SAN FRANCISCO -- Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt is expected to
announce a $20 million plan to clean up and repair infrastructure
in Yosemite Valley, which was devastated by the worst flooding in
recorded history during the New Year's holiday and remains
The flooding of the Merced River in the valley destroyed some of
the tent cabins and campgrounds that already were slated to be
removed under the National Park Service's 1980 plan for
The 17-year-old plan, designed to alleviate traffic congestion
and the impact of heavy visitation to the valley environment, had
been postponed for years because of wrangling over the best ways to
accomplish those goals.
Meanwhile, two of the main highways into Yosemite National Park
remain closed indefinitely.
And, except for the Wawona area, the park will remain closed
through February and possibly beyond, according to the park
The easternmost route, Highway 41 through Oakhurst, is the only
route open into Yosemite, but only the section of the road from
Oakhurst to the Wawona area is open, park officials said.
Another section of Highway 41 from Wawona to the Badger Pass ski
area was scheduled to open Feb. 1, but the section beyond that to
the valley is closed.
Massive landslides that destroyed parts of Highway 140, the
route through Merced entrance used by motorcoaches, will require
months of repair work, a park service source said.
The third entrance, Highway 120 through Sonora, the route used
by visitors coming from the San Francisco Bay area, might be opened
in the spring.
Peak season for Yosemite National Park, which draws more than 4
million visitors a year and is one of the most-visited areas of
California, does not start until May.
Visitors with reservations at the valley's hotels and lodges,
including the historical Ahwahnee hotel, where bookings are
generally required a year in advance, are receiving refunds and
first opportunities for rebookings when the valley reopens and
where space is available.