BENEFITING: SAN GORGONIO WILDERNESS ASSOCIATION
EVENT: Groupon Earth Day Challenge
EVENT DATE: Apr 16, 2012
Southern California is known far and wide as the home of Hollywood, Disneyland, and surfers. What is not as well known is that there is a rare treasure only 75 miles east of Los Angeles where you can escape from the freeways and congestion of the big city: The San Gorgonio Wilderness.
The San Gorgonio Wilderness is the climax region of the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California. Located on the San Bernardino National Forest, the Wilderness receives approximately 200,000 visitors each summer. Its 58,969 acres harbor two small lakes, meadows, streams, 100+ miles of trail densely forested northern slopes, and rugged terrain. Elevations in the Wilderness range from 4,400 feet to 11,499 atop namesake Mt. San Gorgonio. All eleven U.S. Geological Survey recognized peaks are over 10,000 feet in height, with Mt. San Gorgonio being the highest. As the highest peak between the Sierra Nevada mountain range and the Mexican border, Mt. San Gorgonio offers unparalleled views of metropolitan Los Angeles and the Mojave Desert.
By the mid-1920s, drastic changes had occurred. Approximately 75,000 to 100,000 people ascended upon the San Bernardino Mountains yearly. It seemed the area would soon be run down without protection. By 1941, the area was considered by many factions looking to develop the San Gorgonio area as "the ONLY area that can adequately meet the tremendous local need for ideal outdoor winter recreation." In December 1946, under intense pressure from skiers, the Regional Forester announced notice of a plan to develop the San Gorgonio Primitive Area. On June 18, 1947, Chief Forester Lyle F. Watts (victoriously) announced that the "San Gorgonio Primitive Area has a higher public value as a wilderness and a watershed than as a downhill ski area". Finally, by 1955, the San Gorgonio Primitive Area had now become the San Gorgonio Wild Area. No protest of any kind was received against the designation, although the region was still too small to qualify as federal wilderness.By December 1962, the continuing threat from ski associations prompted the formation of the Defenders of the San Gorgonio Wilderness, an amazing group headed by Harry James and Joe Momyer (a retired San Bernardino postal superintendent) and secretary Alice Krueper.
Developers attempted to prevent the area from being included in the new proposed Wilderness Bill. Finally, on July 30 1964, to the disappointment of developers, the federal Wilderness Bill sailed through the House of Representatives. The Wilderness Act promised to "secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness….. an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain". Thus, the San Gorgonio Wilderness was born.
Surely, the San Gorgonio Wilderness could not have retained its primitive nature without the indefatigable efforts of the Defenders of the Wilderness, and now the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association. The SGWA's efforts can only continue through the support of its many generous volunteers, and through the generous donations of individuals and companies.