, America the Beautiful just won't exist.
JOAN A. FINN, Executive Director.
TEXAS CONSERVATION COUNCIL, INC.,
Houston, Tex., November 13, 1965.
HOUSE INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS COMMITTEE,
GENTLEMEN: The Texas Conservation Council regrets that it cannot send a representative to the public hearing scheduled for November 16th and 17th for the purpose of removing 3500 acres of the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area from Wilderness status. It submits the following statement concerning House Bill 6891 and requests that this statement be included in the Record of the Hearing. The Council is unequivocally opposed to any bill that would declassify these 3500 acress of Wilderness because:
1. The acreage described in this bill constitutes the very heart of the San Gorgonio Wilderness. Removing it from Wilderness status would not only mean
the loss of a very fine natural area but would seriously impair the value of the entire Wilderness.
2. The United States Forest Service considered this particular area so important as wilderness that it twice denied applications for a winter sports development there. That was in 1947 and again in 1963. In 1964 the House of Representatives refused to exclude it from the Wilderness Act by a vote of almost two to one. An area must have truly exceptional value as wilderness to survive three strong attempts to commercialize it. While a ski resort is not specifically mentioned in the present House Bill, this is obviously the underlying purpose as in previous attempts at commercialization. As wilderness, this area would assure ample opportunity for ski touring.
3. The San Gorgonio Wilderness has been more widely used than any other Wilderness Area; it had more than 50,000 visitors last year, which is some 20 times the national average for such areas. This area is, therefore, very important in its primitive state to the people who live close by and also to people from other states who are not fortunate enough to have Wilderness Areas within their boundaries.
4. There is no pressing need for commercialization of this particular area since there are nearly a dozen ski resorts in the general vicinity and provisions for doubling resort facilities as needed without despoiling this fine Wilderness Area.
5. The declassification of any part of the Wilderness System-and particularly of such a superb area as this-for no more important reason that resort development would establish a precedent for destroying the permanency of any and all areas set aside under the Wilderness Act of 1964.
6. The requirement of House Bill 6891 that equal wilderness be added to the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area to replace the 3500 acres that would be taken out of the center of it is completely unrealistic because there is no adjacent land of equal value. The only National Forest land that could be added lies southeast of the present boundary. This land has twice been considered for classification as a primitive area and twice rejected, a clear indication that it does not compare with the Dry Lake Area which would be lost to the Wilderness System.
In addition to opposing the declassification of the 3500 acres described in House Bill 6891, the Council questions the procedure involved in the scheduled hearings. According to Section 3, subsection (d) of the Wilderness Act, it would seem that a hearing for declassification of a part of an established Wilderness Area should originate with the "appropriate Secretary." Sincerely,
LAURENCE N. DEXTER,
Apple Valley, Calif., October 28, 1965.
DEAR MR. BARING: During each legislative session there are many bills introduced which I find interesting. One of the most interesting bills is one which affect a multitude of people in the Southern California area. The bill referred to is H.R. 6891 to open 10% of the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area to winter recreation.
My concern with this legislation is more than one of a personal nature. It is a concern for the tremendously overpopulated Southern Californians. With the onslaught of new homes, freeways, and shopping centers, the recreational areas in the southland have diminished to practically nothing. The people of Southern California need recreational areas for pleasure and relaxation. This inaccessible area on Mt. San Gorgonio is used by so few it can't be considered an asset as it currently stands.
I urge your approval on H.R. 6891 so that Southern Californians can use and enjoy what land still is available for this purpose. I further respectfully request that this letter be included in the official report of the subcommittee hearings.
Apple Valley, Calif., November 4, 1965.
Hon. WALTER S. BARING, Chairman, Public Lands Subcommittee, Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
DEAR CONGRESSMAN BARING: In recent months we at Radio Station KAVR have watched with interest the developments in regards to the controversy surrounding H.R. 6891, the San Gorgonio Bill.
