Sacto Bee targets McClintock over Yosemite issue

April 27, 2013

By Katy Grimes

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Instead of criticizing the environmentalists who want the riff-raff out of Yosemite National Park, to be returned to its “wilderness state” so visitors can enjoy “tranquility and introspection,” the Sacramento Bee has taken up a fight with Rep. Tom McClintock.

McClintock is trying to bring some much needed attention to what the National Park Service has been doing behind closed doors, with the help of environmentalists.

Tom McClintock recently discovered that the National Parks Service opposes “commercial activities” in the park, and is working to get them removed. This includes bicyling, rafting, camping, snowshoeing, horseback riding, as well as the souvenir shops, snack stands, and hybrid bus tours. These “commercial ventures” apparently offend the enviros and park rangers.

The park service has already begun the process of removing human activity in Yosemite. But McClintock isn’t giving up without a fight.
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Never mind that it is a national park. The 1864 land grant stated:

Granted the Yosemite Valley, and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove, to the State of California “upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation [and] shall be inalienable for all time.” 

Yosemite Land Grant (1864) (Act of June 30, 1864, ch. 184, §§ 1, 2; 13 Stat. 325[1]). See 16 USC 48.[2]  Lands eventually would be receded to the Federal Government and added to Yosemite National Park in 1906 (see 34 Stat. 831)

I talked with McClintock after the Sacramento Bee published an editorial misrepresenting McClintock’s position on the Yosemite matter, and then refused to publish his responses.

McClintock provided me with these communications, and they demonstrate a serious bias against McClintock. This isn’t the first issue the Bee has attacked McClintock on — recently Bee columnist Dan Morain derided McClintock for voting against the federal ‘fiscal cliff’ deal. More recently, McClintock has done battle with Bee editors over the Natomas levee problems in Sacramento.

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McClintock submitted a 150 word letter, at request of the Bee on the Yosemite matter. But, according to McClintock, rather than publish it, they took 193 words out of a longer piece the Congressman submitted earlier in the week, which the Bee refused to print.
McClintock said in response, he sent this letter to the Bee:

Re “McClintock hardly matches Muir in pantheon of Yosemite protectors” (Editorials, April 14): The Bee reports that I oppose legislation to purchase an additional 1,600 acres of land adjacent to Yosemite National Park. In fact, The Bee was clearly informed I have not taken a position on that bill and will not do so until I can see the property and understand its role in the park’s mission and operations.

The Bee attacks my concerns over a bill that would relocate Yosemite visitor services from the park to an 18-acre facility some 30 miles outside the park in Mariposa.

Although that may be popular in Mariposa, it is strongly opposed by many officials and residents of surrounding gateway communities that are just as dependant on Yosemite tourism as Mariposa and would be severely disadvantaged as a result.

What would truly devastate the economy of the region is the National Park Service plan to remove many tourist amenities from the park, including bicycle and raft rentals, snack facilities, horse stables, swimming pools, the art center, the ice-skating rink at Curry Village and the historic Sugar-Pine Bridge.

– U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, 4th Congressional District

“The Sacramento Bee has developed a pattern of misstating my position, stridently attacking the straw man it has created, and then limiting any response to 150 words,” McClintock told me.

220px-Yosemite_Winter_Hiking

“Yosemite belongs to the American people, and the Park Service’s job is to welcome them and accommodate them when they visit their park – not restrict and harass them.”

But the Bee took that statement from McClintock and said, “McClintock is making Yosemite employees sound like Gestapo agents.”

“This should give every reader a clear insight into the extremism and unreality that dominates this newspaper’s editorial board,” McClintock said.

But apparently not content with McClintock’s response, Bee editor Stuart Leavenworth sent McClintock’s Communication Director Jennifer Cressy an email response:

Jennifer,

Last Thursday, I made a direct request to speak to Rep. McClintock regarding his position on various Yosemite issues. Rather than help facilitate that request, you continued to press me for specifics on my questions. I eventually gave up after it was clear that Rep. McClintock was not going to grant an interview.

Just so you and he know, we (and most media outlets) will never agree to submitting questions in writing in advance as a condition (or a substitute) for interviewing an elected official. In some countries, such as Russia, governments can enforce that requirement. If and when it ever happens in the United States, I fear for the future of our democracy.

In its April 14 editorial, the Bee said:

Worst of all, McClintock is going out of his way to disparage national parks employees, including those who have developed the Merced River plan, an attempt to reconcile recreation and conservation needs following the 1997 flood in Yosemite. While there are items to question in the plan – such as banning bike and raft rentals and removing the stone Sugar Pine bridge, built in 1928 – McClintock is making Yosemite employees sound like Gestapo agents. When talking to Mariposa supervisors on April 2, he lectured the Park Service, saying its job is to welcome and accommodate visitors, “not to restrict and harass them.”

We attempted to talk to McClintock – to ask him why he opposes the Mariposa visitors center and the park expansion, while going out of his way to disparage Yosemite employees, whom he will need to work with in his district.

He rebuffed our requests.

