Yosemite Foundation Document
Yosemite Foundation Document (December 2016)
This foundational document provides basic guidance for planning and management decisions—a foundation for planning and management. The core components of the foundation document include a brief description of the park as well as the park’s purpose, significance, fundamental resources and values, and interpretive themes. The foundation document also includes special mandates and administrative commitments, an assessment of planning and data needs that identifies planning issues, planning products to be developed, and the associated studies and data required for park planning. Along with the core components, the assessment provides a focus for park planning activities and establishes a baseline from which planning documents are developed.
Yosemite Foundation Document Overview (2017)
This document gives an overview of Yosemite National Park's purpose, significance, fundamental resources and values, and interpretive themes.
Current and Ongoing Plans
The park has seen increasing impacts to natural and cultural resources, diminished quality of visitor experiences, increased visitor and staff safety concerns, and a heavy strain on the park’s facilities and ability to perform daily operations. The purpose of this plan is to evaluate how different management strategies, including reservation systems, could help meet long-term resource and visitor experience goals. This will be accomplished by engaging in a transparent civic and stakeholder engagement process to discuss and identify key issues and opportunities.
Past Planning Efforts and Related Projects
1997 Flood Recovery - Final Report (June 2013)
This document provides a comprehensive record of the completed program that enabled the park to recover from a major natural disaster. Park visitation was significantly impacted in January 1997 by a flood of historic proportions. The flood severely damaged a whole range of facilities from miles of roads, bridges and trails, to utility systems, to several hundred units of guest lodging, campsites, and employee housing. Initial response to the Yosemite flood was managed under an Incident Command System. A team of engineers, architects, landscape architects, resource specialists, and technical experts completed detailed damage assessments and cost estimates. Based on those findings, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act was passed by the House and Senate and signed by the President on June 12, 1997, to provide Yosemite National Park with $178 million to cover flood recovery projects. This amount was later supplemented by an additional $79 million from other funding sources. Today, because of this funding, the park continues to provide quality services to its visitors from across the globe.
The Ackerson Meadow complex is the largest mid-elevation meadow in Yosemite National Park. It encompasses important habitat for the State endangered great grey owl and little willow flycatcher as well as a suite of additional at-risk wildlife species. Currently, a large erosion gully network, up to 14 feet deep and 100 feet wide, is actively draining 90 acres of former wetlands in the meadow complex and threatening an additional 100 acres of wet meadow habitat. The gully network is a result of over a century of landscape manipulation including domestic water diversion, farming, ranching, and timber harvest. Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest jointly propose to implement actions to reduce erosion and restore wetland functionality at Ackerson and South Ackerson Meadows. The project team analyzed the public comments from the civic engagement period (which occurred summer 2020), refined alternatives, and performed an impact analysis for the Ackerson Meadow Restoration Environmental Assessment (EA). Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest released the inter-agency Ackerson Meadow Restoration Project Environmental Assessment on June 1, 2021 for public review and comment through July 8, 2021. A Finding of No Significant Impacts (FONSI) and the Determination of Non-Impairment were signed on September 21, 2021.
Restoration implementation for this project is planned between August 15, 2023 and October 31, 2023, with additional work in 2024, and final revegetation in 2025.
The Ahwahnee, located in Yosemite Valley, includes a National Historic Landmark hotel, guest cottages, an employee dormitory, and associated grounds and landscaping. Built in 1927, The Ahwahnee hotel is an iconic landmark and is used year-round by both overnight and day visitors to Yosemite Valley.The purpose of this project was to develop a comprehensive plan for phased, long-term rehabilitation of The Ahwahnee, along with associated guest cottages, employee dormitory, and landscaped grounds.
Best's Studio was one of several artists' studios operating in Yosemite Valley at the turn of the twentieth century. Harry Best opened his studio in Yosemite Valley in 1902. In 1925 he relocated the business from Old Yosemite Village (near the Chapel) to its present location (between the Visitor Center and the Yosemite Post Office). Ansel Adams and his family lived in the Gallery through the 1970s. After more than 90 years in service, the buildings were in need of rehabilitation. This plan outlined the specifics of that rehabilitation.
