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Save North Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley
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Mark Sutherlin
(msutherlin) - F
Save North Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley on 06/13/2007 16:56:10 MDT Print View

If it's ok to post this, I would like to let anyone interested know that Yosemite National Park intends to remove North Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley. If this is as appalling to you as it is to many of us, I would like you to consider an effort to convince the park service and congress to reconsider that plan. There is a petition to sign if you agree that camping is the best way to experience Yosemite Valley, and that by eliminating campgrounds we are destroying the opportunity for our nation's children to experience camping in Yosemite and to learn about nature. The website is http://www.yosemitevalleycampers.org

Thanks!

Mark

Aaron Wallace
(basilbop) - F
Re: Save North Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley on 06/13/2007 21:44:52 MDT Print View

To provide some context, the removal of North Pines is part of a much larger plan for Yosemite Valley. The relevant information is available at:

http://www.nps.gov/archive/yose/planning/yvp/

Specifically, the proposed valley campground reshuffling is described at:

http://www.nps.gov/archive/yose/planning/yvp/seis/vol_Ia/chapter_2_a2.html

(search for "Visitor Services" "Camping" roughly 1/2 way through the document)

Note that there is a slight net increase in the number of post-'97 flood campsites (500 vs. 475), although more of these will be walk-in vs. auto/RV sites. (The pre-flood Valley campsite count was about 800.)

Trying to find the right balance between development and preservation in the Valley is a challenge, one for which every solution seems to be a bad compromise. The days of driving to the Valley on a whim and grabbing a campsite are long gone--too many people, not enough space. We can build more campsites and lodgings, and allow more visitors to experience crowds, traffic jams, and parking lots. Or we can have fewer accommodations, allowing the lucky few to experience nature while others miss out entirely.

Mark Sutherlin
(msutherlin) - F
Re: Re: Save North Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley on 06/13/2007 21:58:32 MDT Print View

Of the 500 sites, only 330 will be auto-based sites creating even fewer opportunities for young families, the disabled, and the elderly.

To quote Paul Minault from the Access Fund, he said and I agree:

"By reducing visitors' reliance on developed facilities, camping helps fulfill the basic goals of the GMP to reduce development in the Valley, reclaim priceless natural beauty, and promote visitor understanding and enjoyment of park resources."

End quote.

Aaron Wallace
(basilbop) - F
Re: Save North Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley on 06/13/2007 23:29:05 MDT Print View

I'm not necessarily defending the Yosemite Valley Plan, but I question the assertion that walk-in sites are not suitable for "young families, the disabled, and the elderly." For me, this is close to the "roadless areas limit access" claim that's too often used to argue against wildeness designation--an argument that this site counters by showing that you don't have to be a superhuman who can carry a 50 lb. pack to be able to visit the backcountry on foot.

In fact, many of the proposed walk-in sites--especially South Camp and the Camp 4 additions--are quite close to paved roadways, which could be used to drop off heavy gear even if actual parking is further away:

http://www.nps.gov/archive/yose/planning/yvp/seis/vol_Ic/img/2-3.jpg

http://www.nps.gov/archive/yose/planning/yvp/seis/vol_Ic/img/2-5.jpg

Also, many people may prefer a walk-in campsite to an auto site surrounded by RVs and generators. The Tenaya Creek and Upper Pines walk-in sites in particular look like they would provide a Valley camping experience that's currently available only in the Valley backpacker's campground (which is limited to backpackers entering/leaving the backcountry).

Mark Sutherlin
(msutherlin) - F
Petition to Save North Pines and other lost campgrounds in Yosemite Valley on 06/14/2007 10:34:07 MDT Print View

Thank you for including photos. In am not suggesting that any of the plans were not well intentioned. I do have problems with several things that have occurred in this planning process. For one, as the Fresno Federal Court, and Judge Ishii points out, the Merced River Plan, which is the blueprint of the Yosemite Valley Plan, was to be the guiding document to provide what would and/or could be allowed.

What occurred was Mr. Bruce Babbitt, the then Secretary of Interior made the statement that all of the planning had to be completed before he (they) left office, which was December 31, 1999. I contend that both plans were rushed to completion. Their final Record of Decision, approving the Yosemite Valley Plan occurred three days before that date.

