The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 39

media, community debates, hearings, and court filings
- and a roiling menu of peripheral issues as
well. Ironically, many environmentalists were devoted
skiers and many skiers thought of themselves
as protective of the environment. While these conflicts
were occurring, environmental organizations
proliferated and evolved, but ski interests were led
by commercial or trade organizations, and organized
skiing - FWSA. As far as proposed area development
was concerned, skiing mostly lost.
The experience of the FWSA in area development
(considered part of Public Affairs from the early
1970s) came in overlapping sequences: San Gorgonio
(1964), Mineral King (1965-78), identification
of sites suitable for skiing, RARE and RARE II assessments
(1970-79), expansions of existing areas,
Moses-Maggie/Peppermint (1980-90), and Sherwin-San
Joaquin (1982-1991). FWSA was copied
on or responded to all Draft Environmental Impact
Statements involving ski facility development or expansion
until after 2000.
San Gorgonio
Mt. San Gorgonio is the highest peak in
Southern California (11,502 feet). It has two northfacing
bowls and was referred to by many early
skiers as highly desirable as a ski area convenient to
the Southern California metro areas. The first
recorded ski ascent was made in February, 1931. A
rudimentary cabin (Edelweiss) was built near South
Fork Meadows in 1934. Several proposals by local
skiers were made to build a ski area on San G
started as early as 1937. Development was looked
upon unfavorably by some foresters and locals,
whether environmentalist or not. The new Wilderness
Act was passed in 1964, and its hearings began
to decide what areas should go into Wilderness.
Hearings were held locally, chaired by a Congressman
from an Eastern state, and differing positions
regarding the future for San G soon became obvious.
San G was recommended for Wilderness
classification and was later voted so. That action
was and is one of the biggest hits against lift-served
skiing in California.
For years, the Southern Council, on the initiative
of Dick Goetzman, kept a San G fund to
serve as seed money for a campaign if the Wilderness
classification had some chance of reversal.
FWSA had by then been trained in mobilization of
its membership and the public at large. You can still
ski the deep snows and scenic beauty of San G's ski
slopes but it requires hiking in and then you need
to make a substantial climb in the snow.
Up until 1968, there was an annual San G
DH race. It was last run in 1977 or 1978, won by
Dave Tollakson with Steve Reneker second.
Mineral King
As far back as the 1930s, experienced skiers
who skied Mineral King thought it had world class
LEFT: Surveyers stop to analyze the terrain near the cornice of Mt. San Gorgonio. a Mosauer Photo
RIGHT: Mineral King's Visalia Peak, overlooks Christianna Bowl and the Mineral King Valley.
photo courtesy of Ingrid P. Wicken, California Ski Library
skiing potential to serve Southern California. David
Brower, future Executive Director of the Sierra
Club and the founder of the environmental movement,
wrote favorably about the prospects of skiing
Mineral King.
Vic and Bea Hasher spent two seasons in Mineral
King in 1949-51. Their visitors brought out
glowing reports. These and other reports convinced
the US Forest Service to issue a prospectus in 1965
for a ski resort in Mineral King. That same year,
David Brower was presented with a court decision
that environmental groups could have standing to
sue on behalf of the environment. He was to wield
this new weapon with vigor. The USFS had
awarded development of its winter sports contract
to the Disney Corporation; the design was unveiled
in 1967 and it drew environmental fury from the
Sierra Club. FWSA responded with mobilization
of its membership and the public it could reach with
letters, appearances, debates on the merits of Mineral
King and its image as a savior for skiers in
Southern California. Disney's concept was dazzling,
a huge village concept requiring a long road
in and monorail access, and with 20,000 skiers on
the slopes at peak. FWSA mobilized to fight the
Sierra Club's standing to sue issue along with the
US Government and a host of Amicus briefs pro
and con. FWSA filed its own amicus curiae brief
and sided with the government to defeat the Sierra
Club in 1972.
The war was not over. Sierra Club amended
its complaint and arguments continued. The Sierra
Club fought every aspect of the 1974 Draft Environmental
Impact Statement (DEIS) by Disney.
When the USFS and Disney reduced the scale of
the resort design to 8,000 skiers, the Sierra Club
dropped its suit in 1977.
Vic and Bea Hasher surveyed Mineral King.
Sawtooth Peak is in the distance. They spent two
ski seasons in the valley collecting information on
the possibilities for skiing. They hosted visitors
who could also evalutate the possibility for a ski
resort here. Their 1947-1949 experiences were
circulated widely and were used by the USFS to
publish a request for proposals for a ski resort.
photo couresty of Ingrid P. Wicken, California Ski Library
An FWSA amicus curiae brief was filed on
behalf of the development of Mineral King.
photo courtesy of John Watson Collection
The Mineral King story lasted until 1978
when the resort area was folded into the Sequoia
National Park by an Act of Congress, eliminating
any possibility of a ski resort under current law.
The Mineral King issue dominated FWSA's area
development activity for over 13 years.
FWSA 90th Anniversary Booklet / 1930 - 2020 39

The Far West Ski Association Turns 90

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Far West Ski Association Turns 90

Index
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - Cover1
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - Cover2
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 1
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 2
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - 3
The Far West Ski Association Turns 90 - Index
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