The Ahwahnee Hotel, by National Park Service

The Ahwahnee Hotel, by National Park Service

Postby admin » Mon Apr 25, 2016 7:50 am

The Ahwahnee Hotel
by National Park Service
September, 1985

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Name: The Ahwahnee Hotel
Location: Yosemite National Park
Owner: Yosemite Park and Curry Company
Condition: Good, altered, original site
Classification: Building, private, accessible (restricted), luxury hotel
Builder/Architect: Gilbert Stanley Underwood (for the Yosemite Park and Curry Company)
Dates: 1925-present

DESCRIPTION

The Ahwahnee is an enormous luxury hotel at the east end of the Yosemite Valley. Sited in a meadow, the building's large scale is diminished by the awesome beauty of the sheer granite cliffs of the north valley wall above. The building's name comes from a local Indian word meaning "deep, grassy meadow."

The building has an irregular, asymmetrical plan that is Y-shaped and contains 150,000 square feet. Primary building materials are rough-cut granite and concrete. The uncoursed granite rubble masonry of the piers matches the color of the adjacent cliffs. What looks like wood siding and structural timbers between the piers is actually concrete, poured into formwork that shapes it to look like horizontal redwood siding and large milled timbers. The stain on the concrete, similar in color to pine bark and redwood lumber, reinforces that illusion that the fabric is wood.

The building is massed into several enormous blocks with a six-story central block and wings of three stories. The multiple hip and gable roofs are finished with green slate and further break up the building's form, making it appear as rough and textured as the surrounding landscape. The building has balconies and terraces at several different levels that add a spatial interest not only to the exterior but also to the visitor experiencing the interior of the building. The building contains approximately 95 guest rooms, various public spaces and meeting rooms, an enormous dining room, and utility spaces. The principal entrance to the building is through a porte-cochere on the north side of the building. The log and wood entrance contains painted decorations in Indian patterns, setting a tone for the interior. This entrance serves mainly as a utilitarian space to funnel the visitor to the building's interior, and to the views of the grassy meadow to the south and the impressive vistas, seen from most of the rooms. The main entrance is more subdued than noteworthy; the most impressive views of the hotel are from the southern meadows.

The north wing of the hotel contains the lobby, decorated with floor mosaics of Indian designs executed in brightly colored rubber tiles. The cornice is stenciled with Indian-design paintings. The elevator lobby continues the Indian designs with sawn-wood reliefs on the elevator doors and an abstract mural based on Indian basket patterns over the fireplace in that room. The Great Lounge's 24-foot-high ceiling has exposed girders and beams painted with bands of Indian designs. The exposure of the ceiling's structure gives the spatial impression of a coffered ceiling. The enormous fireplaces at opposite ends of the Lounge are cut sandstone. The wrought-iron chandeliers, Persian rugs hanging on the walls, and the wood furnishings are original. Their worth and delicate condition resulted in their conservation and placement in enclosed cases on the walls. Other oriental rugs, primarily replacements, are on the polished wooden floor of the Great Lounge. The floor-to-ceiling windows in the Great Lounge have 5x6-foot stained glass panels at the top, with handsome designs based on Indian patterns, but like many of the other interior elements done with a flatness found in Art Deco architecture.

Directly off the Lounge are the California Room, the Writing Room, and the solarium that overlooks the southern meadow. The California room contains decorations of memorabilia from the Gold Rush days. The Writing Room's principal feature is an oil painting on linen by Robert Boardman Howard that runs the length of one wall and depicts local flora and fauna in a style reminiscent of medieval tapestries.

The large dining room (6,630 square feet) has a gable-roofed ceiling 34 feet high at the ridge. The walls are massive granite piers interspersed with 11 floor-to-ceiling windows with the exception of the partition wall between the kitchen and dining room which has a six-foot wainscotting of wood paneling with plaster above. The sugar-pine roof trusses are supported by concrete "logs" again painted in imitation of the real thing. Original wooden furniture and wrought-iron chandeliers remain in use.

Also included within the boundaries of this nomination are the meadow directly south of the hotel, the stone gatehouse marking the entrance to the property, the parking lots, and the small pond and walkways at the building's entrance, directly north of the porte-cochere.

Changes to the hotel over time have been in keeping with the structure. The architecture, designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood, was enhanced by the interior design directed by Drs. Phyllis Ackerman and Arthur Upham Pope. The stained glass work and mural over the fireplace in the elevator lobby were the work of San Francisco artist Jeannette Dyer Spencer. The Howard mural in the Writing Room, also produced under their direction, contributed to the medieval allusions that crop up throughout the building, particularly in the heavy-handed wrought ironwork.

These were all completed prior to the opening in July, 1927. The sixth-floor roof garden and dance hall was turned into an apartment for the Tressider family about 1928 after the area's function as a dance hall did not work. The apartment was remodeled again much later when a private guest suite and sunroom were added. The trusses in the dining room were beefed up in 1931-32 when the Company's architect discovered that they were minimally designed for the snow loads and earthquake stresses they needed to bear.

At the end of Prohibition in 1933 a private dining room on the hotel's mezzanine level was remodeled into a bar called "El Dorado Diggins" complete with false storefront and antiques from the Gold Rush days. In 1943 the U.S. Navy's takeover of the building as a convalescent hospital for war wounded resulted in major temporary changes to the grounds. When the Navy evacuated the structure they did considerable painting on the interior. The smaller maids' and chauffeurs ' rooms were remodeled into guest rooms after the War when fewer guests brought their own servants. In 1950 the original porte-cochere which had been enclosed by the Navy was remodeled into the Indian Room--a multi-purpose space for meetings, dances, and the like. The fire alarm system and exterior fire escapes also were added during the 1950s. In 1963 the outdoor swimming pool and automatic elevators were installed. All of the smaller windows in the building were replaced during the 1970s and some spalling concrete was repaired at the same time. Smoke detectors were installed in all rooms during the late 1970s, transoms above doors to guest rooms were sealed off, and fire doors were put on the exit doors to the fire escapes. At the same tine a sprinkler system was added to portions of the building--the local water supply could not support a complete system. The sixth-floor apartment which had been remodeled during 1970-71 underwent further remodeling in the early 1980s in preparation for the visit by Queen Elizabeth II at which time a new bath and new kitchen were added. The kitchen has been upgraded periodically over the building's history. Other utility areas retain original configuration and updated equipment.

STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE

The principal significance of the Ahwahnee lies in its monumental rustic architecture. Inseparable from that architecture is the period art work and interior design so carefully executed throughout the building. Also of significance is its importance as the hostelry that has housed through its history dignitaries, movie stars, artists, and others having an impact on the twentieth century. Undoubtedly this is due to the Ahwahnee's place as the architectural gem of monumental luxury of a crown jewel of the National Park System. Of regional significance is the Ahwahnee's place in California history and the development of the concessions industry at Yosemite National Park.

In 1925 Stephen Mather provided considerable urging and $200,000 of his own personal fortune for two Yosemite concessionaires to merge into one company--the Yosemite Park and Curry Company. Mather had seen the need for a superior hotel at Yosemite but forced the merger because of the fierce competition between the two companies. Donald B. Tressider, later president of Stanford University, became president of the new company. The contract that the new company signed with the park service required the construction of a new fireproof hotel that would have the capability of year-round operation. Recommended as architect for the building was Gilbert Stanley Underwood of Los Angeles.

Underwood was an architect of considerable reputation and well known to Stephen Mather, Horace Albright, and others in the park service when he accepted the commission to design the Ahwahnee. Underwood began his professional career working for architects in the Los Angeles area who designed structures in every style from Beaux Arts classicism to Mission Revival. After attending a series of universities he finally received a Bachelor's degree from Yale, and then a Masters from Harvard. Underwood's first large works were for the Union Pacific Railroad on Zion and Bryce Lodges, followed by the Ahwahnee, Grand Canyon Lodge on the north rim, a series of railroad stations for the Union Pacific, Timberline Lodge, Sun Valley Lodge, and Williamsburg Lodge.

Underwood's other work included the San Francisco Mint, the Federal courthouses in Los Angeles and Seattle, and the first unit of the State Department Building in Washington.

Albright, Mather, and Secretary of the Interior Hubert Work and Donald Tressider chose the site for Yosemite's new hotel. Besides choosing an area unobtrusive in its setting yet with magnificent vistas, Albright commented:

We felt by offering a quiet, restful, spacious hotel that many well-to-do, influential people who had ceased coming to Yosemite, owing to the crowds, could be led to return to us again and that furthermore the Ahwahnee would give us a suitable unit in which to promote all-year business, offering the most luxurious comfort at all seasons of the year. [1]


Albright saw the building as a drawing card not only to increase tourism to Yosemite--and at that time park appropriations were directly related to numbers of visitors--but undoubtedly as a special haven for the important and influential whose backing of national parks was always welcome. After all, it never hurt to have friends.

In designing the building Underwood took great care in choosing the materials and the treatment of the materials. The stone, for instance, was weathered granite set in the wall with only the weathered face exposed. This treatment which appeared in the specifications for the Ahwahnee became standard park service practice in rustic buildings where masonry was used. The exposed concrete was designed to imitate wood in color, form, and texture. Underwood's blocky masses of the building that stepped up the structure to the penthouse gave the building a physical presence in architecture that was parallel to the presence of Half Dome in nature. Underwood succeeded in his assignment of designing a building that fit with its magnificent setting.

