Page images

in the concept. Successful corporations call it a reserve. A successfully civilized nation ought to be able to set aside a reserve, not of money for a rainy day, but of wilderness for a rainy century-and enjoy it as wilderness until the rains come or even beyond that.

Early conferences cast about for some way to achieve this. Surely there must be a role for at least two branches of the government of a nation if something as irreplaceable as wilderness was at stake on the nation's land. The executive branch could designate and guard it, but the legislative branch should at least recognize it and grant wilderness an automatic stay of execution, whoever might wish to cancel it out. Out of all this the wilderness bill emerged. And out of the extended consideration the various versions of the bill received, the meaning of wilderpess in the whole context of national resources became clearer. Perhaps what follows is a fair sketch of the relationship that has been seen to exist.

It has been the custom to look at natural resources as of two kinds-renewable, such as foods and fibers; and nonrenewable, such as metals, minerals, and fossil fuels. It is now of major importance to look anew, to consider not how renewable a resource is, but whether we have prospects of finding a substitute for it. This is so for two reasons :

1. Our rate of depletion of the "nonrenewables" is accelerating in spite of our knowledge of the following fact, succinctly put by Sir Charles Darwin: “During the whole of man's history there has been a great deal of mineral extracted from the earth, gold, copper, iron, coal, and so on. More than half the grand total of these metals and minerals has been taken out of the ground since 1920" (from the Rede lecture, 1958, Cambridge).

2. Our renewables depend entirely upon the earth's thin skin of soil, and we are wasting these, at a rapidly increasing rate, through erosion by water and bulldozer; through burial, inundation and poisoning; and through

eradication of species of unknown value to man's own future. We know from the U.S. Geological Survey that the prospects are good of finding substitutes for the nonrenewables through vastly improved technology in the processing of sea water and common rocks, aided by the almost unlimited store of energy from the atom and the sun that we are learning to control.

We have no assurance that we can find substitutes for the myriad, and for all we know, indispensable forms of life in the soil, on the land, and in the air-upon which the entire chain of life depends. Wilderness

The most important source of the vital organic forms constituting the chain of life is the gene bank that exists in wilderness, where the life force has gone on since the beginning uninterrupted by man and his techonology. For this reason alone, it is important that the remnants of wilderness which we still have on our public lands be preserved by the best methods our form of government can find. The proposed national wilderness preservation system (now before the Congress) provides an excellent route to that goal, and especially dynamic leadership in the Congress and the administration will be required during the next decade to really achieve the goal of wilderness preservation which the system would make possible. There will be important subsidiary benefits to recreation, to watershed protection, and to a continuation of the beauty of the native American scene.

A growing economy will have availed us nothing if it extinguishes our allimportant wilderness. A gross misunderstanding of wilderness, in which it is evaluated according to the number of hikers who get into it, has been fostered for the past several years, to the great detriment of all the future. . There must be no more needless, careless losses. There is no substitute for wilderness. What we now have is all that we shall ever have.

Other resource problems are of secondary importance, but still far more important than one would assume from a regular perusal of the Nation's financial pages, or from most public speeches. Forestry

The Government badly needs a program that will bring to forestry a full realization that forests mean far more than timber and pulp. On many forests other uses should be given precedence, but rarely are. The overwhelming emphasis in the training of forest-land managers, and in the decisions they

make, is on timber production. Reforestation, watershed protection, recrea. tion, wildlife restoration, and wilderness preservation are suffering severely as a result. Water

Reliance upon the reimbursable dollar as the primary criterion for water development can bring about bad projects and prevent good ones as long as there is no satisfactory means of assessing the perpetual dollar value of natural land and streams. The Nation needs to proceed without delay to a classification of streams that will present to future generations a countryside with optimum water development and wild-stream preservation. Some of the streams should be primitive, some semiprimitive, some partly developed, and some fully developed. We have waited too long already to develop a national water plan based upon this simple and clearly necessary foundation. The interim delay in the effort to clean up open sewers cannot be continued. Parks

Little time remains in which to rough out the undedicated areas having high scenic, wilderness, and wildlife values which should be added to the national park system. The only error we can make now is to preserve too little. It has been much too long since a major scenic reservation was made in the United States proper, either by a creation of new national parks by Congress or national monuments by proclamation. There has been too much “Let Roosevelt do it”Teddy or Franklin. There is far too much parochialism evident now that the effort to round out the parks is getting belatedly into motion. Some 180 million acres were set aside as national forests in a bold, sweeping motion more than half a century ago. Within these areas are some of the finest potential parks, and a transfer of a small fraction of the national forest total could greatly enrich the national park system without appreciable impoverishment of our national forests—especially when the Nation has some 50 million acres of forest land that was allowed to become impoverished and is critically in need of reforestation. Wildlife

