from: B. Ouzounian
February 1, 2012
I understand from Hank Van Sloten, a Coarsegold resident, that you are the publisher of the Madera County Line Magazine. He informed me that you would be willing to put the story of our cause and the e-petition link in a story in the next issue of the magazine. By copy, I have included this memo to James Chappel, editor, at Hank's suggestion.
I am a California resident living in Orange County and have camped in Yosemite Valley since 1955; I am the third of four generations of Yosemite Valley Campers, my grandparents started in the 1930's. I have been active for over 30 years in attempting to preserve affordable family-friendly auto-based drive-in camping in Yosemite Valley since the 1980 Yosemite General Management Plan was issued and it was discovered that campers were excluded from the planning process and campsites were reduced.
I have attended a multitude of meetings outside and inside the Park over the years. I traveled to Washington DC in October of 1997 to personally meet with the Dept. of Interior concerning this subject, all on my own dime.
Over the last 30 years, it has become ever clear that those I represent have no representation and are disenfranchised. Family camping in Yosemite Valley is an endangered activity, diminished at every opportunity by the YNPS (Yosemite National Park Service).
The real upshot of the situation occurred when Superintendent B.J. Griffin closed all the flood damaged campgrounds after the great flood of 1997 without public notice nor a public process, even though 180 million dollars was given to the Park for repair, 17 million specifically for campground repair. Now, the money has all been spent and not on any repair of the flood damage campgrounds that are closed to the public.
Taking this to Senator Dianne Feinstein, her Fresno Deputy recommended that I generate a petition to show support for the cause, which I did with foot soldiers in the Park who took the petitions home and into schools and homes of family campers. We reached 500 of these and then transitioned from hand-type petitions to an e-petition on line. To date we have 1500 signatures. Petition signers are from as far away as South Africa who visit the Park and there is a space for comments, which many signers tell of their passion for family camping in Yosemite Valley and make note of their dislike for the idea of visitation on a bus! All were delivered to the superintendents and the planners at every opportunity. I encourage you to go to the petition site via our home page: www.yosemitevalleycampers.org and clicking on the top left corner, or going directly to this link: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/save-yosemite-valley-campgrounds/. Scroll down the petition to read signers' comments and you will get the sense of the passion campers have. There is no age limit for signers and we encouraged young campers to tell their story. Some are very passionate.
The home page offers more links and information, which I trust you will explore. We are currently adding more "News" items from my library of transmittals. FYI, we take no donations; it is our passion for our cause that motivate us, and the feeling that "right is might."
The YNPS continually ignores the public outcry for more camping and day use parking.
I certainly appreciate your interest. If I can answer any of your questions, please contact me.
Brian H. Ouzounian