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High Elevation Aquatic Ecosystem Recovery and Stewardship Plan

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The National Park Service is preparing a High Elevation Aquatic Ecosystem Recovery and Stewardship Plan/Environmental Assessment to describe and evaluate the actions that we, the National Park Service, are proposing to restore and protect Yosemite National Park's high elevation aquatic ecosystems. The plan will include lakes, ponds, streams, and wet meadows found from approximately 5,500 feet to 12,000 feet in elevation. These waters provide habitat for a diverse assemblage of native species including the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog and the Yosemite toad, two species that have suffered substantial population declines.

The plan is needed because:

* Two species of native amphibians (Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog and Yosemite toad) are experiencing serious population declines. Management action is needed to prevent additional loss and the potential extirpation or extinction of these species within the park or the Sierra Nevada, respectively;

* The presence of introduced nonnative invasive aquatic species is decreasing the abundance and distribution of native species, resulting in unnatural diversity and abundance, and impacting the healthy functioning Yosemite's high elevation aquatic ecosystems. Management action is needed to remove and limit the spread of existing invasive species, and prevent the introduction of new invasive species; and

* Protection of the park's high elevation aquatic ecosystems requires an understanding of the current status of these systems and a framework for evaluating and prioritizing research needs and management actions that may be necessary to ensure that park resources and values within these systems are unimpaired.

The Aquatic Plan EA will consider:

* Habitat restoration by removing nonnative trout from selected areas of the park containing high natural biodiversity and/or are most advantageous to the recovery of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged. Fish removal would involve gill nets and electrofishers. Chemicals are not being considered at this time;

* Habitat restoration in selected areas of the park containing high natural biodiversity and/or are most advantageous to the recovery of the Yosemite toad;

* Management of recreational and administrative activities to reduce the impacts on wet meadow habitat. This includes:

- Preventative measures to avoid the introduction or spread of non-native species or pathogens that may threaten native species or their habitats; and

- Evaluation of human use within aquatic environments in order to ensure that human use does not result in loss of ecological function (e.g., campsites, pack stock grazing, trails).

The National Park Service received public input on the scope of the Aquatic Plan EA from June 23, 2008 through July 25, 2008. Two public meetings were held during public scoping. Written scoping comments were submitted at public meetings, by mail, fax, email, and through the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) commenting system.

A draft document is expected to be available for public review in fall 2011. Upon release, you will be able to submit your comments electronically through the PEPC system. To request a hard copy or CD ROM version of the EA:

Mail: Superintendent
Attn: High Elevation Aquatic Ecosystem Recovery and Stewardship Plan
P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, CA 95389
Phone: 209/379-1365; Fax: 209/379-1294
E-mail: Yose_Planning@nps.gov
Contact Information
Heather McKenny
Aquatic Ecologist
(209) 379-1438