As you recall, the flood of 1997 was referred to by Mr. Dave Mihalic, Yosemite Park Superintendent at the time, and Mr. Bruce Babbitt concurred that this act of nature allowed them to rethink what to do in the valley. In fact, they took advantage, in my view, of this situation to adjust what they themselves would allow to be included in the public scoping of the campgrounds. Subsequent to the flood, when the campground scoping period for public input came up, the public were not allowed to debate what to do with these campgrounds which had been taken off the discussion table.

In 1995 the park service had already said that they would like to remove all campsites north of the river. In 1997, they used the flood to do just that, claiming that the flood did what the public would not have allowed them to do, in essence cutting off the public from any further dialogue on the subject.

Since the 1980 Yosemite Valley General Management Plan, (GMP), the public had offered input. At the point that the flood occurred, public input was cut off, as it relates to these campgrounds.

It is my view that if managed properly to limit impact, the GMP plan, as it related to the these campgrounds had a better solution. It addressed riparian issues, reduced campsites, separated campsites, and pulled campsites away from the river. This plan removes entirely three and a half entire campgrounds, taking into consideration valley’s old group campground, impacting youth groups, church groups, etc. By doing so, in order to maintain the park’s desired goals of campsites, the remaining campgrounds can no longer be separated, resulting in no improved Yosemite Valley camping experience for drive-in campers in the valley. Not that all of the existing campsites are too close to each other, but as you know, some are. In the GMP, these campsites would have been separated, and the camping experience enhance.

On a separate, but related subject, as the court in Fresno pointed out, the park did not use a “carrying capacity” in their plan to as a ruler to control human impact. The park decided to use what they call the V.E.R.P. system, as their ruler, rather than a set limits on the number of people allowed in the park at any one time. The V.E.R.P. system does not guaranteed protection to Yosemite’s vulnerable areas. What it does do is enable the park to adjust the acceptable limits of human impact ever upward as future generations are more accepting of the ever increasing population. Because of the park’s history of bias towards commercial interests that has directly profit them via the profit sharing agreement that they have with Delaware North, ventures like the rafting concession could be used to cast a wary eye on the park’s commitment toward setting limits as the park continues to get more impacted.

By establishing limits, and utilizing part of the flood zone for camping, which is common in every other park where campsites abut river embankments, the valley would see far less impacts. But, instead, the park’s former Director of National Parks, Ms. Fran Mainella has stated that day use offers better use of these former campground areas because more people will be able to use (impact?) these areas if the park concentrates on and accommodates day use as their primary focus. This is a paraphrase, but I can post the actual statement if you would like from the April, 2003 Congressional Subcommittee hearing in Yosemite Valley, where many campers such as I attended.

I am tempted to go on, but feel that this may be an inappropriate for a poster like me to write a small novel. Lol. Thank you so much for the opportunity to address some of the issues. Please feel free to point out areas where you feel I may be off base.
Regarding the issue that has not yet been discussed, as it relates to the Yosemite National Park Service going to congress and seeking flood recovery money to restore the campgrounds to the exact state that they were in before the flood occurred, a play on words, but using the money to do everything but that, I would like to end this post with a statement that was made by Mr. Mark Thornton, Tuolumne County Supervisor:
“As Tuolumne County Supervisor I have communicated directly to the NPS my belief that they are in violation of Federal law in their plans to eliminate these campgrounds. They have a moral and ethical obligation to have properly informed and justified to the American people why they chose to violate Congress' and the President's intent to have these campgrounds reinstated after the 1997 flood event.
If not stopped, the NPS will eventually eliminate most auto based, family friendly camping in Yosemite. Congress must take action, and you, by signing this petition, can help initiate that action to save America's National Parks for America's families."
End quote.
If you get a chance, take a look at the many thoughtful comments by people who have taken the time to post while signing the petition. You will find the petition link at

http://www.yosemitevalleycampers.org/

Mark Sutherlin
(msutherlin) - F
Petition to save Yosemite Valley's popular North Pines Campground from closure. on 06/15/2007 22:50:51 MDT Print View

A petition signer posted the following well worded comment when signing the petition to save the North Pines campground yesterday, and I thought I'd share it with all of those here that are interested. I had to read it twice, as it seemed to summarize many of our views in so few words, as follows:

"The idea of reducing the number of campsites flies in the face of the purpose of the park. Camping helps to explore and enjoy the park at a pace that is more in harmony with the spirit of Yosemite. Eliminating sites only serves to reduce availability to families and others who do not have the means or resources to either stay at hotels or can backpack into more remote areas of the park. It is already incredibly difficult to get camp sites as it is, and it is only going to get worse."

