New plan for Yosemite management unveiled

By Alex MacLean / The Union Democrat

The final draft of a controversial 15-year plan to manage Yosemite Valley and the Merced River corridor in Yosemite National Park received a mixed reaction when it was released Friday.

Business advocates who initially opposed an earlier draft of the plan - which called for removing some popular amenities and an historic bridge along the Merced River - praised the changes included in the National Park Service's latest version.

However, environmentalists said the plan still doesn't do enough to reduce traffic and crowding in the popular Yosemite Valley.

An earlier draft of the 3,000-page plan drew wide-ranging criticisms from both commercial and environmental interests.

Park Service spokesman Scott Gediman said park officials had to apply for three federal deadline extensions to review more than 30,000 public comments received over the past year.

"People are very passionate about this place," he said. "We heard a lot about the activities that people hold near and dear, like ice skating and river raft rentals. People were also very passionate about the river and protection of the river's resources."

The Federal Register is due to publish the final version of the park's final environmental impact statement on Tuesday, Gediman said. That means work to implement the $210 million plan can begin after March 17, barring any legal challenges during the required 30-day "no action" period.

"We're looking at about a 15-year period to implement everything (in the plan)," Gediman said. "Once we sign the record-of-decision (on March 17), we'll be able to get started right away."

For the full story see today's Union Democrat.

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