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Yosemite Merced River Litigation Settled After 10 Years

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Date: September 30, 2009

The Friends of Yosemite Valley (FOYV), Mariposans for the Environment and Responsible Government (MERG), and the Department of the Interior /National Park Service (NPS), Yosemite National Park jointly announce the completion of a formal Settlement Agreement in the lawsuits concerning the Merced Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP). The settlement resolves litigation on Merced River planning begun in 2000, and also resolves the complaint challenging the Yosemite Valley Plan. The parties to the litigation are pleased to have come to a final agreement.

The settlement marks the beginning of a new planning process, which will lead to a Comprehensive Management Plan for the Merced River in Yosemite National Park. Please visit the NPS Yosemite NP planning website (at http://www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/newmrp.htm) for more information about meeting locations and how to get involved in the planning process.

"With this Settlement complete, the National Park Service is looking to the future and will move forward with preparing a new CMP that will continue to protect and enhance the Merced River for the enjoyment of future generations" stated Acting Superintendent Dave Uberuaga.

"We are optimistic. We agreed to this settlement to establish a new process and focus, ideally leading to a positive and protective management plan for Yosemite's Merced River. We are hopeful that the new Merced plan will be focused on protection, putting the River and its values first" stated Julia Olson, attorney for plaintiffs FOYV and MERG. “The Yosemite Valley Plan is now rescinded and there is a three year time frame hopefully free of legal disputes over projects in Yosemite” Olson continued.

"We now have a new opportunity to bring people together, to finally discuss how to optimize a natural Yosemite experience for the most people possible, while recognizing that Yosemite is finite" said Greg Adair, Director of Friends of Yosemite Valley. "This took a decade of hard work, really. We're grateful to the Courts, and Magistrate Judge Snyder for making this possible” continued Adair.

"The NPS is committed to completing the new CMP with the continued involvement from all of those who contributed to the previous plan, as well as with input from all who care about Yosemite" stated Uberuaga.

A Brief Summary of the Settlement:

  • Initiates a new process for the creation of a Merced River Plan, pursuant to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA)
  • Provides guidance on procedures, process, and content for a new Merced River Plan
  • Rescinds the Yosemite Valley Plan
  • Rescinds plans for Yosemite Lodge, Curry Village, Valley Campgrounds
  • Begins a new public dialogue on the question of user capacity
  • Encourages ongoing maintenance and safety activities

The Settlement Agreement can be viewed in its entirety at:
http://www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/litigation.htm. See also www.merg-mariposa.org, and www.yosemitevalley.org.

Did You Know?

Sierra Sweet Bay

In Wawona and downstream, the South Fork Merced River provides habitat for a rare plant, the Sierra sweet bay (Myrica hartwegii). This special status shrub is found in only five Sierra Nevada counties. In Yosemite, it occurs exclusively on sand bars and river banks along the South Fork Merced River downstream from Wawona and on Big Creek.