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Mariposa County Divided Over Yosemite Valley Plan.

Travel/Feature Editors & Outdoor/Recreation Writers

FISH CAMP, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 27, 2001

Today, the future of Yosemite National Park was put before the House Committee on Resources' Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands.

Officials from Yosemite's Mariposa County traveled to Washington D.C. to voice their qualified support for the contentious Yosemite Valley Plan. Back at home, however, Mariposa constituents are divided with a large faction strongly opposed to the plan.

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is a conference resort located near Yosemite's South Gate; it provides between 6% and 8% of Mariposa County's annual tax revenue. Contrary to today's House Subcommittee testimony by Mariposa County officials, Tenaya Lodge does not support the Yosemite Valley Plan.

Tenaya Lodge joins many Mariposa County residents and small business owners who feel the plan is environmentally irresponsible and will limit the freedom of the public to enjoy Yosemite National Park on their own terms.

"If enacted, the Yosemite Valley Plan will severely curtail and may eventually revoke the right of visitors to drive their own vehicles into Yosemite," said Jonathan Farrington, general manager of Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite. "It will also allocate nearly a half billion dollars in public funds to transform the landscape of Yosemite Valley from a natural parkland to a destination of mass transit tourism and requisite infrastructure," Mr. Farrington added.

An important corollary to the Yosemite Valley Plan, the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) concludes a two-year demonstration project this summer. Its first year was widely viewed as a monumental failure, resulting in non-sustainable revenue and ridership -- of the 29,000 one-way passengers during the summer 2000 demonstration, approximately 5,000 were paid riders. Some 15,000 Yosemite Concession Services and Park Service employees rode free. Initial projections for transit riders were 80,000 round-trip passengers with employee ridership as an add-on.

"The YARTS scheme is hopeless. It relies on a sprawling, diesel bus transit system to shuttle people from distant collection points into Yosemite. If implemented, this regional transit system will not only damage the environment it purports to preserve, it will inflict a devastating economic impact on Yosemite's gateway communities," said Mr. Farrington.

Not able to survive on existing state and federal subsidies combined with negligible paid ridership, YARTS is now proposing a new Mariposa County "Zone of Benefit" special tax -- a tax that would be levied in one of the poorest counties in the state with one of the lowest average household income in California.

Tenaya Lodge embraces the spirit of conservation in its stewardship of Yosemite National Park. Reducing seasonal congestion in Yosemite Valley requires partnership between gateway communities and Park management; it is Tenaya Lodge's position that vehicle access, while easily managed during peak summer visitation, should remain an option for visitors.

Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite urges the public to become fully informed on the dangerous folly of the Yosemite Valley Plan. For more information and a special edition of Yosemite View Points, call toll-free 800/635-5807.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Mar 27, 2001
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