From: alra@governance.net
Subject: Yosemite Plan Under Attack In Congress

Land Rights Network
American Land Rights Association
PO Box 400 – Battle Ground, WA 98604
Phone: 360-687-3087 – Fax: 360-687-2973 – E-mail: alra@landrights.org
Web Address: http://www.landrights.org
Legislative Office: 507 Seward Square SE – Washington, DC 20003
Phone: 202-210-2357 – Fax: 202-543-7126 – E-mail: landrightsnet@aol.com

Yosemite Plan Under Attack In Congress

Testimony Questionnaire Mailing Deadline Thursday, July 31st.

Go to www.landrights.org and download the Testimony Questionnaire.

Mail it back to American Land Rights, PO Box 400, Battle Ground, WA 98604

News article about Yosemite legislation below.

Dear Yosemite Advocate:	

Rep. George Radanovich just introduced a bill (HR 2715) in Congress to put back SOME of the campsites lost to the flood in 1997.  The bill also restores SOME of the parking the Yosemite Valley Plan has set for removal.   The bill makes it more difficult for the Park Service to force you to ride a bus. 

Radanovich arranged for a hearing in the Resources Committee for Tuesday, July 22nd.   

You have until Thursday, July 31st to mail YOUR PERSONAL testimony.   


That’s the good news.  The bad news is that it (HR 2715) does not go nearly far enough.  The NPS has asked Congress for almost 500 million dollars to “restore” Yosemite.  They’ve gotten half so far.  Yet most drive in campsites are disappearing and there’s a huge loss of parking planned.  

You must encourage Rep. Radanovich with his bill but urge he and Congress to really restore Yosemite and protect access for families and children, the handicapped, elderly as well as climbers and hikers.  That means that all 800 Valley drive in campsites must be saved.  And the 3,500 parking places in the Valley must not be reduced to 550 as is now planned.

The battle to save Yosemite and secure the future of your access to Yosemite National Park has been ongoing.    Media events organized by Visitors and Communities for an Open Yosemite (VCOY) and American Land Rights (ALRA) have resulted in numerous articles and media reports.

VCOY worked with American Land Rights to mail over 20,000 letters to people living in communities near Yosemite.  That resulted in over 1,000 official testimony statements to the Congressional Hearing held by Representative George Radanovich in Yosemite Valley in April.

VCOY organized greeters at each entrance to Yosemite over Memorial Day and Fourth of July Weekends to hand out surveys asking how visitors feel about being forced to ride buses into Yosemite.  They were also asked their opinion about the Park Service closing over 70% of the parking and 60% of the campsites in Yosemite (a reduction from 800 drive-in spots to 330).

Over 12,000 surveys were hand delivered to cars carrying approx. 36,000 people.   In response to informal questions, approximately 80% opposed the busing, loss of parking and campsites.  

VCOY and American Land Rights will be carrying out another Greeters at the Gates program for the Labor Day weekend.  We’ll need volunteers for Friday through Monday, August 28th through September 1st.  

Fran Mainella, Director of the Park Service bragged at the hearing in Yosemite Valley in April that a few years ago 80% of the visitors to Yosemite stayed overnight.  She said that number has completely reversed and is now 80% day-trippers.   A recent study indicates that visitors who stay in gateway communities overnight and visit Yosemite in their own cars spend over 65% more in the Yosemite Region than those who just drive in for the day.

A high official in the Park Service in Yosemite was recently quoted as saying that traffic in Yosemite was worse than downtown New York City.  That kind of anti-gateway community misinformation is driving people away from the Yosemite Region.

It’s clear the Park Service’s Yosemite Valley Plan is a social engineering project to reduce the visitors, make them buy inside the park, and force people out of their cars and onto buses from remote locations, bypassing many communities.  Many people like the shuttle system in the Valley. We’re talking about hundreds of large, slow, smelly buses from 50 and 100 miles away.  After the Park Service implements this planned change and when people find out they cannot go to Yosemite unless it is on a bus . . . .they won’t go.  It has not happened yet . . . but it will unless you help stop the Yosemite Valley Plan.

If the Yosemite Valley Plan is stopped, then this spread across the country to these restrictive forced busing, limited camping and parking plans at other parks will be cut back or eliminated.

Visitation to Yosemite was down by approximately 1,000,000 people since 1996 at last count.  If that trend continues, it spells economic disaster for Madera, Tuolumne and Mariposa Counties.  Those counties show what will happen in gateway communities at all most National Parks across the country.

Tourism in all three counties adjacent to Yosemite is very much in doubt if the impression is carried nationwide that you cannot visit Yosemite Valley unless you are on a bus.   

