Sacto Bee targets McClintock over Yosemite issue

April 27, 2013

By Katy Grimes


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.

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.


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.


“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:


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:



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.

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