Tuolumne Grove Restoration and Fence Installation

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The Tuolumne Grove, located off Tioga Road in the Crane Flat area, is one of only 3 areas in Yosemite where visitors can experience the grandeur of the Giant Sequoia, a park rare species. As a result of high visitor use, the soil around the base of many sequoias is becoming compacted, resulting in reduced water absorption and compromising the health of the trees. Informal trails can be found throughout the project site further facilitating erosion and damage to tree roots and other native plants. Heavy winter precipitation and spring runoff has exacerbated these problems. Muddy trails are resulting in the increased number of informal trails and natural resource impacts. Blocked and damaged culverts have caused water to be diverted towards the Giant Sequoia named "Big Red", as well as causing damage to the road.
Work at the Tuolumne Grove will consist of the elimination and ecological restoration of informal trails and trampled areas at base of the Sequoias along the established loop trail and road. This includes mulching and the addition of 200 feet of stacked three-rail fence to protect tree roots and keep visitors on formal trails. The only soil disturbance that will occur will be installation of rebar at 17 fence junctions. Staging for fencing will occur in the picnic area and last approximately 4 days. Erosion on hillsides, used by visitors to take pictures, will be stabilized and restored. Sustainable access to viewing areas will be provided. A 40-50 foot section of the formal trail from the picnic area currently passes through a spring. This trail is wet most of the year and informal trails have been made by visitors avoiding muddy areas. This portion of the trail will be rerouted out of the wetland area approximately 5 feet upslope to a more ecologically stable area. This will help to improve visitors experience by protecting the wetland area and providing better trail access. In the project area, approximately 300 feet of existing formal trail will be rehabilitated. An old road/informal trail connecting the north part of the outer loop trail to the Tuolumne Grove road is leading to the formation of informal trails and natural resource impacts. About 20 feet on each end of this old road will be disguised and mulched and protected from erosion. The Branch of History, Architecture and Landscape and Archeology has been consulted regarding the cultural landscape of the area and possible impacts. All project work has been determined not to impact areas of cultural significance. The Vegetation and Ecological Restoration Branch will work with Roads and Trails to solve hydrology problems by clearing ditches and culverts near "Big Red", repairing asphalt edges of the road that are a safety issue, and adding water bars and trail improvements to increase trail safety, decrease erosion and protect exposed Sequoia roots.
About 20% of this project will take place in designated wilderness. 90% of the restoration work in wilderness will take place in a way that will not affect wilderness health and character (mulching and placing of slash to aid in the ecological rehabilitation of areas where informal trails exist). The proposed addition of 175 feet of new fence will take place within designated wilderness (115 feet beyond the wilderness boundary). This proposed action will take place in order to protect a highly impacted area that affects a Giant Sequoia, one of the few found in designated wilderness. Attempts will be made to install this fence with the use of a hand powered brace and bit in order to protect wilderness character. However, if this process becomes unfeasible in completing the work, a powered drill may be used. A Wilderness Minimum Requirement Analysis is in process.
Work will be completed by Vegetation and Ecological Restoration crews. Yosemite Fund volunteers will also take part in volunteer work weekends to help with fence building, trail rehabilitation and restoration of impacted areas.