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Sierra Club Suit Halts Construction on Flood-Damaged Yosemite Lodge

October 15, 1998| From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge has halted rebuilding at the Yosemite Lodge after the Sierra Club alleged that construction would harm the environment. Hundreds of rooms and cabins were destroyed in Yosemite Valley during last year's flooding.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction saying that park officials may be in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act for failing to gauge the environmental impact and not considering alternate sites.

Park spokesman Scott Gediman said work would stop immediately on trenching for a sewer line while officials review Tuesday's order.

He noted that an environmental assessment plan on the rebuilding was released in April 1997, drawing about 200 responses. "The Park Service has not decided on its next course of action," Gediman said.

The floods seriously damaged the lodge, which lost almost half of its 495 rooms and cabins. The lodge offers affordable overnight lodging and is one of the most popular facilities in the valley.

Park officials planned to replace the lost quarters with motel-style units and a parking lot just north of the lodge.

In May, a coalition of mountaineering and environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit claiming the units would be built near a campsite where climbers have gathered for years.

The Sierra Club followed with its own suit in August, asserting that realigning a road would put it within the Merced River flood plain.

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