We need an expanded program of habitat improvement on developed lands and a fuller understanding of the importance, to many species, of preserving a natural regimen, in wildlife refuges and game ranges as well as in wilderness. Of primary importance is a still more intensive program of research in methods of control of herbicides and pesticides so as to reduce peril to wildlife and to man. Roads and highways

Construction of roads has proceeded so rapidly that there has not been time to evaluate properly their cost to the Nation in terms of impairment of the economic feasibility of efficient mass transportation, or in terms of the cholesterol laid down in the cities' arteries, or in terms of soil, beauty, and wilderness lost. It is now time to reappraise the high priority given to roads in the expenditure of public funds in view of the lagging programs in many critical fields, such as education, world health, redevelopment, and preservation.

We have lately been playing a game of strip poker with the American earth. A relatively few people have been winning the early hands—people interested in quick profits from the sale of conveniences—and all but guaranteeing that our children will lose as the game goes on, not just conveniences, but necessities as well.

We need wider realization that milk does not come from a bottle, nor water from a tap, nor gasoline from a throttle. These are all part of our natural resources, wealth put by nature on the only world we are ever likely to live on comfortably. The Nation needs men who can match its mountain depleters, who will realize that man must never again deplete, at the rate he has been depleting since World War I, resources of the earth for which there are no known substi. tutes, including the tiny vestige which constitutes all the remaining wilderness on the earth.

Perhaps this would have been thought an extreme appraisal and not a fair one, a few years ago. But not any longer. For there is a rapidly growing readiness to scrutinize these issues, and not to dismiss them merely because they may not accord with the conventional wisdom. These are issues to be faced honestly in man's own interest, if survival interests him. Other species—and wilderness too—will then also survive as a happy coincidence.

DAVID BROWER, Executive Director, Sierrä Club. BERKELEY, CALIF., April 28, 1960.


Mr. BROWER. In the near future we shall forward for the committee file the proceedings of our seventh biennial wilderness conference, to be held in San Francisco April 7 and 8, about 5 weeks from now. It has been 2 years in the planning. Its theme is “The American Heritage of Wilderness.”

I think it germane here to mention the topics of the four general sessions and to indicate the broad spectrum of interests and skills that the speakers will bring to bear. Taken together, these suggest how far reaching the importance of wilderness is—how infinitely much more it is than the pretty outdoor gymnasium some adversaries have misconstrued it to be.

The first session is about "Wilderness and the Molding of American Character.” Justice Douglas, Author Sigurd Olson, Scientific American Publisher Gerard Piel, Librarian Lawrence Powell (grandson of the Colorado River explorer), Historian John Walton Caughey, and Rev. David Forbes will address that session.

The next session is “Wilderness and the Arts," with Chicago Art Institute Curator Hans Huth, Photographer Ansel Adams, Critic Joseph Wood Krutch, Art Professor Glenn Wessels, and university Vice Chancellor Everett Carter evaluating wilderness in relation to arts and letters.

The third session is entitled “The Face of America.” In it the meaning of wilderness to urban and broad-scale planning will be considered by Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commissioner Joseph Penfold, City Planner Catherine Bauer Wurster, Delaware Geographer Edward Higbee, California State Senator Fred Farr, and Bay Area Author Harold Gilliam.

The fourth session, “Wilderness Resource—Vanishing or Perpetual,” will be discussed by Political Scientist Grant McConnell, Zoologist Robert Stebbins, and Editor Howard Zahniser.

Congressman John P. Saylor will also speak on the practical politics of wilderness preservation, and the banquet speaker, Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, on the relation of wilderness to the New Frontier. Paul Sears, past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, will summarize the conference, and Dr. John B. deC. M. Saunders, provost of the University of California Medical School in San Francisco, is the general chairman.

Dr. Saunders came to this country many years ago from South Africa, where he was born. At his suggestion our eighth wilderness conference, in 1963, is to have as its theme "Wilderness in the Emergent Nations.” We hope that this conference will bring together the evidence that the preservation of wilderness is, in the last analysis, the hallmark of an adequate civilization.

In summary, I hope that these remarks have helped show, by implication at least, how much the concern for wilderness has spread through the public as a whole, especially to people in the West, where most of the wilderness is. I hope further to have indicated how wilderness is engaging the attention of leaders in American thought. The new American attitude toward wilderness, firmly founded on the precepts espoused by Thoreau, Emerson, Muir, Johnson, McFarland, the Olmsteds, Mather, Leopold, and Marshall, is likely to be one of the best examples America has set for the world to live by. What we do to save wilderness may win us more respect than what we do to

pave it.


