ARC Criticizes Yosemite Management Proposals

ARC Criticizes Yosemite Management Proposals

This news release is available as a .pdf here.

Washington, D.C. – The American Recreation Coalition (ARC) submitted comments criticizing all the management alternatives presented in Yosemite National Park’s Merced Wild and Scenic River Draft Comprehensive Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement. In a letter sent to Superintendent Don Neubacher on April 30, 2013, ARC President Derrick Crandall stated, “We strongly object to reductions in visitor experience opportunities in Yosemite, an outcome under each of the offered alternatives in the proposed plan. We believe that the NPS has failed to meet the requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to offer any alternative that would add to the opportunities for quality visitor experiences in the park.”

Mr. Crandall was especially critical of the plan alternatives’ “clear bias” against visitor experiences aided by park concessioners and holders of commercial permits. “Yosemite has a long and rich history of joint concessioner/National Park Service efforts serving families and groups,” stated Mr. Crandall. He added, “Yet in the offered alternatives, provisions for services to visitors ranging from bike rentals to tube rentals to horseback experiences are either heavily reduced or eliminated – even when those activities would be allowed for those bringing their own equipment.”

ARC’s comments pointed out the contradiction between the management actions being proposed by Yosemite and initiatives being undertaken by the National Park Service at the national level both to address a decrease in visitation to the national parks over the last 30 years and to make the national parks more relevant to more Americans, “especially those lacking park experiences and ownership of outdoor equipment.” According to Mr. Crandall, “The current direction of the National Park Service is now to invite more visitors and be more relevant as the Centennial of the NPS approaches. In fact, NPS has now launched a multi-year, multi-million dollar campaign . . .with a key KPI (Key Performance Indicator) being to reclaim historic levels of NPS visitation proportionate to the US population.” He also noted that alternatives offered by the Yosemite plan do not reflect – and in fact inhibit – the direction within the agency’s national plan, outlined in the document A Call to Action, to connect parks with visitors as it prepares for its Centennial in 2016.

ARC urged Yosemite to consider an alternative management protocol currently being implemented by the U.S. Forest Service, which manages America’s national forests. Mr. Crandall described that agency’s more gradual and consensus-based approach to visitor management, noting that it “largely rejects dramatic changes in visitor services in favor of an iterative process that defines clear resource goals and monitors key indicators, adjusting visitor numbers and management protocols in consultation with key interests around agreed-upon goals.”