Scenic Vista Management Plan

Two side by side images of Tunnel View before and after some scenic vista clearning

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Over three-million visitors come to Yosemite National Park each year to see its natural wonders and scenic grandeur. The breathtaking scenery is a key reason Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove were the first areas designated by the federal government for public benefit in 1864. The Tunnel View Rehabilitation in 2008, pictured above, reestablished the expansive vista of Yosemite Valley that recalls what the first European Americans saw in 1851 at nearby Inspiration Point.

When this plan began there was no consistent process to prioritize vistas for management, and the lack of a comprehensive effort had allowed many vistas to remain obscured. Past vista management has reestablished scenic vistas at a rate of about three vistas per decade. In addition, the 1980 Yosemite General Management Plan called for the creation of a vista management plan. The development of a framework for evaluating and prioritizing vista management actions will ensure that the natural and cultural resources and values of Yosemite National Park remain unimpaired.

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.

This plan would provide a systematic program for documenting, protecting, and reestablishing Yosemite’s important vistas, consistent with the natural processes and human influences that created them. This goals of this plan were to:

  • Re-establish and maintain important historic views;
  • Develop an objective process for selecting and ranking vistas for treatment;
  • Develop target conditions and identify appropriate vegetation management actions to reestablish scenic vistas;
  • Reestablish scenic vistas, whenever practicable, by restoring natural species composition, structure, and function to systems, using traditional American Indian vegetation management practices, including hand pulling and fire.

This planning effort was initiated through a public scoping process in 2009 and through an evaluation of an environmental assessment was finalized in 2011 with a Finding of No Significant Impact.




Additional Information

Last updated: December 2, 2019

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