NPS on the Future of Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Valley

On the right is theworld famous”tunnel view” ofYosemite Valley. Thisworld class viewfigures prominentlyinto the National ParkService’s earlierannounced plans forYosemite’s future.Park officials saythat, without thisplan that includes acurb on futureautomobile traffic inthe valley, there willbe air pollution, occasional gridlock and a need for more parking lots …a seemingly strange mix of urban woes in what many recognize as the mostbeautiful valley in the world.

Most recently (August 98), the National Park Service has endorsed 2important strategies regarding Yosemite’s future:

#1: The NPS has nixed plans for a 1,800 spaced parking lot at the Toe Taftarea of Yosemite Valley. There is a problem though: this now nixedparking lot was to replace more than 2,000 spaces currently existing atseveral prime scenic areas in the most popular east end of the valley thatare being eliminated as part of the park’s “back to nature” strategy.

#2: The Yosemite Area Regional Transportation Strategy (YARTS) board hasofficially endorsed a voluntary, seasonal bus system that stops short ofbanning cars in Yosemite Valley. They hope this voluntary proposal willcut down on temporary park closures and traffic grid lock in YosemiteValley.


The Latest Endorsements
The regional bus system is to begin June 1999 when YARTS inaugurates a 2year pilot proposal with 16 privates buses. YARTS envisions the servicegradually expanding over the next decade to include buses and bus stopsfarther and farther away from the park as patronage expands. The initialservice for June ’99 will comprise passenger pick up points in Groveland(120 west), Mariposa (140), Oakhurst (41) and Tuolumne Meadows (120 east).These buses will run from June 1 to September 15.

The National Park Service say they’ll provide incentives for luringYosemite visitors out of the cars and into buses. No such incentives havebeen announced, nor have any prices.

Currently it costs $20 @ car to get into Yosemite. Bus fares won’t bedetermined, we’re told, until the private companies submit their bids …in the final quarter of 1998.

Mind you, government bureaucrats change their minds. The various plans forYosemite’s future as listed below. We list them all (including itemssupposed excluded in the latest update) because politicians/bureaucrats canchange with the wind. Giving you the most information is the best.


The Proposals
The original proposal submission is actually not one plan but four …including one over a quarter century in the making and which, with the waygovernment churns, could have languished for many more years had it notbeen for the January 1997 floods. After that flooding, Congressappropriated some $200 million dollars in emergency funding to rebuild thepark’s superstructure and, more importantly, fund efforts to make Yosemitemore environmentally respectful in the future. In the words of YosemitePark Superintendent Stan Albright: “It is a vision that calls for swiftand thoughtful action. It is a plan that conveys a simple message: thestatus quo is not acceptable in Yosemite National Park.”

Let’s discuss the plans. Mind you, the government bureaucrats have been atwork; this is a 291 page document … but we will cut through the verbiageand cover the important points right here:

It’s called the Draft Yosemite Valley Implementation Plan (VIP) and itpresents four alternatives for carrying out the provisions of the 1980 (wewarned you government works slowly) General Management Plan. Thoseprovisions call for the removal of unnecessary structures, restoration andprotection of recovered land, relocation of facilities out of sensitive orhazardous areas and reduction of traffic congestion in Yosemite Valley.

Alternative #2:

Only via government jargon do we come up with strange titles…let alonestranger summaries. With that in mind, we start not with #1 but #2 andAlternative 2 is the National Park Service’s preferred/proposed actionamong the three other alternatives. It is, in the words of the NPS: “themost comprehensive approach.” 147 acres in the east end of the valleywould be restored to natural conditions, 82 acres redesigned and 38 acresdeveloped to accommodate relocated facilities/functions.

Day use private car transportation would be severely limited. Day usevisitor and out-of-park bus traffic would be intercepted an anorientation/transfer station at Taft Toe. Shuttle service would transportvisitors to other valley and park destinations.

Please make special note of the following: It’s anticipated that aregional transportation system would eliminate the need for day use visitorparking at Taft Toe. If, by the summer of 2001, it does not, then aparking area would be built to accommodate up to 1,800 spaces for day usevehicles. The size of the facility would be set by the capacity of theregional system. This proposal gets kudos from those who don’t want a morevisible transfer station in the west end of the valley at Pohono Quarry(Alternative #3).

Editor’s Note: The plan for a massive parking lot at Taft Toe has, mostrecently, been been nixed by NPS officialdom.

Removal of three historic bridges would improve Merced River hydrology morethan any other alternative. Please click here to see a current view of thehistoric Stoneman Bridge as well as a computer-generated view with theremoval of the bridge.

This plan’s shuttle system would be more expansive, keeping most parkvisitor cars out of the valley. With less traffic, current circulationroutes including Northside Drive and roads through Ahwahnee, Cook’s andStoneman Meadows would be removed. Please click here to see a current viewof Ahwahnee Meadow and a computer-generated vista with the road removed.

Alternative #2 would cost almost $142 million. Some $44 million of thatwould be allocated for concessionaire projects; $98 million would be forPark Service changes. About half of the funds needed for the ParkService’s share is already available via the emergency funds already madeavailable by Congress.

Alternative #1:

Alternative 1: no action…which actually includes action outlined in theimplementation of the General Management Plan. #1 would allow for some41 acres to be restored to natural conditions and 15 acres redesigned toaccommodate relocated facilities/functions. Valley roadways would becontinue along present routes. Both day users and overnight guests wouldcontinue to access the valley in their own vehicles, by tour bus or byout-of-park transit vehicles.


Alternative #3:

#3 is similar to the proposed #2 but provides an orientation/transferfacility in the west end of the valley at Pohono Quarry. This oversizedparking lot and shuttle transfer station would be visible from the nearsacred Wawona Tunnel View. To view the location and the approximatevisibility of the orientation/transfer facility, please click here. (Notethe pristine tunnel view at the very top of this page.) #3 would allowsome 143 acres to be reclaimed and restored to natural conditions, 93 acresredesigned and 57 acres developed to accommodate relocated facilities orfunctions including the Pohono Quarry facility.


Alternative #4:

Alternative #4 (minimum requirements) would provide for implementation ofthe General Management Plan in a manner more comprehensive than theno-action alternative (#1) but with less habitat restoration and fewerimprovements than alternatives 2 & 3. Implementation of alternative #4would allow some 118 acres to be reclaimed and restored to naturalconditions, 95 acres redesigned and 36 acres developed to accommodaterelocated facilities/functions.


More Information?
Comments, questions about this latest Yosemite Valley Proposal? Should youdesire more detailed information, we invite you to visit the National ParkService’s pages addressing these issues. Their entire proposal is on line.An important notice though: the government pages are on a slow server withlimited bandwidth. Some of the graphics are overly large. This siteoffers a NPS comment page but, after a dozen tries, we could not access it.Bottom line, please bookmark these Yosemite/Gold Country pages before goingfurther.

Here is the National Park Service’s VIP website. Click on link below tovisit it.
We here at Yosemite/Gold Country would appreciate your comments/feedback tothe NPS’ plans for the Future of Yosemite.FYI: We have plenty of bandwidth and our server is fast…very fast.

To send us your e-mail comments, please click here or on address below:


[email protected]
We will forward your responses to appropriate government and mediarepresentatives.


Other Comment:
If you desire a copy of the VIP proposal, write to:

Public Information Office
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite, CA 95389

or call:

Leave a Comment