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Yosemite inspires new Scots national park plan

It is 1200 square miles of deep valleys, grand meadows and ancient giant sequoia trees making a vast wilderness area, which has become one of the United States' premier attractions.

HUGE ASSET: Yosemite National Park has inspired plans to improve facilities, which were launched on the banks of Loch Lubnaig.
HUGE ASSET: Yosemite National Park has inspired plans to improve facilities, which were launched on the banks of Loch Lubnaig.

However, Yosemite National Park, one of 58 across the country, is now providing the benchmark for Scotland's first national park to emulate, according to those who run it.

They believe plans for five lochs hold the key to putting it properly on the world stage.

Loch Venachar, Loch Lubnaig, Loch Earn, Loch Achray and Loch Voil will see substantial investment and new facilities including small-scale campsites, new toilets, parking bays, barbecue stands, picnic benches, commercial kiosks, motorhome facilities and recycling points, helping transform Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

It already helps draw millions, many from abroad but also a growing and significant number of staycationers who choose to spend their holidays at home.

The national park authority has taken steps to restrict camping in specific areas on the east of Loch Lomond it felt were under pressure. But it has no plans to extend the restrictions anywhere else in the park.

However, its Five Lochs Visitor Management Plan does identify current issues that have an impact on the visitor experience around the other lochs including, litter, parking and damage to sites, and addresses how these issues will be tackled over the next five years.

The authority will invest £850,000 in the first stage of development and is working closely with local communities and public and private sectors for the next stages of investment.

Launching the plan on the banks of Loch Lubnaig, Bruce Crawford, the SNP MSP for Stirling and the Scottish Government's Minister for Parliamentary Business, said: "With over seven million visitor days spent in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park generating over £205 million to the local economy, the national park is a huge asset to Scotland and our rural communities.

"I am proud that we have some of the finest scenery in the world right on our doorstep and welcome the investment being made by the National Park Authority.

"By providing visitors with a rounded experience and enhancing popular sites with new facilities, our national parks can rival some of the world's top visitor destinations."

Linda McKay, chairwoman of the National Park Authority, said: "National park status across the globe stands as a quality benchmark, representing the best that countries have to offer. We are fortunate to have some of the most beautiful loch shore sites in Scotland and some of the most impressive landscapes in the world.

"The quality of what we offer our visitors needs to reflect the natural significance of this park.

"The Five Lochs Visitor Management Plan will help raise the standard of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park to be on a par with our US counterparts such as Yosemite where visitor needs are catered for and the tourism industry has a huge impact on the national economy."

Alistair Barclay, a member of the Visitor Management Group, said: "The Five Lochs Visitor Management Plan tackles issues such as litter and anti-social behaviour that have caused real problems in the area over the past few years."

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