The new Lawrence Halprin-designed access to the base of Yosemite Falls is, as Kimberly Edds reported, "easier" ["Yosemite Construction Creates Controversy," news story, June 1]. But it was not designed for day-trippers; it was meant to replace the previous dirt trail that prevented the elderly and people with disabilities from experiencing this treasure. The "floating" bridge design allows a meandering stream to meander, where it previously had to be channeled to prevent flooding. Mr. Halprin's design is a brilliant win-win that allows all people -- not just a hardy few -- to experience Yosemite Falls while still allowing natural processes to prevail.

The discarded plumbing parts and trenches that the article described are evidence that the National Park Service takes seriously the mandate to preserve this place -- they are remnants of leaky sewage lines built decades ago through fragile meadows but since relocated to roadways. Now those restored meadows teem with wildlife, and the Merced is free to ebb and flow as a wild river should.

The National Park Service has planned with the public for decades how best to protect Yosemite and yet allow people to experience it.


Missoula, Mont.

The writer was superintendent of Yosemite from 1999 to 2003.