Yosemite Proposes Makeover for Overlook of Half Dome

Thu November 29, 2007 - West Edition

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) Federal officials are planning a major overhaul of a popular Yosemite National Park overlook that offers scenic views of Half Dome, El Capitan and other famous granite monoliths, park managers said.

The proposed $2.3 million plan would expand public viewing areas and cut down trees obscuring the breathtaking vistas at Tunnel View, a wide spot in the road about 2 mi. west of Yosemite Valley.

Since photographer Ansel Adams shot “Clearing Winter Storm” from Tunnel View in the early 1940s, the celebrated spot at one end of the Wawona Tunnel has been considered a classic image of the American West.

Park managers said cutting down 20 Ponderosa pines and other trees, installing new interpretive signs and improving traffic safety would boost visitors’ experience of the park. They hope to fund the plan in partnership with the San Francisco-based nonprofit Yosemite Fund, said park spokesman Scott Gediman.

Park authorities are collecting public input on the proposal, and construction would not start until May 2008, Gediman said.

But the vista’s makeover could be slowed or blocked by a lawsuit environmental groups filed against the park claiming commercial development threatened the fragile ecosystem near the federally protected Merced River, Gediman said.

Millions of dollars in construction is on hold as the case proceeds through the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal.