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    Yosemite

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Tuolumne River Plan - Updates

 
Tuolumne Public Site Visit August 2006

Tuolumne Meadows Public Site Visit - 2006

NPS Photo

OCTOBER 2011

It is hard to believe that summer in the high country has come to an end! But as the days get shorter, the signs are unmistakable that winter is coming: snow on the peaks, boarded up buildings, fewer visitors, and staff migrating to lower elevations. With a late and wet spring season, summer in Tuolumne Meadows was a short but enjoyable and busy one.

Those of you that have followed these updates over the years may have been anticipating the Draft Tuolumne River Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be open for review this past summer. We had intended this, but the team is currently at work reaffirming the analysis and refining sections. We are taking another look at the monitoring strategy to ensure that it is complete, logical in its presentation, and gives us the results we need to ensure we are protecting the river and its values. We have also learned from the recent summer 2011 visitation more specifically what needs to be addressed and studied in terms of visitor use and associated needs to manage traffic, parking, and overall circulation, and are making some appropriate adjustments.

However, it is still possible to get a leg up on your review of the Tuolumne River Plan! Last spring we posted to the web the Tuolumne River Plan's chapter on "River Values and Baseline Conditions," which is a foundational platform for all proposed actions. By acquainting yourself with this baseline conditions section, you will be well versed in the rationale and range of issues that will be explored in the plan's programs and proposed actions. The Tuolumne River Plan will take a three-pronged approach to actions that will protect and enhance the values of the Tuolumne River for the next 20 years. It will contain:

  • A programmatic approach, including a restoration program, user capacity program, and monitoring program
  • A host of corridor-wide actions that are common to all alternatives
  • A range of site-specific alternatives that explore different types of visitor experiences, use levels, and locations for facilities, all of which are protective of river values.

Stay tuned! We are now hoping to have the draft plan out for review next summer (2012). To be notified by email once the Tuolumne River Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement is released, sign up for our electronic newsletter.





MARCH 2011

Spring is quickly approaching! And while Tuolumne is currently blanketed in snow, my mind is up there everyday as we think through and continue to make progress on the Tuolumne River Plan. Thanks to those of you who have sent me emails sharing what you love about Tuolumne, especially during this wintery season.

As I noted in November, we are on track to release the plan for public comment in late spring, most likely May. And within the next couple of weeks, I anticipate releasing the chapter of the document devoted to the Tuolumne River Values and Baseline Conditions. This chapter provides the foundational platform of the entire plan. In particular it examines,

  • What are the outstandingly remarkable values of the Tuolumne River?
  • What do we know about their condition (in addition to water quality and free-flow), both at time of designation in 1984 and today?
  • Based on those conditions, what are the management concerns that signal the need for action(s) to protect and enhance those values?

The rest of the plan flows from this chapter, informing not only the actions that will be common throughout the plan, as well as the range of alternatives. Given that the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act requires us to not just PROTECT (maintain high quality conditions) but also ENHANCE (take corrective action to improve conditions), all of the actions proposed in the Tuolumne River Plan connect back to this baseline examination.

The interdisciplinary planning team for the TRP (see October 2006 posting) has spent the better part of the last year not only finalizing data collection on baseline conditions, but tracing and reaffirming that all of the proposed actions tie back to the protection of the river. In total, the Tuolumne River Plan represents a comprehensive strategy that will inform park managers and establish work priorities in the river corridor for the next 20 years.

We are releasing this chapter in advance of the plan as it provides an important snap shot of where we are today and where the plan needs to take us in our future management of the river. I hope that it provides you with a clear introduction into the rationale behind actions to be proposed in the plan.

Other ongoing activities
Since my November update, here are some other activities that have been underway:

DECEMBER 2010: Preparation of an administrative review Draft Tuolumne River Plan/EIS

JANUARY 2011: Final internal staff review of the administrative Draft TRP/EIS Briefing to the leadership of the NPS Pacific West Regional Office

FEBRUARY-MARCH: Consolidation of staff comments and incorporation of revisions Establish public involvement strategy for release of Draft TRP/EIS

When the plan is released this spring...
To minimize the need for printing, we encourage members of the public to review the Draft Tuolumne River Plan/EIS electronically. The draft plan will be available for you to review and comment online through the NPS Planning Environment Public Comment (PEPC) website. We will have CD-ROMs and a very limited supply of hard copy versions. If you would like to request a CD or printed version, please send me an email with your name and physical address BY APRIL 22.




November 2010

After five years of study and stakeholder involvement, the Draft Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (Tuolumne River Plan/EIS) will be released in spring of 2011.

In January, prior to the release of the draft plan and EIS, we will post to the park website the baseline conditions being used as a platform for decision making. This portion of the plan provides the snapshot in time of not only what the river values are, but documents overall conditions in the river corridor and implications for future management. Sharing these baseline river conditions in advance of the plan will give members of the public an understanding of river conditions as they stand today and specific issues that will be explored in the Tuolumne River Plan's range of alternatives.

