Yosemite National Park Expands and
San Francisco Considers Public Access to Peninsula Watershed
Ackerson Meadow is on the west border of Yosemite, south of Hetch Hetchy and north of Yosemite Valley. The meadow includes a creek which flows into the Tuolumne River.
Kudos to the Trust for Public Land for purchasing Ackerson Meadow and donating it to Yosemite National Park. The 400-acre meadow, part of the original 1890 plan for Yosemite, is just east of the Evergreen Road near the Hetch Hetchy entrance to Yosemite. The donation marks the largest expansion of Yosemite in 70 years.
Credit must also be given to Robin and Nancy Wainright, who chose to sell the land to the Trust for Public Land at a reduced price, rather than develop it.
The announcement drew criticism from Congressman Rob Bishop, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, who opined that any expansion must be approved by Congress and that the National Park Service acted "outside of its authority". He supports the deal but wants the Park Service to "answer some questions".
Photo: Trust for Public Land
Meanwhile in the Bay Area, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will consider a resolution that would substantially increase public access on 23,000 acres of watershed lands south of the city. If approved, hikers as well as perhaps bicyclists and equestrians, could explore these lands simply by obtaining a permit. Currently, access is allowed only if accompanied by a docent.
The resolution moves to the full Board of Supervisors after the approval by its Public Lands Committee at its meeting on September 12. During public comment, the Committee heard no shortage of passionate views from both proponents and opponents of the resolution.
The proposal is the result of advocacy initiated by Open the SF Watershed. Open the Watershed praises the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission for its stewardship, but contends that there is no reason not to allow increased access - something that other Bay Area water districts have done successfully.
Tom Stienstra, outdoors writer for the San Francisco Chronicle writes "Nobody wants to put the water supply, landscape and wildlife habitat in the watershed at risk, of course. The proposals being advanced recognize that and note all the studies have been completed.... all you need is passage at a few gates and you can find paradise."
The Committee for Green Foothills, however, as well as two Chapters of the Sierra Club, three Chapters of Audubon, and two Chapters of the California Native Plant Society oppose the resolution, which they describe as "unmanaged access". They do support increased access, but only through an expanded docent program to ensure protection of water quality and wildlife habitat.
Crystal Springs is one of nine reservoirs storing water for San Francisco's Regional Water System. Water supply stored in any of the reservoirs in San Mateo County is filtered at the Tracy Water Treatment Plant before being delivered to customers.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to consider the resolution on September 27.