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Yosemite General Management Plan
Citizen Involvement in Government Decision-Making


In this exercise, you will explore issues concerning national parks and draw your own conclusions. You will then choose a way to convey your ideas to government decision-makers, recognizing that in American society we have the right to vote and also to participate in the decisions being made by governmental agencies.

Description of the Issues:

Yosemite National Park is a spectacular landscape of high granite cliffs, waterfalls, forests, meadows, and wildlife. It is a part of our national pride and heritage. Four million people from all over the world come to Yosemite every year. This large number of people puts great pressure on the park, particularly on Yosemite Valley. Other problems facing Yosemite Valley include excessive commercialization and traffic congestion. The result is damage to the park's natural resources and interference with the natural experience for many people.

People disagree about the competing economic uses of national parks like Yosemite and about which of the national park values are the most important. Where to draw the line between the preservation and the use of natural resources is the most enduring of all the debates affecting America's national parks.

In 1980, a General Management Plan (GMP) was drafted in response to the problems of Yosemite. The GMP stated that too much development has occurred in the park and is colliding with our ability to preserve Yosemite's unmatched natural resources for the future. In the last few years, amendments and refinements to the GMP have been made, and further amendments are currently being studied. Today, some argue the 1980 GMP went too far, while others would like to see it strictly enforced. As a concerned citizen, you can find out more about these issues and formulate your own vision as to what you think the government should do in making an appropriate balance between preservation and use.

Project Assignment:

  1. Individually or as a team, research at least two of the statements provided in the attached "Yosemite Management Viewpoints" and become familiar with the viewpoint of the author. Prepare yourself to:

    1. Describe the assumptions, values, beliefs, and economic motivations attached to your viewpoint, and give your estimate of the number of people who might feel the same way;

    2. Discuss your personal evaluation of the viewpoint and to what extent it should be considered in the government's ultimate decision.

  2. Share your research with other class members in a panel discussion. Learn from your classmates what they have learned about the point of view they researched, and ask them questions during the debate. Try to understand the assumptions, values, beliefs, and economic motivations for each point of view.

  3. Take a stand as a concerned citizen on the revision of Yosemite's General Management Plan and act upon your position. You might choose an appropriate action such as writing a letter to the National Park Service expressing your view, attending a public hearing or workshop on Yosemite or a similar planning issue, creating a display to educate other people about the issues, writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, composing a song, or doing any other creative effort approved by your teacher as modeling responsible citizen action.

For Further Information:

For information about the revision to the General Management Plan , the National Park Service request for public involvement, and sending your input to the government decision-makers, write to:
National Park Service
P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, California 95389

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