You are here

Yosemite National Park Officials Proposing To Improve Views By Downing Timber


If a tree falls in the Yosemite Valley, is the view better for it? Yosemite National Park officials think so, and they're hoping to improve nearly 100 viewsheds in the park by cutting down hundreds of trees.

The goal, park planners say, is to restore some of the viewsheds, primarily in the Yosemite Valley, that have been obscured, if not lost, by trees growing unfettered. While Native Americans who lived in the valley used fire to clear forests and keep meadows open, since the landscape was set aside in 1864 by President Lincoln, "(L)and management practices that followed have altered the park’s scenery over the past 150 years."

There are few places on the Valley floor from which upper and lower Yosemite Falls are visible. The “Postage Stamp” vista of El Capitan, made famous in the 1934 one-cent postage stamp engraving from an 1868 Carleton Watkins photograph, is now obscured by conifers. Many vistas are obscured due to conifer encroachment in meadows. Two-thirds of the meadowland in Yosemite Valley has also been lost to conifer encroachment since 1865.

Without fire, conifers have been encroaching on meadows in the Yosemite Valley, the park's environmental assessment on a Scenic Vista Managment Plan notes, and visitors are impacted by having fewer viewpoints to enjoy. Additionally, those viewpoints that remain are shrinking, and "frequently exhibit crowding, compromising visitor safety."

Under the park's preferred approach to improving viewsheds in the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove areas, "...staff would clear and maintain about 93 obscured or partially obscured sites, at a rate of about 30 initial clearings per year."

If there are no hitches, the sound of chainsaws biting into trees, and trees crashing to the ground, could be heard in the Yosemite Valley beginning in the fall of 2012.


If logging a few trees to improve the view is so wrong, why do we keep the roads in the park or the concessions?  They clearly do not belong in a such a setting... :) I'm a pragmatic, and I don't see the damage in cutting a few trees down as long as it's done right so that all of us can enjoy the park more.  
Beware of the purists.

I don't understand why some don't see humans as part of nature-- just as fire,wind and everything else can alter the park why is it "wrong" for us to change it for the better. Improving the view of iconic stuctures or views that people come from all over the world to see is not wrong in my view( no pun intended". I understand everyone has an idea of what should or should not be done and to what extent.I would say clearing the most minimum amt. should be allowed.What if trees grew up and hid the view of Mt Rushmore-- should they be allowed to stay??

I understand lessening the threat of fire and falling trees.

(I park in the historic, non-native, orchard parking lot under those scary apple tree limbs)

To cut down trees to preserve a view and or meadowlands in a National Park is wrong.

YNP wants to preserve a viewshed that would have remained throughout eternity if wildfires and indians were still there instead of whitemen and a national park?

On Nature not Historically Stagnant:
Yes, The Nature of Dynamic Nature, but the reality today is that national and state parks
are heavily visited by millions of humans, and given the Financial Realities for funding national
and state parks, some level of management of down and dead logs, hazard trees, fuels must occur since
ultimately windstorms and fire will return; today there are collectively billions of dollars of structures
within and adjacent to these so-called fragmented, protected areas. The ultimate question
is when will the NPS "get its act together" regarding fire and historic structures policy with roofs
shingled in flammable-kindling wooden shakes/shingles ?  These issues are significant: and why the
Nature of Dynamic Nature is best protected in Wilderness Areas devoid of both vehicles and human visitation
congestion among flammable buildings.

Shall we glue the rocks back together in Arches?
This plan is so wrong, nature is not historically stagnant.

 The NPS does need a monitored program wherein useable wood from fallen and truly hazardous
  trees are utilized for the benefit of the Park and visitors especially now that we, the USA
  clearly is the Debtor Nation.  NPS has allowed large quantities of quality wood to be wasted
  by not allowing bidders to utilize it.  Tree diameters vary but with fuel reduction projects along
  roadways and other accessible woodland margins, much wood especially from hazardous old-
  growth should be sold and utilized (the monitoring would have to prevent Loggers both within
  the NPS, as seen in the Fred Overly, Olympic NP trespass cutting case, and outside the NPS 
  from marking any tree they may wrongly label hazardous trees). Storm damage often results in
  voluminous quantities of damaged trees and down logs to be cut especially in campgrounds.
  Campground established among old-growth remnants need to be moved to places where falling
  trees and limbs are far less risky.  The California State Park System does allow fallen trees to be
  milled and utilized for park projects as we have witnessed in the northern California coastal
  redwood parks.  Perhaps, our readers know of active, successful hazardous or down tree utilization
  projects in both state and national parks.

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide

Recent Forum Comments