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I have experienced them by going up there, and I noticed before ski lifts have been in an area the place looks real nice. During the winter there are lots of people around and the place looks very attractive.
But during the summer when the place is all closed up and the ski lifts are not working, the place looks kind of dead.
Mr. BARING. Well, I will assure you there is lots of life with young people skiing at a ski resort or around a ski lift. It is a real go-go.
Mr. Ruiz. The only trouble I have with my boys is trying to find something for them to do. During the winter they are going to school. They have schoolwork to do and it is hard enough just to keep them going to school, but I try my best. I have things that I put them doing at my house and things of other
But during the summer when they have free time is the time that they have to spare, it is hard for me to keep them out of trouble. I thought maybe this year I had found a way.
But I can't do it with that ski lift up there.
STATEMENT OF BILL SOLBERG
Mr. SOLBERG. I'm Bill Solberg, a senior at Yucaipa High School. I live at 297 East County Line Road, Yucaipa, Calif. I would like to testify today before this committee as an individual in opposition to H.R. 6891 and related proposals to provide for family winter recreational use of a portion of the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area, and for other purposes. I have heard many conflicting stories today.
I've been on the camp staff of the Grayback Council's Boy Scout Camp, Camp TuLakes, for the past 4 years. In this time I've done extensive hiking and camping in the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area. Each week during summer camp the campers take an overnight hike into the wilderness area from Thursday morning until Friday noon. We camp at various spots in the wilderness area, but the favorite of most of the boys seems to be South Fork Meadows. As a counselor I try to instill in every boy I hike with a greater appreciation of, and love for, his country and its beautiful wilderness. I remind every boy I hike with that this wilderness may soon not be wilderness unless everyone does his part to prevent it changing. The boys who hike into the wilderness from our camp carry out all their garbage and trash and sometimes they clean up messes left by other, less thoughtful, campers. This isn't much, but at least the boys are becoming more aware of the problem of conserving our wilderness. Also, we have conservation programs and classes where we try, among other things, to draw some relationship between man's rights and privileges in using the wilderness and his responsibilities to preserve that wilderness for future generations.
You may see no relationship between my experience in a summer camp and the subject at hand, but I think it is very closely related. I think a road through South Fork Meadows would destroy or at least greatly damage this area for hiking and camping. If you are wondering why this area is so ideal for camping, I would list these reasons:
The area is close enough to camps in the Barton Flats area that groups can easily hike into it. The area has plenty of running water which isn't common in this mountain range. The area has plenty of deadwood for fires. And the area has a natural beauty that only God could create and no man should be able to destroy.
Skiing is great and I'm sure that San Gorgonio would offer some skiing opportunities, but unless a different route could be found I feel that the added pleasures for the skier isn't worth the countless hiking and camping experiences robbed from our youth and everyone in general.
Another thing, you cannot get a boy to hike to the top of a peak and then look around and see all the people who easily come up in a chair lift. He gets no sense of accomplishment from this sort of thing.
Mr. Johnson. Young man, how many people in the United States use the wilderness area?
Mr. SOLBERG. We hiked in on Thursdays and I don't know if that is a real heavy day.
Mr. Johnson. Do you have any idea?
Mr. JOHNSON. Do you have any idea of the percentage in comparison to the people who use the wilderness area for skiing?
Mr. SOLBERG. In the summer?
Mr. Johnson. I mean, the total use of the wilderness area, year round?
Mr. SOLBERG. I am not familiar with the other wilderness areas.
Mr. JOHNSON. It would be a very, very small percentage; would it not?
Mr. SOLBERG. In this area, I am sure that is used more than some
It is higher elevation; kids don't gain as much out of hiking through the desert as they do through mountains. So it is used more as a wilderness area than a lot of
other areas. Mr. JOHNSON. You take this area here, and I think you have the wrong concept, because a vast majority of the people never go in there.
Some of the finest people we have in the world have never been into the wilderness area.
Mr. SOLBERG. They are missing a great experience.
In this area here you have about 12 to 14 million people. There are about 50,000 people who use the wilderness areas. That is a very small percentage of the total population, isn't it?
Mr. SOLBERG. Some of them would like to drive through it maybe and see it. But I think it should remain something worth seeing, even if they just drive through and see it.
Mr. Johnson. I think if you would study statistics, you will find out that the wilderness areas are not used by everyone.
Mr. SOLBERG. No, I would think not.
Mr. JOHNSON. I am sure that all people who do not use these wilderness areas are still good citizens.
Mr. SOLBERG. I am sure they are. I am certain that I am sorry if I said they were not.
Mr. JOHNSON. All right, thank you.
Mr. BARING. All right, the next speaker, please. That will be Mr. Clinton Schonberger.
STATEMENT OF CLINTON F. SCHONBERGER, CHAIRMAN, DEPART
MENT OF BIOLOGY, SAN BERNARDINO VALLEY COLLEGE Mr. SCHONBERGER. I am Clinton F. Schonberger, chairman, Department of Biology, San Bernardino Valley College, former park naturalist, and affiliated with certain scientific societies including the Ecological Society of America. They would kill me if I didn't appear here.
To develop any commercial facilities or to erect any structures above the level of the yellow pine forest in southern California is (1) impractical, (2) unethical, and (3) shortsighted.
WHY WOULD THIS BE IMPRACTICAL?
The higher elevations of our southern California mountains have a very fragile forest cover, little if any soil, and a very unpredictable climate.
