Trimming in Yosemite will produce clearer views of landmarks

Yosemite Valley visitors don't generally gaze at El Capitan from the spot where Carleton E. Watkins took an 1868 photograph of the soaring cliff -- you can't see much now through a tangle of trees.

It's one of many iconic vistas in Yosemite National Park blocked by trees and brush. Indeed, officials say there are only a few places left with a view of both upper and lower Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfalls in North America.

Park officials are planning to restore historic views of Yosemite landmarks over the next several years by cutting trees and burning brush.

Yosemite and many Sierra Nevada locations are overgrown, largely because the government did not understand how fire naturally thinned the forest decades ago. For many years, most fires were doused quickly, allowing heavy growth of incense cedar and white fir.

Aside from providing more places to gawk, the clearing of vegetation might make roads safer by spreading out crowds over additional vista points, though that's not among the foremost goals of the project.

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