Is the iconic Yosemite due for a makeover?

Yosemite's Mirror Lake once was a large pool but has transformed into a pond-filled meadow due to sediment from the Tenaya Creek

flickr, Malcolm Carlaw

Yosemite is one of America's most legendary National Parks, made iconic through Ansel Adams' famous photographs. Which might be why a proposed makeover has stirred up some controversy.

The Merced River Plan has spent about a decade tied up in courts, but was finally formally presented to the public a couple weeks ago. Proposed changes include:

  • banned bike, horse, and raft rentals (personal ones would still be allowed)
  • removal of pools from the Ahwahnee Hotel and Yosemite Lodge (those at Curry Village and Wawona will remain)
  • removal of ice rink from Curry Village 
  • demolition of the Sugar Pine stone bridge 
  • closing of the family-focused Yosemite Art Activity Center 
  • reconstruction of about 40 percent of the 406 campsites lost in a 1997 flood,
  • restoration of 203 acres of meadows
  • improvement to parking facilities and services 
  • increased access for 1,000 more guests to enjoy overnight stays at campsites and in cabins

Below is a video that showcases this beautiful place:

Yosemite HD from Project Yosemite


Funding as already been secured for the proposed project, which is projected to cost $235 million over the next 15-20 years. The National Park Service (NPS) has spent about $23 million since the Merced River flood of 1997 on planning and litigation. The new plan in part stems from a 2008 court ruling that claimed that related development on the nearby Merced River has led to its partial degradation. Public comment ends April 18, 2013.

Efforts to protect the river have led to a somewhat unintended proposal that gets at the heart of the NPS' difficult mission - to provide recreation opportunities for the American public and to also preserve one-of-kind landscapes like Yosemite.

This is a two-fold mission that The Wilderness Society shares. We know that land protection depends upon lovers of wilderness who recreate and act as stewards.

See a street view of Merced River in Yosemite National Park below:

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