AH, WILDERNESS: OPPOSING VIEWS
Your article Urbanity and the Wilderness (SI, March 16) was widely read throughout our industry. The comments we have received indicate that many readers view your entry into discussions of controversial conservation measures with a feeling somewhat akin to that experienced by the gentleman who watched his mother-in-law drive his new Cadillac over a cliff.
Your Nature Editor, John O'Reilly, has done an excellent piece of reporting as regards the recent North American Wildlife Conference held in New York City. However, the emotional pleading on behalf of increased wilderness areas within the United States contained within the article does not appear to be based on a thorough study of the problem.
A nationwide controversy exists over the provisions of Senate Bill 1123, recently introduced by Senator Humphrey of Minnesota and others. In effect this bill would initially "lock up" as wilderness 55 million acres of the public domain. Ninety percent of this land is in the western states. Wilderness proponents will have us believe that there is very little wilderness left in the U.S. and, further, that we are in extreme danger of losing what we presently have. This is a gross misrepresentation advanced by those who would like to see more of the country's public domain placed in a "bureaucratic icebox" for use at some unspecified future time....
Federal wilderness lands in California are used by fewer than 200,000 people annually, whereas the insignificant—by comparison—amount of land held by the state is utilized by more than 15 million people annually.
Lands to be beneficial must be put to multiple uses. Granted we need wilderness areas, but caution should be exercised to see that areas preserved—inviolate—are truly outstanding examples of wilderness. The western economy, faced with supporting a soaring population, cannot continue to grow in the face of indiscriminate and greedy withdrawals of public lands to serve a single purpose—wilderness.
Mr. David Brower, the peripatetic head of California's Sierra Club, complains bitterly about rising population figures in the West and California in particular. Perhaps this is why 55 major western chambers of commerce, farm bureaus, irrigation districts, women's clubs, boards of supervisors, state legislatures, and the Forest Service oppose his views, as well as the provisions of S. 1123. If Mr. Brower has developed a sure-fire method of controlling population growth, he may find himself a wealthy man, as well as engaged in an additional and even more lurid controversy....
If the "Park Avenue conservationists" persist in their attempts to "lock up" the lands of the West (through the enactment of S. 1123) they will have to answer to the nation's motoring public, whose enjoyment of wilderness areas will be limited by the restrictions against roads, and to the senior citizens, who possess a mature appreciation of beauty but who nevertheless lack the stamina to hike or pack into these roadless wilderness areas.
HENRY W. WRIGHT
Western Oil and Gas Association
I hate to see the Golden Gates being shoved closed by cities that are getting too big for their breeches, highways that invite speeders through with no appreciation of what they are passing, ramshackle tourist traps and cardboard subdivisions that unfold in the passing of a night.
About 30-odd years ago a friend of mine, Vernon D. Wood, and I became the nucleus of a group which we called The Go Places and See Things Club. It had a rather transient membership consisting of several famed movie stars between pictures, a Kansas City millionaire, a couple of rockhounds and visiting firemen. All of them had one notion in mind: to get away from the hassle of business and enjoy for a weekend, a week or a month the favors the Creator had bestowed upon this portion of the country. We hunted out lost canyons, remote villages, roads that threatened to scrape the bottom out of the ancient Franklin we used as our medium of transportation. We carried with us bed sacks, a grill, an emergency water and gas supply, and shopped for chow at the farms and ranches we ran across. We met all sorts of weather conditions head on, and survived laughing. We met interesting people, far removed from those we ran across in the daily rat race—people who enjoyed meeting us and welcomed us in, and who enjoyed sitting under a tree or alongside a river and gabbing.
We have wandered the mountains, the desert, and have spent some time out among the Indian folk, who are a most remarkable segment of humanity. We have seen sights which, if an artist painted them, would result in his being called a liar.
And little by little we have watched it vanish. Years ago we found a spot down Kern Canyon, a little ways east of Bakersfield. We traveled to it down a country road, bordered on each side with meadows that rose into hills, covered with a splash of color from the palette of the Almighty. As far as the eye could see there was nothing but one grand sweep of wildflowers, through which an occasional herd of sheep was guided by a tall man with wide shoulders, who, incidentally, always shouted "Hello" and waved his cap as we passed. Now that same road is completely covered with supermarkets, cut-rate retail shops, shopping centers and clusters of sad little homes trying their best to look happy.
The finger is even on Monument Valley, that vast stretch of sand and sage and hogans that fills the whole northeast part of Arizona. This is one of the most spectacular and inspiring gifts of God that was ever bestowed upon a country—majestic rock formations that the sun plays games with, making them change their vivid colors at each tick of the clock. But uranium has been discovered, and two—or perhaps three—of the saddest and most incongruous looking settlements have grown up out there to process the valuable stuff. It assures us we may one day get to the moon, when we haven't thoroughly covered Monument Valley yet—and it's only one of a hundred out-of-the-way places where all a man has to do is get out of his car or off his horse, stand and look around a spell, and realize what an infinitesimally insignificant critter he really is.
A fondness for simple, natural things, and a wish that they could be let alone labels a guy as a square these days. So be it: I'm a square—but at least I'm a square that's been around, and I'd love my kids and grandkids to see what I've seen.
BOXING: WHOLESOME SPORT
Martin Kane's article on intercollegiate boxing (SI, March 30) is excellent. It was needed 10 years ago; too bad SPORTS ILLUSTRATED was not in existence at that time.
The editorial board of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is to be highly complimented for printing an article on this controversial subject and for bringing the unfounded criticism of college boxing to light.
If the critics of boxing in education were to make a study of how the sport was conducted in colleges and not go to the professional enterprise to get their information, they would find intercollegiate boxing to be a wholesome activity much needed by our youth today.
Secretary, National Intercollegiate Boxing Coaches Association
BASEBALL: OPTIMISTIC WAR WHOOP
I am hopeful that you are both right and wrong in your open letter. Right in your most flattering though obviously undeservedly nice analysis of the Indians' general manager and wrong in your somewhat critical resumé of the sundry players comprising this year's, or should I say this week's, edition of the Indians. When you saw our club it certainly did not look good, but in two weeks of training since, some of the players have assumed at least something approximating our hopes for them, though it won't change their last season's batting average. Wait and see. If—there's that damned if again—if Score can pitch, and Lane believes he can, you still may come to us for World Series tickets. At least we can tell you where to get them.
TO PHIL AND OLIVIER FROM AMOCO
THE PICTURE OF THE WINNING DRIVERS OF THE SEBRING 12-HOUR GRAND PRIX OF ENDURANCE [SI, March 30 ] WAS INCORRECTLY CAPTIONED. THE AMOCO TROPHY, TOP PRIZE FOR THIS EVENT, WAS NOT PRESENTED BY ALEC ULMANN, AS YOU HAD IT, BUT BY MR. T. A. ALDRIDGE, OUR VICE-PRESIDENT IN CHARGE OF MARKETING. HE IS THE BEAMING GENTLEMAN ON FAR RIGHT.
JOHN B. GOODMAN
AMERICAN OIL COMPANY
NEW YORK CITY