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They mean too much to too many people, including our children and grandchildren, for scientific purposes and watersheds, for a place to go to relax stresses and tensions of everyday life, and for refreshing of minds and restoring of spirits. Let's not be guilty of saving too little too late.
There must be something very special about wilderness areas when they inspire and old codger like me to express his feelings in verse as in my“Wilderness Temple” with which, with your kind indulgence, I will conclude
When you solace require for tired spirit or mind
Seek the wilderness trails; there refreshment you'll find.
There tall trees and high peaks raise their crowns toward
As in silence they praise the Creator on High.
It was Moses, then Christ, went to mountains for prayers;
Whatsoever their needs, are not ours more than theirs ! I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the privilege of presenting this statement.
The CHAIRMAN: Now you can all understand, after hearing him testify, why we think so much of Elliott Barker out in New Mexico.
The CHAIRMAN. Spencer Smith.
STATEMENT OF DR. SPENCER M. SMITH, JR., SECRETARY OF THE
CITIZENS COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES
Dr. SMITH. May I file my entire statement and make one or two conclusions ?
The CHAIRMAN. You surely may. Thank you very much for that cooperation.
(The statement referred to follows:)
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DR. SPENCER M. SMITH, JR., SECRETARY OF THE CITIZENS
COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES The Citizens Committee on Natural Resources is pleased to have the opportunity to present its views in regard to S. 174, which provides for the establishment of a national wilderness preservation system.
The Citizens Committee on Natural Resources is composed of some of the Nation's outstanding conservationists. Our chairman, Dr. Ira N. Gabrielson, is well known to those interested and active in the field of conservation. Our board of directors represents a variety of professions and interests. Many of us have been hopeful for some time that appropriate action could be taken by the Congress to achieve the protection we feel is needed for wilderness areas. There is little need to burden the members of this committee with the history of legislation in regard to this measure. Sufficient to note at this point is the lengthy consideration, both in terms of time and in the amount of effort put forth, that has been given various legislative proposals with essentially the same objective of the measure now before the committee. It is a pleasure to see that S. 174 has resulted from these efforts, since it is a concise, careful presentation of the concept of wilderness and implements that concept with the minimum of administrative protocol. It should be stated that those supporting this measure have in good faith sought to achieve a wilderness system under legislative protection that would accomplish the goals and aims that many of us supporting this legislation feel are imperative and yet at the same time doing as little disservice as possible to the rights and needs of others involved.
WHY LEGISLATION TO PROTECT THE WILDERNESS SYSTEM IS NEEDED
We feel it imperative to effect legislation with adequate protection for the wilderness areas in the United States. Poets and philosophers down through the ages have been far more eloquent in describing the bounty that nature provided for us in its wilderness, than can be stated here. The wilderness areas form a basis for public recreation, which is needed for national health, both mental and physical. The President of the United States in his advocacy of the vigorous life as being the only type of life compatible with a healthful and strong United States is supporting the wilderness bill as a part of his overall program for recreation, We might well pause and be reminded that the term recreation, generally, means recreate. The wilderness areas offer an abundance of opportunities for people to recreate within themselves the needed stamina to face the battles of a very complex world. The aesthetic enjoyment or appreciation which is unmatched in many of our wilderness areas certainly must considered as one of the fruits of wilderness enjoyment. In addition, the unspoiled areas of the United States—unspoiled, that is, by man's intrusion-offer ample opportunity for scientific investigation and research in so many areas of the sciences, that would be impossible to detail here. The historical significance of so many areas must be preserved not only because they deserve such preservation on the merit of their significance but in terms of what might very well be learned from them for future benefit.
One of the most compelling reasons for protecting wilderness areas by law is that any serious change made in such areas is an irrevocable one. Man is accommodated to the method of trial and error-in his individual behavior and in the behavior of the institutions he has created. Our economic and political systems are based upon a trial and error method. Technological and scientific methods effect a trial and error process in an effort to ferret out reasonable answers to problems propounded. It is therefore probable that an attitude prevails that if an unrestrained use of resources in the wilderness areas proves less useful than an absence of development, the error can somehow be rectified. The decision that a mistake has been made is always too late. It is not a question of tearing down a building and building another of different specifications on the same site; though in this instance, time has been lost, costs have been incurred, but the impossibility of creating something different has not been confronted as in the case of destroying wilderness.