When it is released this spring, the Draft Tuolumne River Plan/EIS will contain

  • The management elements required by the WSRA, including boundaries, classifications, river values, free-flowing condition (Section 7) determination process
  • A description of the river values, including water quality, free-flowing condition, and the outstandingly remarkable values that make the Tuolumne worthy of special protection under WSRA
  • A user capacity program
  • An ongoing monitoring program
  • A restoration program
  • Management actions needed to protect and enhance the Tuolumne's river values
  • Alternatives that explore a range of use levels, types and levels of facilities, and types of visitor experiences that are protective of the river

Also in preparation for the release of the plan, we are developing better ways to share information with you through social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube), as well as web streaming of periodic project manager reports and webinar-based meetings. Stay tuned!


October 2010

Tuolumne River Plan Community Conversations
October 26, Groveland Community Hall, 11:00am-2:00pm

All interested members of the public are invited to attend the next in an ongoing series of meetings regarding the upcoming Tuolumne River Plan and how it may affect local communities. I will provide an update on the plan's progress, and Maryellen Tuttell, socioeconomist from Dowl/HKM, will discuss the various methods used to conduct socioeconomic analysis. Participants will be invited to review and provide input on the plan's draft Affected Environment section on gateway communities, as well as bring and share any additional studies or information that would be helpful to present in the plan (expected to be released for public comment in spring 2011). Take a look at the draft agenda. The Groveland Community Hall is located along Highway 120 in downtown Groveland. Coffee will be served beginning at 10:30am. For questions, feel free to contact me by calling 209/379-1175 or email kristina_rylands@nps.gov.



September 2010


Public Meetings in Tuolumne Meadows cancelled:
September 17 and 18



August 2010

Public Meetings in Tuolumne Meadows:
August 20, September 10, 11, 17 and 18
Download the agenda
[200 kb PDF]

This summer, I'll be providing a series of updates on the Tuolumne River Plan on August 20, September 10, 11, 17, and 18 at Parsons Memorial Lodge in Tuolumne Meadows. After nearly 6 years of research and study, as well as involvement from the tribes, public, gateway communities, and other federal agencies, we are getting ready to release the Tuolumne River Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement for public comment in late 2010 or early 2011. Join me to learn what makes the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River stand apart from other rivers in the nation, and the actions the National Park Service is considering to help protect and enhance river values into the future.

All presentations take place at Parsons Memorial Lodge in Tuolumne Meadows from 1:00-3:00pm on August 20, September 10, 11, 17, and 18 . There will be a slide presentation followed by a short stroll by the river. Bring water, sunscreen, and sturdy walking shoes. Allow 30 minutes to walk to the Lodge from Tioga Road or other parking areas. All participants will receive a free Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River postcard, and kids of all ages can spread the word for how to protect the river as part of the "Tuolumne River Giver" coloring contest. (Everybody--and the river--wins!)


June 2010

The TRP core team is busy refining the range of alternatives. In response to internal review comments and new direction from park management, the Tuolumne River Plan will focus on those actions needed to protect and enhance the outstandingly remarkable values for which the river was designated wild and scenic in 1984.


Those of you who have been following this project know that the previous scope for the river plan was to include detailed site planning as part of a TUOLUMNE MEADOWS PLAN. While a range of actions in Tuolumne Meadows will be explored, those not directly tied to the river will be analyzed in a separate site-specific planning document, to be prepared sometime after completion and approval of the Tuolumne River Plan.

According to the current schedule, we hope to have a draft plan available for public review and comment by the end of 2010.In order to minimize the number of printed copies of the document, we are working toward making it widely available electronically. So far, we anticipate having it posted to the web and CD versions will be available upon request.

This summer, check back to our website for the latest refined outstandingly remarkable values for the Tuolumne River.


April 2010

Nearly 1,700 staff comments were received during January's NPS internal staff review of the Tuolumne River Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The Tuolumne River Plan core team is currently refining the outstandingly remarkable values and the plan's range of alternatives.


Public release of the draft TRP had been anticipated for summer 2010. However, that timeframe will shift to allow the new superintendent and management team to thoroughly understand the range of issues and actions proposed in the plan.


March 2010

Last summer and fall, we shared with the public our draft alternatives, including some of the components that may factor into the preferred alternative. During public meetings up in Tuolumne Meadows as well as in the communities of Groveland and Lee Vining, we heard some great feedback that was brought back to the planning team.

Since then, we have refined our range of alternatives and conducted a staff-wide review of what is now the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Tuolumne River Plan/Draft EIS, for short).



February 2010

The Tuolumne River Plan continues to move forward and we anticipate having a draft document for public review this summer.

Last summer and fall, we shared with the public our draft alternatives, including some of the components that may factor into the preferred alternative. During public meetings up in Tuolumne Meadows as well as in the communities of Groveland and Lee Vining, we heard some great feedback that was brought back to the planning team.

Since then, we have refined our range of alternatives and conducted a staff-wide review of what is now the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive Management Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Tuolumne River Plan/Draft EIS, for short).

In order to minimize the number of printed copies of the document, we are working toward making it widely available electronically. So far, we anticipate having it posted to the web and CD versions will be available upon request. Please feel free to send me an email if you would like a CD.


July 8, 2009

TUOLUMNE RIVER PLAN SUMMER WORKSHOPS

As part of the continuing public involvement process for the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive Management Plan (Tuolumne River Plan), all interested members of the public are invited to attend two summer planning workshops. Each will take place at Parsons Lodge in Tuolumne Meadows from 11am-3pm. Come find out the latest about planning for Tuolumne Meadows and the entire 54-mile river corridor within Yosemite National Park. The Draft Tuolumne River Plan/Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be released for public comment in January 2010. Bring a lunch and be prepared for a 30-minute walk from the parking area to Parsons Lodge.

