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Yosemite Lawsuit Could Limit Park Access #6486
01/29/07 01:55 PM
01/29/07 01:55 PM
Joined: Feb 2005
Montana
Tony Bynum Offline OP
Pooh-Bah
Tony Bynum  Offline OP
Pooh-Bah

Joined: Feb 2005
Montana
Well, here we go looks like there are too many people and too much development in at least on of our national parks (story posted below - AP). I know there are access limits in other national parks, including Yellowstone, but is it time to slow the use and development of our parks overall, or arenít our wilderness areas enough?

Photography is growing as a recreation and leisure activity, it's projected to keep growing, should there be limits on access to certain places that get over photographed, particularly if they are being destroyed because they show up on the cover of OP and the location gets listed? It happens.

My opinion, IT'S ABOUT TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have you ever been to Yosemite - it's a zoo and way over developed. There really are too many people "enjoying" some of the popular areas in our parks. I'd say put some restrictions in place and protect the integrity of the place. . .



Yosemite Lawsuit Could Limit Park Access
By GARANCE BURKE
AP
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (Jan. 28) - The plunging waterfalls and soaring crags chiseled by the Merced River draw millions of visitors each year, but the crowds are precisely what threatens the waterway and the park.

'Crown Jewel' of the U.S.
Efforts to safeguard the Merced have spawned a court battle over the future of development in Yosemite National Park's most popular stretch. The case may come down to the challenge facing all of America's parks: Should they remain open to everyone, or should access be limited in the interest of protecting them?

In November, a federal judge barred crews from finishing $60 million in construction projects in Yosemite Valley, siding with a small group of environmentalists who sued the federal government, saying further commercial development would bring greater numbers of visitors, thus threatening the Merced's fragile ecosystem.

"The park's plans for commercialization could damage Yosemite for future generations," said Bridget Kerr, a member of Friends of Yosemite Valley, one of two local environmental groups that filed the suit.

The government is appealing, fearing the ruling could force the National Park Service to limit the number of people allowed into Yosemite each day, a precedent it doesn't want to see echoed in other parks.

"I don't think we've ever had a ruling with these kind of implications," said Kerri Cahill, a Denver-based planner for the park service. "It's going to have a direct influence on the public who care about these places."

The case has Yosemite's most loyal advocates sharply divided over how to balance preservation with access to public lands. Even environmentalists can't agree on how to minimize the human footprint - some believe cars should be kept out entirely; others say visitors should have to make reservations in advance.

Yosemite was the first land in the country set aside for its scenic beauty, declared a public trust in 1864 by Abraham Lincoln. Its 1,200 square miles of granite peaks and towering waterfalls became a national park in 1890, and with few exceptions its gates have been open to all ever since, though backcountry permits are limited to minimize the human impact on wilderness areas.

The Merced itself is protected under the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

The current fight began when the Merced flooded in 1997, wiping out campgrounds and parking lots and damaging rooms at the popular Yosemite Lodge. The park service drew up a $442 million remodeling plan that included moving campgrounds, rerouting a key access road, rebuilding employee housing and upgrading hotel rooms on the valley floor.

Kerr's group and Mariposans for the Environment and Responsible Government sued, claiming aspects of the park's plans - including blasting part of the river canyon - threatened the Merced.

The groups also fear the costs of park upgrades would be passed on to visitors in the form of price hikes for hotel rooms and campsites, turning Yosemite into a playground for the rich.

Park officials say no such rate increases are planned. Accommodations now range from about $20 per night for a campsite to nearly $1,000 for a suite in the deluxe Ahwahnee Hotel.

Park spokesman Scott Gediman called the plaintiffs a "fringe group" pushing a radical agenda.

"They want us to set a quota for the number of visitors coming into the park, which is something we just don't want to do," he said.

Well-known conservation groups like the Sierra Club and Nature Conservancy aren't directly involved in the fight, though the Sierra Club was among more than 60 organizations that signed a legal brief supporting an earlier version of the suit.

Gediman said the number of visitors is falling and crowding isn't a problem except at the height of summer, when there's bumper-to-bumper traffic near popular sites like El Capitan, the 3,000-foot granite monolith rising from the valley floor.

In 1996, when the park had a record 4 million visitors, rangers shut gates when all parking spaces were filled. But last year, the nation's third-most popular park hit a 16-year low with 3.36 million visitors.

"This is the United States' version of the crown jewels, so why wouldn't we protect it as best we can?" said Peter Newman, a natural resources management professor at Colorado State University who filed a legal brief supporting the park service. "I've just never heard of any other plan that has been so contested."

