Merced River Plan Feedback Requested

Merced River reflecting Half Dome

Merced River reflecting Half Dome

Change is in the air, and you can help shape the future of Yosemite. With the Merced River Plan the National Park Service is drafting the blueprint for decisions that will dictate the way the park within the river corridor, including most of the floor of Yosemite Valley will be managed in the upcoming decades. Would you like to see more camping or less? What do you think of the transportation and parking options in the park? More? Less? Are there too many people, or should it be easier to get in? If you have ever said to yourself, “I wish they would do X…” about the park, now is the time to make your voice heard. As they say, speak now…

The name for the recently released document is quite a mouthful, “Alternative Concepts Workbook for the Comprehensive Management Plan for the Merced Wild and Scenic River Plan” (MRP), but more simply, it is the first chance for all of us to see what the park has come up with after the initial round of looking at scientific findings and public comments.

As the NPS says in their official press release, “The MRP will guide future decisions about transportation, camping, parking, lodging, employee housing and other administrative uses, restoration, and set user capacity – most notably within Yosemite Valley – and will establish the management strategy and actions for the next 20 years by modifying the General Management Plan.” The planning team has come up with five different concepts ranging from those that emphasize a self-reliant experience, to those that aim to provide more services and experiences for people visiting the park. For example, the number of campsites are increased in 3 of the 5 concepts, while the number of lodging is decreased in all but one. Which alternatives do you prefer? Do you see any problems with any of the alternatives? Have they overlooked something? They are looking for your feedback.

Once we’ve had a chance to look at this draft, the park service will further refine these ideas into the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which will also be open to public comment. To find out more about what is happening with the MRP, you can download the workbooks, read more on the NPS planning page, or attend a workshop, site visit, or webinar.

The Workshop schedule is:
• Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Yosemite Valley Auditorium
• Wednesday, April 4, 2012, 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Golden Gate Room, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
• Thursday, April 12, 2012, 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., El Portal Community Hall
• Friday, April 13, 2012, 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Wawona Community Hall

Site Visits will provide an opportunity to discuss proposed actions “on-the-ground” at the locations where they may be implemented. They will be conducted in conjunction with the Workshops outlined above. Visitors are asked to wear comfortable walking shoes.

The Site Visit schedule is:
• Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., meet at the Yosemite Valley Auditorium
• Thursday, April 12, 2012, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., meet at the El Portal Community Hall
• Friday, April 13, 2012, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., meet at the Wawona Community Hall

There will also be two webinars conducted that will review the draft alternatives. These will be held on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at 10:00 a.m., and on Wednesday, April 11, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. People can participate in the webinars by logging into

Insider Look at Yosemite with a “Lodging and Learning” Package

If you know what to look for, a couple of boulders on a conspicuous little hill can tell you the stories of glaciers, and the creation of Yosemite Valley. If you know what to listen for, a bird’s song can alert you to what is going on in the forest around you, and tune you in to the tempo of the seasons. If you’re looking for an experience that gives you the opportunity to learn about Yosemite from an insider’s perspective, sign up for a Lodging and Learning Package.

Yosemite Conservancy naturalist

Discover Yosemite birds with Yosemite Conservancy naturalists

This new package, introduced by DNC and Yosemite Conservancy in February, allows visitors to experience a day and a half with a Yosemite Conservancy naturalist, and includes accommodations for two nights at The Ahwahnee, Yosemite Lodge or Curry Village and a group picnic lunch. Ramble through scenic Yosemite Valley locations and learn how this spectacular valley was formed, about the people that have lived here in the past like Native Americans or the environmentalist, John Muir. Get to know the trees, plants and animals of the park, and why fire is good. Your guide in these explorations is a Yosemite Conservancy naturalist like Pete Devine with years of experience in the area.

Although the program is new for Yosemite, we’re already starting to hear rave reviews. Our recent guest, Heidi G. had wonderful things to say about the program she experienced in February.

“My expectations were more than satisfied. Pete was so knowledge[able] and friendly that you felt like a close friend after a few minutes. If I were to picture the perfect instructor Pete Devine would be my image. Pete was enthusiastic and so good about answering all our questions. The visual aids really added to his funny, exciting commentary. He brought Yosemite’s history to life. Pete also allowed us to simply follow his easy pace and quietly absorb the majesty of the Park without worrying about where we were going…..sheep following our shepherd, grazing on the beauty!” “One of the BEST experiences in all of my years of travel!”

“Lodging and Learning” is a three-day, two-night package available March 18, April 8, 15 and 29 and May 13 so far. Because the program has been so well-received, we’re looking forward to announcing even more dates soon. Visit the Lodging and Learning page on our website for more details and to sign up.