July 17 HOT TOPICS IN THE TRP
Learn about the latest issues currently being discussed by the planning team and park managers. Share your ideas!

August 21 SNEAK PEAK OF THE PREFERRED ALTERNATIVE
Come and learn about the Tuolumne River Plan's range of draft alternatives, including a sneak peak at the agency's preferred option.

HIGH COUNTRY OPEN HOUSES IN TUOLUMNE MEADOWS
Save the Saturdays of July 18 and August 22 and come up to Tuolumne Meadows as the NPS hosts two open houses dedicated to planning efforts focused on the high country. Displays will be set up outside the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center and project managers will be on hand to answer questions. Each open house will also feature an opportunity for field visits to the various project areas. Additional details will be announced in a future e-newsletter. Projects will include:

  • Tuolumne River Plan
  • Tenaya Lake Area Plan
  • Tioga Road Trailheads Project
  • High Elevation Aquatic Ecosystem Recovery and Stewardship Plan
  • Parkwide Communications Data Network Project

For more information about each of these projects, visit online at www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/currentplans.htm.



April 22, 2009

"Fix what needs fixing, but otherwise preserve what is special about Tuolumne."

No matter where we go, no matter who we talk to during the planning process, this is a common refrain. Those of us on the Tuolumne River Plan team have not only taken it to heart, it has become the central theme throughout all of our deliberations. And as someone who has loved Tuolumne since my rock-hopping kidhood, I am so very privileged to bring your voices along with us as we make our way through the process.

With all that has been going on with the Tuolumne River Plan over the course of the last year, I'm afraid I have been remiss in keeping my blog up-to-date. Much has happened so let me catch you up:

RESULTS FROM 2008 TUOLUMNE PLANNING WORKBOOK. Last summer, we released the Tuolumne Planning Workbook where we shared our range of alternatives and preliminary site plan concepts for Tuolumne Meadows. At that time, we asked for members of the public to provide us with comments on this early range of alternatives--AND--give us guidance on those elements that you would like to see carried forward into the preferred alternative. By the fall, the TRP team had received over 300 responses, nearly all of which are posted here on our TRP website

(http://www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/2008wrkbk.htm).
We took this feedback with us into deliberations and have been using it over the course of the year to firm up the range of action alternatives.

WHAT WE HEARD. Many people appreciated the ability to provide comments while the plan was in development. We heard that people liked the idea of protecting the meadow by pulling roadside parking off the Tioga Road. Folks want to maintain opportunities for camping in Tuolumne. And while many expressed appreciation for the store and grill, we were admonished not to turn the area into "greater downtown Tuolumne." Given the fiscal climate, one respondent pleaded, "Whatever happens, make it simple and easy without spending billions!" Common to nearly all of the letters, faxes, emails, and comment forms received was this one from a long-time Tuolumne visitor: "The future of this unique environment should be handled so future generations can enjoy Tuolumne Meadows."

ONE COMMENT CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. In March, I enjoyed a conversation with a gentleman at one of our monthly open houses, and he mentioned that he had submitted comments last summer. Always curious, I asked him what he suggested. It turns out; he presented an idea about the possible placement of the visitor center function--an idea that had not been explored in the other site plan concepts. It was a creative solution that the team felt should be brought forward. In the NPS, good planning is not necessarily about voting for the most popular options, but rather pulling together good ideas that work in concert to protect what is special about national parks.

WHAT (AND WHO) IS NEW? Our schedule had us on track to release the Draft Tuolumne River Plan and Environmental Impact Statement during the summer of 2009. However, by the end of the year, Yosemite National Park had seen not only the retirement of superintendent, Michael Tollefson, but also that of our deputy superintendent and the departure of several division chiefs. Given this transition in leadership, the Tuolumne River Plan has extended its schedule by six months in order to allow time for the new superintendent to get on board. During this time the team is deepening its examination of issues such as employee housing, stock use in the river corridor, water conservation, campground improvements, targeted restoration activities, and more.

DRAFT PLAN TO BE RELEASED EARLY 2010. To date, our schedule has us releasing the Draft Tuolumne River Plan/EIS to the public in January 2010. While we will NOT be releasing a workbook this summer, we will continue to conduct public events and workshops in Tuolumne to keep you updated on our progress and provide forums for sharing your ideas. Along the way, we hope to continue to post planning information, schedules, and updates to our alternatives on our website. As I mentioned to someone in a recent team meeting, "Wouldn't it be great if by the time the draft plan was released for public comment, folks would already be mostly familiar with what's in it?" That is my goal. More soon...



May 23, 2008
Kristina Rylands
NPS Project Manager for Tuolumne Planning


I'm pleased to announce that we have scheduled the following summer public events highlighting the Tuolumne River and Tuolumne planning process.

Mark your calendars for the following:

June 21
Workshop 10am-2pm
Parsons Lodge in Tuolumne Meadows
The purpose of this workshop is to provide an update on where we are in the planning process, unveil the range of draft alternatives (including the preferred alternative), and give a preview of preliminary concepts for actions being considered in Tuolumne Meadows. All of this will be documented in the upcoming 2008 Tuolumne Planning Workbook, to be available for public review and comment July 4-September 15.

