Yosemite rental ban reconsidered
July 15, 2013
Plans to curtail commercial recreational vendors in Yosemite National Park, proposed as a possible solution to federal environmental mandates, are being reconsidered by parks officials after a huge public outcry. (San Jose Mercury News)
Parks Director Jon Jarvis said his agency is looking at alternative plans, and for the time being will abandon the notion of prohibiting rentals of bicycles, river rafts and horses in Yosemite Valley. That’s where most visitors to the park congregate.
According to agency data, most of the park’s 4 million annual visitors focus their activities on the valley floor, which comprises barely 6 percent of the park’s 704,956 acres.
On the table now for the parks service is moving camping facilities away from the Merced River. Jarvis said the agency is concerned with recreational opportunities and protecting the fragile park environment.
Proposals for change were motivated by the so-called Merced River Plan, compiled by the agency following a number of lawsuits by environmental groups.
“We think the parks service is being responsive. The approach they are taking is the right one,” said Neal Desai, with the National Parks Conservation Association in San Francisco. The group supports the plan but doesn’t oppose keeping bike and raft rentals and a seasonal ice rink.