Work on the building progressed slowly and cost overruns were enormous. As the interior began taking shape the Yosemite Park and Curry Company hired Drs. Phyllis Ackerman and Arthur Upham Pope, experts in art history, to guide interior decoration of Underwood's cyclopean structure. They commissioned Jeannette Dyer Spencer's stained glass windows in the Great Lounge and basket-design mural in the Lobby. They had Robert Boardman Howard paint a subdued mural for the writing room reminiscent of medieval tapestries. They personally chose the killims and Persian rugs used on the interior. Photographer Ansel Adams was so taken with the building that he wrote:

. . . yet on entering The Ahwahnee one is conscious of calm and complete beauty echoing the mood of majesty and peace that is the essential quality of Yosemite. . . . against a background of forest and precipice the architect has nestled the great structure of granite, scaling his design with sky and space and stone. To the interior all ornamentation has been confined, and therein lies a miracle of color and design. The Indian motif is supreme . . . . The designs are stylized with tasteful sophistication; decidedly Indian, yet decidedly more than Indian, they epitomize the involved and intricate symbolism of primitive man . . . [2]

When the Ahwahnee opened its doors to the public in July, 1927, the consensus was that it was worth the wait. The Ahwahnee became the impressive building that Mather wanted in those awesome surroundings. Through the years the building housed an enormous variety of people: movie stars, heads of state, artists, and influential politicians. The guest list included Dwight D. Eisenhower, Haile Selassie, the Shah of Iran, Herbert Hoover, Eleanor Roosevelt, Will Rogers, Gertrude Stein, Charlie Chaplin, Will Rogers, Lucille Ball, Ronald Reagan, Walt Disney, Greta Garbo, John F. Kennedy, and most recently Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip. Photographer Ansel Adams spent considerable time in the building, frequently breakfasting in the dining room while in residence at the park. Even today limousines remain commonplace in the parking lot. Perhaps more important than the list of dignitaries and famous people who have spent time in the Ahwahnee is the hotel's place as the heart of the aesthetic idea of Yosemite. The magnificent scenery of the valley is enhanced by the building's artful contributions to the ambience of the Yosemite experience.

_______________

Notes:

1 Zaitlin, Joyce, "Underwood: His Spanish Revival, Rustic, Art Deco, Railroad, and Federal Architecture," manuscript dated 1983 on file at National Park Service, Rocky Mountain Regional Office. Zaitlin quotes from Albright memorandum on the Ahwahnee Development, Olmsted Brothers file, Yosemite National Park Research Library.

2 Ansel Adams, untitled two-page typewritten document on the Ahwahnee, no date, pp. 1-2. On file at the Yosemite National Park Research Library.

Bibliography

National Park Service files, Western Regional Office, including National Register files.

Sargent, Shirley. The Ahwahnee: Yosemite's Classic Hotel. Yosemite, California: Yosemite Park and Curry Company, 1984.

Tweed, William, Laura E. Soullière, and Henry G. Law. National Park Service Rustic Architecture: 1916-1942. San Francisco: National Park Service, 1977.

Yosemite Research Library and Records Center, Box #79, the Ahwahnee Hotel file.

Zaitlin, Joyce, Underwood: His Spanish Revival, Rustic, Art Deco, Railroad and Federal Architecture. 1983 Manuscript on file at the National Park Service, Rocky Mountain Regional Office.
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Re: The Ahwahnee Hotel, by National Park Service

Postby admin » Mon Apr 25, 2016 7:54 am

Ahwahnee Hotel Gears Up for 75th Anniversary Year
by Karen Hales
Yosemite National Park, CA
November 8, 2001

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The Ahwahnee’s original cornerstone was laid 75 years ago, inaugurating a new level of luxurious hospitality in Yosemite

Contact: Karen Hales (209) 372-1492; pr@yosemitepark.com
Public Information Number: (209) 372-1000
Web Site: www.YosemitePark.com

The year was 1926, Calvin Coolidge was president; Queen Elizabeth II was born; the Charleston was all the rage; prohibition was in full force; modern young ladies calling themselves “flappers” promoted a radical new vision of womanhood; and the swing of jazz reigned supreme. In August of 1926, new winds of change were also afoot in the National Park Service, as Yosemite Park and Curry Company broke ground and laid the foundation for what would eventually become the diamond in the crown jewel of the park system, The Ahwahnee.

Prior to the construction of The Ahwahnee, the two largest concessionaires in the Park were the Curry Camping Company and the Yosemite National Park Company. The National Park Service ordered the two companies to merge in 1925, forming Yosemite Park and Curry Company. According to a dubious (yet entertaining) park legend, Lady Astor, American-born and England's first female Member of Parliament, visited Yosemite Valley in the early 1920s. She registered at its venerable Sentinel Hotel but was horrified when she saw her unheated room and primitive amenities. She promptly checked out and returned to town. In response, Stephen T. Mather, director of the National Park Service, ordered the Yosemite Park & Curry Co., Yosemite's concessionaire, to replace the Sentinel with a first-class hotel.

Constructed amid numerous design changes, construction delays, and contract disputes, the hotel finally opened July 14, 1927, seven months late and substantially over budget. The Ahwahnee’s original cornerstone was laid on August 1, 1926.

Considered grand, elegant and majestic, the prestigious Ahwahnee is a National Historic Landmark and one of the most distinctive resort hotels in North America. It's well known for its granite façade, striking beamed ceilings, massive stone hearths, richly colored Native American appointments, and finely appointed rooms. Named for the original Native word for Yosemite Valley, The Ahwahnee offers a perfect balance of refinement, grandness and hospitality.

“We are very proud to have reached this milestone achievement in continuous customer service. We want the festivities during this anniversary year to celebrate the hotel’s marvelous history and our long-term commitment to providing a superior guest experience, ” said Larry Ross, General Manager of The Ahwahnee, “While so much has changed in our world over the last 75 years, our staff is still whole-heartedly dedicated to our original mission of providing Yosemite visitors with a one-of-a-kind luxury experience.”

To assist in the planning and creation of a year-long series of programs, events and promotions highlighting The Ahwahnee’s diamond anniversary, the public is invited to share with the concessioner their contributions, recollections, stories, memorabilia and photographs of The Ahwahnee over its 75-year span. Items donated or loaned will be exhibited in a variety of displays commemorating the hotel’s extraordinary past. The Ahwahnee is particularly interested in hearing from any guest who stayed at the hotel during its 1927 inaugural year.

“We would be thrilled to hold a reunion of these special individuals. The hotel, with its rich and colorful heritage, means so many different things to a diverse array of people,” Ross said. “We want to create unique and meaningful celebratory events that touch the many visitors who have passed through this exceptional place.”

In addition, as part of an overall effort to upgrade food and beverage, retail and lodging facilities in all properties operated by Yosemite Concession Services Corporation (YCS) the hotel has undergone an extensive renovation of its guestroom lobby and corridor areas. The newly redecorated hallways, encompassing all five floors of the hotel, now reflect the sophisticated yet historic ambiance embodied throughout the rest of the hotel. This is the latest phase of a comprehensive remodeling effort that has included the hotel’s public rooms, registration lobby, the Great Lounge, The Ahwahnee Gift Shop and The Ahwahnee Bar.

Internationally recognized, The Ahwahnee is a full-service, Four-Diamond establishment offering all the amenities of a fine hotel. The six-story building houses 99 guestrooms, with 24 cottages tucked alongside the Merced River among the black oaks and ponderosa pine on the grounds of the hotel.

For more information regarding The Ahwahnee or to make reservations, call (559) 252-4848, or visit our website at www.YosemitePark.com. YCS, an authorized National Park Service concessioner, operates hotels and lodging, food and beverage services, gift and grocery stores, recreational activities, interpretive services and transportation to the more than 3.5 million annual visitors to Yosemite National Park.

To contact YCS with contributions for the Ahwahnee’s 75th anniversary celebration, call the Public Relations office at (209) 372-1445.
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Re: The Ahwahnee Hotel, by National Park Service

Postby admin » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:01 am

Sega GameWorks Appoints Veteran Theme Park Chief Ron Bension as President and CEO
by Sega GameWorks L.L.C.
Universal City, Calif.,
PRNewswire
Oct 07, 1999

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Sega GameWorks, an entertainment venture formed by Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks SKG, Universal Studios and Sega Enterprises, has named leisure entertainment industry veteran, Ron Bension, as president and CEO, it was announced today by Skip Paul, chairman and co-founder of the company.

At GameWorks, Bension will spearhead the strategic direction of the company, creating exciting, captivating entertainment destinations that appeal to a broad and diverse audience. Building on GameWorks' current network of locations, Bension will lead the global expansion to establish a worldwide presence for the company.

Steven Spielberg, the creative visionary behind GameWorks, who worked with Bension on several Universal projects said, "Ron's incredible knowledge and hands-on experience as a leader in the global entertainment business make him perfect for GameWorks. It will be great to be back in business together."

"I've worked closely with Ron over the last decade during our tenures at MCA/Universal," said Skip Paul, chairman, Sega GameWorks. "He was there when Universal Studios Florida was a swamp and Universal Studios Hollywood was a tram tour. He is a world class entertainment executive coming to GameWorks with the full support of all our shareholders to build a major entertainment company. This is a big score for GameWorks."

