On Jan. 30, my husband and I drove to Yosemite Valley to attend the first meeting of the year of the Merced River Plan . Outside the Visitor Center Auditorium where the meeting was held we discovered a plaque placed in 1964. It read:
On June 30, 1864 the United States granted the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove to the state of California, "to be held, for public use, resort and recreation, inalienable for all time."
This act, signed by President Abraham Lincoln, was the first federal authorization to preserve scenic and scientific values for public benefit.
What's happening with the Merced River Plan is in direct conflict with these "inalienable rights" as we see the use and enjoyment of our "public lands" continue to erode.
Due to litigation with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Yosemite National Park is saddled with the almost impossible job of incorporating a "Wild and Scenic River Act" with a General Management Plan for Yosemite Valley. Because they consider the act law, the Park Service feels compelled to eliminate much of the recreation and infrastructure within the park to satisfy the courts demands.
The Merced River Plan appears to be attempting to turn Yosemite Valley into a "Wilderness" which it is not,and never has been. The Native Americans settled in Yosemite Valley 1,000 years before the white man saw it. Yosemite Valley was a "developed area devoted to recreation for over 100 years after being designated public property, and 50 years after becoming a National Park."
The Wild and Scenic River Act also designates a river corridor of 100-150 feet where all man made infrastructure must be removed. We feel it is possible to protect the river corridor from degradations and adverse impacts without removal of recreational activities, infrastructures or historic bridges.
If the Merced river Plan and the Wild and Scenic River Act are allowed to trump the 1864 act signed by Lincoln and the Organic Act of 1916 then the visitor will become the intruder or "the enemy." We think that Lincoln's act and the Organic Act should take precedence over the Merced river Plan and the Wild and Scenic River Act.
We highly recommend a book titled "Born In Yosemite" by Peter T. Hoss where he says, "Yosemite is not broken and does not need to be fixed by drastic solutions. What Yosemite needs is to be saved from its self-appointed saviors."
If anyone has enjoyed horseback riding, rafting, ice skating or bicycling in Yosemite or care about preserving Yosemite's historical places we urge you to write and give your input before the April 18 public comment deadline. Go to nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt//mp.htm, or call (209) 379-1110 for more information.
Yosemite National Park belongs to you, and you are paying for it. Let your voices be heard.