From: alra@governance.net
Subject: Yosemite Hearing Information Update

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

Dear Yosemite Ally:

Thank you to all who helped carry out the sign waving in Yosemite Valley Tuesday, April 22nd.  As I am sure you know from reading the papers, it was a huge success.

Below is a very important transcript of a conversation on a local website that talks about the Yosemite hearings.  Some of it may not be new to you but I can assure you, it is worth reading.

It contains a transcript of a conversation by the Yosemite Superintendent and others on his staff.  It is very interesting.
Look for a guy named Mark near the bottom of this thread.
I did not delete some of the other material because you may want that as well.

WHAT YOU SHOULD BE DOING NOW!  Please print out this list and tape it to your refrigerator.  It is your refrigerator to-do list (we hope).

1.	Call Congressman George Radanovich to urge him to push for opening up all the river campgrounds damaged by the floods of 1997.   (202) 225-4540.  Urge him to put back the parking and to stop the plan for forced busing.  There must be an agreement that camplers, climbers, hikers, families, the handicapped and elderly will never be locked out or forced to ride a bus.

2.	Send Congressman Radanovich a letter regarding these same issues.  Keep your letter to one page.  Remember that the Anthrax issue is still going on so your letter will get there much faster if you use fax instead of the post office.  The Radanovich fax number is (202) 225-4540.

3.	Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.  You can send it to other papers as well.  Below is a list of papers interested in Yosemite.  Keep your letter very short.  The shorter it is, the better chance it will have of being printed.  Always write the name of the town you are from so  readers will have some place to go if they want to ask you questions or talk to you.  It helps build allies.

4.	Help expand the new Yosemite coalition: Visitors and Communities for an Open Yosemite.  Send us the names, addresses, phone numbers as well as fax and e-mail of anyone you think would want to help keep Yosemite open and accessible.  Just e-mail your list to: ccushman@landrights.org.
Please forward this message to others who you think may want to join in the effort.

5.	Please feel free to call me personally (Chuck Cushman (360) 687-3087) with your ideas and suggestions for keeping Yosemite Open.   You have some terrific folks working locally to help you.  You can call Max Stauffer at (559) 683-7273, Dan Carter at (559) 683-4636, Peggy Mosley at (209) 962-4000, Paul Hall at (209) 966-3522 or Johnnie Ruiz at (559-877-4151.


Please read this transcript carefully.  You will be amazed.

Sub-Committee on National Parks, Recreation & Public Lands
Yosemite Campers: Main Forum: Sub-Committee on National Parks, Recreation & Public Lands 
By Anonymous on Tuesday, April 22, 2003 - 05:22 pm:
Yosemite News Release 

April 22, 2003 
For Immediate Release 

National Park Service Director Fran Mainella Testifies Before the 
Sub-Committee on National Parks, Recreation & Public Lands 

Fran Mainella, National Park Service Director, delivered the NPS testimony today at a field hearing of the Sub-Committee on National Parks, Recreation & Public Lands at Yosemite National Park. The hearing, chaired by Congressman George Radanovich (R-Mariposa), was convened to look at how the Yosemite Valley Plan (YVP) is being implemented. 

The NPS Director addressed visitation patterns that have developed in Yosemite National Park, the first 15 YVP projects being implemented, replacing campgrounds, and transportation issues. Mainella stressed the importance of working with the gateway communities to ensure that the implementation of the YVP is positive for everyone. 

"Working in partnership with the gateway communities, I believe, is critical to the ultimate success of the plan," stated Mainella. 

Mainella used the Lower Yosemite Fall Project as an example of a successful public-private partnership. The landmark project, funded largely by private donations through the Yosemite Fund, is the first major project to be implemented under the Yosemite Valley Plan. 

"I think this project exemplifies what Interior Secretary Gale Norton refers to as the 4 C's, consultation, coordination, and communication all in the service of conservation," said Mainella referring to the project. 

Mike Tollefson began his tenure as the Superintendent of Yosemite National Park in January, 2003. Additionally, Jon Jarvis was appointed last fall as the Regional Director of the Pacific West Region, which includes Yosemite National Park. 

"I firmly believe we have a strong and capable team in place to implement the Yosemite Valley Plan. We look forward to moving ahead with these projects that are designed to serve more visitors in better ways and to enhance the experience of everyone who visits this magnificent park, now and in the future," Mainella concluded. 
By Anonymous on Tuesday, April 22, 2003 - 11:19 pm:
Congressional hearing debates Yosemite plan to restore natural environment 

BRIAN SKOLOFF, Associated Press Writer 
Tuesday, April 22, 2003 
©2003 Associated Press 

URL: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2003/04/22/state2059EDT7700.DTL 

(04-22) 17:59 PDT YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) -- 

National Park Service Director Fran Mainella emphasized the need to balance environmental protection with public access to federal lands Tuesday during a congressional subcommittee hearing here. 