Tom Williams, Chairman and CEO of the Universal Studios Recreation Group who worked side-by-side with Bension at MCA/Universal said, "Ron and I worked as a team on many exciting projects. He is truly the best at building and growing entertainment destinations."

"GameWorks is a great brand that is poised for growth," Bension said. "I've always been drawn to fast-paced ventures -- so taking GameWorks to the next level was an opportunity I couldn't pass up."

As Chairman and CEO of MCA/Universal Studios Recreation Group from 1992 to 1996, Bension was responsible for running all aspects of Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Florida in addition to developing international theme park joint ventures in the United Kingdom and Japan. Bension also was heavily involved in the planning and development of Universal's new Orlando theme park, Islands of Adventure.

Prior to holding the top position at MCA/Universal Studios Recreation Group, Bension served as president and COO, overseeing the daily operations of both Universal Studios Hollywood and Florida, and Yosemite Park & Curry Company. He began his career with MCA in 1971, at Universal Studios Hollywood, becoming president and chief operating officer of the facility in 1988, making him one of the youngest executives of a major corporation in the United States. Bension left MCA in 1997 to pursue entrepreneurial interests focusing on entertainment business ventures and acquisitions.

Under the direction of Steven Spielberg, GameWorks was created as the ultimate entertainment destination, delivering the best social experience around games and attractions. Adults and families can play and interact in dramatic neighborhoods that offer a variety of high-energy, visually stimulating and relaxing environments. Each GameWorks location offers a multitude of games, coupled with a great restaurant and bar. A dozen GameWorks locations are successfully operating, with plans to open two new venues next month in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Irvine, Calif.

The managing members of Sega GameWorks L.L.C. are wholly-owned subsidiaries of Sega Enterprises, DreamWorks SKG and Universal Studios. Universal Studios is a unit of The Seagram Company Ltd., a global entertainment and beverage company.

SOURCE Sega GameWorks L.L.C.  
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Re: The Ahwahnee Hotel, by National Park Service

Postby admin » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:03 am

Comments on Draft Yosemite Valley Plan
by Kirk Helland
June, 2000

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Mr. Mihalic, my name is Kirk Helland. I have been a resident of Wawona for most of my life. My sister and I attended the one-room Wawona School. When I was a kid, I raced for the Yosemite Ski Team coached by Leroy Rust. During breaks in my education I worked for the Yosemite Park and Curry Company as a gas station attendant, a bus boy, a desk clerk, and a ski instructor. For a time I was a member of the management team at the Wawona Hotel with Ranger Mike Durr’s wife, Judy. Ten years ago I assisted the US Geological Survey conduct their review of Wawona water resources. Last year I worked for the National Park Service as a seasonal member of the NPS Fire Crew. Many of my friends in Wawona are employed either by the National Park Service or by Yosemite Concession Services.

I would like to take a few minutes to review the recent history of NPS policies in Wawona. In the 1960’s a private developer sold lots on a steep hillside in North Wawona and began excavation. The development threatened local ecology and cheated the buyers because it was improperly engineered. The NPS condemned the development, and only now have the hillside scars receded. In the 1970’s and 1980’s the NPS conducted a program to acquire private properties in Wawona by offering fair market value to the owners plus lifetime tenancy for a nominal fee. The stated intent of this policy was to reduce the level of development in Wawona by leveling the homes and cabins so acquired. We, the remaining private property owners thought that condemnation was just around the corner. Instead the NPS reversed course and assigned the residences so acquired to NPS and concessionaire employees. Now the NPS has become the largest landlord in Wawona.

Mr. Mihalic, in your February 17 letter (addressing the issue of planning and issuance of permits in Wawona) to Bob Pickard, County Supervisor of Mariposa, you state:

However, the mission of NPS is, " …to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such a manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." Based on the congressionally mandated mission, the NPS cannot agree to any amendments to the town plan which change the small mountain community atmosphere of Wawona or which allow for more intensive development of the area.

Mr. Mihalic, how do you reconcile your recent signed statement to Mr. Pickard with the construction of a 200-unit YCS residence complex on the south side of Wawona, as now proposed by the Draft Yosemite Valley Plan? Are you arguing that private development will harm the environment, but government development will not? Do native conifers and hardwoods understand the difference between a private chainsaw and a government chainsaw?

We (private landowners, NPS employees, and YCS employees), the residents of Wawona, have long been baffled by inconsistent NPS policies. But we are appalled by the proposition that a new 200-unit complex will not "change the small mountain community atmosphere of Wawona."
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Re: The Ahwahnee Hotel, by National Park Service

Postby admin » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:08 am

Concessions at Yosemite National Park
by Jonathon S. Feinstein
Graduate School of Business, Stanford University
© 1998

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Case Teaching Package

A case teaching package is available for this case. It includes strategies for case presentation, key concepts, solutions to the assignment questions in the case, and suggestions for the most effective ways to work this case into your course.

Length

This case is 18 pages in length and its case teaching package is 4 pages.

Abstract

This case outlines the controversy surrounding the management of concessions at Yosemite National Park, and asks students to design an appropriate concessions arrangement. Should the concessions be run by a for-profit concessionaire, as in the past, a not-for-profit, or the National Park Service itself? If the concessions are operated by a for-profit or not-for-profit, how should the concessions contract be structured, and how should the National Park Service go about overseeing (regulating) the concessionaire's behavior? The case presents arguments made by a wide range of participants in the public debate over Yosemite, addressing these and other related issues.

Linkages to Textbooks or Journal Articles/Fit Within a Course

The case fits naturally either into a course on public sector economics and regulation or a course on environmental management.

Readings are cited throughout the case. Two particularly interesting readings are Alston Chase, Playing God at Yellowstone, and Alfred Runte, Yosemite: The Embattled Wilderness.

Study Questions

How should the new contract be awarded? In particular, which of the following options do you favor: a) renew the existing contract with the Curry Company; b) hold an auction, opening the bidding to other organizations; or c) have the National Park Service run the concession itself? If an auction is held, should the bidding be open to both for-profits and non-profits, or restricted to non-profits, and what sort of restrictions should be placed on bidders, for example related to a minimum level of resources?

Supposing the government does put the concessions out for bid, state the terms the government should offer on the new contract. In particular, how long a time period should the contract cover, what should the contract specify regarding implementation of the General Management Plan, and how should revenues from the concessions operation be distributed?

Supposing the Government chooses to let the concessions to either a for- or non-profit, what sort of regulatory structure should be created? Who should serve on a regulatory board? How should the Board go about overseeing the concessionaire's behavior?
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Re: The Ahwahnee Hotel, by National Park Service

Postby admin » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:10 am

Extended Comments on Draft Yosemite Valley Plan, 2000
by David Curry
June, 2000

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First I want to thank NPS planners and management for an excellent, creative draft Yosemite Valley Plan, covering many bases and varied interests with both objective reason and obvious caring for the land and its visitors. We are all faced with David Siegenthaler’s question: How does one love Yosemite in the company of its many other lovers?

My own love for the Valley began by experiencing it as a kind of second home, spending several young summers with my grandmother—Jennie or "Mother" Curry—at her cottage, supported by Grizzly Club activities, the summer children’s rodeo, and hiking and fishing everywhere feet could take me. Later I added rock climbing in a modest way, lived in the Valley for a year, and worked part way up the employment ladder (meeting John Townsley as co-porter at Camp Curry was a high point) to finally manage Tuolumne Meadows High Sierra Camp in the summer of 1951.

Since then I’ve worked mostly in the fields of transportation planning, research, and especially economics, chiefly at Stanford Research Institute and with the consulting firm of Crain & Associates in Redwood City. Two of my projects were co-authoring the 1977 "AASHTO Red Book" (see footnote 1), and in 1979 leading the development of CalTrans’ system for developing state highway project priorities in California’s annual State Transportation Plan. It is mainly from that professional perspective, and secondarily as a former Valley resident and worker, that I want to add something hopefully new to the strong case for a parking facility at Taft Toe. Then I’ll shift ground and comment briefly as a former Valley resident and subsequent family-raiser on the crucial importance of preserving a viable Valley community, even at the price of somewhat more employee housing than is now proposed in any of the alternatives.

The problem of multiple, incommensurate outcomes—environmental, visitor convenience, costs, etc.--is much the same in the Yosemite Valley Plan as in California’s annual State Transportation Plan, which must rank the relative desirability of project alternatives based, in most cases, on multiple outcomes. A sequential approach is highly recommended, starting with consideration of lower-cost alternatives and requiring higher-cost alternatives to prove their worth based on the added value of the added features that they bring to the plan. The next ideal step, to convert all values to equivalent dollars, is usually impossible or dicey. The fall-back ideal is first to calculate the added equivalent cost of any significant intangible differences between the least-cost alternative and the next most expensive alternative, and second to quantify the most important effects of the chosen vs. the rejected alternative in as meaningful a way as possible.

The draft Yosemite Valley Plan provides the necessary information for accomplishing both of these objectives, but does not at this time summarize that information in a useful way—and hence is not providing reviewers of the plan with the best guidance for helping them to make decisions among the alternatives. This point was illustrated by the two propositions in my public hearing comments (from the Sonora meeting, 6/2/00), first about the $184 million excess cost of Alternative 2 versus Alternative 3 (see footnote 2). The second proposition was about regarding parking as the highest and best use of the Taft Toe area.