Re: Yosemite Lawsuit Could Limit Park Access [Re: Tony Bynum] #6487
01/31/07 02:54 AM
01/31/07 02:54 AM
Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey Offline
I
James Morrissey  Offline
I
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
Hi Tony,

Thank you very much for posting this. I will probably include the link in the February newsletter. I am all for protecting the national parks from over-utilization, but I also believe that there needs to be a balance.

The parks are first and formost, public lands that have been put aside from development. They are expected to have a variety of different usages and facilities and to be accessible to people from all walks of life. Unfortunately, I think that the parks have not always achieved this goal, being a refuge to the relatively afluent (not always, certainly).

The interesting thing about all this is that while the perception has been that the parks are over-groaning with folks coming to them that there has reportedly been a decrease in park visits over the last decade. I am including a few links on this:

http://www.gadling.com/2007/01/19/is-anyone-visiting-america-s-national-parks/

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-me-natparks24nov24,0,6670084.story?coll=la-home-headlines

So the question is - is it really numbers that are the problem or is it something else, such as a lack of re-investment in some form?

James

Re: Yosemite Lawsuit Could Limit Park Access [Re: Tony Bynum] #6488
01/31/07 03:41 AM
01/31/07 03:41 AM
Joined: Jul 2006
Eden (no really!)
J
jamesdak Offline
Old hand
jamesdak  Offline
Old hand
J

Joined: Jul 2006
Eden (no really!)
Very hard to strike a balance on these issues. I too want to see the natural beauty of the places protected and the crowds thinned out. Even here in Northern Utah where I live the struggle is going on to protect the natural lands from development and overuse. We lived here from the late 80s until 1993 and there was a nearby ski resort mountain that was virtually people free when the ski season was over. I used to get some of my best wildlife shots in that area in the spring, summer and fall. Now there's homes popping up all over the ridges, mountain bikers everywhere and few moose and coyote to be found. The one narrow road now sees constant bed erosion problems along with drainiage issues all over the place. I'm hoping to move further north when my last one is out of school in search of some still fairly virgin wilderness.

Re: Yosemite Lawsuit Could Limit Park Access [Re: jamesdak] #6489
01/31/07 07:37 PM
01/31/07 07:37 PM
Joined: Jan 2007
Kansas
S
spartacusii Offline
Tracker
spartacusii  Offline
Tracker
S

Joined: Jan 2007
Kansas
& do what - build a house? & bring with it all the rest of your 'trappings'? isn't this how it starts? then how long would it be before someone else joins you relatively nearby, & someone follows them? next thing you know, someone complains about overcrowding/development.

seems to me that those that truly believed in the notion of keeping the 'natural' areas from man's influence would commit to huddling in areas already committed to development - ie: cities & towns. but that brings its own set of problems, doesn't it?

so what IS the solution? or IS there a solution?

jp

Re: Yosemite Lawsuit Could Limit Park Access [Re: spartacusii] #6490
02/01/07 02:34 PM
02/01/07 02:34 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Long Island, NY
Diane Offline
Journeyman
Diane  Offline
Journeyman

Joined: Feb 2007
Long Island, NY
I work for the NPS, and this issue is one that comes up continually. As NPS stewards, it's hard to balance the need for protection against the desire to visit and use the lands, be it for passive recreation to outright construction and development. Ultimately, it boils down to politics, and that's a shame, albeit a reality.

I think one of the hardest challenges for park service planners it the development adjacent to federal lands. Unless there is a very clear nexus between such development and potential degradation of federal lands, it's an activity that's all but impossible to stop.

One case in point is Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. The parkway was acquired for its scenic beauty. Yet, that scenery is primarily beyond the park boundaries. Politics, education, and yes, sometimes outright restrictions are required to protect what was set aside by Congress in the first place to protect.

Finding the solution is the challenge. Working with local entities, enviromental groups, and even developers, working to get all on board to understand that it's in EVERYONE'S best interest to protect the lands is the challenge. But, given the amounts of money and land values adjacent to federal lands, the pressure to build is huge. It's all but impossible to stop unless local and state governments are will to put up the money to either buy the land in fee, or just purchase conservation easements.

I dunno. I guess, ultimately, I don't understand the greed mentality of maximizing profits over all other issues. Why can't just *some* profits, maybe, be enough? Why does maximum profits become the end all/be all goal of developers? Generally, it gives me a headache and makes me wanna puke. There. I said it.

Re: Yosemite Lawsuit Could Limit Park Access [Re: Diane] #6491
02/01/07 04:48 PM
02/01/07 04:48 PM
Joined: Feb 2005
Montana
Tony Bynum Offline OP
Pooh-Bah
Tony Bynum  Offline OP
Pooh-Bah

Joined: Feb 2005
Montana
Well said Diane, I agree 100%


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