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Environment & Science

Battle looms over naming rights to Yosemite peak

Mammoth Peak reflected in Tioga Lake, Yosemite National Park.
Mammoth Peak reflected in Tioga Lake, Yosemite National Park.
Derek Wolfgram/flickr Creative Commons
Mammoth Peak reflected in Tioga Lake, Yosemite National Park.
Jessie Benton Fremont stands at her home in Los Angeles, 1892.
Courtesy of the USC Libraries – California Historical Society Collection (

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Just off Tioga Pass in Yosemite there's a 12,000 foot mountain with an identity crisis.

That's because, 2,700 miles away in Washington D.C. there's a political battle going on over whether to change the name of Mammoth Peak in Yosemite National Park to Mount Jessie Benton Fremont.

Yosemite residents thought that Fremont - a former political activist and Yosemite preservationist - deserved to be recognize for her environmental contributions. So, Congressman Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) authored a bill to change the name, which was recently approved by a House committee.

"Why they selected this particular peak is a little unclear to me," said Michael Doyle, who wrote about the story for McClatchy Newspapers.  "Mammoth Peak is a bit of a generic name and perhaps they’d figured there’d be less resistance to changing a name to something after an individual."

But they did run into resistance from the National Park Service. Officials there said they preferred not to name natural sites after individuals, and also noted that Fremont had no connection to the peak itself.

Another obstacle - the Democrat. "So far neither Senator Boxer nor Feinstein have taken a public position on this. If I were to guess I’d say it’s a bit of a long shot because it’s easier to not do things in Congress than to do things."

Let's say that it does make it... that the name is changed. What sort of impact would that have?

"Google maps would have to take account of that and some remapping..." said Doyle. "[And] climbers and hikers who are accustomed to going out to Mammoth Peak will have to accustom themselves to the new peak."

Whether they'll be climbing Mount Jessie Benton Fremont anytime soon is still up in the air.