Tuolumne River Plan
The Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River, designated in 1984, includes 83 miles of the river on the western side of the Sierra Nevada in California. The National Park Service (NPS) manages 54 miles of the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River in Yosemite National Park beginning at its headwaters on the Dana and Lyell forks at the crest of the Sierra Nevada. The forks then converge and the river meanders lazily westward through Tuolumne Meadows before cascading down the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne and then entering the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir (which is not part of the national wild and scenic rivers system). Below O'Shaughnessy Dam, the river continues through Poopenaut Valley to the park boundary. The U.S. Forest Service manages the 29 miles of the Wild and Scenic Tuolumne River downstream of Yosemite National Park before it reaches Don Pedro Reservoir and flows through the Central Valley of California ultimately converging with the San Joaquin River.
Why a Comprehensive Management Plan?
The Wild and Scenic River Act (WSRA) requires comprehensive planning for a designated river to provide for the protection of free-flowing condition, water quality, and the outstandingly remarkable values that make the river eligible for inclusion. In addition, a comprehensive management plan (and its recommendations on land use and development) must fulfill the specific direction of the 1984 legislation designating the Tuolumne River as a component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River Final Comprehensive Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (Final Tuolumne River Plan/EIS) is the National Park Service's response to these requirements.
The Final Tuolumne River Plan/EIS will be the guiding document for protecting and enhancing river values and managing use and user capacity with the Tuolumne River corridor for the next 20 years and beyond. As such, it evaluates impacts and threats to river values and identifies strategies for protecting and enhancing these values over the long-term. The plan follows and documents planning processes required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and other legal mandates governing National Park Service decision-making. In accordance with these statutes, it was developed in consultation with members of the public, traditionally-associated American Indian tribes and groups, and other key stakeholder groups. The Final Tuolumne River Plan/EIS reflects a number of changes—discussed in following sections of this document—that were made in response to comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
What the Plan Includes
In accordance with WSRA, NEPA, NHPA, and other applicable statutes, the plan:
Did You Know?
In Yosemite Valley, dropping over 594-foot Nevada Fall and then 317-foot Vernal Fall, the Merced River creates what is known as the “Giant Staircase.” Such exemplary stair-step river morphology is characterized by a large variability in river movement and flow, from quiet pools to the dramatic drops of the waterfalls themselves.