During this time we have heard all sides of the issue. We had as our guests, on a discussion program we air daily, representatives from both sides of the issue. The newspaper coverage has been such that we gained a good deal of knowledge from there. It is therefore, after a thorough study that we have come to feel not only is a family winter recreation area of the quality of the type available in San Gorgonio needed, but that it is imperative to have it as soon as possible to aid in alleviating a growing need for recreational facilities in a booming southern California.
The views of KAVR are further expressed in the enclosed KAVR Editorial that was aired on November 2nd and 3rd.
We strongly urge you and your fellow congressmen to favorably consider this bill. We further request that this letter and the enclosed editorial copy be included in the official report of the hearing in San Bernardino on November 16, 1965.
ALAN F. BEACH, General Manager.
In past months something of a controversy has arisen over the introduction of a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. It provides that a portion of the 35,000 acres in the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area be opened for the purpose of allowing family winter recreational facilities. In these same months, two organizations have been formed, one that has taken a positive stand, the San Bernardino County Citizens for San Gorgonio and the so-called Defenders of San Gorgoino, who have taken the negative side of the issue.
The opponents of this legislation say the introduction of these facilities will harm the area, interfering with the present use of the area by a relatively few campers, hikers, and hunters. Taking into consideration the location and proposed safeguards, which we will go into in a moment, it is our feeling that the two uses of the area are completely compatible. Investigation has shown there is an acute need for a family winter recreation area of the quality possible in San Gorgonio.
The potential to use the area, for developing our youth and winter sports athletes, is a matter that also has to be considered at a time when there is a dire need for new recreational facilities in southern California.
Apart from the direct benefit to the people, the economic value has to be examined. It can't be measured, but when one considers things such as potential tax revenues, trade dollars spent in the area, the increase in value of properties and attractiveness of the area to potential residents and industries (due to a winter recreational facility of the quality possible at San Gorgonio) one can't help but believe that it would be of tremendous value to San Bernardino County. Even our local ski areas will benefit. Since no overnight facilities will be available in San Gorgonio, overnight visitors to the area will depend on the surrounding resorts. Many more people who are drawn here by San Gorgonio will want to try the other slopes also.
At the present a relatively large area is being used by a small number of persons. With the passage of this bill, a great number of our citizens would be able to use a small portion of this territory.
The opopsition, the so-called Defenders of San Gorgonio is a vociferous minority that exerts influence far out of proportion to their actual number. These same people have time and again been able to influence legislation and impede progress that could have been beneficial to great numbers of our citizens.
Because of this, KAVR feels we must make our voices heard and support the San Bernardino Citizens for San Gorgonio, and the safeguards they propose to be included in the pending legislation. These proposals are:
1. The area be limited to 3,500 acres of the 35,000 acres in the wilderness and to be in what is called the San Gorgonio bowl area north of Mount San Gorgonio and Jepson Peak, and east of Charlton Peak;
2. Any access road shall be east of the south fork of the Santa Ana River and shall not be visible from or pass through the areas now used principally for hiking and camping in South Fork (Slushy) meadow;
3. No public overnight accommodations permitted;
4. Ski facilities shall not interfere with the watershed;
5. Sanitation shall comply with all State and county requirements;
6. That operator of lift facilities contribute 22 percent of gross receipts to a trust fund to be administered jointly by the U.S. Forest Service district ranger and the executive board of the Sierra Club for the improvement and extension of camping, hiking and outdoor facilities generally in the San Bernardino National Forest.
After having carefuly weighed these and many other facts, opinions and statistics, KAVR feels we must support the bill of Congressman Ken W. Dyal. Time is short. Hearings on this bill will be held in San Bernardino on November 16th and 17th. So make your voices heard, give your support and write today to Congressman Ken W. Dyal and Walter S. Baring, House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
For more information and copies of this KAVR editorial write San Gorgonio, KAVR, Apple Valley, California.
Hon. WALTER S. BARING,
KAVR, Apple Valley, Calif.