One current limitation on summarizing cost or other comparative information about plan alternatives is that the National Park Service, unlike the Bureau of Reclamation for example, is apparently denied the use of benefit/cost analysis to consider environmental and other tradeoffs in project evaluation. Instead, the NPS describes the effects of each alternative. A "preferred" alternative must be identified, but not necessarily chosen later, because public responses and other later information may change the preference. Also, evaluating public response is not just a matter of counting votes—the significance of each comment is considered on its own merits, in terms of both desirability and feasibility.

The process just described leads to provision of exhaustive details in NPS plans about the consequences of each alternative, with extensive use of adjectives such as major, minor, favorable, and adverse to refer to the direction and intensity of the impacts. Yet the policy of avoiding summary comparisons can lead to uneven treatment of similar impacts. For example, the following comment appears on page 4-65 of the Plan, under the Taft Toe alternative, for the environmental consequence called "Park Operations:" "The costs for additional park personnel would represent a long-term major adverse impact." Yet these added costs are only $4.7 million/year for the Taft Toe alternative, less than half of the extra $9.7 million in added shuttle plus NPS operating costs for the preferred out-of-Valley parking alternative compared with the Taft Toe parking alternative—and that extra $9.7 million, more than double, is nowhere called out as a major long-term adverse impact. Seems inconsistent, and as already noted, such differences between the two plans add up to a very large number over 30 years, nearly $184 million.

The truth is that in the process of making a final choice between plan alternatives, all of the consequences and tradeoffs will be valued, implicitly if not explicitly. For example, if Alternative 2 is ultimately chosen, it means that the chooser or choosers have decided as follows:

Yes, environmental values such as avoiding overuse of El Capitan Meadow, having another quiet discovery zone for visitors, and avoiding disruption of local habitats and migration paths is worth an added $184 million in taxes and travel costs plus the added loss or "price" of 1) greater time and inconvenience to day visitors (especially the 30 to 50% who return to their cars and drive to the Valley anyway to take a different route out of the Park), 2) more bus noise and pollution in the East end of the Valley, and 3) 12.2 million extra gallons of fuel used (over 30 years) to service three out-of-Valley parking lots.

It is also true that there is no "objective" or value-free way in the world to make such a decision. The closest we can come, I believe, is to make it in the broadest possible concept and feeling of enlightened public interest, for present and future generations.

One possible advantage of deferring this tradeoff clarification until the final decision is that it seems to keep options more open during the public comment process. Too-early and explicit tradeoff analyses or statements might lead to biases and alliances forming around defense of one alternative, either inside or outside the NPS, rather than attempting to stay open to new information or viewpoints. It’s a judgment call, but I believe that this possible advantage is outweighed by three disadvantages:

The present lack of comparative information between plan alternatives forces every serious reader of the report to conduct an exhaustive and exhausting, error-prone search process through hundreds of paragraphs of information on the separate alternatives, looking for the differences between them. Better that this be done once and well, as a service to readers.

The average reader will not know how to summarize relevant economic and environmental data into a value-free format that simply clarifies the tradeoffs that are now only implied by the different alternatives.
The present practice of designating a preferred alternative without support of such a comparative analysis deprives the public of the best thinking—to date—and at least the tentative conclusions of the people most familiar with the problem. So long as the preference is tentative, as it is even now, the NPS will be free to change its preference based on new evidence or options, and the debate will be able to focus on real issues, such as the differences between plans and how to ameliorate any residual problems with the tentatively preferred plan.

These considerations lead me to the following Recommendation: that the National Park Service conduct a post-evaluation of the Yosemite Valley planning process, with a view to devising and seeking constructive changes in its own planning study guidelines that will allow provision of more useful information for readers in the summary section of the finished document.

Shifting now to employee housing, I’d like to begin with a third proposition, following the two propositions included in my June 2 hearing statement.

Third Proposition: Just as it takes at least a village to raise a child well, without a viable Valley community, neither the National Park Service nor concessionaires can expect to continue to attract the caliber of management and service staff that has typified the Valley and Park in the past.

Living in Yosemite Valley has long been one of the fringe benefits that attract good people to work there, both for summer and year-round employment, in spite of the constraints and often-rustic facilities. However, the amenities of daily life have steadily eroded over the years as government policy supports an increasingly Spartan community infrastructure, and encourages privatization of federal housing. Also, new flood plain, rockslide, and environmental restoration constraints on housing developments have severely shrunk prospectively available space for employee housing.

In response, the National Park Service and concessionaires are laudably trying to upgrade housing and increase its density.

These measures to improve and increase the density of housing may be too little, too late, because all action alternatives in the Yosemite Valley Plan reduce employee beds in the Valley from 1,277 at present to 683, with a shift of about 700 to 900 beds to El Portal and, under Alternatives 2 and 5, about 200 to Wawona. On page 2-33, the option of removing the school from Yosemite Valley is rejected due to its need by Valley residents. Yet on page 4-60, it is stated that "Relocation of the concession headquarters would likely have long-term major, adverse impacts on the elementary school system by threatening the viability of the Yosemite Valley school." In fact, Valley residents from my personal contacts are already concerned with decline in the diversity of the school population from past movements of jobs and employee housing out of the Valley.

One recent loss, I hear, has been of the pastor’s Valley residence, and the medical clinic will be removed under all plan alternatives, a highly negative community impact. The gas station is long gone, reputedly because it was in the flood plain, forcing residents and visitors alike to travel to the Crane Flat or El Portal stations. But, you folks mostly must know all this and more, having lived or worked or visited there enough yourselves to witness these trends. I only want to add to employee housing considerations the issue of community viability and its importance to the recruitment of good people.

At present, the word community is hardly mentioned and never explicitly considered in the Executive Summary to the Yosemite Plan beyond a brief reference on page 4-23 to a contract between NPS and the University of Utah to "gather information on the social environment of Yosemite Valley, El Portal, and Foresta." However, the results of 147 interviews by the consultants were evidently used for environmental impact analysis rather than interactive feedback with a view to modifying the Plan—not enough details are provided to say for sure. The discussion and analysis is all at the level of "employee housing" and the chances for survival of medical or educational facilities, plus some consideration of the effects on El Portal of further employee housing shifts from the Valley.

These examples should suffice to support the following

Recommendation: Give explicit and serious consideration to continuing viability of the Yosemite Valley community, and reversal of the proposed decline in employee housing there as a major means to that end.

Clearly, creative "outside the box" thought may be needed to implement this recommendation. Procedurally, the problem could be put out for competitive bids to architectural firms with interest and competence in the field. And here are a few closing, possibly off-the-wall, ideas: 1) How about using the space that would have been used for 550 visitor parking spaces in Yosemite Village (Camp 6?) in Alternative 2 for employee housing, if Alternative 3 is chosen? 2) Would the principal concessionaire agree to keep its headquarters in the Valley to help survival of the school and community, assuming housing can be retained for headquarters staff? 3) Should a competition be invited for design of compact, attractive, safe, survivable flood plain housing (probably more at the edges than on the river bank, of course, and possibly emphasizing multi-family housing, like many intentional communities or co-housing developments, with some common spaces indoors and out). 4) How about a compact, attractive service station at the edge of the flood plain or at Taft Toe with an extra $1 per gallon fee, indexed to inflation, to help pay for the shuttle service and incidentally reduce the demand for gas in the Valley? 5) Bite the bullet and go for a large-scale employee residential hotel, as attractive but not as expensive as the Ahwahnee, that needn’t be hidden in the trees, preferably outside the flood plain and with underground parking. Finally, 6) sponsor in-house or broader-based brainstorming or "thoughtstorming" (similar to brainstorming but more focused on consensus) sessions to come up with the best housing and community ideas?

Thank you for your kind attention.

1. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, A Manual on User Benefit Analysis of Highway and Bus-Transit Improvements, 1977.

2. That total cost was figured, by the way, with annual costs discounted over a 30 year period to present value at 4% interest, the accepted long-range cost of capital disregarding inflation and risk. A study period or project life of 30 years is widely used in highway economic studies. By that time, many projects need extensive review or changes, though the relative stability of Yosemite could argue for a longer study period. Increasing the study period to 50 years would increase the extra cost by 22%, to $224.5 million. The main point should not be lost, however: saving Taft Toe for its alternative use as a scenic site will cost a bundle of money that is at present not highlighted in the Plan.

David Curry, 18 Chancellor Place, Berkeley, CA 94705 (davcurry@flash.net)
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Re: The Ahwahnee Hotel, by National Park Service

Postby admin » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:15 am

Merger Decision
Matsushita/MCA
Case No. IV/M.037
October 1, 1991

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Merger Decision: Matsushita/MCA

Case No IV/M.037 -MATSUSHITA / MCA

Article 6(1)(b) NON-OPPOSITION

REGULATION (EEC) No 4064/89

MERGER PROCEDURE

Date: 10.01.1991

Also available in the CELEX database

Document No 391M0037

Office for Official Publications of the European Communities

L-2985 Luxembourg

Brussels 10.01.1991

PUBLIC VERSION

Registered with advice of delivery to Notifying party

Dear Sirs,

Subject: Case No. IV/M037 - Matsushita/MCA
Notification of 3.12.1990 pursuant to Article 4 of Council
Regulation No 4064/891.

