Yosemite Foundation Document Overview
This document gives an overview of Yosemite National Park's purpose, significance, fundamental resources and values, and interpretive themes.
Current and Ongoing Plans and Projects
We are developing a parkwide programmatic agreement (PA) to guide consultation under Section 106 National Historic Preservation Act. This agreement will replace the existing parkwide PA that expires in May 2017 as amended. The park will follow the terms of the new parkwide PA rather than those of the 2008 NPS Nationwide PA to streamline Section 106 compliance for these routine activities specific to Yosemite. The new parkwide PA will specify Yosemite's consultation requirements and procedures with the California State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation (ACHP), Yosemite's traditionally associated American Indian tribes and groups, the public, and other interested parties.
Congress passed the California Wilderness Act in 1984 designating over 94% (704,000 acres) of Yosemite National Park as Wilderness. The park's current Wilderness Management Plan was written in 1989. The purpose of this planning effort is to review the management direction in the 1989 Yosemite Wilderness Plan and update it as necessary to better align with contemporary use patterns and National Park Service policy.
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 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.
The National Park Service will improve visitor experience, address deferred maintenance, improve safety, and increase operational efficiency at the Big Oak Flat Welcome Center Complex. This park entrance welcomes about one million visitors annually from the park’s western border. The complex (formerly called the Visitor Contact Station) provides a public restroom, information, campground reservations, wilderness permits, bear canister rentals, and retail sales. It also currently serves as the district law enforcement office. The project will improve visitor orientation and safety, reduce lines, and upgrade accessibility and utilities.
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 has been working on the development of a CIP and has 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.
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.
Invasive Plant Management Plan (September 2008)
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 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:
The Mariposa Grove Restoration project aimed to restore dynamic ecological processes and increase the resiliency of this treasured grove to withstand emerging stressors today and in the future, such as climate change and altered fire regimes. The NPS developed the Mariposa Grove/FEIS in response to conditions in the Mariposa Grove area (including the South Entrance to Yosemite National Park) that adversely affect the ecological health of the Grove and diminish the quality of the visitor experience.
The Scenic Vista Management Plan was needed to reestablish and maintain Yosemite National Park's iconic views, vistas, and discrete lines of sight that are obscured by vegetation growth. When the park was originally set aside, vegetation patterns were much more open, with unblocked views and open meadows. Open oak woodlands allowed for easy viewing of granite walls and waterfalls in Yosemite Valley. The mix of meadows with low and high density forests throughout the park was maintained by natural (unplanned ignition) wildfires that burned in mosaic patterns.
Tenaya Lake is a magnificent High Sierra lake surrounded by granite domes, lodgepole forests, and Yosemite’s vast wilderness. It is the largest natural lake in Yosemite. Because of its remarkable scenic qualities, its inviting blue water, and its proximity to Tioga Road, Tenaya Lake is one of the most popular destinations for summer visitors in Yosemite. Problems associated with visitor use, visitor safety, and resource impacts have been occurring for decades. The Tenaya Lake Area Plan provided a plan to guide management actions by the National Park Service in order to restore and protect resources while providing opportunities for appropriate high country visitor experiences at Tenaya Lake. The three main goals for the plan were to protect natural and cultural resources, improve visitor enjoyment, and increase visitor safety.
This plan focused on the rehabilitation of approximately 40 miles of the Tioga Road. The primary goal of this project was to make safety improvements, while preserving the natural and cultural resources along the road corridor. This road provides access to Tuolumne Meadows, Tioga Pass, U.S. Route 395 and numerous popular trailheads including: John Muir, Pacific Crest, Yosemite Creek, Lukens Lake, and others beginning in Tuolumne Meadows.
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.
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 National Park Service plans to improve visitor facilities, address deferred maintenance, and increase efficiency and capacity in the Wawona Wastewater Treatment System. The project will implement actions prescribed in the Merced Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive Management Plan Environmental Impact Statement (2014).
Wawona Water Conservation Plan (April 1985)
As part of the proposed reconstructed water system for Wawona, water for domestic use and irrigation will continue to be diverted from the South Fork of the Merced River.
The White Wolf Lodge and associated duplex cabins, located off of the Tioga Road, are aging structures that are in need of rehabilitation. Originally the site of early homesteaders, the conversion to a Lodge was completed in 1926 and privately run by the Meyer Family. Two duplexes were also completed during this conversion. In the 1930s the family added additional hard-sided cabins and tent platforms. White Wolf Lodge was bought by the National Park Service in the early 1950s and is currently operated by the park's primary concessioner.
After many years of service, there are a number of issues affected the Lodge and cabins today. Site drainage problems are creating foundation settlement and moisture migration. Many of the electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems serving the White Wolf facilities are also in need of replacement and updating. Additionally, facilities at White Wolf are not fully compliant with building and accessibility codes. This plan addressed these concerns.
NatureBridge, a Yosemite National Park non-profit partner, aims to promote visitor understanding, stewardship, and appreciation of diverse park environments. NatureBridge operates an environmental education campus at Crane Flat under a cooperative agreement with the park. This campus serves both the park and NatureBridge by fulfilling their shared mission.
The campus at Crane Flat has served as an educational facility since 1971. The facilities are comprised of older buildings and structures that have been assembled over time and were not originally designed for educational purposes. To address this issue, the park and NatureBridge began planning for a new campus in 2002, including the preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Public scoping was completed in November 2002. The final plan was completed in 2010 for a new campus to be built near Henness Ridge south of Yosemite Valley.
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Yosemite Foundation Document Overview
Plans in the Development Process
Last updated: September 18, 2019