February 26, 2013
Yosemite National Park releases the Restoration of the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Mariposa Grove DEIS) for public review and comment. The public comment period for the Mariposa Grove DEIS is open today through Tuesday, May 7, 2013. The document is available for public review on the park's website.
The primary goals of the Mariposa Grove DEIS are to restore giant sequoia habitat and improve the visitor experience. Overall, the plan will improve the natural processes that are critical to the long term health of the trees, protect special status species, enhance operational sustainability, improve visitor education and way-finding, improve visitor and employee safety, and protect cultural resource values.
The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, the largest of three sequoia groves within the park, contains approximately 500 mature giant sequoias. The significance of this grove was recognized by Abraham Lincoln when he signed the Yosemite Grant on June 30, 1864, a landmark bill that set aside and protected Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove. The giant sequoias are among the largest and oldest living things on earth.
The Mariposa Grove DEIS will restore dynamic ecological processes and increase the resiliency of this treasured grove. Heavy visitor use over the past 150 years has negatively impacted the Mariposa Grove. Additionally, roads and parking lots in the sequoia grove, along with other development, have adversely impacted the natural ecosystem. The plan will provide for visitor access, while reducing impacts to the grove and restore the natural ecosystem of the area.
The Mariposa Grove DEIS presents and analyzes four alternatives, including a No Action Alternative. The park identified Alternative 2 (South Entrance Hub) as the Preferred Alternative. This alternative will restore giant sequoia habitat by removing the parking lot in the lower grove, removing the gift shop, and ceasing the commercial tram operation. Additionally, the road within the grove will be rerouted to avoid a wetland, thus allowing restoration of this sensitive area.
The Preferred Alternative will improve the visitor experience by also proposing traffic and transportation improvements that include a new parking lot and transportation hub near the South Entrance to the park. Improvements include enhanced orientation for visitors and a free shuttle bus between the transportation hub and the Mariposa Grove. Parking will be available near the grove for vehicles with handicap placards. A new trail will be constructed, which will enable visitors to hike from the transportation hub to the grove. Accessible boardwalks and trails will be constructed within the lower grove in order to provide better access and protect sensitive wetlands.
For a copy of the plan and a complete description of the alternatives, please visit the park's website at (http://www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/mgrove.htm). Comments can be submitted on the Planning Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/mariposagrove. Comments made through the PEPC website are the preferred method of submission. Comments can also be sent via email or via U.S. mail to:
Yosemite National Park
Attn: Mariposa Grove DEIS
P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, CA 95389
Public meetings will be held in multiple locations throughout the Yosemite area. Specific dates, locations, and times will be announced soon.