Poll Shows Overwhelming Support for Protection of Yosemite Valley

Public says protect Merced River, reduce cars, no new permanent parking lots

Oakland, CA (Aug. 3, 2000) - A poll released today by three leading advocates of Yosemite National Park revealed broad public support for protecting the Merced River and restoring Yosemite Valley as proposed by the National Park Service’s Merced Wild and Scenic River and Yosemite Valley Plans. The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Yosemite Restoration Trust, and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), heralded the results as confirmation of the need to protect Yosemite’s matchless resources. "The recent sewage spill into the Merced River is but the latest evidence of what we’ve known for many years: too many cars and too much development are undermining protection for natural resources as well as ruining the experiences for visitors," said Janet Cobb, president of the Yosemite Restoration Trust. "This show of support for the park plans sends a clear message that the public wants strong actions to protect the Merced River and Yosemite National Park."

A statewide survey of likely voters by the independent firm of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin and Associates showed strong support for protection of Yosemite’s spectacular resources. Seventy-one percent of those polled supported limiting future development along the Merced River to ensure water quality and protection of surrounding lands. Eighty-one percent favored the removal of unnecessary development, such as offices and employee housing, and natural restoration of maximum acreage in Yosemite Valley.

Californians overwhelmingly support key elements in the Yosemite plans -- restoring the Merced River, reducing car use by 60 percent in the Valley, eliminating unnecessary development, and providing clean-fuel buses. "We were concerned that local controversy may have been obscuring the merits of the Valley Plan," said Brian Huse, NPCA’s Pacific Regional director. "To the contrary, 80 percent supported reducing cars through a shuttle system and 71 percent were opposed to building new permanent parking lots. These results remind us that as a national park, Yosemite’s future should not be decided by local politics."

The Merced Wild and Scenic River Plan and the Yosemite Valley Plan are the result of a three-year process of research, public comment, and planning that resulted from the flood of 1997. Johanna Wald, director of NRDC’s Land Program said, "the flood disaster gave us the opportunity to press for positive changes at Yosemite. The National Park Service has responded with a good plan, and Californians clearly want it to be implemented. However, they want to see specific budgets, timelines, and work plans to ensure that the plan doesn’t just sit on the shelf."

The Merced Wild and Scenic River Plan will be finalized next week. The Yosemite Valley Plan has completed its public review period, and a final plan is anticipated in November.

The National Parks Conservation Association is America's only private, nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated solely to protecting, preserving, and enhancing the National Park System. NPCA was founded in 1919 and today has more than 400,000 members. A library of national park information, including fact sheets, congressional testimony, position statements, press releases and media alerts, can be found at Read All About It on NPCA's website.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 400,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.