A new plan to maintain overgrown views in Yosemite calls into question why we have protected lands in the first place.
Ansel Adams made a tremendous career out of photographing the massive and beautiful Yosemite National Park, which was signed into protection by President Lincoln in 1864. In the years since, the park's many trees have grown strong and tall. To many Americans, that's a good thing—not if you're a budding Ansel Adams, though. Today wildlife officials are worried that the tall trees are obscuring Yosemite's world-famous views. Their solution? Chopping them down.
"We have to find a balance because we are preserving these places for the enjoyment of the public and future generations," Yosemite landscape architect Kevin McCardle said. "Enjoyment means allowing people to connect with nature. But you have to be able to see it."
If Yosemite goes through with its current plan to maintain park views, thousands of trees, some as tall as 100 feet, will be scrapped for wood chips and firewood.
Naturally, people have been instigating some pushback since learning of the park's "Scenic Vista Management Plan," but Yosemite officials say they've thinned trees before, to great success. After tearing down several large trees obscuring Yosemite's famous "Tunnel View" three years ago, nobody seemed to mind.
Still, that was several trees. This new plan calls for thousands of trees to get chopped. The debate over this plan is, at its heart, a question of why America has protected land in the first place. Is it because we owe it to the land and our progeny to not destroy every bit of nature for commercial purposes? Or is it to allow people to revel in perfect splendor? Because sometimes, the answer can't be, "Both."
photo (cc) via Flickr user Spunkr