The superintendent of Yosemite National Park announced yesterday that he would retire rather than accept a transfer to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where he would have been called upon to oversee two controversial projects opposed by environmentalists and others. One project involves building a road across the largest undeveloped wilderness in the eastern U.S. to enable area residents to reach old, remote cemeteries; the other is a land-swap that would allow members of the Cherokee Tribe to develop 168 acres of meadowlands inside the southern park entrance. For decades, the proposed projects have pitted the likes of Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) against the National Park Service, environmentalists, and some community leaders. The Bush administration now appears poised to back the projects. David Mihalic, the Yosemite superintendent, opposed the projects 15 years ago when he was deputy superintendent of the Smokies park; now, he says, “It would be hard for me to go out and put a fresh face on it and say let’s have a discussion.”
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