“Occupy Yosemite” By Rob Gill
The Government’s Shutdown of all National Parks has angered both tourists and locals of the Eastern Sierra alike and one Mono County resident decided to, “take a stand.” Stacey Powells of Mammoth Lakes has been best known as News Director of KMMT-FM, but last Friday she decided to get out from behind the microphone and pick up a protest sign. Taking a page (or at least the name) from the “Occupy Wallstreet” movement, Powells started her own movement called “Occupy Yosemite.”
Powell’s original plan was to rally a crowd at the Tioga Gas Mart and lead a convoy into Yosemite Park eventually stopping at Toulomne Meadows. The sparse crowd that showed up at Tioga Gas Mart and rumors of heavy resistance from the park staff derailed Powell’s initial plan. After waiting for more participant’s for awhile, a group of about fifteen, which included Mono County Supervisor Byng Hunt, headed to the gate. Upon arrival the small band of protestors were not met with the opposition that they expected. The park staff had indeed heard about the protest , however, their instructions were not to keep the protestors out of the park. Tom Medema, Chief Ranger for Interpretation and Education, met the group at the gate and informed them that they would allow the group to come in temporally and set up in a safe place along the road to express their opinions. Medema was quoted saying, “it is never easy to have to keep people out of the park.”
While the protestor’s were permitted to park inside the park, “Occupy Yosemite” ended up taking place right outside of the entrance. Holding signs and calling out to those entering the park, the Protest was received very positively by both the park staff and those passing through Yosemite. Many travelers honked their horns and took pictures and a few travelers stopped their cars and got out to show their support. While the “Occupy Yosemite” movement didn’t turn out how it was originally planned, at least some people decided to speak out about these beautiful parks not being open to the public due to the Government Shutdown.