"We need to make sure that visitors feel welcome, but at the same time we must make sure our resources are protected," Mainella said in an interview after the hearing. 

Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, hosted the hearing to discuss the controversial $441 million Yosemite Valley Plan that, in part, would reduce car traffic and expand the park's shuttle bus system. 

Park officials say it will lead to a better visitor experience, but opposition groups -- primarily area business owners and some park users -- claim the plan will cut off Yosemite to thousands of tourists and hurt the local economy. 

"Yosemite is one of the key cornerstones of our national park system. The park service is not ever trying to keep people away," Mainella said. "But over the last several decades, we have seen a change from 20 percent of the park's visitation being day use to .... now 80 percent is day use." 

Part of the plan would eliminate parking spaces inside the park while opting for a hybrid diesel-electric bus system to shuttle visitors in and out after a daily quota of cars has been reached. Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt unveiled the plan in 2000, saying at the time that the "cantankerous, eccentric, passionate, irrational, idealistic, quarrelsome, impossible crowd of people" at Yosemite was unlike any at other parks. 

Park spokesman Scott Gediman said the busing system would not be in place for at least 10 years, but when it is will ease traffic congestion for the 3.4 million annual visitors. 

"It's a bad plan," said Stephen Welch, vice president of The Pines Resort on the outskirts of the park. "Herding visitors on buses like cattle is the antithesis to the back-to-nature experience." 

Welch said if the convenience of driving a car into the park is taken away, visitors may simply stop coming. 

"What we're concerned about is the ultimate goal of the removal of the automobile," he said. "We need business to pick up in surrounding communities, but we can't do that by declining convenience and accessibility." 

Part of the park plan also calls for the elimination of a number of campsites in Yosemite Valley, a main destination for visitors. 

It's all part of the overall plan eventually to reduce crowds and restore nature, said Yosemite Superintendent Michael Tollefson. 

Charles Cushman, director of the American Land Rights Association, isn't buying it. 

"There's no question that on a few weekends a year and in summer, it's overcrowded. But the vast majority of the time, it's not," Cushman said after the hearing, amid a crowd of people protesting the plan who dressed in black and white striped jail outfits. 

Cushman said the government wants to lock citizens out of the park. 

"My solution is a much more modest approach of putting back the parking and putting back the campgrounds," lost in a 1997 flood, Cushman said. "We're talking about a solution to a problem that for most people doesn't exist." 

Opposition to change isn't unique to Yosemite, Mainella said. 

In Utah's Zion National Park, a plan put into place four seasons ago to reduce traffic by providing shuttle buses has led to the return of abundant wildlife in some areas -- but not without a fight from angry residents unwilling to give up some freedom of access, Mainella said. 

Glacier National Park in Montana has seen similar successes with its shuttle bus system, she said. 

Jay Thomas Watson, a regional director for The Wilderness Society, hailed the plan as "an eloquent balance between access and protection." 

"Habitat restoration and transportation changes are the heart and soul of the plan," Watson said, "and neither should be compromised." 
By Anonymous on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 08:08 am:
Yosemite enthusiasts give leaders a taste of growing fight to boost number of campsites 


Published: April 23, 2003, 07:17:26 AM PDT 

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK -- This was definitely not the land of the happy camper Tuesday. 
Dozens of campers and outdoor enthusiasts gathered in Yosemite Valley to tell U.S. Rep. George Radanovich that park plans won't give the public enough campsites. The Mariposa Republican was holding a field hearing at the park to discuss campgrounds in the valley. 

At issue are the 361 campsites wiped out in the 1997 flood. The National Park Service doesn't plan to bring them back, and Radanovich, who wants to restore many, wanted to hear more discussion. 

Radanovich got his wish even before testimony began as he paused to spend a moment speaking with Yosemite Valley children outside the hearing room. About three dozen residents from surrounding communities and others chanted against the backdrop of the snow-dusted granite cliffs surrounding the valley. 

"What do you want?" yelled Chuck Cushman, executive director of the American Land Rights Association and spokesman of a new coalition called Visitors and Communities for an Open Yosemite. 

"More camping!" the marchers cried. 

With Yosemite National Park in his congressional district, Radanovich is willing to oblige. But an approved valley plan -- a $441 million management blueprint signed in 2000 after two decades -- excludes the 361 campsites. 

A potentially long and difficult rewriting process would begin again if too many campsites are restored. 

At the same time, Radanovich said he wants the valley to serve everyone, including people who can't afford to spend the night at existing hotels and planned park motels. He would like to see "no net loss" of campsites. 

National Park Service Director Fran Mainella, who attended the hearing, said officials could add 25 campsites without rewriting the plan. She said the park could place other camping spots in locations such as Crane Flat or Tuolumne Meadows, outside of the valley. 