July 18
Workshop 1-5pm
Parsons Lodge in Tuolumne Meadows
Roll up your sleeves and participate in a Planner-for-a-Day Workshop devoted to discussing site concepts in Tuolumne Meadows. We will be looking for your feedback on our early preliminary concepts. This input will be considered by the NPS planning team as we enter into the Tuolumne Meadows site planning phase of the project this fall.

August 9
Slideshow 2-3:30pm
Parsons Lodge in Tuolumne Meadows
As part of the Parsons Lodge Summer Series and in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, I will be giving a slideshow and informational presentation on Yosemite's wild and scenic rivers, and the nation's Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

Detailed agendas for the June and July workshops will be posted to the park's website in the coming weeks at www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/trp.htm.

Hope to see you in Tuolumne!



April 1, 2008
Kristina Rylands
NPS Project Manager for Tuolumne Planning

CANCELLED: APRIL 12 Tuolumne Public Planning Workshop
As a result last week's ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Yosemite's Revised Merced River Plan user capacity litigation, our April 12th Tuolumne planning workshop has been CANCELLED. Rest assured, the Tuolumne planning effort is NOT being delayed. However, park management is currently assessing the implications of the court's decision on the Tuolumne River Plan. The workshop will be rescheduled, and I will post a new date just as soon as it lands on the calendar.

In advance of the workshop, I had intended to post our range of draft Tuolumne River Plan alternatives. That, too, will need to wait until we receive further guidance from the management team.

To learn more about the Merced River Plan litigation--and to read the most recent court decision-- visit the park's website at: www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/litigation.htm



March 2008

Kristina Rylands

NPS Project Manager for Tuolumne Planning

APRIL 12 Next Tuolumne Public Planning Workshop

I am pleased to announce that APRIL 12 will be the date for our next Tuolumne public planning workshop. It will take place from 9am to 4pm in the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center auditorium. (Be sure to let the gate rangers know that you are attending this session and your entrance fee will be waived.)

This will be an exciting opportunity for us--and a "first" for a major Yosemite planning effort. A portion of this workshop session will be to present our draft preferred alternative for the Tuolumne River Plan. (See my TRP blog entry below about this process.) But the majority of the day will be spent turning our attention to the Tuolumne Meadows Plan and exploring some initial concepts for programs and placement of facilities, based on public and staff scoping comments. This summer, a range of preliminary concepts will be released for public comment.

Please RSVP to me (kristina_rylands@nps.gov or phone 209-379-1175), as it helps me keep a running list of folks to contact should there be (heaven forbid!) any unforeseen changes.



February 2008
Kristina Rylands
NPS Project Manager for Tuolumne Planning

March 8th Public Workshop Rescheduled for April
Tuolumne River Plan Preferred Alternative Identified

For February's blog entry, I have some good news and some bad news. First, the bad news is that--regrettably--we must postpone our March 8th public planning workshop and reschedule it for April (date to be announced). The reason for shifting the workshop is to allow us more time to prepare materials that will be vital to our kick-off of the Tuolumne Meadows Plan. We understand that making a Saturday Yosemite visit to attend a workshop is no easy task for our participants, and we want to be fully prepared to be respectful of and make the most of your time.

The good news (and a driver of the bad news above) is that we have identified a Tuolumne River Plan preferred alternative. After a 3-day intensive internal workshop involving our dedicated Tuolumne planning team and other NPS park staff, we have reached this important milestone in the Tuolumne River Plan process. The workshop concluded just yesterday (Feb. 26), and as I write this, we are beginning to pull together the mapping and narrative descriptions that will become Alternative 5 (which will accompany the other four action alternatives). We are currently developing this alternative so that it can be ready to present to the public at the public workshop in April. (My intention is to post it to the web the week prior.)

I'm often asked, How do you come up with a preferred alternative? I'm sure that there are some who believe it involves smoke-filled rooms, but in reality it is a methodical, heads-down process.

As part of an environmental impact statement for a programmatic plan like the Tuolumne River Plan, the preferred alternative is the one that the National Park Service believes would best fulfill its statutory mission and responsibilities. Before selecting the draft preferred alternative, the planning team--including the park superintendent--review the analysis results, public comments, and management policies to ensure that the preliminary alternatives accurately reflect information prepared during the planning effort. Once we determined that we had a solid range of Tuolumne River Plan alternatives, we conducted a value analysis process to compare the alternatives equally against the primary issues identified during our scoping process (which took place in summer 2007 and summer 2008).

The process we used--known as Choosing By Advantages (CBA)--provided the analysis framework. This method establishes a single scale that compares the importance or benefits of each alternative. The CBA focuses on the differences between the alternatives and determines how important those advantages are. What could be an advantage for one alternative, may be a disadvantage in another. The CBA process helps sort out and weigh the magnitude of advantages. Sometimes, one alternative rises to the top. But what often results is that the CBA helps determine the elements of each alternative that give the overall greatest advantage, and those can then be brought together to create an entirely new alternative.

Before heading into the workshop, our team identified the attributes of each alternative that were truly different among the Tuolumne River Plan's alternatives (including no action). Those attributes were then weighed for their relative advantages from the perspective of 4 factors: natural resources, cultural resources, visitor experience, and park operations. By the end of three very full days of discussion and deliberation, the team had identified elements taken from the current range of four action alternatives to create a fifth--the preferred alternative.