Cressy said after receiving the letter from Leavenworth, the Bee fell silent and then accused McClintock and his office in print of ‘rebuffing’ their questions.  And the attempt to excuse their conduct as resistance to Russian-style government censorship is frankly bizarre, Cressy said.

McClintock cartoon style

In the final jab at McClintock, Jack Ohman, cartoonist for the Sacramento Bee did this cartoon:

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McClintock said his efforts are part of a larger bipartisan group tying to save Yosemite for the public. According to the Yosemite for Everyone website, a group of bipartisan Congressmen have sent a letter to the National Park Service requesting an extension to the Merced River Plan comment period, which closed on April 18th.

Yosemite for Everyone is a group of dedicated individuals and concerned citizens who have an intimate connection with Yosemite National Park, wants Yosemite preserved for visitor enjoyment. The group has several letters  from retired Democratic Congressman Tony Coelho to the Director of the National Park Service.

The constant attacks on McClintock by the Bee are unjustified and petty, especially when the newspaper is just wrong.

7 comments

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  1. El Polacko
    El Polacko 27 April, 2013, 07:51

    This is the same crowd who labored so mightily to chase the Drake’s Bay Oyster Co. out of the Point Reyes National Seashore with manipulated and outright false ‘ends justifying the means’ scientific studies.

    Rather than being fired and driven from public service, Don Neubacher the former director of the PRNS was promoted to the top position at Yosemite, and his boss, Regional Director Jon Jarvis was promoted to the top position in the NPS.

    Reply this comment
  2. Susan
    Susan 27 April, 2013, 10:01

    I thought I was up on most California news items but I had NO IDEA about this and was appalled to learn about it. If you are surprised and appalled too you should send this article to everyone you’ve ever met.

    Reply this comment
  3. johnnyb
    johnnyb 27 April, 2013, 10:09

    Why is the purchase of 1600 additional acres so important? It looks harmless enough, but I’m skeptical. Anyone else? Is there more to this story? Congressman McClintock appears to be suspicious as well. I hope Katy Grimes will look further.

    Reply this comment
  4. Bob Smith
    Bob Smith 27 April, 2013, 12:15

    “These ‘commercial ventures’ apparently offend the enviros and park rangers.”

    They also increase the park rangers’ workload with all the people they attract. Get rid of the attractions, get rid of the people, and you can create a no-work job for yourself.

    Reply this comment
  5. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 27 April, 2013, 16:09

    I’ve told you people many times before…….environmentalists despise human beings. And their approach to compromise and negotiation is on a par with the North Korean government.

    Nothing would make an environmentalist happier than to see the entire park sealed off with security the equal of Pelican Bay.

    Ohh…..you were born in 2005, and as an eight year old never got a chance to visit and see what it looked like?

    That’s tough, kid. Browse your interweb for Ansel Adams pictures. That’s the best we can do.

    Reply this comment
  6. Hondo
    Hondo 29 April, 2013, 18:35

    I’ve been to Yosemite twice. The first was the year before the new hiway opened up and it was a scary drive where my dad had to back up every so often when another car came down the road. There was hardly anyone there. The next year we went, the new hiway was open and it was a mad house of people. I think that was 1961. I was 6 I think and I never saw those huge granite walls like El Capitan. Kids only see as far as the flowers and the creeks. They don’t look up.
    I’ve been there when there was hardly any people there, that first year I went. It was like eden for us small kids. The next year it was like a city. We can’t go back to when there were no people there because there were no roads. The PETA liberals want no more people at all on earth. To give the earth back to the animals and the fishes and the trees. Well, they can go first leaving this vale of tears by their own hand. If they want less people on earth, they should volunteer to kill themselves first.
    Hondo….

    Reply this comment
  7. warren duffy
    warren duffy 2 May, 2013, 14:07

    Sorry Sacto Bee. You’re wrong on this one. My news career goes back to 1957 and having a public official want to know what the topic of an interview is going to be (so he or she can do research and be informed on the subject) isn’t neither unusual nor unethical. It makes common sense. Which is exactly the opposite of the authoritarian public park czars trying to make us taxpayers feel unwelcome at Yosemite. I can only imagine the welcome we’ll all be getting in a few years at the Welcome Center. “You there. Park your polluting car over there. Don’t you know how much harm those particulant emissions are causing? By the way, I hope you brought lunch for those screaming little kids – we closed down the food stands last year. Aren’t you aware, big families are causing overuse of the resources? Oh, and don’t go looking for that old stone bridge. We tore it down last year. No telling how it might hurt the salmon as they migrate upstream just like those damn dams we’re trying to get rid of. The tram, that runs on sugar beet ethonol from Brazil will be here in four hours. Wouldn’t you rather bike around the trails we’ve so generously provided for you and your kids. Remember, there are extremely large fines if we catch you – or those ragamuffins – venturing off the trail. Have a great green adventure and don’t let the door hit you on the way out”. Smokey the Bear was never this unfriendly. The Sacto Bee should be helping the public reclaim our Yosemite instead of picking a fight with one of Yosemite’s few remaining friends in DC. You go, Tom. We love you.

    Reply this comment

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