End quote.

Gail Lusk
(AlohaTink) - F

Locale: In the Middle of No Where!
Make More Campsites on 06/17/2007 12:43:38 MDT Print View

I say get rid of the hotels and make more campsites!!
Usually the campgrounds are all sold out in just 20 minutes online and by phone.

Aaron Wallace
(basilbop) - F
Re: Make More Campsites on 06/17/2007 17:50:02 MDT Print View

Hotels (which in Yosemite Valley range from canvas tents in Curry/Housekeeping to the five-star Ahwahnee) generally allow more overnight guests per land area--especially multi-story units. Replacing all the valley "hotels" with campsites would reduce the number of overnight accommodations available, provided that no new land was developed. This is probably one motivation for the increase in walk-in sites in the YVP--their density is closer to that of the Curry tent cabins and Housekeeping.

As a *very* rough guess, converting Curry, the Ahwahnee, Housekeeping, and Yosemite Lodge (~1000 "rooms") to campsites would allow about 600 sites of Upper/Lower River density to be built. Result: the 1100 campsites would probably sell out in 40 minutes instead of 20 :-)

Another benefit of lodging-type accommodations is that it's easier to use mass/public transportation--all you need is a suitcase or two. Many "lodge" visitors arrive by bus; few campers do (although some RVs are almost the same size as busses...) Car/RV camping generally requires a private vehicle to carry the tent, sleeping bags, cooler, camp stove, etc. More campsites would require more vehicles in the Valley for the same levels of utilization.

Mark Sutherlin
(msutherlin) - F
Petition to Save North Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley on 06/17/2007 21:18:07 MDT Print View

Of course, not all visitors are able to camp. Though I share the poster’s enthusiasm for camping as being the best way to appreciate the park and learn to respect and love nature.

Though campers lost a disproportionate number of campsites, there were reductions in other forms of accommodations, such as tent cabins, housekeeping accommodations and hard sided hotel rooms, albeit this last group were reduced at a far lesser percentage.

The petition is to encourage the park service to return the campgrounds that they refused to repair after the flood, even though that was exactly what they told congress that they would do with the flood recovery money at the time that they were asking for it. The flood recovery money amounted to almost two hundred million dollars, though some of that money was dedicated for things other than the repair of these campgrounds.

Congress actually gave them almost twice the money that they asked for. But, rather than replace the campgrounds as they said they would do, the money went elsewhere. For example, shortly thereafter the park service rebuilt six miles of highway 140, the main road into the park, primarily accommodate tour buses. That statement, that the reason for the upgrade had to do with tour buses is something that John Reynolds, the Western District Ranger told newspapers at the time. They widened and straightened the road and installing a new sewer line along the entire length of road. Less than two hundred yards of that road had been damaged by the flood of 1997. This was the same park that had no money to advance their Yosemite Valley Plans prior to this infusion of cash.

Here is the problem in a nutshell: The campgrounds that were not repaired after the flood, which the park told congress that they would rebuild, were never actually offered to the public as an option to talk about during the campground scoping study. That option was off the table. In 1995, two years before the flood, and a long time prior to the campground scoping study, the park said that they would like to remove all campgrounds on the north side of the river. They felt that the flood gave them an excuse to do it without asking the public. Many campers take issue with that.

Would it be rhetorical to ask why the park service didn’t solicit the tens of thousands of Yosemite campers that they could have brought into the discussion via their vast contact database of previous Yosemite campers?

Most campers respect nature. Camping is how most learned to respect and love nature. Many campers are respectful of the goal of limiting human impact. But after all the planning, campers were basically left out of the planning process when the park service moved forward. The few Yosemite campers who knew that the planning process was going on, gave input on all things related to the Merced River Plan and Yosemite Valley Plan, and many of us, myself included, even contributed to the GMP planning prior to 1980. My first letter in response to their planning was in 1977.

Many campers feel that Yosemite Valley's restoration was disproportionately born on the backs of campers, not only because of the disproportionate reduction of campsites versus other kinds of accommodations in the Yosemite Valley Plan, but because we were not allowed to comment on the removal of those campgrounds. The GMP, (1980 General Management Plan) was perhaps outdated as some have said. But, it did actually have a comprehensive environmental study and plan in it which allowed for fewer human impacts in the old campgrounds. It reduced impact in riparian areas, pulled campsites away from the river and separated campsites, rather than what the park service did which was to remove them entirely, while maintaining far more campsites overall without actually closing any campgrounds. One of the flaws in the Yosemite Valley Plan was that the park service said that the Yosemite Valley Plan was to adhere to the goals of the GMP; which, in the end, it did not.

Here, in these few words from Yosemite Park Superintendent, Mike Tollefson, in 2004, reflects the park's goals, which in essences is all about increasing head counts:

"That construction will help Yosemite continue to accommodate 4 million visitors a year without feeling cramped".

End quote.

The former Director of the Yosemite region for the Wilderness Society, Jay Watson, stated at about that same time, that the removal of the campgrounds was, from his view, the "heart and soul" of the Yosemite Valley Plan. If so, then why didn’t the park service allow for public input on the subject? By not including the option of restoring these removed campgrounds in one form or another in the YVP campground scoping study, in effect took the option off the negotiation table at the only time when any campground related options were given to the public comment on.

The late David Brower called the Yosemite Valley Plan a “half-baked development plan". He was also in favor of reopening those campgrounds after the flood.

I think the Sierra Club’s first Executive Director and later founder of Earth Island, David Brower had it right.

It's too bad that he died when he did, as I do think that there would have been a more powerful voice of compromise coming from him. Brower didn't like this Yosemite Valley Plan for a variety of reasons.

David Brower’s Earth Island was one of the 62 groups/organizations that signed on to the amicus brief in support of the lawsuit against the park service, pertaining to many issues associated with Yosemite’s plans. Earth Island's late founder, David Brower, was furious about the Yosemite Valley Plan, claiming that it would do irreparable damage to Yosemite. He called for the Park Service planners to be jailed, and that what they were doing (as it relates to their plans) was criminal. He believed that Yosemite should be a "nature center, not a profit center" . . .

David Brower was a Yosemite camper.

With Mr. Brower taking such a strong stand against the Yosemite Valley Plan, and in favor of returning the campgrounds, it really looked like there was a formidable alliance of opponents to the plan. The term "untimely death" doesn't begin to define how truly untimely it was. It just goes to prove that fighting city hall is a tough position to take, even when you win, as the Friends of Yosemite Valley did. There’s always the appellate court.

By signing the petition doesn’t mean anything will be changed. But, it does mean you have one more place to voice your opinion.

Mark

http://www.yosemitevalleycampers.org/

Edited by msutherlin on 06/17/2007 21:22:41 MDT.

Mark Sutherlin
(msutherlin) - F
Petition To Save North Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley on 06/19/2007 16:40:45 MDT Print View

With permission from Paul Minault of the Access Fund, I would like to post their views on camping in Yosemite from comments that they submitted to Yosemite National Park on the Yosemite Valley Plan. These are only a small portion of the lengthy document that the Access Fund gave to the park regarding the YVP, but are perhaps appropriate to respond to comments made above, as follows:

Begin quote:

Given the importance of camping to the visitor experience, the Plan needs to include a clear statement that camping is a critical form of overnight accommodation
and recreation in the Valley, that it furthers park values and purposes better than any other form of overnight accommodation (except backpacking), and that the provision of an adequate number of campsites deserves to be accorded a sufficient priority among other planning goals, particularly the restoration of watershed habitat and floodplains, so that the park can maintain the number of campsites called for in the GMP, as well as a quality experience for campers. Why doesn't the Plan present a value system that supports camping, since it is such a fundamental part of the park experience?

End quote.

If you agree, please consider signing the petition to Save North Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley, a link to which can be found at http://www.yosemitevalleycampers.org/

Edited by msutherlin on 06/19/2007 16:54:28 MDT.

Mark Sutherlin
(msutherlin) - F
Petition to Save North Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley on 06/19/2007 17:09:45 MDT Print View

Comments from the Access Fund to the Yosemite National Park Service regarding the park's demolition of campgounds in Yosemite after the flood of 1997:

Quote:

We are also concerned by the park's demolishing or abandoning many campsites after the 1997 flood. Following the flood, the park demolished or abandoned the Upper and Lower River Campgrounds, as well as sites in North Pines, Lower Pines, and Group Camp. The park did so, however, without preparing the environmental documentation required by the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA") and without providing any notice to or allowing any comment by the public. The public was given no information regarding the extent of the damage, no opportunity to form an opinion as to whether the demolition or abandonment of these campsites was warranted, no opportunity to consider alternative courses of action, and no opportunity to consider actions to mitigate the loss of these campgrounds. This arbitrary action by the park resulted in the loss of 397 campsites in the Valley, about half of the pre-flood total. This was a violation of NEPA and an abrogation of the Park Service's duty to manage the park in a manner consistent with the interests of the public.

End quote.

Mark Sutherlin
http://www.yosemitevalleycampers.org

Aaron Wallace
(basilbop) - F
Petition to Save North Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley on 06/20/2007 14:49:02 MDT Print View

Again, not to defend the YVP, but making a claim that the loss in campsites compared to lodgings was "disproportionate" is somewhat misleading given the numbers:

Total Valley lodgings would go from 1510 units (pre-flood) to 961 under the YVP, a 36.4% reduction. Campsites would go from ~800 to ~500, a 37.5% reduction. These are quite similar, probably intentionally. (Curiously, the http://yosemitevalleycampers.org/ website claims that the reduction in campsites is "over 40%"--given the bias of the website, perhaps they're counting only auto/RV (a/k/a "family-friendly") campsites...?)

The Yosemite Valley Campers Coalition (YVCC) appears to support an 800 campsite goal. What's not clear is if they're proposing simply restoring North Pines (and Upper River/Lower River?) and keeping the rest of the YVP in place; returning to the pre-'97 condition (lodgings, too?); or offsetting the impacts of the restored campsites elsewhere.

My concern is this: by signing the petition, it's not clear what I'm implicitly supporting. Am I supporting decreases in in-valley lodging to offset the additional campsites? Am I supporting a preference of having car/RV ("family-friendly") sites at the expense of walk-in sites? Am I supporting an increase in the total Valley development footprint? Am I supporting an increase in private autos in the valley? In short, what is YVCC's alternative to the YVP? This doesn't have to be a 200-page tome; even simple map and a table of valley campsites and lodging room counts, net developed area, number of parking spaces, day and overnight capacity, etc. would help me understand more fully what YVCC's alternate vision for the Valley is.

Mark Sutherlin
(msutherlin) - F
Petition to save North Pines AND reinstate other lost campgrounds on 06/20/2007 15:51:06 MDT Print View

Because the campgrounds were taken out illegally, without public input, basing the justification upon a presumption that the Merced River Plan would have allowed it, thinking that perhaps a flood zone is not a good place for a campground, contradicts the GMP, which offered set backs and separation of campsites, with its own environmental impact report.

Just because the campgrounds flooded, doesn't justify the lack of public comment. The YVCC would like to see all 800 campsites put back on the table for a restart of the planning process, pending the court ordered new Merced River Plan. When the new Merced River Plan scoping study becomes available and public input is offered, we then would like to be a part of the public process to discuss options for a revision of the YVP, based upon the premise that the current YPV is now outdated, its authority having been eclipsed by the court order. A new YPV should perhaps more adhere to the GMP of 1980, as was the original intent prior to the rush to decision at the time that the last administration said that they needed to hurry to get it completed before they left office.


Here are the actual numbers:

Existing rooms, versus YVP rooms:

Ahwahnee Rooms/Cottages: 123 units existing, versus 123 units in the YVP.

Lodge Rooms: 245 units existing, versus 251 units in YVP, (increase of 6).

Curry hard-sided cabins: 201 units existing, versus 313 units in the YVP (increase of 112)

Curry tent cabins: 427 units existing, versus 174 units in the YVP (decrease of 253)

Housekeeping tents: 264 units existing, versus 100 units in the YVP (decrease of 164)

All told, 417 lowest-cost tent cabins will be removed; of those, 118 will be replaced by hard-sided units w/baths, more expensive for the visitor and on the environment.