Thus with population expanding, with the economic abilities of our people increasing with each generation, with the workweek dropping in terms of hours of labor, with greater mobility on the part of our people, the competition for the use of land is accelerated at an awesome rate. It seems prudent, therefore, to set aside at least 1 percent of our total land mass of some 2 billion acres for purposes of wilderness, relaxation, and the opportunity to give full consideration from which we have developed, and be better prepared for that to which we should aspire.
WHAT S. 174 PROPOSES
Since wilderness legislation has had a long history, and since many different versions of protective legislation have been introduced in the Congress over the past few years, it is important that everyone interested in the present measure realize specifically what is before this committee. It is not a bill that was introduced in the 85th Congress, nor any of the various amendments thereto. It is not a measure introduced in the 86th Congress. It is a measure that has developed over a long period of time. I am not attempting to belabor the obvious in pointing this out, but I am suggesting some of the opposition to the present measure should not exist since the character of this opposition is to provisions that appeared in earlier versions of wilderness legislation, and do not appear in the present S. 174.
The present measure would determine the policy of Congress, to establish a wilderness preservation system. The wilderness system would comprise the
several wilderness areas in the national forests, administered by the Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture; areas of the national park system administered by the National Park Service in the Department of Interior; and the areas in the wildlife refuge system administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service, also in the Department of Interior. That part of the proposed wilderness preservation system involving the national forest system would include the administrative designations of wilderness, wild, primitive, or canoe areas.
The primitive areas, however, will be reviewed as to their suitability for inclusion in the wilderness system within 15 years. The President will inform the Congress each year as to his decision, which may suggest boundary modifications; and such decisions will be effective upon the final adjournment of Congress, unless the Congress previously approves a concurrent resolution opposing the President's recommendations. In the latter event, the usual procedures for concurrent resolutions will be followed.
The national park system would incorporate into the proposed wilderness system any continuous area of 5,000 acres without roads. Each area, however, shall be reviewed and the President will recommend, within 10 years, such areas for inclusion into the wilderness system. The provisions of congressional review and possible dissent conform to the procedures described above in connection with national forest areas.
The national wildlife refuges and game ranges would become a part of the wilderness system in essentially the same fashion as indicated for the inclusion of national parks.
Any new additions or eliminations from the wilderness system, not provided for under this act would require authorization by law. Existing private rights within the wilderness system would not be revoked by the present measure, and the prohibition of commercial and other uses not consistent with wilderness does not preclude many existing uses. In addition, prospecting for oil and other minerals and their development could be undertaken within the national forest and public domain areas if the President determines such use is of greater public benefit.
The prohibition to activities in wilderness areas are not as sweeping as often charged, nor are the decisions permanent without the flexibility to meet possible emergencies.
WHY S. 174 IS OPPOSED
One could amass a string of objections given by opponents of this measure but in substance the basic opposition is that of continued development with minimum restraints versus preservation. Many argue that the proposed legislation would have the effect of locking up these areas, and preventing the commercial uses, which are often contended to be of equal or greater importance than the use for wilderness. It is their interest in extending mineral exploration, timbering, increase in grazing, all of which are competing uses for the area. Their justification for this is that the needs supplied by this use are of greater importance than the needs the area would have for wilderness. This is especially claimed in States that have a preponderance of Federal-owned land within their borders. This is an argument that anyone should understand, and it becomes a matter of judgment as well as concern as to which need or use should receive the highest consideration. It would be redundant for us to again detail what we believe to be the clearly marked preference in favor of wilderness.
Some of the opponents of the wilderness preservation system feel it important to point out that they are in favor of wilderness but, They are in favor of wilderness that is consistent, for example, with mining. In many instances what they really mean is that they are in favor of certain kinds of recreation that could be continued in these areas and not be inconsistent with commercial development, but it would not be a wilderness area. Those who are committed to commercial development of many of these land areas do not care for the proposed legislation that would require the approval of the President with the concurrence of Congress, to determine that their needs were greater than those of wilderness. In our judgment, the present measure is long overdue because of the contracting resource base within the United States relative to our continuing increase in population. The catch-as-catch-can system of development will not longer suffice, and additional commitments of resources to development must be made more prudently and carefully. The present measure before this committee does not lock up any resource, it does not make impossible the exploitation or development of any of the resources within the wilderness system. It does, however, place a serious burden of proof upon those who wish to develop a particular resource within a wilderness area to come forth with the reasons for that development and engage in discussion as to the merits of wilderness vis-a-vis the merits of economic or commercial development. Upon that basis the country through its elected officers and representatives in the executive branch and in the Congress can make a determination. That development will be slowed down as a result of the passage of this act is without question. It is the purpose of this act to slow down such development, much of which in the past was not prudently accomplished and much of which in the past has been noteworthy for its destruction.
