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Restoration Efforts Continue At Pothole Thumb Meadow In Yosemite

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Yosemite, CA– Pothole Thumb Meadow, a 5.65-acre groundwater-supported wetland located at the westernmost end of Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite, is undergoing restoration efforts. Yosemite’s wilderness restoration team took action during the fall of 2022 to address a significant issue—a large gully that had been impacting the meadow’s health.

The origins of this gully date back to the late 1800s and can be attributed to various human activities, including non-native sheep grazing, ditching, road building, horseback riding, and camping. Initially, a small nick point formed, and as water flowed over it, it gained speed, eroding the soil. Over time, continuous erosion caused the nick point to migrate upstream, resulting in a gully that is now up to 5 feet deep and 15 feet wide. The impact on the meadow is substantial, as gullies lower the water table and gradually transform the ecosystem from wetland to upland. This shift reduces carbon storage capacity and degrades potential habitat for the federally threatened Yosemite toad.

To restore this delicate ecosystem, last year, heavy machinery and field crews were employed to fill the gully with local soil, restore the meadow’s natural topography, replant salvaged vegetation, introduce nearly 10,000 seedlings, and install natural erosion fabric. This year’s project will follow a similar process, addressing a smaller gully adjacent to Tioga Road and restoring an old portion of the Pothole Dome trail within the meadow.

To restore this delicate ecosystem, last year, heavy machinery and field crews were employed to fill the gully with local soil, restore the meadow’s natural topography, replant salvaged vegetation, introduce nearly 10,000 seedlings, and install natural erosion fabric. This year’s project will follow a similar process, addressing a smaller gully adjacent to Tioga Road and restoring an old portion of the Pothole Dome trail within the meadow. Those interested in observing the project and enjoying the beauty of Tuolumne Meadows can take a walk up Pothole Dome for a vantage point.

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