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Will More People Visit a 'Revitalized' Yosemite?

June 03, 2002

"The Price of Great Beauty" (editorial, May 27), regarding the Yosemite Falls project, was as forceful as the waters of Yosemite Creek as they surge over Yosemite Falls. The situation at Yosemite Falls exemplifies what has been allowed to happen in Yosemite Valley: too much asphalt, inappropriate development and a degraded landscape. The falls project will change all that in one vital location. In addition to removing an asphalt parking lot and crumbling walkway and restoring heavily trampled land, the project will make the Yosemite Falls viewing platform accessible to people whose mobility is impaired. All of those changes should be cheered.

In his designs for the project, the world-renowned landscape architect Lawrence Halprin has accorded this corner of Yosemite the utmost respect. It has been over five years since the floodwaters of the Merced River opened the door to a reinvigorated Yosemite Valley and a year and a half since the Yosemite Valley Plan was approved. Certainly, Yosemite's time has come! The falls project will demonstrate once and for all that the goal of the Yosemite Valley Plan is to restore Yosemite.

Jay Thomas Watson

Regional Director

The Wilderness Society

San Francisco

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I visited Yosemite recently, and it is so true what you say about visiting the falls being like "negotiating a busy street in a blighted city." Families were allowing and even encouraging their children to climb on boulders along the path, trampling any wildflowers that may have been trying to emerge, even though there are signs requesting that people stay on the path. There was a young mother assisting her son as he urinated in the stream. (I guess it was too far to go back the 200 yards to the "blockhouse" restrooms.)

If these areas are natural treasures and works of art, perhaps we need to have guards--as they do in museums such as the Getty or LACMA--to protect them as a masterpiece of art is protected. The "revitalized access" to the falls will, I fear, only make it easier to turn them to blight.

Lauren McGowan

Valley Village

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