The Badger Pass Ski Lodge, constructed in 1935, is historically significant as the first alpine ski resort in California and as an example of NPS Rustic architecture with Swiss chalet influences. Its location in a high-elevation alpine meadow has exposed the lodge to temperature extremes, heavy snow loads, snowmelt runoff, and saturated ground conditions. These environmental stresses, coupled with inadequate site drainage and snow-melt management systems contributed to structural deterioration of the lodge. Repair and rehabilitation of the ski lodge was necessary to protect its historic integrity, assure visitor safety, and maintain ski-area visitor services while preserving the natural and cultural resources at the ski area.
Bridalveil Fall is the first grand waterfall that most visitors encounter upon entering the iconic Yosemite Valley. Bridalveil Fall typically flows throughout the year, impelling year-round visitation and high volumes of use during spring flows. Currently visitors to the Bridalveil Fall area encounter low-functioning vault toilets, congestion associated with the parking lot, crowded trails and viewing platform, a lack of accessible path of travel to the primary viewing platform, and unclear way-finding. The purpose of this plan is to improve conditions at the base of Bridalveil Fall and address these issues.
Yosemite worked on the development of a CIP and completed its major component - the Long Range Interpretive Plan (LRIP). This plan outlines a comprehensive approach to interpreting park natural and cultural resources.The CIP is necessary to ensure long-term protection of resources through visitor understanding and enjoyment. The Long Range Interpretive Plan will guide interpretation and education in Yosemite for the next 5 -10 years.
Concession Services Plan (1992)
This plan is an amendment to Yosemite's 1980 General Management Plan and guides the management of concession enterprises, such as lodging, food, retail, and other commercial services in Yosemite National Park. This plan serves as the basis for contracts between the National Park Service and the park's primary concessioner.
Curry Village is located at the base of sheer granite walls below Glacier Point near the eastern end of Yosemite Valley. As a result, portions of Half Dome Village are within the defined rockfall hazard zone established by Yosemite National Park. The Curry Village area is historically significant and is included in the Camp Curry (Curry Village) and the Yosemite Valley Historic Districts. In response to past rockfall events, the National Park Service has realigned the boundary of the rockfall hazard zone in Curry Village. To reduce health and safety hazards, all of the structures within the updated rockfall hazard zone were closed. The National Park Service developed this environmental assessment to address these structures. The purpose of this project was to mitigate inherent safety risks associated with unauthorized visitor access to the closed rockfall hazard zone; minimize the potential for further loss of historically significant structures and/or features that contribute to the Curry Village Historic District; and identify appropriate mitigation to resolve the potential adverse effect on the Curry Village Historic District.
The Yosemite 2004 Fire Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement guides the implementation of a complex fire management program. The program includes wildland fire suppression, wildland fire used to achieve natural and cultural resource benefits, fire prevention, prescribed fire, fire ecology research, and the use of mechanical methods to reduce and thin vegetation in and around communities.
One goal of the program is to reduce the threat of wildland fire to public safety, to the park's wildland urban interface communities, and to its natural and cultural resources. Another management goal is to return the influence of natural fire to park ecosystems so they are restored to as natural a condition as possible.
In 2017 the park amended its fire management plan to allow fire managers to apply the flexibility provided in current federal guidance. The amendment would implement a Community Protection Strategy around the six wildland urban interface communities as well as other important infrastructure development in and adjacent to Yosemite.
General Management Plan (1980)
This plan defines the direction for resource preservation and visitor use in Yosemite National Park. It provides a foundation for decision-making and sets long-term goals for the park. It was developed with broad public involvement.
Glacier Point attracts many park visitors due to its extraordinary views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and its breathtaking drop to Yosemite Valley 3,000 feet below. It is also the starting point for many backcountry adventures as well as an area loved by stargazers. This project included the rehabilitation of 5.1 miles of the Glacier Point Road between, and included improvements to, the Chinquapin intersection and the Badger Pass Ski Area parking lot. The original paved roadway was completed in 1936, replacing the original wagon road built in 1882. This area attracts high volumes of traffic year-round because it provides access to Bridalveil Creek Campground, Glacier Point, the Badger Pass Ski Area, and numerous trailheads.