"We could add 204 campsites outside the valley," she said. "We need to emphasize the day-use visitor. We see greater day-use here and around the country -- people biking, hiking and picnicking for the day." 

Quiet groans rippled through the crowd of about 200. 

Millions of people pass through Yosemite Valley each year. The 7-square-mile glacial valley, known for its views of Half Dome, El Capitan and Yosemite Falls, attracts campers, rock climbers, hikers, backpackers and many others who feel passionate about using the park. 

Officials have worked since 1980 on various plans to manage visitors and revive nature in the valley. 

Lawsuits and lack of money continually delayed the process until a massive 1997 flood crippled the valley. 

With millions of dollars in flood repair ready and waiting, officials pulled together the Yosemite Valley Plan, which was approved at the end of the Clinton administration. The plan, which deals with everything from motel construction to habitat restoration, will take many years to complete. 

Transportation is another sticking point. Officials would reduce parking spaces from about 1,600 to about 550 in years to come. The park would provide parking outside the valley and buses would shuttle visitors in. 

Many critics believe a bus ride would ruin their experience, cost them more and limit their freedom. 

"We're concerned about the ultimate removal of the automobile," said Stephen Welch, executive vice president of the Pines Resort in Bass Lake, which is near the Highway 41 corridor outside Yosemite. 

"Access and affordability are issues for our customers." 

Some environmentalists like the idea of reducing the number of vehicles in the valley as well as re-establishing natural conditions -- instead of campgrounds -- next to the Merced River. 

Wilderness Society regional director Jay Watson, a vocal supporter of the Park Service plan, said the riverside restoration would help an area rich in biological diversity. He added that the plan provides 1,461 overnight accommodations in the valley. 

"Out of this total, 1,179 are campsites, rustic tent cabins and economy-scale cabins," he said. "Only 282 beds, so to speak, or 19 percent, would be at the upper levels in cost." 

Another supporter, Michelle Jesperson, associate regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association, said it's time to move on with the plan. 

But critics said the plan falls far short in camping accommodations. 

Paul Minault, regional coordinator of The Access Fund, representing rock climbers, said the 1980 Yosemite General Management Plan called for almost 1,000 more campsites in the park, including almost 300 more in the valley. 

The Park Service should promote camping as a way to bring together people from all walks of life, he said. 

"The nation's great parks present an opportunity to be a force for social equality," Minault said. "Unfortunately, the lodging picture in Yosemite preserves the social distinctions." 
By Anonymous on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 08:35 am:
Hearing Reopens Dispute Over Yosemite 

By Eric Bailey 
LA Times Staff Writer 

April 23, 2003 

YOSEMITE — Renewing debate over Yosemite Valley's future, a key congressman and the National Park Service's top official squared off here Tuesday over proposals to reduce parking and campsites on the crowded but much-coveted valley floor. 

During a congressional field hearing in an auditorium beneath the valley's granite cliffs, Rep. George Radanovich (R-Mariposa) signaled his intent to push for partial reconstruction of riverfront campgrounds destroyed by flooding and voiced continuing opposition to a proposal to reduce parking spaces in the valley. 

"I will not allow Yosemite to become an exclusive retreat," vowed Radanovich, who has opposed a Park Service plan to ease visitor impact on the valley by boosting shuttle service from remote lots outside the park and returning some areas to a more natural state. "There's a concern about locking people out of the park." 

The congressman's pitch got a cool reception from National Park Service Director Fran Mainella, who said it would lead to lawsuits that could tie up the Yosemite Valley Plan, a blueprint for the valley's future approved two years ago after about 20 hearings and 11,000 public comments. 

"The National Park Service is never trying to keep visitors away," Mainella said. 

The hearing reopened a fight that has been simmering since the valley plan won approval in the waning days of the Clinton administration. 

At the heart of the debate are sharply divergent opinions on how the valley — seven miles long and a mile wide with a huge swath off limits because of rock falls and flood zones — should be shaped in the 21st century. 

Before the hearing, scores of protesters from outlying communities demonstrated with picket signs and chants. More than a dozen came dressed in prison-striped black-and-white outfits provided by Chuck Cushman, a national property rights activist working with neighboring residents. They are trying to undo parts of the plan, complaining of environmental elitism and a nagging decline in park attendance. 

Peggy Mosley, owner of the Groveland Hotel, meanwhile, told the panel that she's seen a 25% drop in business over the past year. She and other merchants blame reduced business on lower numbers of visitors to the park. Many already believe they'll have to ride a bus into the park, she said. 

Of the proposal to reduce parking, Mosley said: "We're sort of killing flies with sledgehammers." 

But some environmentalists countered that the time for talk is long over. 

