San Rafael Wilderness
Forest Service Chief Robert Y. Stuart established the San Rafael Primitive Area within the Los Padres National Forest of California, in 1932. After passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act, the San Rafael became the first primitive area to be reclassified as wilderness. Approximately eleven months before its reclasification, Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman presented the following testimony in support of the San Rafael Wilderness Area.
STATEMENT OF SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE ORVILLE L. FREEMAN BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON PUBLIC LANDS OF THE COMMITTEE ON INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS, UNITED STATES SENATE, ON S. 889, A BILL TO DESIGNATE THE SAN RAFAEL WILDERNESS, LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST, IN CALIFORNIA, ON APRIL 11, 1967.
MR. CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE:
It gives me a great deal of pleasure to speak in support of S. 889. The bill would designate the San Rafael Wilderness, Los Padres National Forest, as the first addition to the National Wilderness Preservation System, since it was created by the Wilderness Act of 1964.
The wilderness concept expressed in the Wilderness Act has its roots deep in the history of this Department's Forest Service.
Forty-three years ago, through the foresight and leadership of Dr. Aldo Leopold, then Assistant Regional Forester in the Southwest, an area embracing the Mogollan Mountains in the Gila National Forest, New Mexico, became the first Federal land specifically marked for wilderness protection. From that year forward, the Department of Agriculture has continued to classify portions of the National Forests primarily valuable and needed for wilderness.
A wilderness is not just a recreation area, although recreation usually an important use. Wilderness is a resource that has many values.
To the land administrator, it serves as a control that provides a yardstick for policy decisions on use, protection, and management of comparable areas of land or water not so designated. It will also serve as a benchmark against which resource management and land capability evaluations can be made.
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To the scientist, wilderness is a laboratory for measuring the behavoir of plants and animals free from human intervention. It is a reservoir of genetic plant and animal material of potential value to future generations.
I not only believe in the wilderness concept, but I have also supported it vigorously. Eleven separate areas, containing over 2 million acres, have been designated for wilderness management since I have been Secretary of Agriculture. This is nearly one-fourth of the present Wilderness System.
I continue to support the concept and will be proud to see the establishment of the San Rafael Wilderness as one more step in this program.
While I recognize the Nation's need for wilderness, I also recognize its need to develop all the National Forest resources in the combination which best meets the needs of the American people.Before recommending any addition to the Wilderness System, we study all the area’s resources as they relate to the people's needs and opportunities. Such a study was made of the San Rafael Primitive Area and contiguous lands. Our proposal has been tested and perfected in the crucible of a public hearing.The results show:
This ruggedly wild region of nearly 143,000 acres lies only 12 airline miles from Santa Barbara, California. It is located within a 2-hour drive of 6 million people.
In Southern California, there are 4 National Forest units of the Wilderness System and 3 other Primitive Areas. These are all smaller than the proposed San Rafael Wilderness.The combined acreage of these 7 other areas is about 240,000 acres, and the closest is about 120 miles from the San Rafael.
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The carefully selected boundaries recommended for the San Rafael Wilderness will allow development of the roads and fuelbreaks outside these boundaries necessary to provide adequate fire protection. The disastrous 90,000-acre Wellman fire in June of 1966, provided strong evidence of this need.
The area does not contain known significant mineral resources.
The people's need in the general area for developed recreation sites, such as picnic areas and campgrounds, can be met outside the wilderness in the foreseeable future.
There is no existing industry or local economy dependent on the estimated 12-million board feet of timber in the area.
Water quality will be maintained or improved by wilderness designation.
Most of those lands suitable for treatment to increase water yield have been excluded, so there will be no significant reduction in the long-term water yielding capacity of the wilderness.
Wild animals will be allowed to exist and compete in a natural environment where they can be seen and enjoyed by future generations.
Hunting will continue to be permitted under State game laws.
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Opportunities for primitive and unconfined types of recreation for millions of people yet unborn will be assured.
The San Rafael Wilderness will be an outstanding addition to our National Wilderness Preservation System.
I urge enactment of S. 889.