From: alra@governance.net
Subject: Yosemite Plan Opponents Rise Up

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 Opponents Rise Up

For pictures, go to http://www.mariposatribune.com/052703yos.html

See full story below:

Take a look at the Mariposa Tribune article below about local communities, campers, hikers and climbers rising up and protesting outside all three open entrances to Yosemite National Park on Friday and Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.  This same article also appeared in the Sierra Star.

Thank you to all those hearty souls who participated in the first Yosemite Greeter Program by Visitors and Communities for an Open Yosemite (VCOP) and the American Land Rights Association.  You all did a great service.

We handed out over 4,000 Surveys plus car signs, bumper stickers and other material.  Most people engaged in some informal conversation.  It appeared that about 80% opposed forced busing, closing over 70% of the parking and 60% of the campsites in Yosemite Valley.

Each car had an average occupancy of 3 people so to total we talked to was well in excess of 12,000 people.  Some cars, vans and motor homes had many more people.  Pretty good for this first time out.

The Highway 41 crew was led by Johnnie Rae Ruiz and his wife carol, plus several of their kids.  They worked both Friday and Saturday all day.  A special thanks to the Ruiz family.  Also on Highway 41 were Jim Barei, Donna Davis, Lori Lucia, Neil Peek, Don and Jan Davidson.   There may have been a few others that we have not yet heard about.

The Highway 140 crew included Jack Stitt, Sir James Goff, Linda Scoggin, Diane Sivers,
OC Spence, Patricia Gordo, Jean Snapp, and Chuck Cushman.  Sir James Goff, Diane Sivers and Chuck Cushman worked parts or all of both days.  Tough but rewarding work.

The Highway 120 crew was led by Lee Helarides and included Art Hill, Cila and Charlie Stoddard, and Jim Caywood.  Lee Helarides put in all of Friday and part of Saturday.

You folks were terrific and a  real asset in the battle to save Yosemite Valley from those who seek to close it.

Thanks also to the Sonora Union Democrat that sent a writer up to meet the Highway 120 crew.  There was a missed communication over lunch and they never saw each other.  The effort was noted.

May 27, 2003 

Yosemite Valley Plan opponents hand out survey
Pete Clarke
special to mariposa tribune

