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Judge stops building in Yosemite

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Judge stops building in Yosemite

Postby markskor » Wed Nov 08, 2006 4:09 pm

Judge stops 9 building projects in Yosemite
SUIT SEEKS EQUITABLE SOCIAL ACCESS, PARK RESOURCE PROTECTION
By Eric Bailey
Los Angeles Times
SACRAMENTO A federal district court judge has ordered a halt to a broad slate of renovation projects in Yosemite Valley, stepping anew into a battle over the human imprint on one of America's most heavily visited cathedrals of nature.
In a 25-page ruling, Judge Anthony Ishii in Fresno ordered a halt to nine construction projects -- including roadwork, hotel renovations and new RV sites -- that are part of a long-planned $423 million upgrade of long-neglected visitor facilities.
Park officials say the projects are being held hostage by litigation brought by ``fringe'' environmental groups.
``These are projects the public has told us they want,'' said Scott Gediman, a park spokesman.
Greg Adair of Friends of Yosemite Valley said the legal fight is necessary to turn back the clock on environmental degradation while thwarting a shift to upscale hotel rooms, reduction of family camping and prices that could push average Americans away.``We hope for a park that has meaningful environmental protection and equitable social access,'' he said. ``What we've seen instead is this pandering to commercialism, this rush to do construction and this shortchanging of environmental laws.''
Ishii's decision, issued Friday, marked the second time in recent years that environmental groups have won court victories to halt the park's ambitious construction schedule.
In addition to ordering the work stoppage, the judge ordered the park service to attempt for a third time to produce a legally sound management plan for the Merced River, which cleaves the popular, mile-wide valley.
Ishii's decision stems from an earlier ruling in July, when he concluded that the park violated the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and failed to follow federal environmental rules in its river-protection plan. He also criticized park officials for not going far enough in conducting a user-capacity study, a planning document that some environmentalists hope will usher in limits on the number of daily visitors in the mile-wide Yosemite Valley.
Adair called user capacity ``a foundational issue'' in the planning process for the river and Yosemite Valley.
``Yosemite went from 500 visitors in the early 1900s to now more than 3 million a year,'' he said. ``It's the 21st century, and they need to define a measurable use of the park. But the park service hasn't had the political will to do that.''
Mountainman who swims with trout



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Postby SSSdave » Wed Nov 08, 2006 7:19 pm

Ughh! Certain to result in years and years of experiencing half completed delaying road contruction that has already considerably interrupted all who have visited the valley this current year. Its bad enough in the summer however in the winter the road detours are even more annoying. Would be nice if they are allowed to move ahead with at least the road construction. ...David
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Postby dave54 » Wed Nov 08, 2006 9:25 pm

Just another reason to avoid the National Parks.

IMHO National Parks are overrated, overcrowded, and over regulated.

I very much prefer National Forests and BLM public lands. Even NF Wilderness is not what it used to be. There are plenty of nominally multiple use lands that have never seen a chain saw or cow (or hiker), and are more pristine and offer more solitude than many designated Wilderness.

Think outside the box and you exponentially increase your outdoor recreation opportunities.
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Postby markskor » Wed Nov 08, 2006 10:34 pm

What bothers me is the current underlying emphasis on building up only the "high priced" camping areas, catering to RV's, high-end hotels, and doing away with the regular basic camping sites, etc. These $$ places seem to be getting all the budgeted dollars; soon, regular families like us will not be able to get into/afford to enjoy the park.
Much like that damn Curry Pizza monstrosity deck, why cater to only the rich?

I thought that the underlying YNP theme (Master Plan) was supposed to bring the park back to a pristine condition... (How it was 200 years ago) but, I guess NOT!
I guess the “powers-that run-the-place” think that the Ahwahnee Indians must have only driven Winnebagos, used obnoxious generators, slept in luxury hotels, bought expensive souvenirs, and ate at burger stands. Yet, they avidly fence off the Valley meadows, lest someone dare to walk there. Something seems wrong with the current priorities.
Yes, the park (Valley) certainly needs new/better roads...fix them certainly, but more importantly, it also needs more basic sites...replacing those which were washed out a few years ago. (I read no mention of any of this). Spending the money here first makes more sense to me.
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Postby SteveB » Sun Nov 26, 2006 1:36 pm

Well, I've been saying it for years, and I believe it even more now. Commercialism is destroying Yosemite from the inside-out (literally). My plan? Remove virtually all structures (except the historic buildings like the Ahwahnee (sp?), have only a few well-maintained roads, and have a regular schedule of electric busses that make the circuit to provide access to those who can't otherwise get around (handicapped, for instance). Ban all other vehicles, period. If you're mobility-capable, you should have to hoof your way into and out of the Valley. Wheelchair access is important, and that should be part of the same roadway system that the electric tourist busses use. Only camping should be a couple backpacker camps (also for those that might carry some gear with them on the bus in).

What's next, the Verizon Lodge or Chinquapin Holiday Inn? Bahhh...
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Postby Robert » Mon Nov 27, 2006 12:11 am

I just came back from a weekend in YNP. Southside Drive is closed for reconstruction which puts all cars onto the Northside Drive. Also, someone decided that it's "offseason" now, so the park's infrastucture resembles a ghost town. The problem is, that braintrust forgot to inform the masses. It was more crowded and confused than during the summer months.

I witnessed dogs, off leashes, crapping on the trails in the Mariposa Grove. A group of "non-English reading" people digging a sapling tree out of the ground and hauling it back to their SUV like it was a prize. (I'm happy to say that I reported these folks directly to the Ranger).

I think banning private autos is probably the way to go, but I'm not sure what others means of transport are feasible. I, personally, would rather drive slowly and relax rather than racing around the park like it was some kind of nascar qualifying lap.

Sorry for the rant....
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Postby mountaineer » Mon Nov 27, 2006 9:14 pm

dave54 wrote:Just another reason to avoid the National Parks.

IMHO National Parks are overrated, overcrowded, and over regulated.

I very much prefer National Forests and BLM public lands. Even NF Wilderness is not what it used to be. There are plenty of nominally multiple use lands that have never seen a chain saw or cow (or hiker), and are more pristine and offer more solitude than many designated Wilderness.

Think outside the box and you exponentially increase your outdoor recreation opportunities.


Very well said! I agree.
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Postby mountaineer » Mon Nov 27, 2006 9:17 pm

What bothers me is the current underlying emphasis on building up only the "high priced" camping areas, catering to RV's, high-end hotels, and doing away with the regular basic camping sites, etc.


Yes, and it isn't ever going to change! Money talks.
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