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Yosemite Overcrowding - Essay Example

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Normally, any national park has its limit as far as carrying capacity is concerned. However, it is common to find that different national…
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Yosemite Overcrowding
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Yosemite Overcrowding National park overcrowding is an issue that continues to affect many national parks across the world, and especially in the United States. Normally, any national park has its limit as far as carrying capacity is concerned. However, it is common to find that different national parks allow more people to access the park, a number of people that exceeds the national park’s carrying capacity.
Overcrowding in national parks is an ethical issue, as it has different implications that affect the park environment. Tourism should serve as a means of saving an area, since these areas are protected. Tourism should exist in such a manner that it will not destroy what it is trying to serve. This is morally right. On the contrast, overcrowding in national parks does not save the park environment. This is morally wrong and leads to pollution, soil erosion, vandalism, deterioration of infrastructure in the park, and promotes global warming in the park. In addition, the pursuit of economic gains by allowing overcrowding, at the expense of environmental preservation is morally wrong.
Yosemite National Park is one of the national parks in the U.S. that are faced with great overcrowding. The Yosemite Valley was set aside by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864 for preservation (Hayes Web). Since then, people have had the opportunity to enjoy recreation and amenities that have enhanced their experience in Yosemite Valley. However, this privilege faces a threat due to the major problem of overcrowding in the park. Overcrowding is known to have detrimental effects on any park and the environment. In Yosemite Park, there are only 1,100 parking spaces. However, there are more than 8,000 cars that pass through the Yosemite Valley (Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center Web). The large number of people visiting this people puts a strain on the resources in the park. For instance, this has led to degradation of the park air, a lack of parking, and straining on the Merced River (The New York Times Web). There is therefore, need to regulate the public access to the park in order to enhance conservation of the Yosemite Valley.
The problem of overcrowding in national parks is a major ethical issue. This is mainly because it is the right of people to visit parks and experience nature. Therefore, stopping people visiting parks in order to avoid overcrowding would be infringing on their rights, which is morally wrong. Nonetheless, it is possible for the management of parks to reach an ethical decision that will ensure that overcrowding in parks abates. Such decisions will in no way infringe on the right of people to visit and explore parks.
One of the simplest ways of preventing overcrowding in parks is through rationing, which involves cutting down on the number of people in an area. For instance, Yosemite on May 22, 1993 closed for the first time in history due to congestion. The closure lasted three hours and 750 vehicles were turned away (O’Brien 128). However, this is an inappropriate decision, as turning people away at the park entrance may drive away the public from the park, yet the park relies on public good will. According to Butcher, an appropriate way would be to introduce a tiered fee structure, with higher fees on peak days (491). This will discourage the public to visit during the peak days. Another way would be to provide free or reduced fee entrance for cars carrying four or more people. This will save considerable parking space. Additionally, there should be regulation of tour buses such that these are limited in number and size (Butcher 492). All these decisions will help to reduce congestion in the park without turning people away at the park’s entrance.
In conclusion, national park overcrowding continues to be experienced by different national parks, and this has negative effects on the environment. The national park management has the responsibility of ensuring preservation of the park environment by regulating the number of people that visit the parks. The pursuit for economic gains should not override the efforts of environmental conservation in the park. The decisions that are adopted to prevent overcrowding should be those that will not infringe on the rights of people. Overcrowding in national parks needs to be addressed, failure to which the future of parks is put at risk. Nonetheless, it is possible to address this problem if effective strategies are adopted and park management is committed to solving overcrowding.


Works Cited
Butcher Russell. “Exploring Our National Parks and Sites.” New York: Roberts Rinehart.
1997. Print.
Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center. “Too Many Visitors Causes Peak Season
Gridlock In Yosemite; Park Service Searches For Ways To Reduce Number Of Vehicles.” 2014. Web. < http://www.cserc.org/main/news/news_briefs/2012-01_Yosemite_overcrowded.html> Hayes Jennifer. “Reflections on Yosemite National Park.” 1990. Web. <
http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1297&context=uhp_theses> O’Brien Bob. “Our National Parks and the Search for Sustainability.” New York: University
of Texas Press. 1999. Print.
The New York Times. “Restoring Yosemite.” 2002. Web. <
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/22/opinion/restoring-yosemite.html>Read More
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