The area under consideration by your committee is a lodgepole pine forest, that in Colorado or Oregon might be considered a valuable natural resource, suitable for recreational development or even for logging. This forest on the high slopes of Mount San Gorgonio is not a typical lodgepole forest but a sort of relic forest. It is a southern extension of the continental lodgepole forest and it does not have the ground cover, the supporting trees and shrubs, nor does it have a soil profile comparable to the lodgepole pine forests of the Sierras, the Rockies, and the Cascades. In the Sierras, once you get above the yellow pine forest, you get into a high mountain forest with much snow but with a strong mixture of lodgepoles, Jeffrey pines, and red fir. This forest builds a good soil and forms a very stable forest community that can stand building and clearing for various purposes. Our local lodgepole forest is different.
In the San Bernardino Mountains, we have developed the yellow pine forest to such an extent that we have thriving mountain communities around Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake. These are commercialized areas that do not attract those seeking a more adventuresome type of recreation. However, there is no question that commercial establishments at the yellow pine level are practical.
You have seen the area under consideration but I suggest that very few parties to this debate have measured the soil or analyzed it or have eyed the forest cover critically. The soil in our lodgepole forest is so thin and fragile that it has no topsoil and only a thin subsoil incapable of remaining on cleared slopes, incapable of filtering sewage, and incapable of producing a satisfactory ground cover once trees are cleared from a slope. Ski slopes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire show a solid green carpet in the summer. There you have a different forest and a different climate. Ground cover regeneration checks erosion. Again, our lodgepole forest is different.
Because of the forest structure, I maintain that commercial development of the area in question is impractical for ski slopes or for buildings or for large numbers of human beings assembled at any one time or place. You will have erosion problems, sewage problems, and most of all, problems in maintaining good ski slopes.
WHY IS THIS PROPOSAL UNETHICAL?
This proposal is unethical principally because many of us have used this area as a wilderness and as a safe watershed for years. We do not look with favor upon any proposal that will pollute the headwaters of the Santa Ana River or any other water source for southern California communities. We do not look forward to the time when we will hike to a place heretofore free to all to find some commercial enterprise in control of our land with admission charges. We do not enjoy climbing up a hill to meet less deserving adventurers who have motored to the same spot, and who show their appreciation for this wilderness by tossing wrappers and other bits of litter about them as though they regarded this area as just another city park.
WHY IS THIS PROPOSAL SHORTSIGHTED
One of the most important reasons for keeping this area in violate is that this particular plant community is rare and up to now almost intact. From Poopout Hill to Slushy Meadows on a very recent hike, I found only one batch of weeds along the trail. I was particularly alert that day because I was collecting pollen from native grasses. Weeds are commonplace in our mountains where people travel and abide. Very few intact natural areas remain in this country. We have no more frontiers. This is a frontier, valuable for its natural beauty and also valuable for its use in ecological studies. We are going to ask Congress for an expansion of ecological studies, not for destruction of perfect ecological situations. We hope for a national ecological survey before all of our natural areas have been subjected to invasion by weeds, domestic animals, and human alteration. The very delicate grasses and herbs found here are helpless against weeds. Weeds enter an area along roadways and spread out. Apparently the hikers have not carried weed seeds to any noticeable extent.
Senator Gaylord Nelson is going to introduce--and maybe he already has—a bill to have an ecological survey of the United States that is long overdue. We have several rare formations that have completely disappeared.
Who will pay for the road which will bring weed seeds into this strange and feeble landscape? Who will reap the expected monetary benefit from the use of land heretofore part of our outdoor playground where we walk unaccosted by property owners and unmolested by dogs, cars, or ugly signs? Please resist the temptation to give our land to someone who will “do something with it.” What special group will gain by our loss? Do they deserve the land more than we? Just because we don't deface it doesn't mean that we don't use it.
Do you want an alternative? Let the ski developers find suitable terrain. They have already taken up positions in the Lake Arrowhead-Big Bear area. Look to the north slopes of the Los Angeles National Forest where the forest is more commonplace and much sturdier. You should help us expand hiking facilities so as to scatter the hundreds of hikers about more. We already have a use problem in this area from hikers alone. We don't need any additional use. Please judge carefully.
Thank you very much.
Mr. HOSMER. I would just like to ask Mr. Schonberger here a question.
I do not think I have heard any testimony like you have given.
Mr. HOSMER. I wonder if it may be passing through some of the people's minds that “Is this some kind of nut or something ?”
You said you were a forester and an ecologist.
Mr. HOSMER. Are there other people who have made studies and
Mr. SCHONBERGER. Apparently they have not spoken in quite this vein today.
FROM THE FLOOR. I will be appearing tomorrow talking about the same subject.
Mr. SCHONBERGER. All right, there is another one.
Mr. HOSMER. What I wanted to get on the record and what we did not have on the record is that this is not a unique view that you hold; but, it is a view from another side, to a degree that has not come in as yet?
Mr. SCHONBERGER. No; you have to look at the forest in its entirety and, when you know all the plants in it, you realize there is nothing else like this; but, it is a fragile forest; it is very fragile.
Mr. HOSMER. I am not going to ask you tonight to explain but tomorrow perhaps one or more of those witnesses will cover the point as to why this area, underneath the ski lift slope will not be permanent.
Mr. SCHONBERGER. May I add just one thing. The weeds that come in with the road from the lowlands, we have got some pretty tough weeds there. Those little plants up there could not withstand them and they would be—well, I took the trip up that trail and I saw one patch of weeds from Poopout Hill to Slushy Meadows, and I want to say that the hikers must have been mighty clean, without shedding -weed seeds all these years.
But trucks and roads shed weed seeds just like railroads.
Mr. BARING. The next panel, John Tyler, Dr. Richard Vogl, Dr. Edwin Woodhouse, Gordon Cleaver, and Mr. Richard Witz, and Mr. Tirso Serrano.