Yosemite National Park

The Steadily-Dying Sierra Nevadas

Drought, Bark Beetle Infestation, Climate Change Imperil Sierra Pine Forests

Like over 600 other environmental lawyers, professors, law students and regulators, I attended the 25th annual Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite last weekend.  As always, the Conference–sponsored by the California State Bar’s Environmental Law Section–was a big success, filled with inspirational speakers and thought-provoking panels. But the major topic of conversation–during the Conference proceedings, in …

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A(n Admittedly Subjective) List of America’s Very Best National Parks

(This is the fourth in a series of posts this week commemorating the 100th anniversary of the creation of the National Park Service.) I love lists. Whether it’s a compilation of the year’s top movies, the best restaurants in California, or the best rock and roll artists of all time, count me in.  I delight …

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National Park Service Celebrates Centennial Anniversary

It’s Time to Celebrate–and Re-Commit to–“America’s Best Idea”

This week the National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday.  On August 25, 1916, Congress enacted legislation proposed by President Woodrow Wilson to create the Park Service.  To this date, creation of the Service remains one of the nation’s most important actions to protect America’s environment.  (Documentarian Ken Burns–himself a national treasure–famously called the national …

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Goodbye, Wawona?

Trademark Dispute Threatening Iconic Yosemite Names Could All Be A Big Poker Game

It’s great doing environmental law in no small part because it is interdisciplinary: not only do environmental lawyers and scholars have their own field, but they engage with scientists and engineers, as well as specialists in other legal areas (such as constitutional or tort law). Still, I had never seen an environmental trademark controversy. Until now: …

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The Battle to Restore Hetch Hetchy Valley Moves to the Courts

New Lawsuit Claims Dam and Reservoir in Yosemite National Park Violate California Constitution

This week, the longstanding battle over the dam and reservoir that have for a century flooded Yosemite National Park’s storied Hetch Hetchy Valley moves to the courts. A new lawsuit, filed by conservationists on the 177th anniversary of  John Muir’s birth, asserts that the City of San Francisco’s continued operation of O’Shaughnessy Dam and Hetch Hetchy Reservoir …

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Happy Birthday, Yosemite–and California’s State Parks System

The Core of Yosemite National Park, & California’s First State Park, Were Created 150 Years Ago

2014 marks the 150th anniversary of the creation of what we now know as Yosemite National Park.  It’s also the sesquicentennial anniversary of California’s State Parks System.  The two events are, in fact, inextricably related.  And how they occurred is a noteworthy and truly inspirational story. In 1864, in the midst of the Civil War, …

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Commemorating the Yosemite Grant Act

150 years ago, Yosemite Valley was set aside for public use and recreation

We’re a little bit late on this one, but can’t let it pass completely unacknowledged. And actually the timing is perfect — when better to commemorate the national parks, famously called by Wallace Stegner (and later Ken Burns) “America’s best idea” then on Fourth of July weekend? 150 years ago this week, President Lincoln signed …

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An Unhappy Anniversary for Hetch Hetchy

Is It Time to Consider Restoring Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Valley?

December 19th marks a sad event in American environmental history.  It was 100 years ago today that President Woodrow Wilson signed the Raker Act, authorizing the City of San Francisco to build a dam that would flood the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park in order to deliver water supplies to San Francisco. Contemporary …

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Should We Allow Development in National Parks?

If I were pressed to state my favorite place in the world, coming right at the top of the list would be the Wawona Hotel, in Yosemite National Park.  Not only is it inside Yosemite, but it is a historic hotel, originally built in 1879, and possessing all kinds of retro features as well as …

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