Jay Watson of the Wilderness Society said the Yosemite Valley Plan has been endlessly debated, and the ratified final product strikes "an elegant balance" between visitor needs and nature. Restoration efforts along the Merced River, the tributary cutting down the center of the valley, "are the heart and soul of the plan," he said. 

Although a recently completed Park Service study determined that 144 campsites could be reconstructed outside a 150-foot buffer zone running along the river, such an effort almost certainly would involve reopening the valley plan, said Mainella, the park service director. The flood of 1997 devoured 374 campsites; none has been rebuilt. 

Mainella said a two-thirds reduction in parking spaces — from the current 1,650 to 550 — and an increase in shuttle buses from satellite lots on Yosemite's edge are not anticipated for at least seven years. By then, she said, the Park Service may find that roadway changes in the valley have stemmed occasional bouts of summertime gridlock now bedeviling the park. 

After the hearing, Radanovich said he is confident that the Park Service will abandon its plan for satellite lots and a huge new fleet of buses to ship in visitors. He also said he's hopeful "a dialogue" can be initiated with environmental groups and parks officials to find a way to rebuild the campgrounds without undoing the plan. If that fails, he said, legislation to force the issue "is a real possibility." 
By Anonymous on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 08:36 am:
Dueling visions for Yosemite 

Impassioned advocates clash over a plan that would reduce traffic and limit campsites. 

By Dorothy Korber -- Sacramento Bee Staff Writer - (Published April 23, 2003) 

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK -- Yosemite Valley is either being starved to death or loved to death, judging from the conflicting testimony Tuesday at a field hearing convened by Rep. George Radanovich, chairman of the congressional subcommittee on national parks. 

The Mariposa Republican said the hearing was an initial step toward reconsidering key elements of the benchmark Yosemite Valley Plan, adopted just over two years ago. At issue were the plan's elimination of 300 riverside campsites and its proposed reduction of day-use parking in the valley by two-thirds, with the aim of bringing visitors in on buses from remote parking lots. 

Radanovich lined up speakers from the National Park Service, including its director, as well as business owners from Yosemite's gateway communities, environmentalists, campers and rock climbers. 

The tone was polite, but the passion was evident as the witnesses outlined contradictory visions of what is best for Yosemite. 

Radanovich, who has represented the Yosemite area since 1994, made his own vision -- as well as his frustration -- clear in his opening statement. Plan or no plan, the congressman wants fewer buses and more campgrounds and parking in Yosemite Valley. 

"I want all of its grandeur available to anyone to witness firsthand," he told the standing-room-only audience of 200, crowded into a gray, windowless auditorium in Yosemite Village. "The valley and the park belong to 285 million Americans, not a select few." 

Tuesday's hearing was the latest chapter in the long, acrimonious debate over the best way to manage one of the world's natural wonders. Among the plan's goals -- at a price of $440 million -- is restoring Yosemite Valley to a more natural condition while reducing crowding and traffic congestion. 

Critics of the document -- among them many of Radanovich's constituents -- contend that it would further depress visitation to the national park, which has seen a 17 percent drop in visitors over the past seven years. 

The Valley Plan calls for eliminating 300 riverside campsites damaged in the cataclysmic floods of 1997, which leaves just 500 campsites in Yosemite Valley. Radanovich said he would like to see 144 of the lost campsites restored, while preserving a 150-foot buffer along the river's edge. 

But Fran Mainella, director of the National Park Service, cautioned that such a substantive change would require formal reopening of the six-volume Yosemite Valley Plan, which in turn might jeopardize aspects of the plan that Radanovich endorses. 

"These new sites would require extensive compliance and amendments to the park's three approved plans, which would be very costly," she testified. "In addition, using these areas for campgrounds that serve a limited number of overnight visitors would preclude making them available for greater numbers of day visitors to enjoy for hiking, picnicking, bicycling and other activities." 

She cited a just-released campground study that identifies places for 204 new campsites in the park outside of Yosemite Valley, noting that those facilities could be built without revisiting the park's current plans. "We could move rapidly on that," she said. 

Radanovich, along with several of the hearing's witnesses, strenuously objected to the Valley Plan's proposed creation of satellite parking lots on Yosemite's perimeter. On busy days, visitors would leave their cars there and take buses into the valley. 

Mainella promised that there would be no reduction in day-use parking in Yosemite Valley for at least five to seven years. But she noted that the trend in other major national parks is to use mass transit to move visitors in and out. She spoke of using hybrid buses that run cleaner than diesel models. 

"We hope to make it the method of choice for many visitors," she said. 

The mere prospect of busing at Yosemite is already keeping people away from the national park, testified Stephen Welch, who runs a resort near the south entrance. 

"The vision of the National Park Service is to replace small, clean cars with big, dirty buses," said Welch, vice president of The Pines in Bass Lake. "Any busing should be voluntary, private, self-supporting and not subsidized. We ask you to step back, sort through the rhetoric and apply common sense." 

