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Appeals Court Blocks Yosemite National Park Plan

A federal appeals court today blocked plans to protect Yosemite National Park´s scenic Merced River.

The decision immediately halted seven major projects already under way.

Environmental groups say the decision should stop the entire first phase of a $441 million plan to restore Yosemite Valley by replacing employee housing, lodging and campsites destroyed when the Merced River crested its banks in 1997.

But a park spokesman says the service hopes to resolve the issues quickly once the case is back before a federal judge in Fresno.

The plan sets guidelines for recreation, restoration and development along an 81-mile stretch of the pristine river. The appeals court rejected the plan — and ordered a halt while the service revises or prepares a new plan.

Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton will be coming to the Mother Lode region to celebrate Earth Day in Yosemite National Park. Norton will tour the Lower Yosemite Fall during her visit tomorrow.