Before concluding I should like to comment on one question which has been repeated at frequent intervals in antiwilderness circles : “Why not hold up the wilderness bill," they ask, "until the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission has made its report?”

I think this is a search for time and not for information.

The Sierra Club has a special interest in the purposes of both programs—the wilderness bill and the recreation resource review. The wilderness bill idea was first made public at our first wilderness conference by Howard Zahniser, whose leadership in this important field fully deserves a secure niche in conservation history.

Further, we launched the scenic resources review idea in 1955 and presented it to audiences all over

the country in the ensuing year, pubfishing upon it at length. Its California counterpart has now been completed, and we have great admiration for the energy and skill the Izaak Walton League brought to bear in helping make a reality of the idea.

We know that the commission is no substitute for a wilderness bill, nor is a report on outdoor recreation intended to be a substitute for a preservation system.

The wilderness bill is the house we need now, the kind of structure that will keep the house standing in the storm of conflict that lies ahead. The Commission's report may well deal in part with the question whether the house needs to be enlarged or reduced, but only in small part with that question. The report can be presumed to be primarily concerned about what goes on outside the house and only incidentally about who may someday be sheltered within it. The analogy is a little cloudy. Maybe I can be clearer simply by stating that a man builds his house before winter comes, and before he knows exactly how many

children there will be to rear in it. We need the wilderness bill now as a protective device for those wilderness lands we have already set aside. We know their preservation is necessary. We know it in our conscience. And we know their preservation has not deprived the Nation ; quite the contrary.

If the ORRRC report should somehow prove that there is too much wilderness in the national wilderness preservation system, the wilderness bill provides all the necessary keys and passageways by which wilderness can be removed, and shrinks the house to hold what is left. If the report proves that more wilderness should be set aside, the wilderness bill will be the house to keep it in. Congress will have a key to the door, whether wilderness is to come in or go out. Since most exploitative uses of wilderness are irreversible, we think it equitable that it should be harder to take wilderness out than to put it in. We hope that one day there will be strong enough public support for that position to enable it to prevail. We suspect that there is such support now. But that is not at issue now. The door swings both ways equally well.


The most considerate thing we can do now is to make sure that there is a well-built house in which to shelter wilderness, and to see that it includes those extraordinary or ordinary natural, beautiful, and scarce places that we now think deserve the best protection man can devise. We should heed the admonition of William H. Whyte, Jr., to practice retroactive planning—to set aside and protect immediately what we think we'll need and rationalize at leisure whether or not we were right, secure in the knowledge that we can always release wilderness, but can never create it.

A mere 2 percent of the Nation's land resource is little enough to preserve as wilderness, to be of perpetual value for mankind's intangible needs. The other 98 percent should certainly provide enough of all the tangible things a reasonable society could ask for.

We thank the committee for this opportunity to assure a wilderness resource for the future for putting the wilderness bill in a form that is ready for action. We hope that action will come very soon.

I wonder if I might just add two or three little comments: First, it has been suggested to me back home that on the bill and the reference in the bill to hearings to be held and advertising in local newspapers - there was a suggestion that it might be well if the advertisement of proposed change could also appear in the Federal Register.

Second, we have heard quite a bit during the day about the matter of use and how you compute who is using wilderness and who is not.

I don't have a formula, and I don't think one has been quite developed yet; for a simple-minded analysis I don't think we would compute the use of this room simply by the number of footprints on the floor.

We use the walls, too, and the ceiling, even though we don't walk on either the walls or the ceiling most of the time.

I think the Nation's Capitol, the building itself, would not be quite the building it is if the ceiling were cut off at 8 feet. It would still hold the people and serve its functions. People, except the painters, are not walking over the Capitol dome, but I use that out in Berkeley.

Some of the questions that seem to be worrying a great many of the opponents of the bill seem predicated on the supposition that we are going to take our wilderness and ship it overseas, perhaps in exchange for our vanishing gold, and lose it forever.

The wilderness bill does not move an acre an inch. It leaves everything where it is and gives someone else later on a chance to decide whether it shall remain wilderness or be used for its resource value such as it may be.

I have heard the term used that it will become a "holy cow." I don't think you can fool all the people all the time about the "holy cow" values of wilderness if they are not real.

If they are false values, it will become a “profane cow” and will be lost.

Finally, I think that if we are all going to take telescopes and try to see how far ahead we can look, let us add 1 more year to any figure anyone has yet used today. Let us say 101 years. I think that we have seen proof in the last two or three decades that mankind has

« PreviousContinue »