If you would like to know more about this process, check out Chapter 11 of the NPS Planning Sourcebook at http://planning.nps.gov/document/GMPSourcebook_OctDraft.pdf.

For more information on the April workshop, check back at www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/trp.htm or drop me an email (kristina_rylands@nps.gov). I will keep you posted and send out an announcement once we have a firm date and location.



January 2008
Kristina Rylands
NPS Project Manager for Tuolumne Planning


TUOLUMNE RIVER PLAN PROGRESS
In fall 2007, the NPS planning team considered over 300 public comments received during last summer's review of the Tuolumne Planning Workbook's preliminary concepts. What resulted was a range of alternatives for the draft Tuolumne River Plan. The four draft action alternatives represent different approaches to management of the Tuolumne River corridor, based on scientific data, management guidance, and ideas expressed by park staff, tribes, gateway community groups, interested organizations, and members of the public. Stay tuned; in early 2008, those draft alternatives--and the public comments submitted last summer--can be viewed on the park's website.

In addition to seeking comments on the preliminary concepts, last summer's Tuolumne Planning Workbook asked members of the public to weigh in on those aspects that should be taken into account when the NPS identifies its preferred alternative this February.

TUOLUMNE MEADOWS PLAN TRANSITION
Once the NPS planning team and park management identify a preferred Tuolumne River Plan alternative, the Tuolumne Meadows Plan will get into full swing by early spring. The purpose of the Tuolumne Meadows Plan is to

§ Derive its overall guidance from the management elements established in the Tuolumne River Plan

§ Identify and site facilities for achieving and maintaining the desired resource conditions and opportunities for visitor experiences established for the Tuolumne Meadows area

§ Map the areas that must remain in or revert to natural conditions and those that might be suitable for visitor support infrastructure, such as trails, campgrounds, or structures

This summer, look for preliminary alternatives for the Tuolumne Meadows Plan which will be available for public review and comment.

UPCOMING PUBLIC PLANNING WORKSHOPS

February 9 from 9:30am-2:30pm in Yosemite Valley, Visitor Center Auditorium

Tuolumne River Plan: Developing Indicators of River Health and Quality Visitor Experiences

March 8 from 9am-4pm in Yosemite Valley, Visitor Center Auditorium

Tuolumne Meadows Plan: Alternatives Development Kick-Off

Workshop details will be posted to the park's website (www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/trp.htm). Or for more information, send an email to e-mail us.



July 2007
Kristina Rylands
NPS Project Manager for Tuolumne Planning

Tuolumne Planning Workbook & Upcoming Events
Throughout the summer, the NPS will continue discussions with the public, park visitors, staff, stakeholders, and volunteers regarding planning for both the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River and Tuolumne Meadows. To further these conversations, the NPS is releasing the TUOLUMNE PLANNING WORKBOOK, a compilation of all work completed on this planning process to date.

We are at an exciting point in the process where no decisions have been made, but a tremendous number of ideas have been shared. But we're looking for more. Last summer, we received hundreds of comments during public scoping for these two plans, which continue to inform the planning process. However, if information contained in the Workbook prompts new thoughts on how to plan for Tuolumne Meadows, we are also accepting additional "scoping" comments.

I hope that you will take some time to review and comment on this document during its public review period through September 15.

To learn more about where we are in the process, the NPS will host the following events:

  • I will be opening--and closing--the Parsons Lodge lecture series on July 15 and August 26 with an informational presentation and discussion on Planning for Tuolumne's Future. Both events will take place at 2pm in Tuolumne Meadows. Allow 30 minutes to walk out to Parsons Lodge.
  • The planning team will conduct a dedicated public workshop on August 11 from 8:30am to 12:30pm up in Tuolumne Meadows at Parsons Lodge. Everyone is invited!

The workbook can be viewed online at www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/trpfacts.htm. To receive a printed version, e-mail us, fax a request to 209/379-1294, or mail your request to Tuolumne Planning, P.O. Box 577, Yosemite, CA 95389.



June 2007

Kristina Rylands
NPS Project Manager for Tuolumne Planning

COMING SOON: Tuolumne Planning Workbook
(formerly advertised as the Tuolumne Alternatives Newsletter)

For the past two years, a group of dedicated NPS staff made up of representatives of each division have been hard at work on the Tuolumne River Plan and Tuolumne Meadows Plan. In July, the NPS team will release the TUOLUMNE PLANNING WORKBOOK, a compilation of all work completed during this time. It will include a summary of the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River values, management strategies prescribed for the river corridor, and a set of color-coded preliminary alternative concepts. Based on public comments received during last summer's scoping period, as well as a series of public workshops, these concepts present different scenarios for how the river corridor--and most specifically, Tuolumne Meadows--could be managed in the future.

THE TEAM NEEDS YOUR HELP. Before sitting down next fall to develop the alternatives that will be analyzed in the Tuolumne River Plan's draft environmental impact statement, we are looking to park staff, the public, stakeholders, tribal groups, and other agencies to weigh in on the preliminary work completed so far. The TUOLUMNE PLANNING WORKBOOK will be available to the public for review in mid-July. Comments on the document--including the preliminary concepts--will be accepted through September. ( All comments received during last summer's public scoping process are being considered; there is no need to re-submit comments.)