Camping is so limited; people will go elsewhere.  Even day-trippers will find little if any parking available.  And the Park Service adds to the perceived congestion by closing parking spaces so day trippers and overnighters alike drive around and around looking for a parking spot.	

Save Access to Yosemite  -- The Yosemite Valley Plan can be and must be overturned.  Rep. Radanovich’s HR 2715 can help if he really gets behind it and you do too.  But it must also be fixed.

History is in your hands.   The vocal minority that wants to largely shut down access to Yosemite is well on their way to achieving their objectives.   While your parking is being reduced from 3,500 spaces in Yosemite Valley to 550 spaces, the Wilderness camper parking increases by 25%.  Sounds like a double standard.  While drive-in campsites are being reduced from 800 to 330, walk-in campsites increase by 140% from 67 to 160.    

This will happen in all parks unless you act NOW!

Visitors and Communities for an Open Yosemite in partnership with American Land Rights is carrying out an aggressive campaign to encourage Congress to force the Park Service to save the parking and the campsites.  VCOY and ALRA plan to do everything possible to stop forced visitor busing.  

The Park Service has never before had to face the kind of organized opposition now coming from Yosemite Gateway communities.   Climbers, hikers, campers, Yosemite Indians and community leaders have joined to protect Yosemite’s environment, accessibility and affordability.

Visitors and Communities for an Open Yosemite is planning more mailings throughout the region.  We must reach out to allies who share our view that the National Parks must be open to all, not just be enclaves for the rich.  That means more mailings, more printing and postage and increased faxes.

The Park Service is biding their time.  They think you will not keep up the fight.  They think they can hunker down and you’ll lose interest. You must help prove them wrong.

VCOY must raise over $50,000 this year to pay for the mailings, buy signs, bumper stickers, and organize meetings and events.  VCOY will be working with American Land Rights to build support in Congress for an open Yosemite.  ALRA has a huge e-mail, fax and mailing list of allies across America in many parks and other areas.   

This is your last chance to save Yosemite Valley from the extremists.  You must not stop now.   The Yosemite Valley Plan will be overturned if you do your part.


What you must do NOW!

-----1.  Download your personal Testimony Questionnaire from www.landrights.org

-----2.  Download one or more of the signs that are on our website.  FAX a copy to your Congressman.  Use the 800 number below to call your Congressman to ask for his fax number.

-----3.  Mail back your Testimony Questionnaire quickly.  We agree with all the statements, but you don’t have to.  The mailing deadline is Thursday, July 31st.  It would help if you would send your check to support this effort for $25, $50, $75, $100, $200, $500 or some other amount.  No money is required to mail your testimony.

-----4.  Join Visitors and Communities for an Open Yosemite.  Your $25 membership also gets you automatic full membership in the American Land Rights Association with all the benefits.  That is $10 off the regular rate.  All the funds received on this project go to Visitors and Communities for an Open Yosemite.

-----5.  Call Rep. George Radanovich at (202) 224-3121 or the FREE NUMBER (800) 648-3516.   Thank him but urge him to fix ALL the campsites and parking damaged by the flood of 1997.   You can send him a fax at:  (202) 225-3402.

-----6.  Call and fax your Congressman to urge him to cut all funding for the Yosemite Valley Plan.  While it seems like in only affects Yosemite, you will send a signal that all anti-family actions by the Park Service must be opposed. 

Please consider joining VCOY today for $25 and support keeping Yosemite open.   It is critical that we get as much testimony to Congress as possible.  Your financial support is needed to help pay the printing, postage and fax costs.   Your commitment to the Yosemite Region must not waver.  And remember, you get full membership benefits in the American Land Rights Association included.

Fighting a battle of this size comes with a price.  Please do your part by sending your special contribution for $50, $100,  $200, $500, $1,000 or more today.  Mail it by Thursday, July 31st,

Stop the massive takeover of our National Parks by those who would force you on to a bus, close your camping and parking areas nationwide.  Help keep Madera, Mariposa and Tuolumne Counties and the Highway 41, 140 and 120 corridors in the fight with the National Park Service to restore camping, parking and maintain freedom of access. 


Chuck Cushman, for:

Angela Caldera, Yosemite Campers Coalition (562) 697-1186
Dan Carter,Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau (559 )683-4636
Paul Hall, Yosemite Medical Supply (209) 742-6224    
Steve Welch, Pines Resort (559) 642-3121
Peggy Mosley, Groveland Hotel (209) 962-4000
Max Stauffer,Yosemite Mountain Sugarpine Railroad (559) 683-7273        

PS.  Your Yosemite testimony to Congress is vital.  PLEASE  RETURN  YOUR  TESTIMONY QUESTIONNAIRE  TODAY.   The Anthrax scare in Wash. DC makes mail slow.  Use the return envelope.  We’ll hand deliver your testimony.   The Park Service wants to close over 70% of the parking, 60% of the campsites and eventually force every Valley visitor to ride a bus.  