His statement was applauded by members of Visitors and Communities for an Open Yosemite, some of them wearing striped prisoners' garb to protest the plan's "locking out" of the public, as they see it. 

Welch asked that the whole Valley Plan be scrapped. Jay Watson, regional director of The Wilderness Society, argued that no part of it should be changed. 

"Reopening it will turn into a house of cards or a stack of dominos, and it will all come tumbling down," he told the subcommittee. Watson especially objected to rebuilding any of the riverside campgrounds. 

George Whitmore, speaking for the Sierra Club, echoed that viewpoint. However, he said the Sierra Club opposes the busing plan and proposes a day-use reservation system instead. 

"Being human, we tend to focus on the negative," Whitmore said. "But something we need to make clear is that we believe the plan can be improved without throwing it out and starting over. Using the present plan as a starting point, we need to move on, evaluating individual actions on their merits." 

When the three-hour hearing concluded, Radanovich said he was satisfied that he had gotten all the issues on the table -- and entered in to the Congressional Record. He said he is looking forward to more details on the cost of campground reconstruction within the next few months. 

Afterward, camping advocate Paul Minault said he thinks Radanovich will eventually get his way. "The reality," said Minault, "is that government agencies make plans -- and then they change them -- all the time." 
By Anonymous on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 08:45 am:
Hearing focuses on Yosemite camps 

By Francis P. Garland 
Lode Bureau Chief 
Stockton Record 

Published Wednesday, April 23, 2003 

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK -- Battle lines were drawn along the Merced River's banks Tuesday as U.S. Rep. George Radanovich reiterated his desire to rebuild flood-damaged campgrounds, while environmentalists warned such a move would ruin ongoing Yosemite Valley restoration efforts. 

Radanovich's stance became clear during a National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands subcommittee hearing he convened to examine the Yosemite Valley plan, a controversial blueprint for managing the one-by-seven-mile strip that attracts millions of visitors every year. 

The hearing included testimony from National Park Service Director Fran Mainella, local merchants, campers, rock climbers and environmentalists who focused on such issues as camping, parking and transit. 

Radanovich, a Mariposa Republican who chairs the subcommittee of the House Resources Committee, wants to see the Park Service rebuild 144 of the 361 campsites lost when the Merced River roared through three campgrounds in January 1997. 

That runs counter to the valley plan, which calls for those areas to return to a more natural setting. 

The former campgrounds would be open to day use such as picnicking, which the Park Service says makes more sense because roughly 80 percent of Yosemite's visitors now come for the day. That's a complete flip-flop from two decades ago, when 80 percent of the park's visitors spent the night, Mainella said. 

Radanovich, however, wants to see some of those campsites rebuilt and wants a better estimate of what it would cost to do it. Radanovich called a Park Service consultant's recent estimate of $18.7 million to rebuild 144 sites "obviously bad numbers." 

Radanovich said he wants the campsites rebuilt because he's concerned the valley plan is squeezing out campers. The plan calls for 500 Yosemite Valley campsites, compared with the more than 800 that existed before the flood. 

Even if the rebuilt campgrounds couldn't accommodate the "big RV-driving, beer- 
popping, satellite-dish guy" anymore, they could provide some camping opportunities, Radanovich said. 

A number of people in Radanovich's camp marched, chanted and carried signs while dressed in jail-style black-and-white striped outfits. 

"We feel like we're prisoners of the system," said Rhonda Rarick of Oakhurst, explaining the jail outfits. "We're being locked out of our campgrounds." 

Radanovich said he hopes to talk with the environmental community to see if there is any common ground regarding the use of the former river campgrounds. 

"We're trying to get the environmentalists off this idea that it's habitat that nobody can set foot on," Radanovich said. 

Jay Watson of The Wilderness Society said his group and others are not opposed to some use of those areas and mentioned wildlife viewing as one that makes sense. 

It would be a mistake to allow camping to return to those areas, because the current proposal constitutes the valley plan's single largest ecological restoration component, he said. 

Afterward, Watson said Radanovich's push to rebuild the campgrounds and reopen the valley plan to further review could turn that plan into "a house of cards." 

"Everything is connected," he said of the plan's various projects, 15 of which are now in progress. "It could all come tumbling down." 
By Anonymous on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 01:01 pm:
Some of the best testimony of the day was given by Paul Minault of The Access Fund. This is a climbers' group, but they certainly understand and actively promote the value of camping. The following bullet points were excerpted from his speech. . . 

