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Final Tuolumne River Plan Released

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Yosemite, CA – Yosemite National Park will release the final Tuolumne River Plan tomorrow. The plan affects the 54 miles of the river that flows through the park.

Yosemite Chief of Planning Kathleen Morse says, “We really listened to the public. We had 120 meeting during the course of developing the plan. The major concern that we heard was that people wanted thing to stay pretty much the same.”

There will be a 30-day waiting period after the plans release.  Morse explains then a record of decision will go out and work can begin to implement the plan. One of the main focuses of the plan is the Tuolumne Meadows.

Morse adds, “What you’ll see is some Tuolumne Meadow restoration occurring right off the bat. There will be some trails being removed, some visitor’s access being rerouted and actively working on the ecological component of the plan right away this summer as soon as we can move forward.”

The plan calls for the elimination of shoulder parking, a new parking lot, better traffic flow and safety for the public.

Here are Park Official’s specific highlights of the plan:

Protecting the Tuolumne River’s Health and Other Resources:

• Restoring 171 acres of meadow and riparian habitat and 2 acres of upland habitat
• Directing river access to resilient areas and restoring native riparian vegetation
• Removing or mitigating the effects of trails and roads through meadows by re-routing trails, repairing culverts to improve hydrologic connectivity, and fencing restoration areas
• Removing roadside parking and replacing it with designated parking lots in more durable upland areas nearby
• Consolidating NPS and concessioner stables to minimize the development footprint
• Upgrading the wastewater treatment plant to tertiary treatment
• Implementing water conservation measures in Tuolumne Meadows, including upgrading water distribution lines and fixtures to be more efficient, installing water meters, and limiting water withdrawals from the river to 10% of low flows
• Relocating all development from within 100 feet of the river, including 21 campsites at the Tuolumne Meadows Campground
• Reducing the impacts of the Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp by reducing packstock resupply trips, limiting water consumption and associated wastewater production, and replacing flush toilets with composting toilets
• Reducing pack stock use and associated impacts on trails in the river corridor by discontinuing commercial day rides
• Designating stock campsites in Lyell Canyon and limiting stock access to times when meadows are “range-ready” based on snowfall and rain patterns

Preserving and Enhancing Recreational Opportunities:

• The Tuolumne Meadows Campground will be reconfigured while remaining at its current capacity of 329 sites and 7 group sites. Primary improvements will include upgrading and adding restrooms, repairing the campground roads, delineating camping spots to reduce resource damage, relocating the entrance road and kiosk out of the floodplain, and relocating campsites away from the river
• The Tuolumne Lodge will remain at its current capacity with some facilities relocated away from the river and a new shower house provided for guests and members of the public
• A new visitor contact station and trailhead parking lot will be built in a central location on the south side of Tioga Road to replace the existing visitor center in Tuolumne Meadows. The new facility will offer easy access to the Parsons Memorial Lodge trail across the meadows. A new trail will be provided along Tioga Road to connect the visitor contact station with the campground, store and grill
• The existing visitor center will be converted to administrative uses and trailhead parking for Cathedral Lakes, with a connecting trail constructed
• The Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp will continue its operation at a slightly reduced capacity
• Private whitewater boating will be allowed on a trial basis through the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, from Pothole Dome to Pate Valley, within the current wilderness permit quota system
• Picnic areas will be improved and expanded at Lembert Dome and at the store and grill

Managing Visitor Use to Ensure High Quality Visitor Experience:

• Visitation levels will be limited to those seen over the past several years with a maximum of 4,727 visitors to the Tuolumne River corridor. Day-use capacity will be managed by controlling parking supply and public transit use and through ongoing monitoring. Overnight-use capacity will be managed through wilderness permits, reservation systems for lodging and camping, and associated parking supply
• To improve scenic vistas, reduce congestion, and address safety hazards, roadside parking along Tioga Road will be removed. Parking will instead be directed to designated parking lots in less visible and less sensitive upland areas nearby with a limited number of scenic viewing pullouts retained. The total amount of parking will increase slightly


Click here for to view the complete 1,300 page plan.