National Park, CA 95389
on a fantastic piece of work--it is an admirable and courageous
effort, and clearly presented with public comment in mind. I applaud
the efforts aimed at reducing the causes of seasonal congestion in the
valley, plus the unnecessary clutter of infrastructure--maintenance,
administration, employees, etc.
have two specific objections to the plan, which illustrate an overall
problem. In the draft YVP, the underlying philosophy of balancing
human considerations with environmental restoration is unevenly
applied. In some cases, this gives the appearance that there may be no
underlying principle at all, but just a case-by-case tackling of
specific problems. This inconsistency appears in the following two
The removal of the stone bridges.
agree with the assessment of impact of the stone bridges; however, I
feel that impact is comparable to the impact of the Yosemite Chapel. I
think that our values have not been raised to the extent that we are
ready to remove the chapel and the Ahwahnee Hotel and restore those
areas to a natural condition. The draft YVP has not proposed either of
those actions; this shows that the draft YVP acknowledges the
following principle: certain impacts on Yosemite are justified by
societyís valuation of them.
the draft YVP ignores the impact of the chapel, why should it focus
upon the impact of culturally valued stone bridges? Does it matter to
people that the river be allowed to flood and meander naturally? If we
were trying to restore Yosemite to a natural state, where the river
could flow freely, and trees and meadows could exist without buildings
and roads, we would apply that principle evenly and remove all human
vestiges from the valley. In reality, we are agreeing on a park that
includes human impacts to an extent that pleases us, for our own
aesthetic and cultural values. Unless we plan to remove all cultural
impacts from the park, we need to honestly acknowledge that we value
stone bridges, chapels, and historic hotels, more than we care about
their environmental impacts.
The creation of 200 employee beds in Wawona.
1911, J. Smeaton Chase wrote:
for one always feel that if Yosemite has the greater glory,
has the deeper charm."
my 17 years as pianist at the Wawona Hotel, and countless discussions
on the subject with our guests, Iíve observed that most value Wawona
for the peacefulness and charm, in contrast to Yosemite Valley.
appreciate that removal of employees from the valley must create an
equal impact elsewhere, but that should not mean Wawona. Since
Yosemite Valley is adversely impacted by the 1000+ employee beds that
the draft YVP seeks to remove, the adverse impact of 200 additional
beds in Wawona would have to be proportionally greater, since the area
is far more confined than Yosemite Valley. This once again shows an
inconsistent application of the goals of the draft YVP, as it merely
jockeys the impact from one part of the park to an equally vulnerable
and precious part of Yosemite.
impact of 200 employees will go far to spoil the rare, country
atmosphere, the peaceful riverbanks, trails, swimming holes, and the
feeling that Wawona is a place of respite for the Yosemite tourist,
not a hangout for employees. To quote Chase once more ("Yosemite
Trails" pub. 1911):
forest places are places of rest, and meadows and valleys
even more so in their nature. Wawona combines them all,
indeed I do not know a more idyllic spot. Seclusion is in
very air, and its beauty is of that gentle and perfect quality
does not so much command one's admiration as it quietly
the same reasons that the draft YVP seeks to minimize employees in
Yosemite Valley, it should protect Wawona and the South Fork of the
Merced from cultural as well as environmental degradation.