National Park Service management policy is to “encourage visitor activities that . . . foster an understanding of, and appreciation for, park resources and values, or will promote enjoyment through a direct association with, interaction with, or relation to park resources.” Management Policy 2001- 8.2 Visitor Use (emphasis added). In our comments to the Valley Plan, we listed the ways in which camping enhances the visitor experience, furthers park values, and promotes the enjoyment of Yosemite National Park through a direct association with park resources. 

-- First, we pointed out that camping is a form of recreation, unlike lodging in developed accomodations, which is a form of leisure. 

-- Second, camping promotes a closer relationship to park resources than any other form of overnight accommodation. 

-- Third, camping distances the visitor from the commercial values of comfort and convenience and the expression of social status through consumption that pervade American society. Camping brings the visitor closer to nature, the simple necessities of daily life, and the way people lived in the past. 

-- Fourth, camping is democratic. In campgrounds, social distinctions account for little, and camping has the potential to bring people together in shared appreciation of their natural surroundings in a manner that reduces social barriers. The nations’ great parks present an opportunity to be a force for social equality. Unfortunately, the lodging picture in Yosemite preserves the social distinctions of the greater society, rather than leveling them, which we believe should be a goal of the parks. 

-- Fifth, camping is inherently communal. Campers have an enhanced opportunity to associate with other people, develop new relationships, and broaden their social horizons. Unfortunately, the Valley Plan largely ignored these values, with the result that camping suffered the loss of 300 campsites in the Valley. Instead, the park now emphasizes exclusive and expensive lodging over traditional camping accommodations that are more in line with NPS management policies. 

And then as stated in an article above, Minault concluded: 

The Park Service should promote camping as a way to bring together people from all walks of life, he said. 

"The nation's great parks present an opportunity to be a force for social equality," Minault said. "Unfortunately, the lodging picture in Yosemite preserves the social distinctions." 
By Marsha on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 01:39 pm:
I am starting to believe that Valley restoration is just another way of saying stay out visitors that want to walk around,picnic and enjoy the park. Last week we were highly disappointed to find that our favorite picnic spot along the Merced (North Drive side) below the Three Brothers has been closed off for restoration. Each time we go, more and more of the river banks are being closed off to access. Don't get me wrong, restoration is good but not to the point that the only way to experience Yosemite is to be put on a bus and not allowed to get off. Why don't they just put in a monorail like Disney Land and all we get to do is go around and around and never get to actually touch the grass? 
By Dot on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 02:07 pm:
Hi Marsha, 
I guess you must have had lots of rain while you were in the Valley. 
I know just what you mean by limiting almost anywhere we used to picnic or go near the river. I have stated before that it is becoming a museum where we look and don't touch. 
As you know; I have been visiting Yosemite for over 50 years and in all honesty I can't see that a huge amount of damage has been done to the natural habitat. I get so upset when I see another area where we are "shut out". I think it started with the meadows and has continued on and on and----- 
By Anonymous on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 03:35 pm:
Here's the real deal with testimony . . . 


Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation & Public Lands 

Yosemite National Park, California, 10:00 a.m. 
April 22, 2003 


Oversight Hearing on: 

The Implementation of The Yosemite Valley Plan (Background Information) 


Panel 1: 

Ms. Fran Mainella, Director, National Park Service 

Panel 2: 

Mr. Stephen Welch, Executive Vice President, The Pines Resort, Bass Lake, California 
Ms. Peggy Mosley, Owner, Groveland Hotel, Groveland, California 

Mr. Kevin Kelly, Vice President of Operations, Yosemite Concession Services Corporation, Yosemite National Park, California 

Panel 3: 

Mr. Allan Abshez, Camping Enthusiast, Los Angeles, California 
Mr. Paul Minault, Northern California Regional Coordinator, The Access Fund, San Francisco, California 

Mr. Jay Thomas Watson, California/Nevada Regional Director, The Wilderness Society, San Francisco, California 

Mr. George Whitmore, Chairman, Sierra Club Yosemite Committee, Fresno, California 
By Mark on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 10:44 pm:
Unreal. Too much to say in one post. I can only say, there is no way Radanovich is getting anything. End of story. 

I was in the Library, while Tollefson and others wandered in today before lunch, and they made snickering comments about the hearing yesterday (Tuesday). They call him "that Radanovich guy". They don't think highly of him. And, they think they had a slam-dunk. 

I then went to Degnans for a sandwich. I say one guy in a sport coat and tie, with tennis shoes. I recognized him as one of their friends. I sat a table right next to him. He called someone on the phone to tell them that "Fran is doing great". Then, the boys showed up. Tollefson, Kevin Cann, Deputy Superintendent, Jon Jarvis regional director. Then there was Galaphau, or something like that. Galaphau isn't right, but maybe someone knows. Kind of square built guy, but definitely a spokesperson. They all seemed like they were the cat that eat the canary. 