Half Dome, one of the most popular attractions in Yosemite National Park, lies in designated wilderness. In 2008, up to 1,200 people a day tackled the famous trek up the cables; the high level of use led to both safety and environmental concerns. To address impacts caused by increased visitor use of the Half Dome trail, the National Park Service developed a management plan. The purpose of the plan was to provide long-term stewardship of the Half Dome route in a manner that is consistent with the Wilderness Act and the National Park Service Organic Act.
The existing equipment, utilizing existing phone lines, transmits voice and data communications essential to the operation and security of Hetch Hetchy Water and Power’s electric and water supply utilities, and is also used by Yosemite personnel for park communications. The existing radio and fiber optic equipment were obsolete and no longer supported by their manufacturers; this project updated this infrastructure by replacing or updating components of the communication system throughout Tuolumne County, including potentially adding one new site within Yosemite National Park.
This project focused on the proposal to construct a duplex consisting of two 2-bedroom units in the Hodgdon Meadow housing area in order to replace a previously removed obsolete 3-bedroom trailer that did not meet National Park Service housing standards. This duplex would provide housing for two or more park employees. Hodgdon Meadow is one of three residential areas in the Mather Ranger District.
In 2008, Yosemite National Park created the Invasive Plant Management Plan (2008 IPMP) to provide a comprehensive, prioritized program of invasive plant prevention, early detection, control, systematic monitoring, and research. The 2008 plan uses an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to detect, control, and prevent priority invasive plants from spreading into uninfested areas. The best available scientific and practical information is considered in planning control efforts. Then, a full range of cultural, manual, mechanical and chemical control techniques are considered for use, including preventing the introduction of invasive species, to hand-pulling and mowing, and the judicious use of herbicides to treat established populations.
The Invasive Plant Management Plan Update gave Yosemite National Park resource managers greater flexibility in responding to present and future threats to park resources from non-native invasive species. While the 2008 IPMP provides a foundation for well-developed decision-making and prioritization strategies, the update outlines a protocol for adaptive management techniques that would provide greater flexibility to respond to present and future threats. As new herbicides are developed, tested, and approved for use in the western states, adaptive management would allow the park to select more effective herbicides that have fewer undesirable effects.
The Merced Wild and Scenic River Final Comprehensive Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement, released in February 2014, addresses the renowned Merced Wild and Scenic River's 81 miles within Yosemite National Park and the El Portal Administrative Site and functions as the guiding document to protect and enhance river values and manage use within the river corridor for the next 20 years.
The Final Merced River Plan/EIS protects the Merced River's free-flowing condition, water quality, and the unique values that has made the celebrated river worthy of special protection under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA). The final plan represents a rich collaboration amongst the public, research scientists, park partners, traditionally-associated American Indians, and park staff to explore visions for the future of Yosemite Valley and the Merced Wild and Scenic River. The final plan brings forward the best in science, stewardship, and public engagement to ensure continual protection and enhancement of the rare, unique, and exemplary qualities of the Merced River.
The Final Merced River Plan/EIS:
Effective communications are critical to Yosemite National Park’s success in protecting park resources and delivering a range of services to park visitors. Prior to this project, Yosemite relied on an outdated and unreliable communication system that performed poorly or failed in bad weather and did not share a single “backbone” to transmit telephone, radio, computer, or other information.The purpose of this project was to upgrade Yosemite’s internal communications system with more reliable, efficient technology and create a communications backbone that can support all the park’s communication needs. The new communication network would employ modern technology to provide a platform for computer LAN data, radio communications, security and safety video systems, telephony, burglar/intrusion and fire alarm systems, traffic collection data, and telemetry. This communication would be handled on one shared system rather than multiple independent systems.
Reconstruction of Critically Eroded Sections of the El Portal Road (August 2007)
Last updated: September 7, 2023