To receive a copy of this publication, send an email with your name and address to e-mail us, or leave a phone message with your mailing information at 209/379-1365.

The Tuolumne planning team is dedicated to providing regular opportunities for the public to not only get information about the plan's development, but provide input at key points in the process. Stay tuned to this blog for announcements regarding an upcoming public workshop in Tuolumne Meadows as well as other information-sharing events that will take place this summer---and throughout the coming months.



May 2007
Kristina Rylands
NPS Project Manager for Tuolumne Planning

Thanks to the hard work of the Tuolumne planning core team, NPS staff, and our public workshop participants, we are moving ever closer to drafting a set of preliminary alternative concepts (to be presented for public review in early July).

As part of our alternatives development process, I have presented the team, park staff--and, today, those members of the public who wish to participate--the following assignment:

WHAT'S YOUR VISION FOR THE TUOLUMNE RIVER'S FUTURE? CREATE YOUR OWN ALTERNATIVE
Using the materials provided--and your own colored markers/pencils/crayons--create at least one well-considered alternative.
Alternatives considered should be in accord with the purpose and significance of the park, WSRA & other legal mandates, and public concerns (refer to Public Scoping Report, if necessary, available online).

Using the latest draft of the management prescriptions, "paint" the various segments of the river corridor using broad brush strokes, rather than the scalpel approach. The colors for each management prescription (zone) are indicated in the matrix.

Give your alternative a title or name that captures the essence of what it is trying to achieve.

This exercise is as much about drafting alternatives as it is continuing to fine-tune the management prescriptions. As you become familiar with the zones, feel free to send me questions, comments, or edits that I can present to the team.

Those of you who have participated in previous public workshops will notice that--AGAIN--our work has taken a tremendous leap forward. We've added some summary bullets to characterize each of the zones, and pulled together a MANAGEMENT TOOLBOX table that lists facilities/uses that would be allowed and NOT allowed in the different zones. NOTE: The matrix and the narrative contain essentially the same information; they are just different tools for you to use as you work through this exercise.

You can send your "painted" zoning map, along with a written description of what your alternative is about to me, as follows:
Kristina Rylands
P.O. Box 700
El Portal, CA 95338

Fax: 209/379-1294
EO57308!* &r=/yose/parkmgmt/trpblog.htm">e-mail us

To be considered, assignments must be turned in no later than May 30th.

Management Zoning Map (325 kb PDF)
May 8 Prescription Matrix (262 kb PDF)
May 3 Consolidated Prescriptions (367 kb PDF)


March 2007
Kristina Rylands
NPS Project Manager for Tuolumne Planning

Public Workshop Success
Our first-ever Tuolumne public planning workshops were a success! A dedicated group of interested members of the public, as well as representatives from various organizations turned out to help us tackle some of the foundational work in the Tuolumne River Plan. The purpose of these public workshops is to walk participants through the very process undertaken by the Yosemite NPS planning team (see WHAT IS THE PLANNING TEAM, October 2006).

FEBRUARY 10
On February 10, a hardy group braved the gloomy weather and participated in an activity intended to immerse participants in the extraordinary range of public comments received during last summer's public scoping period. Over 900 general CONCERN STATEMENTS were generated from 457 individual letters, faxes, emails, and comments received at public meetings. These statements were posted around the room on over 2 dozen posters. The group was assigned portions of the PUBLIC SCOPING REPORT (1 MB PDF) and asked to share with others the range of issues expressed in each interest area. This allowed participants to get a sense of the broad range of issues and concerns expressed by the public-which help drive and shape aspects of the plan's development. Our planning team participated in this same exercise earlier this winter.

FEBRUARY 24
Two weeks later, nearly every participant from the February 21 event returned for more! Along with the perfect spring-like weather came an additional crowd that made for an invigorating afternoon. This session was devoted to establishing what are known as DESIRED CONDITIONS. These are the management goals we establish for the Tuolumne River, the conditions we aim to achieve through the protective elements of the Tuolumne River Plan. By this time, the planning team had already taken a crack at drafting desired conditions and the public team was asked to help us sort them along a continuum-from those that might be characteristics found in wilderness to those more in keeping with higher use areas. It was a tough assignment, not only for the public team but the park team, as well. Afterwards, one participant said, "This is hard work. Is this what planners go through on every plan?"

SATURDAY, APRIL 21
The purpose of this workshop was to take the desired conditions and management prescriptions drafted by the planning team and apply them to maps of the river corridor. Unlike the first two workshops, which were largely patterned after exercises already completed by the planning team, at this session, public participants got the FIRST crack at assigning management zones to the river. The results of this workshop were then used by the planning team when they took on the same exercise in-house on April 23 and 24.

WORKSHOP COMMENTS
One workshop participant asked, "Are these workshops intended to show us what it's like to be planners, or will this information actually be used somehow in the plan?" The answer is BOTH. For some time, members of the public has been asking NPS planners to open the doors to the process and be allowed to have access to a plan's development, not just at the end when a draft document is released for public review. The work produced at these public workshops has been taken back to the NPS planning team and used to inform the next steps in the plan's development. The results of these workshops have been used to help establish a set of draft MANAGEMENT PRESCRIPTIONS-as well as early alternatives development for the Tuolumne River Plan.

