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ICYMI – Protests Prompt Delay of Yosemite Overhaul Plan


WASHINGTON, D.C., July 12, 2013 -
The National Park Service (NPS) is currently drafting a plan to determine the future of the Merced River in Yosemite National Park. Earlier this week, the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation heard from witnesses regarding this plan that could permanently remove several recreational amenities that have long been a staple for visitors to the Merced River floodplain. Both witnesses and Committee Members at the hearing expressed concern over the objectives of the NPS in implementing these restrictions and how they will affect future visitors to the park.  

Protests prompt delay of Yosemite overhaul plan – LA Times

“‘The issue is public enjoyment of public lands,’ Rep. Tom McClintock, a Republican who represents the district that includes Yosemite, said Tuesday at a hearing of the House subcommittee on public lands and environmental regulation.
The plan, he said, represents ‘a new elitist maxim: 'Look, but don't touch. Visit, but don't enjoy.'

Several witnesses argued that the changes would hurt nearby communities that are economically dependent on the park. They said officials preparing the plan had ignored their concerns.
‘People don't believe in the park service,’ said Brian H. Ouzounian, representing the Yosemite Valley Campers Coalition, which promotes drive-in campgrounds and other family camping.”

Dispute over Yosemite river plan spills into Congress – Desert Sun

“Critics are unhappy with the park service’s preferred approach — one of six plans under consideration — to comply with a 1987 law that designated 122 miles of the Merced River, including 81 miles within the park, as “wild and scenic.”

If the park service adopts that plan by year’s end, officials will relocate two bicycle rental shops, a horse-rental business and two swimming pools from the Merced River floodplain to other areas within the park.

The plan calls for adding a few camp sites in the floodplain rather than opening all 800-plus sites in operation before a 1997 flood, further rankling critics.”

Both Sides Weigh In On Merced River Plan – MML News

“Controversial aspects of the Park Service's preferred alternative calls for the elimination of some bike rentals, horseback offerings, a skating rink, pool, tennis courts, art store, and the historic Sugar Pine Bridge. 
An adamant opponent of the new plan has been Republican Congressman Tom McClintock, whose district covers the park.

 ’The NPS proposal would remove long-standing tourist facilities from Yosemite Valley,’ he said at the hearing.  ‘These facilities date back generations, and provide visitors with a wide range of amenities to enhance their stay at, and enjoyment of, this world renowned national park.’”

Controversial plan to ban Yosemite Valley bike rentals, raft rentals, ice rink could change, parks director says – Mercury News

"’We are talking all the time about the need of having more visitors going to our national parks,’ said Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, at the hearing Tuesday. ’And yet if we make our parks less visitor-friendly, how can we expect ever to achieve that?’
Some residents worried that the new proposals could harm business in surrounding towns by reducing visitors.

‘The plan discriminates against minorities, those of modest means, the very young, the elderly and the disabled,’ said Wendy Brown, a Mariposa resident and founder of Yosemite for Everyone.”

Contact: Maeve McKenna

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