Yosemite Valley needs a makeover

Letters to the Editor - 7/25/13 edition

July 23, 2013 

Dear Editor,

Everyone, especially those dedicated to conservation, will benefit if Yosemite Valley remains true to its original purpose; dedicated to public use, resort and recreation.

Steven Mather, the founding father of the National Park Service, got it right. He knew that to save parks like Yosemite, people had to visit and learn how invaluable they are. To entice them to visit, he knew he had to offer them familiar comforts and amenities.

Mather's ideas worked. People came, enjoyed their visits and were changed by the experience. They joined others and soon land, that would otherwise have been exploited, was preserved for parks.

Land is now set aside to protect wildlife, rivers, entire ecosystems and just plain wilderness. An idea spawned by people assigning value to wild places was born and is now a worldwide concept.

Yosemite Valley has been a window to the wilderness; a portal to environmental enlightenment; a recruit center. Those new to the natural world were attracted by familiar amenities that made them feel safe and comfortable. Thousands, perhaps millions of lives have been changed beginning with a visit to Yosemite Valley.

Today, more than ever, parks and the cause of protecting wild places and the environment need a broad and vast constituency. Mather has showed us, the best way to do this is through personal contact with the resource itself.

Yosemite Valley desperately needs a makeover. We are trying to accommodate a 21st century population with 19th century amenities. It needs better access, better traffic flow, better employee housing, more bicycle trails, more parking and more overnight accommodations.

And the world needs more Steven Mathers.

Michael Durr, retired National Park ranger, Ahwahnee

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