The National Park Service has been granted a five-month extension to "improve" the controversial Merced River Plan. It begs the question: what will the Park Service do in five months that they failed to do in 13 years? Every major Yosemite Plan since the 1980 General Management Plan (GMP) has prioritized moving closer to the GMP goal of totally eliminating private vehicle access to Yosemite Valley by incrementally removing in-Valley day visitor parking and facilitated by regional bus transit. Those plans included the 1994 Transportation Feasibility Study, the 1997 Valley Implementation Plan, the 2000 Yosemite Valley Plan, as well as Merced River Plan 1, 2, and 3.
Consequently, I am expecting the Park Service will state (is already stating) that they have worked tirelessly to balance resource protection and visitor experience while listening to the public. Thus, they will most likely put back the amenities in some form (e.g., ice rink, raft/bike rentals, horseback rides, swimming pools)in fact, NPS Director Jon Jarvis already alluded to that during a congressional hearing last month. I would further expect the Park will eliminate the proposed West Valley parking and campground; perhaps put back some Valley campsites (few, if any, of the pre-flood drive-in family sites); continue to reduce in-Valley day visitor parkingespecially informal, dispersed sites; continue to sidestep preparation of a comprehensive parkwide transportation plan and park-wide employee housing plan; continue to promote and bankroll regional bus transportation on all four corridors including Highway 41 (without the authority to do so outside the Park); and continue to use a post-flood arbitrary baseline to call "decreases" increases in camping and in-Valley day visitor parking.
If you believe visitor access and resource protection are both important to Yosemite, do not let the Park continue to remove in-Valley day visitor parking and implement regional bus transit on Highway 41. Most importantly, accept nothing less than an explicitly clear amendment to the 1980 GMP that will ensure in-Valley day visitor parking at or above pre-flood numbers. Private vehicles use existing infrastructure, do not require cutting down more trees, digging up more ground, widening/realigning roads, increasing blacktop, and do not create toxic hotspots. I trust and hope my expectations are wrong and the Park Service will put Yosemite ahead of profits, politics, and special interests.
Disclaimer: I do not have an informant within the Park Service, nor contact with the NSA, IRS, Facebook, or Twitter. My expectations are based on my personal 16-year involvement in Yosemite planning coupled with the Park's planning history and decision-making track record.