1. The above notification concerns the acquisition of the whole of MCA Inc. (MCA) by Matsushita Acquisition Corp., a subsidiary of Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co. Ltd. (MEI). Excluded from the acquisition are the American television station WWOR-TV and the concessioner of Yosemite Park, the Yosemite Park and Curry Company.

2. After full examination of the notification, the Commission has come to the conclusion that the notified operation falls within the scope of Council Regulation No 4064/89 and does not raise serious doubts as to its compatibility with the common market.

I. Concentration

3. The acquisition of the whole of MCA by MEI through an agreed bid is a concentration within the meaning of Article 3 (1)(b) of Regulation No. 4064/89.

II. Community dimension

4. The combined turnover of MEI and MCA in the last financial year was 43 billion Ecu. Both undertakings concerned meet the requirements of Article 1(2)(b), MEI and MCA each having an aggregate Community-wide turnover of more than 250 million Ecu, of which not more than two thirds is achieved in one and the same Member State. The proposed concentration therefore has a Community dimension.

III. Compatibility with the common market

1. Main characteristics of the proposed concentration

5. With regard to horizontal relationships, the activities of MEI and MCA do not overlap. MEI manufactures consumer electronic products ("Technics", "Panasonic", "JVC"), and consumer household electric appliances, as well as communication and industrial equipment, electronic components, kitchen-related products and batteries. MCA's activities are filmed and music entertainment ("Universal Pictures", "Universal Television", "MCA Records"), book publishing, retail and mail order and other businesses including theme parks. (Its broadcasting and cable business will be spun-off and not be taken over by MEI. The Yosemite Park and Curry Company will according to the parties, be sold to an American buyer after the closing of the acquisition).

6. The most important aspect of the proposed concentration is the possibility that the combination of the massive resources of MEI with the market position of either party might create considerable competitive advantages. These structural characteristics and their possible impact on competition have also to be appraised according to Article 2 (1)(b) of Regulation No. 4064/89 with regard to the market position of the undertakings concerned and their economic and financial power, their access to markets and any barriers to entry, in order to establish whether or not the concentration is compatible with the common market.

2.The relevant markets

7. Both parties hold significant market positions. MEI is one of the leading producers of consumer audio and video equipment. The company is especially strong in video equipment where it leads the world production of home-use video cassette tape recorders (VCR's) and related products; on these markets MEI has significant market shares within the Community. In VCR's, for instance, MEI's market share amounts to 15% Community-wide and from 7% to 34% according to the Member State in question. Furthermore, as far as the Commission is aware the VCR's produced within the Community under the VHS standard are produced under the licence of MEI, or in joint ventures with MEI.

8. MCA is a major producer of motion picture films for theatrical release, television, pay television, cable and home video with market shares below or slightly above 10% in the Community. It also manufactures and distributes recorded music, with a market share below 5% in the EEC.

9. Firstly, therefore, with regard to the relevant consumer "software" entertainment markets there is a linkage of the financial resources of MEI with MCA's activities where adequate finance is an important precondition of competitiveness. The principal competitors of MCA, however, have financially strong shareholders or parent companies as well, like Paramount (Gulf and Western), Warner (Time-Warner), Columbia Pictures (Sony) and Twentieth Century Fox (News Corporation). This linkage does, therefore, not raise serious doubts as to its compatibility with the common market.

10. Secondly, with regard to the consumer electronic hardware markets on which MEI is a major player, the linkage of MEI's "hardware" products with MCA's "software" seems likely to provide a significant competitive advantage to MEI. This linkage merits more consideration

2.Possible impact of the hardware-software linkage on the relevant markets.

11. In view of the information currently available to the Commission, there is a sufficient supply of motion picture films and recorded music for every major technical standard or format used for broadcasting, home audio and video systems and cinemas. Even if MCA should apply a market strategy for its software products that favours MEI's hardware after the takeover, it is unlikely that this could lead to the creation or strengthening of a dominant position on the side of MEI. The same applies for MEI favouring MCA's software products.

12. In the short term, therefore, the proposed concentration will not significantly impede competition on relevant hard- and software markets within the Community as presently constituted. The appraisal of the proposed concentration has, however, to include future developments, especially the transformation of markets through technical progress.

Video equipment markets

13. The structure of competition on the video equipment markets will in a few years be affected by the introduction of HDTV (High Definition Television) and related products. The commercial success of new or improved electronic products may at least partly depend on the availability of software which is attractive to consumers. This is especially true, when the introduction of advanced hardware goes along with the creation of a new technical standard or format. Consumers will then be willing to buy new products only if an adequate quantity of new software is available.

14. It is therefore necessary to consider whether MEI will, after the takeover of MCA, be in such an advantageous position that the creation of a dominant position on future video equipment markets (as increasingly affected by HDTV technology) is likely.

15. A hardware-software link could be particularly important for the success of HDTV hardware products in the event of there being different standards or formats for HDTV broadcasts, HDTV home video systems and HDTV cinema. In those circumstances a hardware manufacturer with a link to a software producer could facilitate the timely launch of a complete package on to a market thus attracting consumers in the crucial early days, and thereby gaining a competitive advantage over its competitors. There are two competing HDTV standards under development, the Japanese HiVision/Muse standard and the European MAC standard.

16. On the assumption that there will be competing HDTV-standards, it seems very likely that MCA as a subsidiary of MEI will be one of the first software companies to offer motion pictures under the technical standard or format of MEI's video equipment. This may, prima facie, be a competitive advantage for MEI on future hardware markets, but this would depend on a variety of factors. One such factor will presumably be the way in which HDTV is introduced into the Community markets.

17. Another such factor is the availability of filmed entertainment from producers other than MCA. Currently, there is only one other major video equipment manufacturer who is linked with a competitor of MCA (Sony and Columbia Pictures). MCA and Columbia together take a share of 16% of consumer video entertainment products in the Community. This is less than one third of the combined share of all seven major US film producing companies. No other significant software company is linked with an important consumer electronics company. These software companies will have complete freedom as to whether and under which format they will offer motion pictures. Competition on software markets may even force MCA to offer its software under several HDTV-standards.

18. Thus, there would remain a sufficient number of software companies which could offer their motion pictures under the competing HDTV-standard. On the basis of information currently available on future developments in these markets, it does not appear likely that the privileged access to software that MEI will have after the proposed concentration will lead to a dominant position which significantly impedes competition.

Audio Equipment Markets

19. The above analysis of video equipment markets applies in principle as well for future audio equipment markets. Thus, it is not likely that the improved access to recorded music that MEI will have after the takeover of MCA will lead to a dominant position which significantly impedes competition on future audio equipmentmarkets.

4.Conclusion

20. The proposed concentration does therefore not raise serious doubts as to its compatibility with the common market.

For the above reasons, the Commission has decided not to oppose the notified operation and to declare it compatible with the common market. This decision is adopted in application of Article 6 (1)(b)of Council Regulation No. 4064/89.

For the Commission,
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Re: The Ahwahnee Hotel, by National Park Service

Postby admin » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:18 am

The Commodification of Nature
by Scott Silver
Executive Director, Wild Wilderness

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Image

Since the birth of our nation, America's public lands have been exploited so as to maximize the commodity value that could be extracted from them. Two hundred years later, in 1979 to be exact, a new public lands predator called the "American Recreation Coalition" (ARC) came onto the scene. Unlike earlier profiteers who sought gas, coal, logs or minerals, ARC sought to turn outdoor recreation and tourism on public lands into an extractive industry and to profit handsomely in the process.

ARC, a coalition of some 120 corporations, embraces the traditional extractors such as Chevron, Exxon and the American Petroleum Institute. But to this cadre ARC adds new interests such as Yamaha, American Motorcyclists Association, International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, and the Walt Disney Company. These new interests, not content to extract the resource wealth of the lands, seek to commodify nature itself, for fun and profit. Our mountains, rivers, deserts and woodlands have suddenly taking on new values as profiteers attempt to package, brand, market and ultimately sell America's Great Outdoors as value-added recreation products.

Perhaps nothing expresses this idea more clearly that the following quote from the US Forest Service's first ever Chief Operating Officer, Francis Pandolfi. Pandolfi came to the Forest Service in 1997 directly from the American Recreation Coalition where he had served as Chairman of their Recreation Roundtable. In 1999 he wrote:

"Have we fully explored our gold mine of recreational opportunities in this country and managed it as if it were consumer product brands? How could it be done? As federal agencies and others transition from providing outdoor recreation at no cost to the consumer to charging for access and services, we can expect to see many changes in the way we operate. Selling a product, even to an eager customer, is very different from giving it away."

Following this model, outdoor recreation on public lands would cease to be characterized primarily as experiences of physical and spiritual 're-creation' and would instead, through conscious effort, be turned into branded products created for the purpose of being sold to paying customers. It's much like the difference between the concept of romantic love and paid sex.

Any prostitute could tell you that selling a product is very different than giving it away, but the Forest Service is not just any prostitute. For one hundred years they had been mistress to the timber, mining and grazing industries and had given away America's collective wealth with wild abandon.

But attitudes have been changing and with the rise of a strong environmental movement, people stopped tolerating the plunder of our nation's public lands. Suddenly the Forest Service could no longer hide behind its friendly Smokey Bear facade. The public began to demand better management of our National Forests and the Forest Service had no option but to change with the times.

