In seattle, Wash. early last week, 104 citizens showed up at the U.S. courthouse to testify for—and against—Hubert Humphrey's Senate Bill 1123. And later in the week, 63 hotly declared themselves on the same subject in Phoenix, Ariz. The bill that touched off the polemics proposes a National Wilderness Preservation System and is Congress' third attempt in two years to create one. As law, S. 1123 would prescribe that some 50 million acres, carved from national forests, parks and game refuges, be left in a raw, wild and primitive state for "recreation, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation and historical use" only. The Wilderness, in the bill's words, would be one place "where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."
Aware of the "legitimate conflicting interests" affected by such legislation, the Senate's Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs was seeking guidance in the Seattle and Phoenix hearings. Earlier this year it has done the same thing in the affected states of Oregon, California, Utah and New Mexico. As expected, those opposed to the bill (miners, farmers, oilmen, businessmen and cattlemen for the most part) said it Blocked Economic Development and Favored the Few. And as expected, those in favor (outdoorsmen, mothers, boy scouts, garden clubbers and conservationists, for the most part) spoke eloquently of Nature and sententiously of Economic Exploitation. (For elaboration see page 145.) Before the Senate acts one way or another on S. 1123, there will be further hearings, this time in Washington, D.C.
TESTIMONY OF THOSE FOR S. 1123
CECIL C. CLARK
I am a fruit grower and a Washington state representative. To close these areas to naught but foot or horseback traffic is a selfish act for the rugged and rich.
A. B. FIELDER
As president of the Seattle Audubon Society, I say every generation should be able to experience physical and spiritual refreshment where primitive nature is undisturbed.
E. F. COOK
As a mining engineer, I see an interesting contrast between the Russians, who explore everywhere, and Americans, who complacently close off areas from mineral exploration.
R. D. WATSON
I'm a lumber wholesaler. Spokesmen of our industry who oppose the Wilderness Preservation bill are speaking in favor of easy profits for some well-situated operators.
CHARLES S. COWAN
I am a retired forester and I have 50 years' experience behind me. In my opinion, the setting aside of any natural area to be used for only one purpose is wrong.
A typical Seattleite, I love our forested mountains, whether looking at them from our city or from the bank of a clear stream in a grove of soft-scented virgin timber.
DR. VICTOR B. SCHEFFER
To me, a zoologist, the wilderness is a great outdoor classroom. Here, in each new visitor, some of the fire of Darwin, Thoreau or Teddy Roosevelt is rekindled.
MRS. JOHN VODAR JR.
I can speak only from the heart of a mother and a woman who loves this great, wonderful country of ours and the beauty God has given us to preserve and not destroy.
TESTIMONY OF THOSE AGAINST S. 1123
E. F. HEACOX
I am in the lumber business. Proponents of the bill imply immediate action is needed to save the last vestiges of wild land in the U.S. Facts do not support this.
COMMENT OF A TRIBESMAN
We Apaches feel all Indians affected should negotiate for an area based on the multiple-use principle. But to solve the problem maybe you ought to give the land back to the Indians. ("I've heard the Indians wouldn't take it," quipped Senator Barry Goldwater.) That's just Manhattan, Senator.