With development and a boost in domestic travel after
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, visits to the Park are increasing and changing
direction. The Park sees 3.5 million visitors annually. Thirty years ago, 80
percent of Yosemite's visitors stayed overnight; now, it's 80 percent day-use.
Thick smog hides Yosemite Valley
The number of roads and facilities have been
increased to keep pace with the growing visitor numbers and to supply amenities,
infrastructure and parking lots for all these tourists. These actions have
caused habitat loss in the park and are accompanied by various forms of
pollution including air pollution from car emissions. Environmentalists have
reported "smog so thick that Yosemite Valley could not be seen from the
air". This occasional smog is harmful to all species and vegetation inside
the Park. (Source: Trade
and Environment Database)
Vehicle traffic has increased about 30 percent over
the last decade. Seven bears were killed by cars on park roads in 2003.
Development continues to encroach on park boundaries,
bringing new housing projects and commercial construction - and thousands more
people. The newly opened Chukchansi Casino, one of the state's largest, is just
30 miles down the road, advertising with billboards throughout the region:
"Now, Yosemite has a night life." And with the recently approved
SilverTip Resort Village, a 47-acre commercial and residential complex slated to
go up in the tiny park border town of Fish Camp.
Noise pollution from vehicles and campsites rivals
the Park's natural noises (Yosemite National Park Planning Update). Buildings,
roads, and parking lots
Eroded river banks near camp sites
have marred the aesthetic beauty of the Valley, while visitors are often stuck
in traffic hoping to find a parking spot.
Areas of river banks close to camp sites have been
eroded by visitors, destroying natural habitats.
The importance of tourism to the local economy can be
illustrated by the impact of the catastrophic 1997 floods that temporarily
closed the Park. This caused locally severe economic losses to the areas around
the Park. In the most heavily impacted area, Mariposa County, 1997 personal
income was reduced by an estimated US$1,159 per capita (US$18 million for the
entire county) - a 6.6% decline. The county was also estimated to have lost
US$1.67 million in county occupancy and sales tax revenues, and 956 jobs, a
significant number in a county of fewer than 16,000 residents.
The Ahwahneechee indigenous Indians have not received any
compensation in the form of money nor land for their loss of the Yosemite area
Court to hear arguments on how much protection
Yosemite National Park needs
Judge's ruling in November stopped construction projects; appeal pending
Debate: Should number of visitors be limited to protect park's resources?
Opponents say if access limited, park will be playground for the rich