June 24, 2005
Final Revised Merced River Plan and Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement Now Available
The National Park Service (NPS) announces the availability of the Final Merced Wild and Scenic River Revised Comprehensive Management Plan and Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Final Revised Merced River Plan/SEIS).
During the public comment period for the Draft Revised Merced River Plan/SEIS (January 14 through March 22, 2005), 147 letters, faxes, emails, and public testimony statements were received, resulting in over 900 individual comments. These comments were used to further refine the alternatives now presented in the final plan.
This planning effort will amend the Merced Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive Management Plan, originally completed and approved in 2000. The specific purpose of the revised plan is to remedy two deficiencies identified by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Namely, the plan must adequately address the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act’s user capacity requirement by creating what the Court calls “specific measurable limits on use.” The Court also specified that the revised plan must draw a corridor boundary in El Portal that protects and enhances the river’s Outstandingly Remarkable Values—those unique qualities that make the river worthy of protection under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The revision will also describe how the comprehensive management plan amends the park’s 1980 General Management Plan.
The Final Revised Merced River Plan/SEIS proposes four alternatives evaluating the environmental impacts associated with a user capacity program for the entire corridor under NPS management. The alternatives also analyze a revised river boundary in the El Portal Administrative Site.
The NPS manages 81 miles of the 122-mile Merced Wild and Scenic River, including the main stem in Yosemite National Park and the El Portal Administrative Site, as well as the South Fork through Wawona. As a whole, the plan will guide all future activities and projects in the river corridor to insure the protection and enhancement of the river’s unique values. The plan does not prescribe management of uses and activities on private land.
After a 30-day period of No Action, the Yosemite National Park Superintendent, Michael Tollefson, will recommend an alternative for selection in a Record of Decision. The Record of Decision will be approved by the National Park Service’s Director for the Pacific West Region. Once published in the Federal Register, the revisions will amend the Merced Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive Management Plan and the plan’s preferred alternative will be implemented.
The document is available for review on the park’s web site at www.nps.gov/yose/planning/mrp/. To request a hard copy or CD ROM version, call 209/379-1365; fax a request to 209/379-1294;e-mail us; or write to Superintendent, ATTN: Final Revised MRP/SEIS, P.O. Box 577, Yosemite, CA 95389.
Copies of the plan can also be obtained at the next NPS Open House, to be held June 29 from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center Auditorium, located directly behind the Visitor Center.
For more information regarding this and other projects occurring in Yosemite National Park, visit www.nps.gov/yose/planning.