Challenge of the Big Trees
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Chapter Nine:
New Directions and a Second Century


A New Plan For Grant Grove

By the beginning of the 1980s, with new development concept plans in place for Giant Forest/Lodgepole and Mineral King in Sequoia National Park and Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon, park planners turned their attention to the other remaining major developed area in the two parks—the Grant Grove Section of Kings Canyon. At Grant Grove, the concessioner still operated a tourist camp left over from the 1930s. Only nine cabins, all built before 1930, offered private baths. Forty-three additional rustic cabins completed the available accommodations, many of them with canvas tent roofs and no electricity. This situation satisfied neither the Park Service nor the new management of the concessioner, recently renamed Guest Services, Incorporated, (still GSI). By early 1982, as a part of the same effort that resulted in the new motel units in Giant Forest, GSI began pushing actively for permission to construct fifty new motel units an Grant Grant. In 1983, again following NEPA procedures, the NPS issued a draft Environmental Assessment and Development Concept Plan for Grant Grove. In addition to the required "no action" option, the draft contained two other options, one for enlarging accommodations from 52 units to 150 units, and one for maintaining the development level an 52 units, but replacing the existing substandard cabins with new facilities. The plan's "preferred alternative" was the facility enlargement option. [21] The proposal to triple visitor accommodations at Grant Grove resulted largely from the parks' long-time commitment to the concessioner to allow accommodations for up to 2,000 persons within Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. With a limit of 1,240 set for Clover Creek and with fewer than 100 allocated to the small lodge at Cedar Grove, the only remaining location for facility enlargement was at Grant Grove.

map of Grant Grove land acquisition
(click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

Once released, the draft plan generated public comment similar to that received in response to the Cedar Grove and Mineral King projects. Most comments came from existing users of the area, saying they liked its low-key, old-fashioned atmosphere. Only limited support appeared for facility enlargement, and some found the prospect completely unsatisfactory. The Sierra Club, in particular, objected to facility expansion on this scale and demanded that the government prepare a full environmental impact statement (EIS) before it proceeded with any facility replacement or enlargement. Ultimately, the NPS acceded to this demand and prepared the more thorough document, retaining as its preferred alternative the plan to expand facilities, but now in a dispersed arrangement. The Service released the draft EIS in August 1986, allowing more than two months for comment. A tabulation of the comments received showed a nearly even division between the preferred alternative for dispersed facility enlargement and no action whatsoever. When the time came for a decision, the NPS retained nearly all elements of its preferred alternative in its final plan. [22]

The mid-1980s decision to enlarge visitor facilities at Grant Grove and the muted public response to the plan stood in interesting contrast to the events of the previous decade in Giant Forest, Mineral King, and Cedar Grove. In part, the situation may have been explained by the truly miserable condition of the existing facilities at Grant Grove and perhaps also by the fact that the proposed accommodation enlargements had no effects on other uses of the area. Many park users may even have accepted the premise that it did not make sense to focus development in the two parks so heavily towards Sequoia, which had long had nearly five times as many visitor cabins for rent as Kings Canyon. Ultimately, the Park Service pushed through its plan for Grant Grove, compromising only through a promise to disperse the new facilities rather than concentrate them in over-large buildings. In this way the 2,000-person accommodations target set in the master plan was finally achieved, at least on paper. As of the end of the 1980s, however, no action had yet been taken to implement the Grant Grove plan, and none seemed likely until completion of work in Sequoia on the Clover Creek project.


Challenge of the Big Trees
©1990, Sequoia Natural History Association
dilsaver-tweed/chap9d.htm — 12-Jul-2004