Also interesting:

The GMP called for 693 hard-sided lodging units

The YVP calls for 687 hard-sided lodging units
(less than 1% decrease between GMP and YVP in hard-sided lodging units)


The GMP called for 567 tent cabins

The YVP calls for 274 tent cabins
(52% decrease between GMP and YVP in low cost tent cabin units)

These numbers unfairly target low-income visitors by reducing rustic accommodations.


Lodging Units in Yosemite Valley: (a 37% reduction from the 1,526 units in the Valley before the 1997 flood)

This reflects a loss of 565 units, but again there is no mention as to the type of accommodations most affected.

____________________________


Pre-Flood rooms versus YVP rooms:

Ahwahnee Rooms/Cottage: 123 units pre-flood, versus 123 units in YVP

Lodge Rooms: 495 units pre-flood versus, versus 251 units in YVP (decrease of 244)

Curry hard-sided cabins: 201 units pre-flood, versus 313 units (increase of 112)

Curry tent cabins: 427 units pre-flood, versus 174 units (decrease of 253)

Housekeeping tent cabins: 280 units pre-flood, versus 100 units (decrease of 180)

Lodging configuration: 433 lowest-cost tent cabins will be removed. Of the 244-unit decrease at the Lodge, 112 of those units will be reconstructed over at Curry w/bath, still leaving a decrease of 132 units; of the 132 decrease, 105 were cabins/motel rooms with no bath.

Again, the reductions are in lowest cost accommodations.


Also interesting:

Pre-Flood had 819 hard-sided lodging units

The YVP calls for 687 hard-sided lodging units (a 16% decrease between pre-Flood and YVP in hard-sided lodging units)


Pre-Flood had 707 tent cabins

The YVP calls for 274 tent cabins (a 61% decrease between pre-Flood and YVP in low cost tent cabins)

Again, low-income visitors are unfairly targeted…

It all depends on how the park presents their numbers.

________________________________

Regarding campsites:

Before the 1997 flood, there were more than 800 family friendly auto-based campsites in Yosemite Valley. The Park's year 2000 Yosemite Valley Plan permanently eliminated Upper River Campground, Lower River Campground, and a portion of Lower Pines Campground; the Plan also targets North Pines Campground for removal. Final count: 500 campsites will remain resulting in a loss of more than 40% of camping opportunities in Yosemite Valley. Of the 500 sites, only 330 will be auto-based sites creating further challenges for young families, the disabled, and the elderly.

As part of the emergency flood appropriation, Congress gave the National Park Service funding to repair these campgrounds in Yosemite Valley--not to eliminate them. We oppose this arbitrary action by the National Park Service. We believe the NPS breached any public process in condemning the river damaged campsites and that none took place in the condemnation.

As a part of this petition effort we are seeking the reinstatement of Lower River, Upper River, and a portion of Lower Pines Campgrounds with family friendly auto-based sites, as was the case pre-flood; we further request that North Pines Campground remain as currently used. This request complies with the vision of the Park's General Management Plan.

As a part of a new Yosemite Valley Plan, subsequent to the new court ordered Merced River Plan, it would be fair to expect that the park would offer the public a chance to voice their opinion via a new public scoping period, before removing any campsites.

The process needs to be restarted after the carrying capacity issue is established via the court ordered Merced River Plan.

We disagree with Fran Mainella's, Dave Mihalic's, Bruce Babbitt’s and Mike Tollefson's opinions that Yosemite Valley should be able to accommodate all who want to come, and that day use access in these old campground areas are a better use of these campgrounds simply because more people would be able to access them on a busy day, as has been stated. We believe that camping is a better use for these areas and if they campgrounds were rebuilt to adhere with the GMP as was the original agenda, impact issues would have been sufficiently addressed.

More later...

Edited by msutherlin on 06/20/2007 15:52:02 MDT.

Mark Sutherlin
(msutherlin) - F
Petition to Save North Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley on 06/20/2007 16:12:28 MDT Print View

I did cut and paste part of this to make my point. I also recognize that you take issue with the statement that walk-in sites are not friendly to seniors and young families. This is an area where I must agree to respectfully disagree with that position.

