- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2007

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Yosemite National Park can proceed with $60 million in construction projects while a court hears a lawsuit claiming that commercial development threatens the fragile ecosystem, a federal judge has ruled.

Park rangers praised the ruling last week and said being able to fix a failing sewage system and repave a road that loops through Yosemite Valley would ensure that visitors could experience the park in its most pristine form.

“As we proceed into a busy summer season, being able to get this road work done as soon as possible will benefit everybody,” said park spokesman Scott Gediman.

In 2000, environmental groups sued the government, claiming the National Park Service’s plans to develop the valley would jeopardize the federally protected Merced River, which courses alongside famous granite monoliths and dramatic waterfalls.

U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii sided with the environmentalists in November and barred crews from repairing the road and sewer system, as well as from moving campgrounds, rerouting a key access road and upgrading hotel rooms on the valley floor.

The government appealed and asked for the right to proceed with “emergency” repairs only.

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