Hoping to revitalize heavily used Yosemite National Park, federal officials will announce a sweeping proposal today to cut vehicle use and let nature take back some of the heart of the nearly century-old park.
The ambitious project would reduce and centralize day-use parking and restore large tracts of undeveloped land in Yosemite Valley, especially along the Merced River, according to sources familiar with the plan.
The plan does not go as far as a proposal made two decades ago that envisioned the removal of all private vehicle traffic from the 7-mile-long, mile-wide valley.
Supporters said Saturday that the draft proposal would address much of the environmental degradation and crowding that some say have overshadowed the splendor of El Capitan and Half Dome, the valley's famous granite monoliths. They said the comprehensive proposal would preserve the valley without excessive restrictions on visitors.
Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt will disclose details of the long-awaited proposal during a speech today at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.
If approved, the Yosemite Valley Plan could cost as much as $343 million to implement in stages during the next decade.
Public hearings on the project will be held this summer. The park superintendent and the Park Service's Western Region director are expected to make a final decision on the plan by year's end.