Chairman, Subcommittee Public Lands, Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
DEAR CONGRESSMAN BARING: I'm writing this letter to encourage the passage of Congressman Dyal's bill on San Gorgonio. I feel that a ski resort in this vicinity would be a great asset to our communities and would serve thousands more than are currently being served because of its inaccessibility. This is the only location in this entire area that would guarantee the winter sportsman snow for his skiing since it's a much higher area for a winter sport area than any other we have here. It would also give families a place to go to enjoy winter recreation and activities in this area. I personally look forward to spending my hours in this resort area rather than traveling hundreds of miles to find snow in other areas. The dollars spent by the people who live here would be spent in our vicinity rather than in another community if the San Gorgonio bill is passed. I once again urge passage of Congressman Dyal's bill and request that this letter be part of the official report of the hearings. Very truly,
Hon. WALTER S. BARING,
Chairman, Public Lands Subcommittee,
YUCCA VALLEY BOARD OF REALTORS,
DEAR SIR: This is to advise that the Yucca Valley Board of Realtors at a general meeting approved and endorsed the bill #6891. It is our wish that this letter be made a part of the official report of the hearings.
ALFRED M. FISHER, Executive Secretary.
APPLE VALLEY, CALIF., November 15, 1965.
Hon. WALTER S. BARING,
Chairman, Subcommittee on Public Lands of House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs.
DEAR MR. BARING: I am writing to state my objection to the proposed legislation, dealing with the San Gorgonio wilderness area, which is about 50 miles from my home. (I live near Victorville, California.)
I am fourteen years old and I am a Boy Scout. I have camped and hiked with my troop and with my family all over California and the West. So, being a Scout and a camper, I tend to side with the conservationists. I feel that if the
areas is opened with roads and facilities, it would ruin the area. America is swiftly destroying its natural resources. An area of this sort should be left in its natural state.
The people who are opening the area claim that nature lovers need not fear that the area will be destroyed. But once you put roads into it, that allows anyone who wants to drive a motor vehicle to come into the place. Soon beer cans and trash will litter up the area. Also many people are often careless and start fires. They don't care one bit about what they do, just so long as they are having fun.
The hikers who come into the area now, are experienced campers. They have enough sense and enough love for nature, that they will leave the area as it was when they arrived.
Once man occupies a wilderness area, it no longer remains that way. Wildlife disappears. First get started and destroy timber and watersheds. The area will eventually become a littered-up mess, just like much of the rest of our country has become.
It is my opinion, that if the area were opened, it would only benefit a few: the few who can afford the facilities, and a few who want to earn a "quick dollar" on their investment.
Lastly, if this is allowed, other demands will merely take advantage of the situation. As the saying goes: "If you give them a finger, they'll take a hand." I think it would be more wise for the benefit of the people and America, if the area were kept as it is now. The important thing is that the area not be tampered with by man. I am sure that I speak for all conservation-minded future citizens. Some of my friends have asked to join me in making this appeal.1
COMMITTEE ON INSULAR AFFAIRS,
GREEN OAK RANCH BOYS' CAMP,
GENTLEMEN: I wish to express my view as a citizen of California and also as a Director in the field of Camping concerning the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area. I definitely feel that this area should not be developed into a recreation area. At the present time it is open to the public and those who enjoy a real outdoor experience do take advantage of the area. By developing a recreational area the wilderness atmosphere will be lost forever and it will become just another resort.
It is my feeling there is sufficient mountain resort areas open now and that which is open could further be developed. But those of real wilderness are slowly vanishing and I object.
DOUGLAS G. MERCHANT, Director.
Hon. WAYNE ASPINALL,
ASSEMBLY, CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE,
Chairman, House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
DEAR MR. ASPINALL: I had hoped that the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area controversy was settled last year when the House rejected Amendment to the Wilderness Act which would have allowed commercial development.
I hope "San Gorgonio" will be saved from commercial exploitation, as there is little else left of wilderness areas in Southern California. If this last mountain sanctuary is despoiled and exploited, so that a few people can "make a few bucks," it cannot be replaced.
I respectfully urge your Committee to reject, once and for all, proposals to weaken the Wilderness Act.
Very respectfully yours,
1 Names in committee files.
STEWART HINCKLEY, State Assemblyman.