It was under these circumstances that the ARC and the recreation industry made the USFS and other land management agencies an offer they couldn't refuse. They offered a chance for land managers to get out of an abusive relationship with the extractors. They offered marriage, in the form of long-term, private/public partnerships.

The plan was simple and Pandolfi explained it well when he said:

"… a product or brand could be defined as "Hiking," "Fishing," "Camping," "Skiing," and other activities. Thinking of outdoor recreation activities as products or brands suggest applying the principles of sound, private-sector marketing as an approach for meeting recreation demands and providing satisfying outdoor recreation products and services."

ARC's member corporations include not just the manufacturers of motorized wreckreational toys. It includes resort developers, ski area associations, National Park Concessionaires, campground management providers and the like. The deal they offered was simple. They would provide the expertise and capital required to turn America's Great Outdoors into a profitable business venture. Congress would, in turn, pass whatever legislation was necessary to allow the formation of those public/private partnerships necessary to permit this development. In return, federal land management agencies would provide these corporate special interests with the access to, and a chance to assume management control of, America's Great Outdoors.

The plan was inaugurated in 1985 with Ronald Reagan's President's Commission on Americans Outdoors. ARC's President, Derrick Crandall, was more than just one of the commissioners. He controlled the process and established the agenda. This agenda was furthered by President George Bush, the man to whom Derrick Crandall presented ARC's coveted "Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award" in 1990.

In 1993, ARC's Recreation Roundtable on behalf of the Chief Executive Officers of the Coleman Company, Yosemite Park and Curry Company, Kampgrounds of America, Walt Disney Attractions and 20 other 'knights of industry' presented President Clinton with a slick 30 page document titled; "Outdoor Recreation in America: An Agenda for the Clinton-Gore Administration." The report proposed many new and innovative government programs with my favorite being the very Disneyesque: "Luring International Visitors to America's Great Outdoors." The cover letter under which that report was issued was signed by Richard Nunis, CEO, Walt Disney Attractions.

For the first few years, the recreation industry and the land management agencies enjoyed a happy marriage. The Army Corps was so enamoured that they referred to this union as a "win-win-win" and spoke of it with these words:

"The private developers win because of the excellent opportunities they will have to make a profit. The public wins because of the additional recreation opportunities made available to them and the Corps and the Federal Government win because much needed public recreational facilities are provided at no cost to the Government."

There was, however, one extremely large obstacle that had to be overcome. That obstacle was a 35-year-old federal law that specifically prohibited charging the public for recreating upon America's public lands. Similarly it prohibited charging for access to those lands. The law provided but a handful of exceptions, notably entrance fees for National Parks, campground fees for developed facilities, and access fees for a handful of visitor centers. A separate law permitted charging for the use of ski areas, but that was the extent for which fees could be charged to the public for recreational use of public lands.

With these restrictions in place, there was no way in which to turn outdoor recreation into the branded products that Pandolfi envisioned simply because there was no way to make money. Without the ability to make money, there was no interest for the private sector to be part of the marriage. And without the financial backing and expertise of the private sector, federal land managers would be literally out of business. Were it not for one specific Recreation Roundtable Agenda item given to Clinton/Gore in 1993, the entire marriage could have faltered. It was that item which saved the day for some, and may prove to forever change the way the public gets to interact with their public lands.

In 1996 Congress enacted, and President Clinton signed, legislation authorizing a new program called the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program. That same year, the US Forest Service signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the American Recreation Coalition making ARC the official "Challenge Cost Share" partner for this program.

With passage of that law, Congress granted unprecedented new authority to charge and collect fees for a virtually limitless variety of public land recreation products, goods and services.

The fee demonstration program was implemented as only a "test", originally scheduled to end in 1999, but twice extended in order to give the program more time in which to be proved successful. Fee-Demo is currently authorized until September, 2002.

From now until the expiration of this test, land management agencies, with the help of their private partners and the support of free-market policy advocated in Washington DC, will be doing absolutely everything in their power to have Congress grant permanent recreation user fee authority. It is anticipated that President George W. Bush will be extremely responsive to this program and will actively encourage passage of any legislation that will more effectively commercialize, privatize or motorize recreational opportunities on America's public lands. There is a reason why it now costs $5 to walk on public lands or to stop your car long enough to watch the sun set. The reason is to create the financial incentives necessary to implement the recreation industry's intended Corporate Takeover of Nature and the Disneyfication of the Wild.

For those who believe the official propaganda saying recreation user fees are about funding much needed maintenance of decaying infrastructure, think again. In the words of the Army Corps, here is the true reason for this program:

"The intent of the program is to encourage private development of public recreation facilities such as: marinas, hotel/motel/restaurant complexes, conference centers, RV camping areas, golf courses, theme parks, and entertainment areas with shops, etc. "

###

The author, Scott Silver, is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Wild Wilderness. Located in Bend, Oregon, Wild Wilderness has fought in support of 'undeveloped recreation' since 1991. Readers can learn much more about this subject by visiting the Wild Wilderness website at -- http://www.wildwilderness.org or phone us at (541) 385-5261

References:

Pandolfi's quotes appear on pages "x" and "xi" in the Prologue of: "Outdoor Recreation in American Life: A National Assessment of Demand and Supply Trends", H. Ken Cordell Principal Investigator, Sagamore Publishing, 1999.

The complete prologue written by Pandolfi is available at: Perpetual Motion, Unicorns and Marketing In Outdoor Recreation

Both Army Corps quotes are from: "Recreation Partnership Initiative", available at Recreation Partnerships Initiative

This document was prepared by Wild Wilderness. To learn more about ongoing industry-backed congressional efforts to motorize, commercialize, and privatize America's public lands, contact:

Scott Silver, Executive Director,
248 NW Wilmington Avenue, Bend OR 97701
Phone (541) 385-5261 E-mail: ssilver@wildwilderness.org
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Re: The Ahwahnee Hotel, by National Park Service

Postby admin » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:20 am

Trout Take Over Yosemite in Fall
by Dan Fallon
December 2, 2001

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"In Yosemite, grandeur of these mountains perhaps unmatched on the globe; for here they strip themselves like athletes for exhibition and stand perpendicular granite walls, showing their entire height, and wearing a liberty cap of snow on the head."

In 1871, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote these words in his journal as first impressions of Yosemite's divine architecture. The poet had been invited by John Muir to worship with nature in the High Sierra crown. Perhaps Emerson had the opportunity to taste the tender, wild native rainbow trout, but in the 1800s native rainbows were not easy to find. However, today in the late fall months fishing for native rainbows, eastern brook and brown trout can be a truly memorable experience.

After summer's tourist depart, anglers enter for the excellent fishing found in California's premier national park

From September to December weather permitting, trout fishermen often find themselves alone on the many lakes and streams that contain trout. The 21/2 million visitors who roam Yosemite National Park each season have left, while hungry native rainbows prowl the shallow streams in search of perfectly presented flies and salmon eggs. The pursuit of trout is the best excuse to grab a front-row seat and watch Mother Nature gently cover her Yosemite in quiet winter robes.

The rainbow is the only true native trout in the park. Its particular twist of DNA can be traced to the Merced and the Tuolumne rivers. The Pleistocene Glaciers destroyed the ancient trout habitat, and fish no longer could climb back upstream and spawn.

In the late 1800s pioneers carrying buckets and tin cans attempted to plant rainbows taken from the rivers into barren lakes like Vernon, Kibbie and Laurel. In 1892, soon after Yosemite was designated a national park, fish stocking was begun. In 1897 the first brown trout were introduced into lakes and streams. These browns are excellent fighters, and are thriving today in the lower Merced River, where warmer waters are conducive to rapid growth and reproduction.

The rare golden trout was also planted in various lakes, but today few are to be found. Several other fish such as Dolly Varden, American graylings and cutthroats were stocked over the years, but most of these fish have, disappeared. A few cutthroats can still be found in desolate high, country lakes, however.

Trout fisherman of either fly or spinning persuasion can expect to fish primarily in the lakes in fall, when the two main rivers, the Merced and the Tuolumne, are usually running at low ebb.

The great news is by late September few of the 21/2 million who visit the park each year can be found snapping a fly rod or casting a lure. In fact, less than 10 percent of all park visitors are fishermen, for the trout fishery is not the main attraction, despite the number of beautiful lakes to be found in Yosemite.

Within the 761,757,000 acres of the park, 338 lakes are thought to be capable of sustaining trout populations. Of these, 127 lakes contain enough fish for self-propagation.

Those anglers who wish to fish within easy reach of the main roads will find Tenaya Lake (named after the famous Miwok Indian chief) a good place to start.

Tenaya is located off Tioga Road and, at 150 acres, is one of the three largest lakes in the park. The trout available are brookies and rainbows - as is the case with most all the lakes.

During the tourist-thick summer these fish are hard to catch, but by late fall in early morning or late afternoon savvy fly fishermen, using eight or nine-foot medium weight fly rods, can expect good action. The most popular fall flies are black gnats, red and black ants, well-made and well-presented hoppers, mosquitos, Royal Coachman, Grey or Brown Hackle with yellow or peacock body, in sizes 10,12 or 16. Those who prefer spinning outfits should bring an assortment of lightweight lures such as Panther Martin or Mepps in silver and black.

The tried and true red salmon egg on a size 12 hook, with six feet of light leader, will always catch fish in the park. Yosemite trout are for the most part wild, but of course they are just trout, which is not to say trout as a species are gullible. But rangers do hear tales of 7-year-old youngsters with $10 plastic outfits catching limits.