On Saturday, Ranger Brandon Flynn seems a bit out of place surrounded by protesters of the Yosemite Valley Plan, as they distributed questionnaires, stickers, and informational materials to park visitors at the entrance gate on Highway 41. Left to right, Johnny Flynn, Don Davidson, Ranger Brandon Flynn, Jan Davidson, and Donna Davis. 
    Yosemite — On Friday and Saturday of this past Memorial Day weekend volunteers representing two groups, the American Land Rights Association and Visitors and Communities for an Open Yosemite, handed out questionnaires to motorists who were lined up to enter each of the three open entry gates to Yosemite Park. 
    On Saturday, canvassers Jan and John Davidson of Fish Camp, Johnny Ruiz from North Fork, and Donna Davis from Mariposa, were stationed at the Highway 41 entrance. They carried a permit allowing them to assemble and distribute handouts. 
    Around 9:30 a.m., Park Ranger Brandon Flynn approached and after a brief conversation returned to the entrance kiosk. Reportedly, however, on Friday a different scenario unfolded. A group of rangers confronted the volunteers aggressively, claiming they were concerned for public safety and for the safe, unimpeded flow of vehicle traffic into the park. 
    Evidently, after a number of non-physical skirmishes the officers detailed a number of guidelines for the volunteers to follow: stay together, refrain from crossing over the white lane line, stay within designated cone lanes, and refrain from approaching individuals unless invited to do so. According to Davidson, “We negotiated. People were receptive. It went very well.” 
    Johnny Ruiz, the dedicated father of four children, worked both Friday and Saturday. “We were cohesive and they finally let us have an area to work. We gave out over 500 handouts on Friday.” By the end of Saturday, another 1200 surveys had been passed out. “The Sierra Club is in bed with this thing. They say they want to restore the meadows, and keep the valley pristine. Hogwash,” said the energetic Ruiz. “They’re going to keep all the regular Joes out. They’ll squash the campgrounds. Squash our freedom of choice. What are the rest of us going to do who can’t afford two hundred a night at the Ahwahnee? How am I going to bring my family in?” 
    Ruiz spent both days tirelessly giving out questionnaires. As he handed out the sheets to visitors he called out, “Fill out that form and send it in ... This is still your valley, your park, don’t let them take it away. They’re your campsites, we need them back.If you have an opinion, mail it in, let them know.” 
    Don Davidson, a doctor, added, “If they had done a critical capacity study, where they could say, okay, the resource is going to deteriorate at a certain level of usage, and we’re going to exceed that level, so we need to make these changes. Well, if they’d done that, I wouldn’t be here.” 
    Davidson claims that the basic experience which he has had for over 27 years of visiting Yosemite is the same now as it was when he first started coming. “I haven’t seen deterioration,” said Davidson. “Visitation is down over a million people in three years, without the plan.” According to Davidson, tourism to the park has continuously decreased since 1996, and when Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) busing begins, it will drop further. “They’re taking an elitist position. It’s gentrification of the park,” he said. 
    Donna Davis moved to the Mountain Area fifteen years ago to marry and have a family. She is the Director of Operations at the Pines Resort at Bass Lake. Although the resort itself has a strong anti-Yosemite Valley Plan stance, Davis volunteered to pass out surveys because of her personal beliefs. She felt that removing people from cars and busing them was not the way to go. She claimed the plan would be inconvenient to day travelers and picnickers, extremely costly, and discriminatory to those with low incomes. “And the diesel buses will pollute more then the cars they’re replacing,” she said, “I have kids and we’ve been driving here for years.” 
    Jan Davidson and Donna Davis talked about the impossible task of bringing a family to Yosemite on the bus. “With all the camping gear and food I usually took three days to pack,” said one of the women. “A family of six on the bus, grandma on the bus, the kids on the bus, a wheelchair, herded around like sheep,” added the other. “I get tears in my eyes when I think about it,” said Mrs. Davidson. 
    In an unofficial survey, passengers of 22 cars were asked, “Would you rather drive into Yosemite or take the bus?” Two wanted “to think about it.” Two didn’t care: “Either way is fine.” Five said they would prefer “to take the bus.” The remaining 13 answered, “Drive my car.” For those respondents expressing an opinion, cars were preferred over the bus two to one. It appeared people with larger families in the car most often replied,“I’d rather drive.” Visitors were ethnically diverse. Five cars were from Fresno; nine from the greater Los Angeles Area; two from San Francisco; and one each from Riverside, Orange County, Germany, Chicago, San Bernardino, and Pasadena. 
    The handout survey asked respondents to answer AGREE, DISAGREE, or NO OPINION to each of four assertions: 
    1) Closing nearly 60% of drive-in campsites in Yosemite Valley forces families with young children, seniors, and the physically challenged to go elsewhere rather than deal with the increasingly difficult conditions in Yosemite. 
    2) The average family would be FORCED to board a bus far outside the park, have to get off with all their gear if they want to visit, for instance, Bridal Veil Falls where they have no way to guard their supplies while they hike; then re-board the bus, reload their stuff, get off at the next site, unload all their stuff, etc., etc. Most people will simply not accept this level of inconvenience. They will go somewhere else. 
    3) Parking is critical in Yosemite. Over 70% of the pre-1980 parking will be closed. It is very difficult for young families to fully enjoy Yosemite without the freedom of their cars. No cars in the Valley will mean many, if not most, families will go elsewhere. 
    4) I believe people should always have the option of driving their cars into Yosemite Valley. Buses may be good for some people and should be available to them, but car access is vital. 
    Information: ALRA, (360)687-3087. Visitors and Communities for an Open Yosemite (559)683-4636.

The Mariposa Tribune
4968 Joe Howard Road • PO Box 793 • Mariposa, CA 95338
Phone (209) 966-6397 • Fax (209) 742-7976 

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