Thursday, August 19, 2010

Clearing the Sight Lines

This strategy being used in Yosemite, as reported by the Sacramento Bee, to increase the ability of park visitors to view the natural wonders, is a strategy applicable to the Parkway—though as much for public safety as for increased visibility of nature.

The hidden illegal camping sites in the Lower Reach of the Parkway—Discovery Park to Cal Expo—where the homeless have been illegally camping, some for as long as 15 years, have created the greatest public safety risk in the Parkway.

Cleaning out the brush and thickets to allow sight lines to extend into areas now being used as illegal campsites, will improve public safety and enjoyment of the natural areas.

An excerpt from the Bee article.

“Yosemite Valley visitors don't generally gaze at El Capitan from the spot where Carleton E. Watkins took an 1868 photograph of the soaring cliff - you can't see much now through a tangle of trees.

“It's one of many iconic vistas in Yosemite National Park blocked by trees and brush. Indeed, officials say there are only a few places left with a view of both upper and lower Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfalls in North America.

“Park officials plan to restore historic views of Yosemite landmarks over the next several years by cutting trees and clearing brush. Yosemite and many Sierra Nevada locations are overgrown, largely because the government did not understand fire's role in naturally thinning forests. For many years,most fires were doused quickly, allowing heavy tree growth.

“Aside from providing more places to gawk, the clearing of vegetation might make roads safer by spreading out crowds over additional vista points, though that's not among the foremost goals of the project.

"It might help, because these sites are along well- traveled roads, like Tioga, Big Oak Flat, Glacier Point and the Valley Loop," said David Humphrey, Yosemite's chief historian.

“The National Park Service has completed an environmental assessment of the plan to clear 181 historic vistas. The public can read it and comment online until Sept. 17. An open house is scheduled Aug. 25 in Yosemite Valley to discuss the park plans.

“It will take years to complete the work, officials said. Cost estimates will be established on a case-by-case basis, so officials don't yet know the price tag. But it could be many millions of dollars.”