Tenaya is an ideal lake to use the popular bubble and fly rig in conjunction with light spinning gear. The sliding bubble is kept above a swivel that separates the leader and fly from the main line. The bubble acts as a weight and keeps the fly afloat. This system allows the fly to be cast long distances; of course, the fly still has to be presented as naturally as possible. This is a valuable system to learn if you are not adept at fly fishing, but would like to enjoy the thrill of catching wild trout on flies.

Hetch Hetchy, the largest body of water in the park at 2000 acres, is also accessible by auto. Its trout are also a bit wily in summer, but in the fall the lake comes alive with the expanding rings of trout exploding the calm surface in pursuit of insects. This big lake has many areas with tree overhangs and boulders which cast large shadows, a favorite holding zone for veteran older trout. The careful use of hoppers and other terrestrials can be very effective, if they are presented naturally in these dark-water spots.

In 1972 a program of restoring the park's fishery to a more "natural condition" was undertaken, and lakes and streams were allowed to become self-propagating. In the years that followed only a select few lake have been stocked. As a result of this forward thinking, the eastern brookie, for instance, has returned to its ancient perfection. The distinct wavy, worm-like patterns on the backs of these wild fish are not found on hatchery-raised fingerlings. It seems only fish allowed to thrive on natural foods and left to self-propagate display these vivid vermiculated markings.

Stream fishermen, drought conditions permitting can find good action on the Merced headwaters just past Arch Rock entrance off Highway 140. Within one mile of this entrance, fly and spinner fishermen can spend rewarding late afternoons watching large numbers of rainbows and brookies swim and rise in transparent waters as falling leaves drift lazily by. Dead-drifting mosquitos or nymphs on six to nine-foot light leaders can be deadly if the bite is on. A good tip in regard to catching fall trout in times of windy, shadow-splattered water is to rig a strike indicator. One can use any of the many available, a piece of bright cork or yarn placed at water surface level will help you to spot strikes in changing conditions. Most of the trout caught in Yosemite are pan-size, with 10 or l2-inch fish most common, but these wild trout display none of the lethargy found in their hatchery-raised cousins.

Lower Cathedral Lake is only 1.5 miles from Tioga Road. This lake is 11 acres in size, and fishing is generally good if anglers employ a low profile and try to stay well back from this little lake's shore. The trout roam the shallows in early morning in search of tasty morsels, and both fly and spinner outfits work well. If one is lucky enough to witness a good insect hatch, the amount of fish rising will astonish even seasoned fishermen. The relatively low fishing pressure on this lake, as is the situation on most park lakes, translates into large trout populations.

Trekking off the beaten path, you will find Buena Vista Lake 12 miles from Glacier Point Road. This makes for a pleasant two-day trip. The fishing can be excellent - as is usually the case the farther one is from main roads. In the last hour before sunset trout are usually active and hitting lures and flies. Buena Vista is a fine spot to camp, too.

One of the best-kept secrets in the park is Washburn Lake, 6 miles from Yosemite Valley and 39 acres in size. Both rainbow and brook trout abound in this hidden pocket of water. The scenery is majestic, and when the bite is happening, the fishing is outstanding. The smaller size 16 flies which are more like the tiny insects found at higher elevations are useful here. The natural food chain, becomes much smaller the higher one ventures.

Rodgers Lake is 19 miles from Harden Lake, and is 44 acres in size. Being situated at 9000 feet altitude, this lake is lightly fished and fishing is good most of the time. In fall this lake is often deserted, and the fish are easy to catch at feeding time. The Catch and Release philosophy is made for Rodgers Lake, where one may find the fishing so good that every cast can bring a hit or fish. In this kind of trout utopia it is important to gently play and release trout unharmed, so this fragile resource is left intact for future fishermen.

Anglers not familiar with the demands of a 20-mile backcountry hike are advised that the trail to the next lake is not a walk in the park. For experienced high country fishermen, though, Benson Lake (named for one of the original protectors of the park, Col. H.C. Benson of the fourth US Cavalry) is located in the heart of the north end of Yosemite at the end of a rugged, 20-mile hike. It's two and a half days by either horse or foot. Benson, at 144 acres, is one of the three largest lakes. The fishing is superb, and the lake sees few visitors at any time of year.

The scenery is impressive at the 8000 to 9000-foot Hudsonian life zone. The fragrance of white bark pine and mountain hemlock fill the crisp air, bluebirds and black-backed woodpeckers provide the music. Belding's ground squirrels scurry about pre-winter appointments, while herds of mule deer sample tasty grasses.

John Muir often spoke of how the park carried one far beyond "human cares and human civilization." Those lucky fly and spinner enthusiasts who wonder and ponder Yosemite in the fall are indeed lifted beyond the slightest pre-winter blues.

Author Dan Fallon of Sausalito, California, has fished with fly and spinning tackle throughout the U.S., Scotland and Ireland, but says fall fishing in Yosemite has always been "a fun challenge."

© Dan Fallon 1998

Yosemite Fishing Trip Facts

How to get there: From the Highway 140 via Merced and Mariposa is less winding and subject to lighter snowfalls in autumn. The eastern approach through Tioga Pass is open only in summer. Always carry tire chains and check road conditions.

Where to stay: The Ahwanee hotel Yosemite Lodge and Wawona hotel offer hotel accommodations within the park. Curry Village has quality rooms and ten cabins for families. Motels also are available along Highway 140.

Best season: Trout fishing within the park is allowed year around but early fall to freeze-up is considered topnotch.

Approximate cost (1989): A California fishing license is required. Cost for residents is $19,25. The non resident annual fee is 51,25. A one-day resident or non-resident license costs 6,25

Who to contact: For hotel reservations Yosemite Park and Curry Company, 5410 East Home, Fresno CA. 93727 call (209) 372-8333. For guided backcountry trips, Curry Company Stables, (209) 372-1248 or 372-1327 High Sierra Pack Trips; (209) 454-2002
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Re: The Ahwahnee Hotel, by National Park Service

Postby admin » Mon Apr 25, 2016 8:23 am

Yosemite and the United States Navy
by David A. Smith, Historian
The Burdick Military History Project
San Jose State University
December 4, 1998

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Subsequent to the cavalry leaving Yosemite National Park in 1913, the military's involvement with the park, with few exceptions, ceased. However, after holding a low profile for twenty-seven years, the United States Army once again returned to the area. In the face of the growing conflicts escalating overseas, 1,600 men of the Fourth Infantry Division under Major Groves arrived 1 May 1940 to participate in exercises within the park. Along with the sixty motorized units brought by the Fourth, 150 motorized units (800) men of the Tenth Field Artillery under Major A. V. Arivie were also present. The operation had two purposes--to break in new equipment, and to give the motor convoys the experience they would soon need. This operation was significant in that it introduced the park to another era of military involvement. The military would not only train in Yosemite during the Second World War, but would also set up a hospital for physical and mental treatment, and use the park for recreational purposes.

When the United States entered the war in 1941, the California National Guard was called in to protect the water supply systems which originated in the park. The northern portion of the park was closed to all visitations save that by National Park Service personnel, California National Guardsmen, fire crews, and San Francisco city officials. National Guard units were specifically ordered to protect Hetch Hetchy and Lake Eleanor Reservoirs whose waters fed the water supply of San Francisco. The National Guard detachment was quartered at Hetch Hetchy and Mather camp, and John W. Bingaman was park coordinator for the operation. The detachment stayed for the duration of the war.

Another unit which maintained a presence in the park during the war was the United States Army Signal Corps which decided to establish two seasonal training facilities in 1942. A large camp was established at Wawona, with a smaller station located at Badger Pass. Other military units from nearby bases were transported into the park for recreation; in fact, military personnel visiting in the park accounted for nearly 11 percent of the wartime visitors.

Of all the military units which either visited or located camps within Yosemite, the most predominate during the Second World War and continuing into the present has been the United States Navy. Originally, this land-locked naval force was assigned the task of converting the elegant Ahwahnee Hotel, in the Yosemite Valley, into a naval convalescent hospital. Curry Company, the owners and operators of the hotel, were losing money maintaining the hotel because of the decline in park visitations during wartime. The Navy thought it an ideal location for a convalescent hospital and filed a condemnation suit in court by which the government was to pay Curry Company $55,000 per year for the use of the hotel and to cover taxes, insurance, and depreciation of property. The owners were not pleased with the sum offered, claiming it to be insufficient to compensate for the loss in revenue they anticipated. Thus, a thirty month court battle began, but in the meantime, the Navy moved into the hotel and the first naval personnel began arriving as early as 30 May 1943; the first corpsmen under Lieutenant William Grimes, H.C., U.S.N., arrived 7 June. On 23 June, the Ahwahnee Hotel ceased operation and the Navy took over the premises. Captain Reynolds Hayden, U.S.N., became head of the hospital, and conversion was well under way when the first patients--forty-nine of them--arrived on 6 July from the Naval Hospital in Oakland, California.

The Ahwahnee Hotel and the thirty-seven acres of ground that it sat upon had to go through extensive changes in order to accommodate naval personnel. The dining room of the hotel, as one might expect, was converted into a mess hall; the lounge was turned into Ward A and was capable of holding 350 men in its five rows of double tiered cots. Other conversions were made on the inside of the hotel; the gift shop became the canteen, the writing room a Protestant chapel, the bar and cocktail lounge was turned into the Catholic chapel, and the manager's suite became the headquarters for the commanding officer.

