The Merced River delights visitors with its scenic twists and turns as it flows through Yosemite National Park, as does the Kings River in Kings Canyon National Park and the Kern River in Sequoia National Park. These three rivers are generally well protected within those parks, but that protection ends at the parks' edges. Congress is finishing its work to add this protection for all three rivers, and President Reagan should sign all three bills.
Congress has already joined with its California members in declaring that the Merced and Kings rivers should be part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The legislation that established that system outlaws development of any sort on some portions of wild rivers, and controls recreational access and related development on others. The act was particularly aimed at halting the damming of America's wild rivers.
The Merced measure--backed by both California senators, Democrat Alan Cranston and Republican Pete Wilson, and by Rep. Tony Coelho (D-Merced)--would preclude the proposed construction of a small hydroelectric dam near El Portal, the gateway to Yosemite. The Kings River legislation--backed by both senators and Rep. Richard H. Lehman (D-Sanger)--would protect the river that flows out of Kings Canyon National Park through Fresno County.