Nature Danger Shuts Down Popular Yosemite Spot

Curry Village cabins go off limits

A big blow for families wanting to take a vacation at Yosemite. They'll have to find a new place to stay.

The National Park Service said Friday it will close part of Curry Village because an unstable cliff has created the potential for deadly rockfall.

  Park officials said 233 cabins will close permanently, or about one-third of the lodging units available at Curry Village.

 About half of the 618 cabins have been off-limits since a rockfall on the historic complex Oct. 8.

  Curry Village is the most family-friendly lodging in the park, consisting of cabins, stores and restaurants run by an outside company.

  An Associated Press story this week said federal geologists have warned for at least a decade that the granite face of Glacier Point above the village was dangerous.

Despite two deaths and an increase in the frequency and severity of the rockfalls since 1996, park officials had been reluctant to act.

  In the most recent incident last month, more than 150 youngsters were on field trips when the equivalent of 570 dump trucks of rock hit 17 cabins where they were staying and flattened one at 6:55 a.m.

Most of the children were out of the cabins at the time and no one was seriously injured.

  "The NPS can no longer treat each rockfall as an isolated incident," the park service said in a statement Friday.

"Instead, we must look at the area comprehensively and recognize that geologic processes that have shaped Yosemite Valley since the last glaciers receded will continue to result in rockfall."

  Curry Village has experienced more rockfalls during the past decade than any other place in the one-by-seven-mile Yosemite Valley.

U.S. Geological Survey and park records list as many as 46 since 1996 -- four times the number during the previous 139 years.

  Since 1999, 20 of the structures at Curry Village have been directly hit by boulders and many more have been damaged by flying rocks.

  "I'm glad nobody else had to die," said attorney Dugan Barr, upon hearing the news Friday.

Barr is suing Yosemite for wrongful death on behalf of the family of Peter Terbush, killed in 1999 in a rockfall behind Curry Village.

  Barr has been frustrated that Yosemite does not warn Curry Village visitors of potential rockfall danger.

  "If they'd just put up a sign on a bulletin board there, put up a piece of paper that says we've had rockfalls of these sizes on these dates, then they can let people make up their own minds about whether they want to go up there."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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