Yosemite Valley Case Returning to the Courtroom

Yellowstone has its snowmobiles, Yosemite has its Merced River Plan. NPS Photo.

There's scheduled to be a court hearing in California today to revisit the issue of whether the National Park Service is properly taking care of the Yosemite Valley.

This topic has been around a long time. It was spawned by the 1997 Merced River floods that scrubbed clean parts of the valley floor in Yosemite National Park and got park officials thinking about a better layout for lodgings, campgrounds, and trails.

Unfortunately, for the Park Service, not everyone agreed with the so-called Merced River Plan devised by Yosemite's planners. The Friends of Yosemite Valley just about a year ago convinced a U.S. District Court judge that Yosemite's approach to managing the Yosemite Valley violated both the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

Last spring, though, seven groups ranging from the National Parks Conservation Association and The Wilderness Society to the Access Fund and the American Alpine Club filed a "friend of the court" brief asking whether the Park Service must quantify a human "carrying capacity" for the scenic valley through which the Merced River winds.

Today a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to consider the matter at 10 a.m. in a Pasadena courtroom.

Stay tuned, folks.