​Lawsuit Derails Yosemite National Park Management Plans

Date: 11/14/2006

On November 3rd a federal judge ruled on a lawsuit filed by the Friends of Yosemite Valley www.bigwalls.net/climb/camp4yosemite/pages/2COMPLAI2.html resulting in a stoppage of "all ground disturbing projects in Yosemite" except for some minor road maintenance on the Valley Loop Road. What this means is that the National Park Service (NPS) is prevented from continuing the Lodge redevelopment project or Camp 4 expansion until a new Merced River Plan is developed and survives any future litigation. Last Friday's decision ruled that the NPS must prepare another plan that protects the wild and scenic Merced River before proceeding with any construction activities. The NPS had argued that it should be allowed to proceed with multiple construction projects within the river corridor.

Under the Wild and Scenic River Act, Yosemite National park must have a plan to regulate development near the banks of the Merced. In 1997 the Merced River Plan became the central focus of the debates about Yosemites future when it flooded and wiped out campgrounds, lodging and parking areas. The Friends of Yosemite Valley felt the Merced River Plan failed to adequately protect the river corridor, and sued. In 2004 the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals directed NPS officials to revise their Merced River plan, but according to the recent court ruling Yosemite National Park failed to redraft the plan in a way adequately protects the river.

For more, see www.fresnobee.com/263/story/11668.html. Another hearing is scheduled for next January but it looks likely that it might take the NPS another two years to finish their latest Merced River Plan before they may commence work on the Lodge redevelopment or Camp 4 expansion. For more information, contact AF Policy Director Jason Keith at [email protected].