They were elated with how the meeting went the day before. This seemed to be the first they'd had a chance to all get together since then. If not, they were still jazzed from the day before. I got the feeling that as long as Radanovich can't do anything, and Fran's not budging, then their moving forward. They talked about Sugar Pine Bridge, and how that's next on their list, after these other items. They were like kids in a candy story talking about how they needed to find the money for that project now. Mike suggested the Yosemite Fund, and Cann said, "no, the Yosemite Fund said they weren't going to touch that one". 

More later. 

On another note, my trip was fantastic. I spent a lot of time walking up and down the Merced River, looking at the cascades, from the Cascade Dam down to the gate. I spent half the day there on Tuesday and half the day today. That new fake rock wall is great for walking on. Unbelievable. April is the time to come! 
By Anonymous on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 11:07 pm:
That would be Russ Galipeau, head of resource management. Apparently resource management includes logging at the falls. Mark, did you see the logging trucks lined up there?? They have really cut swaths of viewsheds through there. Makes you sick. . . 

By the way, Galipeau was just chosen superintendent at Channel Islands. Guess he's finished wrecking Yosemite and will now move on to leave his mark somewhere else. . . 

Will look forward to your next installment of feedback, Mark. It was truly a circus. 
By Dot on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 11:24 pm:
I am so glad you were able to hear all that you heard. I think that says it all.How very sad. 
Just reading all the transcripts posted here was enough to make one realize they have their own agenda and are all together in this. 
I felt that some speakers made eloquent pleas; but obviously they fell on deaf ears.Wasn't it hard to just sit there and listen to all of that? Obviously their collective minds are of one mind and apparently that is the end of the story. 
But all of these "movers and shakers" probably have little, if any history as concerns Yosemite. As one who loves Yosemite, I do have a feeling that it all doesn't bode well as to many of our wants and desires. 
The way you describe all of this sounds as if it is nothing but a sad game. It seems to be them against us. I honestly feel betrayed by our Government who would allow such a travesty to unfold and then gloat about it. 
You make a very good detective. I hope that some of the people you mentioned get "wind" of all that you heard. I have a feeling they will. 
I'm glad that you did enjoy Yosemite however. Thanks for going and letting us know the behind the scenes story. 
By Mark on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 11:39 pm:
There could still be a "Congressional Mandate", keep in mind. All Radanovich would have to do is hear about how they laughed at him behind his back, which might encourage him to take it to another level, and then you never know what might happen. Fran might just get transfered to the Channel Islands too. 

Fran says all the right things when the microphone is on, about how they're going to work with the local communities. That's why they brought Mike T. into Yosemite, etc., she says. 

But, she says how the plan can't be opened, because if they did, they'd have some many problems with everyone wanting to change things, and how it would get all muddled up, in so many words. Which, was exactly what they told her to say, I am guessing. 

Mike may be here as a token measure, just to pretend that they're working with the communities, while they reward him for a career well down, with his last years to be spent in Yosemite. 

As far as Radanovich is concerned, all Fran had to say was exactly what she said, which was all about how she was all for building hotels out there in his district and bus them all in, so business could be expanded and everyone will get rich. They knew that that's all Radanovich wanted to hear. He's now a happy camper, so to speak. 

Did anyone here go? Did you hear about how Radanovich went off on that subject of the Le Conte Memorial, and how it should be taken out, because it belongs to the Sierra Club, or once did. And, how John Muir would have detested that it be there, in memory of him, and how he'd be rolling over in his grave? He said that it's been something that's been sticking in his "craw" for a long time. 

The boys got a good laugh at that today in the Library, a good laugh. "...that Radanovich guy...ha..ha...ha.." 
By Dot on Thursday, April 24, 2003 - 12:10 am:
This meeting takes everything to a new level. Just think how this country is run! I shudder to think about it. What happened to---Of the People---By the People and FOR the People? 
I'm sure that someone will be able to convey to GR how his NPS friends think about him. At least --I hope so.According to them he must be very funny. 
I think the Le Conte Memorial is the least of anyone's worries.I must admit that I wasn't a big fan of that as the Sierra Club was behind it and they were very controversial back then. But, it just sort of became a fixture and now it is just "there" and I am very used to seeing it. Haven't been in for an age. And I don't think it is important enough for anyone to turn over in his grave. But---I do hate to say it; I might have laughed along with Tollefson on that one. That certainly is a really strange thing for GR to get worked up over. Apparently, the NPS brass had lots of laughs today. 
By Mark on Thursday, April 24, 2003 - 11:03 am:
It's too bad that campers have groups like those people in jail suits representing them. They made campers look like idiots. I also resent local merchants representing themselves as campers, in order to try to get the plan overturned for their own reasons. Everyone has some political or finacial goal it seems. 

