November 07, 2006

Wawona's Character Threatened

SDA Fact Sheet

Author J. Smeaton Chase once wrote:

"...I for one always feel that if Yosemite has the greater glory, Wawona has the deeper charm." 

We hear that a proposal by the Seventh Day Adventist Church on an island of private land in Wawona, Yosemite National Park, threatens to turn their quaint summer church camp for kids into a behemoth resort accommodating nearly 500 guests, with an indoor meeting capacity of over a thousand, plus outdoor facilities for hundreds more.

If true, Wawona’s charm would be replaced with overcrowding, and its peaceful riverbanks, swimming holes and paths overrun.

If this same proposal were brought by a concessionaire like Hilton or Holiday Inn (similar to one proposed for the Vagim property on Wawona’s north side), the slim local support would surely vanish, and the project would lay exposed for what it simply is – a destructive attempt to exploit a National Park for money. Except that this proposal comes from a tax-exempt church.

To quote Chase once more:

 "All forest places are places of rest, and meadows and valleys are even more so in their nature. Wawona combines them all, and indeed I do not know a more idyllic spot. Seclusion is in the very air, and its beauty is of that gentle and perfect quality that does not so much command one's admiration as it quietly captivates one's heart."

Chase’s descriptions were written in 1911. This proposal attacks what has been lovingly nurtured for a century.

 Enthusiasm in the planning stages can easily divert one from mature consideration of the consequences. Perhaps the good people of the SDA church can persuade their aspiring developers to reexamine their values, put away commercial self-interest and instead help to protect our precious gift of Wawona.

 In the meantime, let’s stop them from ruining Wawona’s character while they hopefully rescue their own.

Please tell the NPS and the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors what you think, and right away.

SDA Fact Sheet


 Tom Bopp                                                                                                         Diane Bopp

Musician and Interpreter, Wawona Hotel, Yosemite National Park (since 1983)                  Artist, Teacher


How does the SDA expect to protect its members and guests from fire? Their property is at the end of a 2 mile dead end single-lane road with several blind curves. Are the developers, the Board Of Supervisors, and the NPS comfortable in in taking responsibility for this potential disaster?

(The car icons total 200; the people icons -- dots -- total 400). Graphic by Tom Bopp
ASK YOURSELF: How fast does a forest fire move? How fast can 400 panicked people fill 200 cars? How long will it take for them to funnel out of the lot? What happens if a tree falls across the road, or a car stalls? How will the fire crews save the people from fire? Will the people simply run to the river? What will happen there? How long does it take for air support to come in? How would YOU like to be responsible for all this?