More extensive changes were made on the grounds which surrounded the hotel. Metal "barrack type" buildings were erected on the lawn outside. These structures housed an auditorium, a pool hall, a bowling alley, a two cell brig, a large washroom, an enlisted men's club, a hobby and craft shop, and the occupational therapy quarters. Still more changes included the conversion of the Park Service's Ranger Club into the bachelor officer's quarters, and the beauty shop into the office of the Civil Readjustment Officer. Though some of the construction was performed by naval personnel, about $108,233 was paid to the Younger Construction Company of San Francisco for additional assistance needed to complete the project.

The original intention of the Navy was to use the hotel as a recovery ward for neuro-psychiatric patients, but it was found that their conditions only worsened while there. The towering cliffs of the Yosemite Valley gave the patients claustrophobia, adding another neurosis to their already complicated ailments. A change-over was ordered, and by 1944, only medical and surgical cases were admitted. To reflect this adjustment, the hospital changed its name from Naval Convalescent Hospital, Yosemite National Park, to Naval Special Hospital, Yosemite National Park.

However beautiful the naval personnel found the valley, it was not particularly the most suitable place to locate sailors. "Yosemite is a beautiful place surrounded by solitude," stated one distressed sailor. In the opinion of the sailors, Yosemite was lacking two vital elements of recreation--women and alcohol. The former proved to be a serious problem. The only women in the park were employees and those who were wives of male National Park Service and Curry Company employees. During the summer month, guards were posted around the beaches to protect the sunbathing females from harassment. There were also a few arrests for rape. Despite the difficulties caused by the lack of women, the problem of alcoholic beverages proved to be more difficult to deal with.

During the war years, Frank Kittredge was the superintendent of Yosemite National Park. Kittredge, a man of high moral standards, tolerated the presence of drink in the park. In the Yosemite Valley, drinks were available at the Yosemite Lodge bar which became a very popular spot for naval personnel. Occasionally, some sailors became a bit too intoxicated and refused to leave at closing time or destroyed furniture. This practice forced Kittredge to close down the bar for the duration of the war. This official removal of alcohol did not deter the innovative young sailors, though. They had friends and relatives bring alcoholic beverages into the valley which they hid among the rocks at the base of the cliff north of the hotel. Sailors could then slip away and have a drink at their leisure. This particular practice, along with pressure from the Navy, persuaded Kittredge to make a compromise; he would allow alcoholic beverages to be sold at the Village Store providing it was drunk on the premises. A screen was wrapped around the front porch of the store and a few chairs and tables were added. This came to be known by the sailors as "Frank's Place."

During its stay, the Navy helped the National Park Service and the Curry Company keep facilities open that would otherwise have been closed. The Lewis Memorial Hospital was staffed by Navy personnel and served both military personnel and civilians. When funding for maintaining the Badger Pass road and skiing facilities was cut, the Navy provided money to keep it open not only for the public, but also for hospital patients and personnel. Another example of the Navy's service to the public came when the sailors stepped in to operate the valley's toboggan run which had been threatened because of the extreme labor scarcity in the Yosemite Valley area during the war Years.

On 25 October 1945, the Navy announced that the hospital was to be decommissioned on 15 December 1945. After its closure, the hotel was handed over to the Bureau of Ships for reconditioning. Damages sustained because of the Navy's use of the grounds were extensive; it took $400,000 and a full year to recondition the grounds and restore the hotel. During the period the Naval special Hospital operated, it had treated 6,752 patients; at its peak, it was treating 853 sailors at once. Of the sailors who were treated, a full 65 percent of them returned to their various duties in the Navy. Though the hospital experienced its share of problems, the project was as successful as suspected, and with the easing of gasoline restrictions, public visitation increased and the park was soon back to its normal pre-war state.

For the next twenty-seven years, the Navy was absent from the park. However, in 1972, the Navy began to aid civilian search and rescue operations in cooperation with the National Search and Rescue Plan, and they have continued this practice to the present. The current presence of military aircraft within the boundaries of Yosemite National Park is not too surprising since they have been there since early in the twentieth century. The first military aircraft to visit the park was an Army Curtis JN4 which was piloted by Lieutenant J. S. Krull. Lieutenant Krull landed his craft in Leidig Meadow in the Yosemite Valley on 27 May 1919. Another aviation milestone was reached when Army Lieutenants Moore and Taylor completed their journey from San Francisco to Yosemite by landing their Curtis HN4s at Wawona on 8 December 1925. They touched down on a 3,000 foot airstrip which had been flagged out in Wawona Meadow. This experiment proved that the region could be serviced by air, and an airline out of Mariposa established regular service to Wawona.

For the next fifteen years, the sight of military aircraft was absent from the area, but with the threat of war in 1940 and the increase of air traffic over the park, it was inevitable that an air tragedy would occur. In fact, two accidents involving military aircraft took place in Yosemite during the Second World War. The first happened in the spring of 1940, when a P-38 "Night Fighter," while on a test flight, crashed near Givens Creek located in the southern area of the park. The wreckage was sighted by a packer in early summer. National Park Service and military personnel were called in to investigate, and the bodies of the pilot and co-pilot, along with valuable instruments, were packed out to Wawona. The remaining portion of the plane was broken up and buried. The second crash occurred on 27 June 1943 when a B-24 bomber collided with Kiop Peak, located near the east park boundary. All seven crewmen aboard died in the accident. The wreckage was discovered by a Curry Company employee, and the bodies were packed out by park personnel.

In 1972, the Navy began to aid in civilian search and rescue operations within the park as a part of the coordinated effort between the military and National Park Service created by the National Search and Rescue Plan. The Search and Rescue (SAR) Crew from Lemoore Naval Air Station south of Fresno was assigned the task. Lemoore Naval Air Station was built in 1961, and it has been designated as the Navy's Master Jet Air Station. The operations which take place in the park not only fulfill the Navy's obligation to serve civilians, but it helps train SAR Crews for rescues at high altitudes. Since their first mission in the park on 21 June 1972, the Navy and the personnel at Yosemite National Park have cooperated on 137 search and rescue operations.

The SAR crew is not a separate unit in itself, but is one of the many services under the Air Operations Department at Lemoore. At any one time, the SAR crew typically consists of eight pilots, fourteen crewmen, and four Bell (212) UH1N helicopters. One of the eight pilots is designated as senior pilot and is in command of the crew. One aircraft is served by five men, two of whom are pilots and the others are crewmen. Though the twenty-two member crew creates the basic core of the unit, the personnel on the ground such as mechanics and the air traffic controllers all contribute to the team effort. The members of the crew are rotated into the base regularly on a thirty-six month basis with the exception of younger pilots who only serve a twenty-four month tour. The personnel are trained at the Air crew Candidate School, Pensacola Naval Air Station, if they are to be pilots, or as a rescue swimmer at sea for crewmen. This training can take place at several locations. In the history of the SAR Crew, there have been six senior helicopter pilots. Lieutenant Commander Norman Hicks served during the first years, 1972-76; Lieutenant Commander Scott Gorden served during 1976-78; Lieutenant Commander Arlin Dyer served during 1978-79; and Lieutenant Commander Daniel Ellison served during 1980-82. The current officer in charge is Lieutenant Mike Helms.

A mission is flown into the park only if civilian agencies are unable to respond to the situation themselves. The National Park Service usually phones the naval Air Station to see if a crew is available, but after that contact, they must go through proper channels to request assistance. The Air Force Coordinating Center at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois coordinated the National Rescue Plan, and through their Operations Duty Officer, an evaluation of the situation is made and the recommendation to either launch or stay grounded is passed on to the Wing Commander (Base Commander) at Lemoore. While this is occurring, the SAR Crew prepares to launch so they can achieve a ready status by the time the Wing Commander makes his final decision. This process can take as little as an hour or as long as a day; the ability to dispatch an aircraft depends upon variables such as the availability of aircrafts and weather conditions. If Lemoore is unable to dispatch a craft, other military agencies are called upon such as the SAR units from the Army at Fort Ord and the Air Force at Travis Air Force Base.

Once in the air, the aircraft opens communication with the park officials, who direct the crew to the site. Cooperation between the National Park Service and the SAR Crew is enhanced by periodical meetings between the two agencies. This training and discussions insures smooth coordination. Once a pick-up has been made, the helicopter will land in the Ahwahnee Meadow in Yosemite Valley to evaluate the seriousness of the injury or injuries. Minor injuries are treated at Lewis Memorial Hospital in the valley; more serious situations are flown to Valley Medical center in Fresno where an excellent trauma unit is available. This service has been performed between fifteen to twenty times a year by the SAR crew at Lemoore.

Since 1972, the Navy has performed this function of aiding Yosemite National Park, but recent events forced a temporary postponement in this service. During the summer of 1983, the SAR Crew from Lemoore lost two of their helicopters while performing rescue operations in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The unit plans to restore service by the summer of 1984, but until then, the park will have to rely on other units from the Army, Air Force, or Coast Guard should it be necessary for a military SAR unit to serve them. However, when the SAR crew from Lemoore does resume service, it will continue the association of the Navy and Yosemite, and will continue the military's presence in Yosemite National Park.
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