Assemblymen Ken Cooley, Adam Gray and Frank Bigelow Introduce Legislation to Protect Historic California State Park Trademarks

ADAM GRAY

AUDIO OF ASSEMBLYMAN ADAM GRAY AT TODAY’S AB 2249 PRESS CONFERENCE –  “I’m offended by the situation in Yosemite…”

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA – Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) and Assemblyman Frank Bigelow (R-O’Neals) announced today AB 2249 in response to the U.S. National Park Service’s dispute with its concessionaire at Yosemite National Park. The current concessionaire has operated at the Park since 1993, but after losing its bid to renew its contract, claimed the names of several landmarks-which have existed for many decades more than the current contract-as its intellectual property. Unable to resolve the dispute, the National Park Service has re-named several historic landmarks.

On March 1, the Ahwahnee Hotel will become the “Majestic Yosemite Hotel,” Curry Village will become “Half Dome Village,” the Wawona Hotel will become “Big Trees Lodge” and Badger Pass Ski Area will become the “Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area.”

AB 2249 ensures nothing of the same occurs in a California state park. To keep concessionaires from co-opting state landmarks, this bill adds to state law a prohibition on concessionaires claiming ownership of a name associated with a California state park and declares such a claim disqualifies any bidders from future contracts if they attempt such trademark claims.

“AB 2249 clarifies that in our state parks, an awarded food or lodging contract does not entitle the concessionaire to any legal claim of a trademark,” said Assemblyman Cooley. “Moreover, this bill would disqualify them from further consideration as a bidder if they made any such statement.”

“Our state parks are not like football or baseball stadiums, trading sponsorship deals to the highest bidder,” said Assemblyman Gray. “The people of California protect and preserve these landmarks as a part of our history, and it is the people of California who own their storied names.”

“I have the privilege of representing Yosemite National Park and know first-hand how treasured these landmarks are by the people of our state,” said Assemblyman Bigelow. “I’m proud to co-author AB 2249 to protect historic sites up and down California.”

California’s Yosemite National Park is on the short list of America’s most magnificent parks and is filled with historic landmarks built decades ago-some date back to the 19th century. The Ahwahnee Hotel was built in the 1920s in a valley meadow with the sheer granite of Half Dome as its backdrop; its filing for the National Register of Historic Places explains its name comes from a local Native American word meaning “deep, grassy meadow.” Nearby Curry Village is named after the couple who established a summer camp there in 1899.  The Wawona Hotel, in the southwest corner of Yosemite National Park, was originally constructed 140 years ago, in 1876. All three were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in the 1970s.

“Our state parks showcase the beauty and incredible history of California, and should always serve the interests of the people,” said Assemblyman Cooley. “This bill is a small but vital act to protect our parks for many future generations of Californians to enjoy.”

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