FUTURE WORKSHOPS
Another public planning workshop will be scheduled after the Preliminary Alternative Concepts newsletter is released in early July. The date and location of the workshop will be announced.


January 2007
Kristina Rylands
NPS Project Manager for Tuolumne Planning

Tuolumne Planning Schedule UPDATE

As a result of circumstances stemming from Merced River Plan litigation, the schedule for the Tuolumne River Plan/Tuolumne Meadows Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has been adjusted. With summer 2007 originally slated for the release of the draft plans and EIS, that target has shifted. But the Tuolumne planning team will NOT be sitting on our collective hands until then. Instead this summer, our NPS team will publish and release for public comment a newsletter containing Preliminary Draft Alternatives for the Tuolumne River Plan. These preliminary concepts will focus on the 54 miles of the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River corridor within Yosemite and will include such river planning elements as:

  • Definition of river boundaries and classifications
  • Descriptions of river values
  • Desired conditions/management prescriptions for the river
  • Management zoning configurations

This document will NOT contain environmental analysis, nor will it propose a "preferred alternative." Instead, it will contain reader-friendly explanations of the preliminary concepts for establishing river protections in accordance with the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, with full-color photographs, maps, graphics. The goal is to allow the public to respond to initial concepts before coming out with a full-blown EIS.

Tuolumne Meadows Scoping to Re-open Summer 2007
In addition to accepting comments on these preliminary river concepts, the NPS will re-open public scoping on the Tuolumne Meadows Plan. This is in response to comments heard during last summer's public scoping process. In particular, some felt that they could not adequately comment on actions that could possibly take place in Tuolumne Meadows until there was a sense of what the Tuolumne River Plan might propose.

February Public Workshops
In the meantime, this February a series of public planning workshops will take place in Yosemite Valley in the Visitor Center Auditorium, giving the public the opportunity to join the Tuolumne team at the table. The goal is to not only share the planning process with the public, but to give participants an opportunity to inform alternatives development.

SAVE THESE DATES
February 10 Become a "Planner-for-a-Day" and a discussion of river values
February 24 Establishing desired conditions and management zoning
Spring 2007 Applying management zoning to the river corridor (Date to be determined)

All workshops will take place at the Yosemite Valley, with specific times to be announced. If you plan to attend, please RSVP by email to me at Kristina_Rylands@nps.gov, or leave a message at the Yosemite Planning Hotline at 209/379-1365. The agenda for each meeting will be posted online at: www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/meetings.htm.


October 30, 2006
Kristina Rylands
NPS Project Manager for Tuolumne Planning

WHAT IS THE PLANNING TEAM?
In previous entries, you have no doubt noticed that I continue to mention our PLANNING TEAM. You may be wondering, who are these people and what does the team do?

To undertake a planning process like this, it takes teamwork to ensure its success and keep it moving forward. For this project, we have assembled an interdisciplinary team, composed of representatives from various NPS divisions within Yosemite:

  • Interpretation & Education
  • Resources Management & Science
  • Facilities Management
  • Business & Revenue Management
  • Project Management
  • Visitor Protection

Our "Core Team" members work in Yosemite National Park and participate in this project as a collateral duty to their regular jobs. We gather for regular core team meetings, site visits in the field, public open houses, and workshops to ultimately develop the plan. Most team members also have extensive experience working and/or living in Tuolumne. But what beats at the heart of the team is that they are all remarkable individuals and experienced professionals who love Tuolumne and are dedicated to its continued protection. In the months ahead, the draft plan will grow from the work of this vital group of NPS staff.


October 27, 2006
Kristina Rylands
NPS Project Manager for Tuolumne Planning

Team Site Visit Held Oct. 17 & 18
During our public scoping process, we heard from some that when it comes to Tuolumne, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." With skies so blue it made your eyes hurt, our planning team took to Tuolumne Meadows last week to continue tackling these questions: What works? What's "broke"? And what can we do to better protect the meadow and provide for a better Tuolumne experience?

We wanted to concentrate two days examining Tuolumne Meadows before the weather turned wintery and closed down the area until next summer. Believe it or not, the skies clouded up and by the end of our first day's meeting, snow was swirling around us, transforming the golden grasses to a sparkling blanket. But although we were chased away by the snow, we spent a productive day engaged in issues that will need to be addressed in this planning process. We also spent much of the time ground-truthing draft maps which document existing conditions. These maps include inventories of natural and cultural resources, sensitive riparian and wetland features, as well as facilities, structures, and utilities. We will continue to build on this baseline as the planning process progresses.

During our site visit, we were treated to presentations from several of the researchers and NPS resource specialists who have been conducting studies for the plan throughout the summer. They provided updates on what we are learning about rare plants in the river corridor, hydrologic conditions in Tuolumne Meadows, mapping of the 100-year floodplain, archeological site analyses, the effects of trampling in portions of Tuolumne Meadows, soundscape studies, trail condition assessments, and more. These are just some of the many activities that have taken place to provide greater baseline information for the Tuolumne River Plan and Tuolumne Meadows Plan. The success of this summer's data gathering can be largely attributed to the tremendous collaborative effort between Yosemite's Division of Planning and the Division of Resources Management & Science. The more we learn about Yosemite, the better we can protect it for future generations!

This winter, we hope to present a TUOLUMNE FORUM where the public will be invited to learn more about these exciting studies, as well as hear what we learned as a result of our public scoping process this summer. We're in the beginning stages of planning this event. Stay tuned to future postings for an announcement of a date.