The Yosemite Valley Plan is an economic disaster for the Yosemite Gateway areas.  It will spread to other parks unless you do your part.   You can help stop this bad plan.     Please send your special contribution today for what you can afford.   Please send it by Thurs., July 31st with your Testimony Questionnaire check made out to ALRA, PO Box 400, Battle Ground, WA 98604.  All funds from this project go to Visitors and Communities For An Open Yosemite.


Congressman looks to revise plans for Yosemite 

  Zachary Coile, Chronicle Washington Bureau
  Wednesday, July 23, 2003 

  ©2003 San Francisco Chronicle  

  URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/07/23/MN261843.DTL 


  Washington -- Rep. George Radanovich believes the Clinton administration went too far when it pushed through a sweeping master plan for Yosemite National Park to reduce crowding and traffic congestion in Yosemite Valley. 

  So the powerful Mariposa Republican, who chairs the House subcommittee that oversees national parks, has put his weight behind legislation to undo key parts of the plan by increasing the number of parking spaces, rebuilding two campgrounds and halting a long-term plan to use shuttle buses to bring in more visitors -- but not their cars -- into the Valley. 

  But Radanovich faces opposition from an unlikely place: the Bush administration. At the first hearing for his bill Tuesday afternoon, top National Park Service officials objected to much of the bill, claiming it would force the agency to rewrite a management plan for the park that took two decades to complete. 

  "These plans were developed over many years with extensive public involvement and comment," said Jon Jarvis, the Pacific West regional director for the National Park Service. "We believe the general management plan strikes a balance between the recreational demands of day-users and campers visiting the park." 

  Radanovich, who represents the area surrounding Yosemite, said he is simply responding to complaints from visitors who dislike the limits on parking spaces and campsites in the Valley. 

  Although his bill is likely to face stiff resistance from environmentalists, 

  the Park Service and some California lawmakers, Radanovich has at least one key ally: House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, who could help shepherd the bill through the House. 

  "At a time when we're spending hundreds of millions of dollars on national parks and millions of dollars on Yosemite, both Chairman Pombo and subcommittee Chairman Radanovich believe it is wrong to reduce visitor services," said Brian Kennedy, a spokesman for the resources committee. 

  The 2000 Yosemite Valley Plan, a top priority of Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, was an effort to create a "lighter visitor footprint" by cutting parking spaces and removing scores of roads, bridges and buildings to restore the park to a more natural state. During busy times, some of the park's more than 3.5 million annual visitors would eventually be asked to ride shuttle buses and leave their cars outside the park. 

  Under the plan, the park service reduced day-use parking in the Valley from 1,500 spaces to just 550 spaces. Radanovich's bill would bump the number back up to 1,200 parking spaces. 

  His bill would also block the park service from developing a new shuttle bus system if it prevented visitors from driving their cars into the park. Park Service officials insisted Tuesday that any shuttle system would be supplemental -- allowing most visitors to continue to drive their cars into the park -- and that plans to build remote parking lots outside the park were at least 10 years away. 

  Radanovich has also called for restoring two campgrounds that were wiped out in a 1997 flood of the Merced River. The Park Service decided to allow the former Upper and Lower Merced River camps to return to natural habitat and to relocate the 350 campsites elsewhere. 

  While Radanovich praised the Park Service for adding sites in areas outside the Valley, he said the park should still allow 144 low impact campsites in areas about 150 feet from the river. 

  But the park's new superintendent, Mike Tollefson, said Radanovich's bill would complicate efforts to restore the riverbank and remake the area into a destination for day users wanting access to several beaches. 

  "You'd have to redo the traffic flow," Tollefson said. He added that any major change to the plan would provoke a lawsuit from environmentalists. 

  Radanovich also added language in his bill to remove the 100-year-old LeConte Lodge, a National Historic Landmark operated by the Sierra Club, from the Valley. The lodge, which was built by the Sierra Club under its founder John Muir to honor geologist Joseph LeConte, is now used to host naturalist talks and other public events. 

  Radanovich said the proposal is meant to "highlight the hypocrisy" that the Sierra Club is urging the Park Service to reduce the human impact on the Valley while refusing to move its own facility. 

  Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope said the group has never supported removing historic buildings from the Valley, including the Ahwahnee and Wawona hotels. 

  E-mail Zachary Coile at zcoile@sfchronicle.com. 

  ©2003 San Francisco Chronicle 


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