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article imageOp-Ed: What you need to know about the fight over Yosemite National Park Special

By Gar Swaffar     Jan 18, 2016 in Travel
Yosemite National Park is poised to be eliminated. Several properties within Yosemite National Park are also poised to be eliminated. Not their actual existence, just the names by which they've been known for decades.
Yosemite National Park has been around for quite a while, since June 30, 1864 to be more precise, when President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Yosemite Grant — although it hadn't been officially designated a national park at that time, and wouldn't be until 1906.
Going forward in time quickly, the concessionaire system which was initially begun in 1899 by The Curry Company, has recently been affected by a change in the company which is administering the concessions in the park. That change is typically not a big transition for the National park Service to administer. The biggest change being who writes the checks to the Park service and who is held accountable for the concessions activities.
This year is different in a major way, though. DNCY - DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc. which is a subsidiary of Delaware North Companies, had held the concessions contract for more than 20 years, since 1993. This year a subsidiary of Aramark has garnered the contract, Yosemite Hospitality, LLC now has the contract to run the concessions in what has been known as Yosemite National Park for more than a century.
The problem occurring right now is the former concessionaire, DNCY, the subsidiary of Delaware North Company. During the past 20-plus years, DNCY applied for a received trademark status for the names of several of the most well-known sites in Yosemite. DNCY reportedly did the dirty deed without notifying the National Park Service and without indicating to the Park Service what the disposition of the trademarks would be if DNCY failed to continue as the concessionaire in Yosemite.
The result of the hullabaloo is that DNCY has valued the trademarks at $50 million U.S. Without a buyout of the trademarks, DNCY won't allow the use of the names. Some of the most iconic areas in Yosemite are being proposed to have their names changed.
Curry Village (remember those folks who started the concessions in 1899?) is to become Half Dome Village. The Wawona Hotel will be renamed Big Trees Lodge, The Ahwahnee will be The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls is slated to become Yosemite Valley Lodge, and Badger Pass Ski Area will be renamed Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area.
However, the end of the story hasn't been written yet.
The National Park Service is in what will likely be a long legal battle with Delaware North Companies and their subsidiary DNCY to reclaim all of the names, names which include even "Yosemite National Park"!
In the meantime, all of the signage, brochures, letterheads, and websites, are slated to be changed at a cost which will run in the millions. That doesn't even include the gateway communities such as Groveland here in Tuolumne County who will have to change the signage in the area, nor the Mariposa County communities who will have to do the same.
There is a better hope than the molasses-like legal system though to effect a change in the intransigence of Delaware North Companies. Entering stage left: Laurie Sylwester, a former Tuolumne County Supervisor and current Professor of Art at Columbia Community College, in Columbia, Ca. (Tuolumne Co.)
Sylwester has registered a petition at to suggest or force DNCY to release the trademarks and end the litigation threat for using what, in some people's opinion, amounts to a national legacy.
As of Sunday, January 17, 2016, there are 3674 signatures on the petition, many are from out of state, and even out of the country such as one lady from Australia. The irritation by people in so many states and countries at a corporation with such audacity as to try to claim a piece of America's heritage as their own property is a welcome sight. Greed of this sort must be stood up to, and the corporate shenanigans of this sort must be shown to be an unprofitable venture into an area of social awareness of what the company stands for.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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