Reader Participation Day: How Should National Parks Handle Overgrown Vistas?
How should national parks deal with vegetation that has grown up and, in some cases, altered landscapes or blocked views?
At Yosemite National Park, officials are debating what to do with vegetation that obscures nearly 200 scenic vistas in the Yosemite Valley and elsewhere in the park so much so that they no longer appear as they did back in 1864 when the landscape was set aside for its scenic qualities.
In 2009, park staff inventoried 181 scenic vistas in Yosemite (outside of Wilderness) and found that encroaching vegetation completely obscured about one-third of the vistas, and partially obscured over half the vistas. Vegetation encroaches on these vistas for a number of reasons, including the exclusion of American Indian traditional burning, the suppression of lightning-ignited fire, and human-initiated changes to hydrologic flows.
The logic appears glaringly cracked: if the goal is to make the battlefield look as it appeared when 165,000 soldiers met in the Gettysburg epic, then why uproot the "non-historic" trees while leaving in place the non-historic roads? And what about the 1,300 monuments?
What say you, travelers? Where should the line be drawn when protecting national park viewsheds?