Guest Column by Wendy Brown, Y4E Founding Member –
OAKHURST – Five founding members of Yosemite For Everyone, and a representative for Public Lands-Backcountry Horsemen of California met with representatives for Senators Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, and Congressman Jim Costa on Tuesday, May 7, to discuss the Merced River Plan for Yosemite Park.
The group has many concerns about the Merced Wild & Scenic River Draft Comprehensive Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement, which they feel is fatally flawed.
Some of the issues discussed included a statement from former Congressman Tony Coelho, author of the legislation that included the Merced River in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA) that states: “The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was never intended to apply to the Merced River within Yosemite National Park at all.” It was put in place to prevent the construction of hydro-electric dams on the Merced River outside the park.
The group told the representatives that the Park Service has gone far beyond the requirements of the WSRA, and are proposing changes to things that were completely off the public radar-until now.
Another topic discussed was that after much research they discovered that no court has ever ordered the removal of any infrastructure, historic bridges, or recreational activities that have been enjoyed by visitors to Yosemite for 150 years.
They also discussed the clear bias towards commercial horseback riding and packing as shown by the elimination of day rides in the Valley and Wawona, and severe reductions of packing into the wilderness.
The group asked for the support of the senators and congressman, and suggested that legislation is immediately needed to ensure the continuation of services, facilities, and historic structures to the public that currently exist in the Park.
Yosemite For Everyone (Y4E) is a group of dedicated individuals and concerned citizens who have an intimate connection with Yosemite National Park. They believe in a common sense approach to preservation where visitor use is balanced with protecting the environment, and support recreational activities that have been traditionally and historically enjoyed in the Park for 150 years. They walk in the path of John Muir, who welcomed the visitor to Yosemite National Park to be educated and inspired.
“Climb the mountains and get their glad tidings and Nature’s peace will flow into you and cares fall off like autumn leaves.” John Muir
(Photo – from left to right: Megan Roehl, District Representative for Congressman Jim Costa; Shelly Abajian, Director for Senator Dianne Feinstein; Ameen Khan, Director for Senator Barbara Boxer; Max Stauffer, Y4E founder, President of the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau for Madera County, and owner of the Sugar Pine Railroad in Fish Camp; Tom Bohigian, State Director for Senator Barbara Boxer; Wendy Brown-Barry & Kevin D. Barry Y4E founders, long time residents of Mariposa, and representatives of all the Gateway Communities to Yosemite National Park; Peter T. Hoss, Y4E founder, native of Yosemite, author of “Born In Yosemite,” and a retired attorney from Salinas; Kay Pitts, Y4E founder, wife of Don Pitts, retired magistrate for YNP; Bob Magee, Representative for Public Land-Backcountry Horsemen of California.)