The Yosemite-loving public needs to be made aware of a new threat to a secluded and beautiful forest meadow inside Yosemite National Park. Proposed is a town of more than 1,000 structures--homes, stores and office buildings.
Were such a town to be proposed by a private developer, the National Park Service would be outraged. Ironically, this development proposal comes from the Park Service itself.
As part of the general effort to move residential housing for both Park Service and concession employees out of crowded Yosemite Valley, the National Park Service has released a draft housing plan identifying the area known as Foresta as the site for most of a new town development.
At the edge of Foresta is the lovely Big Meadow, home to the endangered great gray owl. The Park Service has admitted that its plan to develop Foresta could contribute to the owl's extinction.
There is a better choice. Five hundred new homes can be built in El Portal, just outside the park. Five hundred employees can remain in the valley, and the other 500 can take advantage of private-sector housing in nearby communities. Under this scenario, visitors will enjoy a much less crowded Yosemite Valley, Foresta will remain protected, El Portal will become a model of environmentally sensitive development, and costs will be much lower.
The public comment period lasts until Sept. 30. With the public's help, the Park Service can be persuaded to choose El Portal, not Foresta.
Vice President, Sierra Club