Wilderness Restoration Programmatic 2014 -2019

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This program will restore natural conditions to Yosemite Wilderness' montane, subalpine, and alpine ecosystems that are experiencing vegetation loss, soil erosion and compaction, habitat fragmentation, and hydrological changes due to visitor and administrative use. This program will focus on ecologically restoring inappropriately located campsites; social, abandoned and parallel trails; and removing non-native invasive plants.

The following methods for removing invasive species, campsites, and trails have been determined (in consultation with cultural resource staff) to protect cultural resources.

CAMPSITES: Inappropriate campsites are widespread throughout the wilderness, particularly in proximity to rivers, lakes and streams. Ecological restoration actions seek to rehabilitate damaged soils, thereby facilitating the return of native plant and animal communities. Work consists of 1) dispersing the fire rings and charcoal from inappropriately located sites in a way that protects the surroundings; 2) obstructing the site with logs and large rocks to camouflage the area as well as discourage camping; 3) decompacting the soil; and 4) naturalizing the site with locally gathered seeds and mulch to add organic matter to the site which helps prevent erosion and provides a seed bank. Materials will be gathered in a way that minimizes impacts on the local surroundings.

PARALLEL TRAILS, ABANDONED TRAILS, and SOCIAL TRAILS: Throughout the wilderness, inappropriately located trails occur when users avoid wet, muddy areas in a trail; take (or make) short cuts; or create new trails to access water or another campsite. These trails cause habitat fragmentation, hydrological change and erosion. Ecological restoration of shallow trails can be as simple as placing an obstruction and decompacting the trail, preventing further damage. Deeper ruts require: 1) salvaging of existing plants from along the trail; 2) removing linear nature of trail edge; 3) decompacting and /or bringing rut up to grade; 4) discouraging use by placing obstructions and disguising old trail, a grip hoist may be used; 5) replanting salvaged plants; 6) scattering locally gathered seeds and duff; and 7) watering plants with a solar powered water pump thereby eliminating new social trail development. Work is done in small sections, to minimize the amount of time the salvaged plants are out of the ground. Materials will be gathered in a way that minimizes impacts on the local surroundings.

INVASIVE NON-NATIVE PLANTS: Invasive species enter the wilderness through seed dispersal from non-wilderness locations via stock, wind, hikers and human caused disturbance including fire fighting. Invasive plant removal methods vary depending on the species. Targeted plant removal methods are: hand pulled with minimal soil disturbance OR severing the stem at the base of the plants just beneath the soil surface, minimizing soil distrubance OR by digging up the plant.

These three actions are implemented by five person NPS Wilderness Restoration Crews who work from June-September, a five week eight person Student Conservation Association Crew, and various volunteer work weeks. The NPS and SCA crews are roving crews, backpacking from work area to work area. Stock support for the SCA crew is two animals every five or six days. The NPS crew requires stock support only on trips exceeding eight days in length or if working in one area for an extended period time. Stock support will occur only on the first day and last of such projects. Volunteer work weeks receive stock support. The majority of the work is done with hand tools including shovels, rakes, buckets, large bags, webbing, crosscut saws, grass whips and sickles. A solar water pump for watering salvaged plants and grip hoists for moving large obstructions may also be used on meadow restoration projects in an effort to reduce impacts. ***Please see full project description in the PEQ***