I hope I have time to submit my comments, as it relates to the campgrounds before leaving on vacation on Saturday. People, you have until the 29th to tell them what you think of those campsite designs. You'd better send your comments in, and don't disagree with them too much, or your comment will get no attention. Your comment needs to have some new idea that is implimentable, or else you'll be barking up the wrong tree. They are not going to change anything as it is, so, if you can at least try to convince them to make more seperations in Upper Pines for Drive-in campers, by placing changing some of those walk in sites to drive-in, maybe, just maybe they'll listen. 

But, they've already made up their minds pretty much, and this is only a gesture of good salesmanship on the part of the park to allow input at this stage. 

I just wish that they could move about fifty of those sites in Upper Pines that they aren't changing to Upper River, so that the drive-in campers can experience a new more intimate camping experience, that what they have now in the congested ghetto in the Upper Pines inner loop campsites. 

Also, all that new growth they keep talking about in the Rivers is all stunted pines, growing too close together. They need to take about 90% of those little trees out, or it's going to be a mess over there. They're spaced one inch apart. 

If they only did that, and then opened simply fifty or so sites in Upper River, spaced way apart, and fenced off everything outside the actual camp area and road area, eventually campers would see that these sites would be very nice. I know I'd like to camp with my VW Vanagon camper in "drive-in" sites. And, it bothers me that my only options for camping have the exact same footprints as the old sites, up in Upper Pines. Because there are going to now be far less drive-in sites, it will be next to impossible to get a site during July or August. I will have to book my vacations in April if I want to see Yosemite as an Upper Pines camper, and if I want to see Yosemite the way it would be like if they were to adopt a "Carrying Capacity". Which, by the way, I am convinced will never happen. Ever. No time in the future. End of story. 

So, my only option is to hope the bus system works for them. Because it's coming. 

Radanovich doesn't want any "Carrying Capacity", nor do the NPS people. Only idealistic people like myself would like that. 

Being able to casually drive up and down the Merced Cascades and hop up on the wall and walk for hours yesterday and the day before, simply taking in all the majestic beauty of that canyon, with only a car every few minutes happening by was amazing. 

Motor touring is at its best in Yosemite right now. When the weather isn't the best, in April, bring your warm gloves, your rain suit, and your ski cap for when it gets cold. But go. This is the time of year that no one cares if you drive at 25 miles an hour or less. And, if they do, just let them pass or pull over into a pull out. 

Don't concentrate your visit to the valley. The Merced River Cascade area is just as beautiful. And, you can't get there in a shuttle bus. You must drive and then walk. The newly widened road does gain more access to that area than before. I have become an admirer of that new road, as much as that must sound odd. With no traffic, as was the case this week, it's easy to pull over. Every turn out is all to yourself. You can even flip a U turn and no one, at all will have a problem with it. The speed limit, though some during tourist season want to drive too fast, is only 25. So, you're fully within your rights to drive as slow as you want, and stop at every pull out. 

Plus, springtime comes earlier in that lower elevation. So, when it's cold up in the valley, it's warmer there, in places. 

Then, down stream from Hite's Cove, only two miles on a nicely graveled road are only a handful of some of the nicest campsites I've ever seen. They are all designed for tent campers, but if you have a Vanagon Camper, there is a parking area. And, there's a nice little beach there too. I think it was David O. that told us about that spot a lot time ago. I have to say, that place is perfect for April and May, before it gets too hot there. 

And, you have to be a motorized tourist to get there. You can't get there by shuttle or YARTS. 

Motor touring is at its peak when no one is there, you know. All the pullouts are yours and there are no other cars. 
By Mark on Thursday, April 24, 2003 - 11:20 am:
As a believer in grassroots political activism I say pick up your mouse pad and keyboard for a minute and send an e-mail to your elected representatives. 

But, as a time related urgent request, please try sending your requests for how you'd like to see them redo the campsites via email to: 

Kevin_Cann@nps.gov and copy Mike_Tollefson@nps.gov 

You can try Fran_Mainella@nps.gov but I think you'll be talking to a brick wall. I don't think she's interested in rocking any boats, and just wants to do whatever the park people in Yosemite want to do. 

And, whatever they want to do, just can't disagree with what they are wanting to do with all the parks, via busing, outside the park parking, eliminating parking spaces, etc. Though it is tempting to talk about these things now, more importantly I want to write something that might get read. So, I am concentrating on the area of these drive-in sites in upper pines, and how I think that part of Upper River could be perfect for taking some of the Upper Pines drive-in sites, and relocating them there, WITHOUT even discussing expanding the number of campsites. 

At this time, they have turned a deaf ear to what they see as a group of idiots, which they refer to as campers. I'd like to dispel that notion on their part. 

ALRA --  Personally, I think it is a waste of time to write the Park Service.  If you want to make a difference, send a letter to Radanovich.   The NPS will just pat you on the head and ignore you.  Chuck Cushman

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