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Park Releases Two Significant River Plans For Public Review

Yosemite National Park

National Park News

Yosemite National Park released two significant river plans for public review and comment last Tuesday. These important plans, the Merced River Plan and Tuolumne River Plan, encompass most of the developed areas within the park.  

The draft environmental impact statements are on the park’s website and are now open for public comment.  Comments will be accepted for the latter through Monday, March 18th, and for the former through Thursday, April 18th.  

In accordance with the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the park is required to release a management plan that adequately protects the two rivers.  The Merced River was designated wild and scenic by Congress in 1987 to preserve its free-flowing condition and to protect and enhance the values that made it unique; the Tuolumne River was designated wild and scenic in 1984 due to its rich natural, cultural, and scenic values.

The Merced River Plan presents the environmental analysis for six alternatives, including a “No Action” alternative, that the National Park Service is considering in accord with the National Environmental Policy Act. The park has identified alternative five – “Enhanced Visitor Experiences and Essential Riverbank Restoration” – as the preferred alternative.

The preferred alternative will:

  • protect and enhance the Merced River’s iconic resources in perpetuity and allow visitors the freedom to access Yosemite Valley by private vehicle, with expanded options for public transit;
  • reduce traffic congestion and crowding and provide organized and efficient parking for day use visitors;
  • expand the opportunity for overnight accommodations (camping and lodging) in Yosemite Valley;
  • maintain Yosemite’s positive effect on local and regional economies;
  • replace substandard, temporary, and aging employee housing currently in the park with code compliant residences that fit the historic character and significance of Yosemite; and
  • promote environmental sustainability and public safety by relocating facilities away from flood and rockfall hazards and on to more resilient, buildable sites. 

The Tuolumne River Plan presents an environmental analysis of four alternatives that the National Park Service is considering in accord with NEPA.  The park has identified alternative four – “Improving the Traditional Tuolumne Experience” – as the preferred alternative.

The preferred alternative seeks to retain a traditional Tuolumne experience while reducing development and making the visitor use more sustainable.  Specifically, the alternative will:

  • allow for the restoration of informal trails, replanting of native vegetation, and the restoration of natural hydrologic conditions;
  • continue to provide visitor access to the Tuolumne River;
  • repair damaged riparian areas near the river and in meadows; and
  • maintain the health and integrity of the river system while still providing access to the river without damaging sensitive areas.

For more information, click on the link below.


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