Ice cream and information at Historical Society social: Dr. Robert Reyes book signing — Saunders Meadow history

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The Idyllwild Area Historical Society, a rich repository of Hill history, holds its annual ice cream social on the IAHS grounds from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3.

Although one visits the IAHS to sample things old, longtime IAHS volunteer Bob Smith assures the public the ice cream will be deliciously new. “It’s a give-back to the community,” said Smith, “a thank you.”

In keeping with its mission to chronicle and catalogue Idyllwild’s history, IAHS will also host a Saturday book signing by Dr. Robert Reyes — a book detailing the history of the Saunders Meadow tract.

Starting with his purchase of one of the original U.S. Forest Service cabins in Saunders Meadow, Reyes chronicles the tract’s history and evolution in “Saunders Meadow — A Place Without Fences, a History of the Term Occupancy Permit Act of 1915” (Mill City Press, 2016).

The book follows Congressional passage of the Occupancy Act in March 1915, that allowed private citizens the opportunity to occupy national forest or public domain lands for certain periods of time for “family recreation summer homes, campgrounds, resorts and stores.”

Reyes details how in the 1960s the Saunders Meadow tract and the Forest Service executed a land exchange and order that allowed cabin owners to own the land on which their cabins were built — land that was part of the San Bernardino National Forest. As a result, the tract is now Saunders Meadow Inc., with an annual homeowner fee of $50 that helps maintain Saunders Meadow, common ground for the 57 homes located in the tract.

Reyes will sign books and answer questions, while attendees sample ice cream.

The event is free to the public and is located in the garden of the IAHS on North Circle Drive.

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