Statement by Emily Schrepf, Central Valley Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association
“The National Parks Conservation Association commends Yosemite National Park’s scientists and staff for taking unprecedented steps in shaping its draft Merced River and Tuolumne River Plans. These draft plans balance protecting the natural resources that make Yosemite a crown jewel in our National Park System, and preserving the incredible recreational opportunities that make the park a destination from visitors near and far, as well as a national park that provides tremendous economic benefits for Central Valley communities.”
“While the National Parks Conservation Association is still reviewing the draft Merced River Plan and Tuolumne River Plan, we appreciate the park’s focus first and foremost on science-backed efforts and implementation of a robust monitoring plan to protect and restore the Merced River. This ranges from preventing unnecessary new development in the river corridor to adopting LEED Gold or higher standards, while maintaining the historic character and quality of Yosemite, with any new required construction efforts related to the plan - both of which were reflected in the environmentally preferred alternative of the draft plan, which is also the park’s preferred alternative.”
“With its more than four million annual visitors, we are also pleased by the enhanced public transportation options within Yosemite as well as to and from nearby communities. By managing traffic flow and coming up with environmentally sound alternatives for both vehicles and pedestrians, Yosemite National Park’s staff is helping to protect its natural resources from overuse, while enhancing visitors’ experiences.”
“Last spring, Yosemite National Park took an unrequired step by issuing a preliminary workbook of alternatives to help shape the draft Merced River Plan. By hosting over 40 public meetings, Superintendent Don Neubacher and the park staff demonstrated their commitment to educating and involving the public in this lengthy but crucial process.”
Merced River Plan: Background Info
In 1987, Congress provided a Wild and Scenic River designation to the Merced River, with the goal of preserving its free-flowing condition and protecting and enhancing the unique values that deemed it worthy of the designation – the highest level of protection awarded to a river.
In accordance with law and recent court order, the National Park Service developed a draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Merced River Plan, to provide guidance and protection for the 81 miles of river running within Yosemite National Park. The plan aims to guide future management of activities in and along the river corridor, with site-specific plans for protection in Yosemite Valley, El Portal, and Wawona.
Tuolumne River Plan: Background Info
In 1984, Congress inducted 83 miles of the Tuolumne River, including 54 miles within Yosemite National Park into the Wild and Scenic Rivers System. In accordance with the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the National Park Service released the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the portions of the river that travel through Yosemite National Park. The plan focuses on analyzing a range of approaches for managing the natural and cultural resources within the wild and scenic sections of the river, while considering impacts to the visitor experience and related facilities.
About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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