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Yosemite National Park Announces Public Review and Comment Period for Reconstructing Critically Eroded Sections of the El Portal Road Environmental Assessment

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Date: May 30, 2007

Yosemite National Park is announcing the public comment period for the Reconstructing Critically Eroded Sections of the El Portal Road Environmental Assessment (EA). This EA includes alternatives pertaining only to the failing section of the road east of the Big Oak Flat Road intersection and analyzes the environmental effects of a range of project alternatives.

The El Portal Road is a park road that begins at the western Yosemite National Park boundary. It begins at the eastern end of California State Highway 140 and continues 7.5 miles east to the Pohono Bridge. The initial approach to this repair contemplated a one mile road segment, often referred to as "Segment D." This planned approach would have studied optimum design for the intersection at Big Oak Flat Road, and road portions east of the severely damaged area.

However, in response to the recent ruling by the Eastern District Court, which directs the National Park Service to prepare a new comprehensive management plan for the Merced River, only those portions of the road that are at imminent risk of failure will be addressed at this time (approximately 1400 feet of roadway). This area has undergone five emergency repairs since 1997, but a complete reconstruction is needed so that the road can withstand future high water events. Important considerations throughout the planning process will be to maintain the road's essential historic character as a winding, narrow, mountain road, and to consider the protection and enhancement of the Wild and Scenic River.

The public review and comment period for the EA will open on June 4, 2007 and will run until July 3, 2007. Written comments must be postmarked no later than July 3, 2007.

Two public meetings will take place in June, 2007. The public meeting schedule will be:

  • Wednesday, June 20, 2007, in Mariposa at the Government Building from 4pm to 7pm (5100 Bullion Street)
  • Wednesday, June 27, 2007, in Yosemite Valley at the park's monthly Open House from 1pm to 5pm. (Yosemite Valley Visitor Center Auditorium). Park admission fee will be waived for those attending.

Comments can be submitted at public meetings, by mail, fax, email, and through the Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) commenting system. A link to project information will be posted on the park's website at www.nps.gov/yose/planning. To request a hard copy or CD ROM version of the EA and to submit written comments:

In person at public meetings

Fax: (209) 379-1294

Email: yose_planning@nps.gov

PEPC: http://parkplanning.nps.gov

Mail: Yosemite National Park Superintendent

Attn: Reconstructing Critically Eroded Sections of El Portal Road
P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, CA 95389

Did You Know?

Vernal and Nevada Falls

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.