Another area where we campers have a problem is where the Yosemite Association, an organization that has our respect, gets somewhere in the neighborhood of one hundred campsites automatically reserved for their volunteers during the peak summer season.

Though the justification for this is perhaps open for debate, these campgrounds are all we the public have, now that these other campgrounds have been removed.

Why not offer tent cabins to the volunteers being that tent cabins are often the last thing to fill up. Campsites are too few to use for the park's free workforce of volunteers, as much as it may seem like a nice thing to provide to these nice people. Perhaps the park can pay these volunteers enough to cover the cost of the tent cabins. The park is getting free labor from them as it is.

Mark Sutherlin
(msutherlin) - F
Petition to Remove Yosemite Valley's North Pines Campgrounds on 06/20/2007 17:38:03 MDT Print View

Aaron,

To address more specifically your questions let me say that I would agree that the 40% figure on the website is not accurate. Thank you for pointing that out. Because we should be focused on the planned 330 drive-in campsites, versus the pre-flood 800 drive-in campsites, this figure should represent a 41.3% loss to the drive-in camping public, or something close to that. Perhaps we should reword it to reflect the actual 41+% drive-in campsite reduction that we feel most reflects the losses of which we are concerned with. Thank you for drawing my attention to this.

As to your other question, we are in support of restoring all of the campgrounds as they were before the flood, while we await the appelate court decision, and at that point we would push to reopen the YVP for further review after the Merced River Plan is revised, being that the new MRP would indicate that the current YVP would be obsolete.

Regarding decreases in in-valley lodging: We are not taking sides on the lodging issue, other than to say that the current plan disproportionately targets low income units, i.e., families and seniors in their reductions of lodging units. We will let the Hotel Tourist Coalition concern themselves with the reductions in those areas, though we are concerned that the footprit at the Lodge is larger than it should be, and the new employee housing is an addition to the footprint that should not have been allowed all in one place the way they did, concentrating impact to that one area.

It is our view that the valley campground development footprint should be the same as pre-flood for campgrounds until such time that a better showing of the camping public could be brought in to weigh in on the issues of the campground. Only after a new Merced River Plan is established with a carrying capacity, as was determined to be lacking by the Fresno Federal court, should this take place.

To discuss the many other alternatives to the YVP that we would be supportive of would be too lengthy for a forum like this. That subject would, however include an objection to the park’s position on amount of the reduction of parking currently, and their eventual goal to force busing. Rather than address crowding in this manner, a carefully established carrying capacity should address crowding issues in one stroke of the pen, rather than building infrastructure to Accommodate All Who Want To Come, as has long been stated by the park, especially as long as the park is trying to change the demographics of the parks visitors to tour bus visitors, who simply ride in and out on a bus for a four hour tour.

Our focus is on reestablishing campgrounds for campers, who we feel were misrepresented in the YVP scoping efforts. If campers could have been contacted via the park’s vast database of campers of past years, the park could have expected a far more substantial input from the camping community. They, we feel were not only avoided, but shunned when ever a member of the camping community disagreed with the park's political positions in the various traveling road shows that the park orchestrated to sell the YVP to people unaware of many park related issues in the towns around the park. The further they got away from the park, the easier it was to sell their ideas, because people were less and less familiar with the park related issues. This is something the park service even admitted. It is no wonder they did not want to solicit the views of the campers in their database.

We feel that they didn’t want a large input from the camping public because such a response may not have been complimentary with their goals of reducing campsites to the degree that they did.

We do draw attention to the issue first of the planned removal of North Pines Campground, because it seems that many people who are actually fairly informed, with regards to the Yosemite Valley Plan, don't even know that this is in the plan. We do, however, strongly solicit support to reopen the flooded campgrounds, if at all possible, as we believe that they were removed illegally, without following the correct procedures of involving the public to comment.

Edited by msutherlin on 06/20/2007 17:49:41 MDT.

Mark Sutherlin
(msutherlin) - F
SaveNorthPines.org bumperstickers and now available at cost... on 06/28/2007 23:41:41 MDT Print View

at, www.savenorthpines.org/ for $1.00 each.Bumper Sticker to save North Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley

Edited by msutherlin on 06/28/2007 23:43:22 MDT.