Some contend that this legislation should be held up until the report of the Outdoor Recreation Commission is made. The logic of this objection escapes us. In actuality, the passage of this legislation is far more consistent with the objectives of the Outdoor Recreation Commission than not passing this legislation. As indicated before, this legislation certainly reduces the speed by which development can take place, and the result would appear to favor not frustrate the Outdoor Recreation Commission's study. If development would be allowed to continue and some areas were developed by the time the Outdoor Recreation Commission reported, quite obviously the options before the Outdoor Recreation Commission would be diminished.
Mr. Chairman, there seems to be little question that time is running out and if the people of the United States are to achieve any serious protection for areas not already intruded upon by the works of man, this is the golden opportunity to do so.
Dr. SMITH. I am Spencer M. Smith, the secretary of the Citizens Committee on Natural Resources. I simply wanted to call attention to one or two items which have not been brought out today. One is the long history of this legislation. On the one hand a group of conservationists would like a wilderness bill that would blanket all of the wilderness areas, including the primitive areas, into a wilderness preservation system immediately.
On the other hand, another group, as indicated here today, desires to include only areas that are now specifically designated as wilderness. As a result, they would allow primitive areas to be included in the wilderness system only by act of Congress.
S. 174 therefore, is a compromise with these two extreme positions, the one group who would want to take everything in now and the one group who would want to leave out a substantial part of it. S. 174 is the result of a lot of bickering back and forth, discussions and meetings over the past 5 or 6 years. It is this compromise that I think is effective. If the opponents of S. 174 prevail 55 percent of the total land area of the proposed wilderness in the national forests would be excluded. About 40 of the 83 areas in the national forests would be removed from the bill. The result would hardly be adequate for the purpose we have in mind.
Mr. Chairman, I also want to point out that much has been made of the fact that we wish to lock up these resources. I think everybody in this room knows usually what happens when the determination is left to administrative decision. If somebody wants to open up a wilderness area for something they attempt to pressure the Secretary to open it up.
People who don't want it opened pressure the Secretary to that end. Essentially this bill would put such discussions out on the table, by directing all parties to come before Congress and have their discussions in open forum, as we are doing now. In our judgment the burden of proof should be on development for if we should not develop the particular resource in the wilderness area and it is true later we may have been incorrect the resources not developed are still there and the mistake may be remedied.
On the other hand, the situation is not reversible. If we do go in and develop these particular areas and then find we have made a mistake—the wilderness is gone and the mistake cannot be rectified. It seems to me that prudent resource planning should insist that a use or commitment to develop undergo the most searching inquiry and analysis.
One other thing that amuses me somewhat. Some reference has been made that a wilderness has not been defined. The bill itself defines wilderness and it is specifie as to what it means. The conservationists supporting the measure are perfectly content with the definition.
It seems to me this is reasonably resolved at the present time. The next item that bothers me is the opponents' reference to the multipleuse concept. Certainly the Forest Service that has had a lot of experience in administering multiple use testified in favor of the bill. The chairman of this committee has had some experience as Secretary of Agriculture, and is aware of some of the problems of multiple use. I don't think multiple use means that on a specific piece of ground every conceivable use has to be made of that piece of ground. It is quite proper in an area such as a national forest that 8 percent of it may have well been set aside for some particular use when this use is of such quality that it might be incompatible with other uses. There is nothing wrong with such a setting aside nor does it contravene the multiple-use concept.
I also want to compliment the chairman on his ability of persuasion. When the outdoor recreation bill was before this committee, if I read right, those who are supporting it so strongly at the present time did not find the same measure of support when the bill was being heard.
The CHAIRMAN. The Senator referred to that when he got a little further along
Dr. SMITH. It is a great pleasure to me to see that you have been this persuasive. What, conceivably, could the passage of this measure do to affect adversely or in any way hinder the Outdoor Recreation Commission! This bill asks that resources not be committed to development use. Therefore, if the Outdoor Recreation Resources Commission reports on areas that meet the needs for recreation, an undeveloped area would be far more consistent with any such report than if a mine or some similar development had taken place.
It is amusing to hear some of the inconsistencies of the opponents. They assure us that we have nothing to fear; that the wilderness is in good hands and will not be destroyed; and shame on us for locking it up and not letting them get to it.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Doctor. I appreciate your appearing.
Dr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.