Statement by Neal Desai, Pacific Region Field Director for National Parks Conservation Association
“The National Parks Conservation Association applauds Yosemite National Park for striking an appropriate, long-term balance of protecting the park’s world-class values and enhancing visitor experiences and access with its final Merced River Plan. Yosemite Superintendent Don Neubacher and the park staff demonstrated their commitment to using an unprecedented combination of research, scientific studies, and public engagement, including responding to more than 30,000 comments and leading more than 60 public meetings and webinars in this lengthy but crucial process.”
“Anyone who has visited Yosemite’s beloved Yosemite Valley during the busy summer season is well aware of the traffic jams of idling cars in an area John Muir famously and accurately described as ‘the grandest of all the special temples of Nature’. With the Merced River Plan’s calls for redesigned roads, pathways, and parking, expanded access to free hybrid shuttles, and the continued bike rental operations, visitors will experience a less congested and confusing park experience. The National Park Service demonstrates its commitment to improving the resiliency of the Merced River by restoring 189 acres of meadows and parkland near the river while removing 6,048 linear feet of riprap to restore the river’s natural flow. All of these enhancements were incorporated into the final plan, while continuing to welcome 20,100 visitors per day to the Yosemite Valley. The Merced River Plan’s calls for increasing camping opportunities by 37% in East Yosemite Valley while preserving the Awhanee Hotel, Wawona Hotel, and other lodging opportunities ensure this national park will continue to be accessible to visitors of a wide range of economic levels.”
“After over a decade of shaping this plan, the park’s proposal ensures that Yosemite will maintain its ‘crown jewel’ status over the long-term for its more than 4 million annual visitors that generate $379 million in economic benefits to neighboring communities.”
“As Yosemite National Park celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, the Merced River and recently completed Mariposa Grove plans are ensuring the park’s most beloved treasures, from the smooth granite walls to towering waterfalls to ancient sequoia trees are managed to invite and inspire all Americans for generations to come.”
About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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