October 6, 2006
Kristina Rylands
NPS Project Manager for Tuolumne Planning

SCOPING SUCCESS
It has been a busy summer, which is (no surprise) transitioning into a busy fall. Now that public scoping on the Tuolumne project has closed, our in-park team is processing the 465 individual letters, faxes, emails, comment forms, and public meeting notes received during the 70+ days of the scoping period. In the days to come, all of those comments will be posted to the park's website and you can get a sense of the immense interest that has been generated in this planning effort. An overall scoping report will also be prepared and posted. We are very excited about the passionate ideas and targeted suggestions folks have shared with us. We heard from you that Tuolumne is a very special place, a portal to wilderness, an experience far different from that of Yosemite Valley. It is our goal to protect these amazing qualities by preparing a plan that lays out a vision for Tuolumne's preservation well into the future. We hope you will continue to stay engaged with us as we move through the planning process.

As the summer temperatures have steadily dropped, interest in the plan has not. We conducted a series of meetings with staff up in Tuolumne, including folks from the NPS, some concessioner employees, and volunteers from the Yosemite Association. Gathered around a campfire, we heard comments about employee housing, protecting the wilderness character in Tuolumne, the need for improved parking, and steps to consider to protect the Tuolumne River. These comments--known as "internal scoping comments"--are all considered alongside those of the public when we sit down at the planning table.

CONTINUING DIALOGUE

The momentum keeps moving, even though the Tuolumne area has received its first major snow of the year. Informational data gathering efforts will continue until the Tioga Road closes. In the next couple of weeks, we will be meeting in Lee Vining with American Indian tribal representatives. As part of this ongoing government-to-government consultation process with tribes associated with Yosemite, we will continue making trips to the east side throughout the winter and spring. Also in mid-October we will hold a Socioeconomic Planning workshop with interested gateway partners to examine how the socioeconomic nature of our local communities is affected through our planning efforts. During the week of October 16, our planning Core Team and other members of NPS staff will meet in Tuolumne Meadows to further verify information gathered through the course of the summer as we work toward identifying baseline conditions. (More WITH photos in my next blog.)

NEXT STEPS

Many folks have asked me, "When will your team sit down to actually WRITE the plan?" We intend to move forward with alternatives development very soon. In the meantime, on October 16, the NPS enters U.S. Federal District Court in Fresno regarding the continuing litigation over the Merced Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive Management Plan (Merced River Plan). With the incredible amount of public support behind preparing the Tuolumne River Plan, the NPS is stalwart in its desire to see it proceed...and succeed! Planning for the Tuolumne River is not directly tied to actions in the Merced River Plan. But the NPS awaits a decision from the court to better gauge the affect of the judge's decision on Yosemite operations. We remain committed to seeing the Tuolumne plans move forward, and I will keep you posted of the next steps in the weeks ahead.

If you get a chance, come up to Tuolumne in these dwindling days before winter sets in!


September 5, 2006
Kristina Rylands
NPS Project Manager for Tuolumne Planning

Summer in Yosemite is an especially busy time of year. But this year, with the public scoping process in full swing for the Tuolumne River Plan and Tuolumne Meadows Plan Environmental Impact Statement, it has been even more so. Since June 27, 2006, we have been engaged in the earliest stages of the public process for this planning effort, known as public scoping.

This is when we ask members of the public--and our own staff--to brainstorm with us and share ideas, concerns, suggestions, and comments about the kind of Tuolumne experience you would like to see preserved for the future. We've been asking questions like, What do you love about the Tuolumne River and Tuolumne Meadows areas? What do you do when you are there? What do you want to see protected? What kinds of facilities and services are appropriate or not appropriate?

Our planning team has spoken with legions of people at over 13 public open houses (3 of which were in Tuolumne Meadows), and last week's public walk-about in Tuolumne Meadows was a huge success. Soon, literally hundreds of pages of flip-chart comments will be posted to our website, along with the letters, faxes, and emails sent to us from all over the country.

After the scoping period closes on September 7, 2006, the planning team will begin analyzing and considering all of these comments. But your involvement doesn't end with your written letter. We will be back on the road later this fall and invite you to attend a planning workshop to begin laying out the possible Tuolumne scenarios. Look for a schedule of meeting dates in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you have some time, come up to Tuolumne and enjoy the river's slow meander and the feeling of fall in the air!


Introduction
Kristina Rylands
NPS Project Manager for Tuolumne Planning

Welcome to Yosemite's newest public involvement tool---the Tuolumne Planning News Blog! My name is Kristina Rylands and I am the NPS Project Manager for the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive Management Plan and Tuolumne Meadows Plan Environmental Impact Statement. This is the first in a continuing series of updates on the Tuolumne planning process.

In the weeks and months to come, I will post the latest information about the status of the Tuolumne plans. Over the course of the last year, many of you have given us feedback on our communication process. Lots of people commented that Yosemite planners seem to disappear into a BLACK HOLE, only to emerge some months later with a multi-volume document fit for a door-stop. The purpose of this site is to give you up-to-date information on where we are in the process, as well as share with you some of what we are hearing from the public and experiencing around the planning table.

I hope you will stay tuned as we make our way through this very exciting opportunity to help shape Tuolumne's future!

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