Wilderness Stewardship Plan
Yosemite National Park resides in central California on the western flank of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Known for its breathtaking valleys, sheer granite walls and domes, abundant vegetation and wildlife, and pristine rivers and streams; Yosemite has long been a place for inspiration, wonder, and discovery.
Officially designated by the California Wilderness Act in 1984, the Yosemite Wilderness area encompasses over 94%, or about 704,000 acres, of the total area of Yosemite National Park. Many of the destinations and vistas that draw people to the park reside within the designated wilderness boundary.
The Yosemite Wilderness Area is currently managed under the 1989 Wilderness Management Plan. Although effective, changing use patterns, increased visitation numbers, and emerging threats to resources have prompted the park to develop an update to the Plan. The purpose of the Yosemite Wilderness Stewardship Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (WSP/EIS) is to review the management direction established by the 1989 Plan and update it as necessary to better align with contemporary use patterns and NPS policy.
In particular, there is a need to examine and refine the existing plan to incorporate new information and understanding about changes in visitor use patterns, methods of managing visitor use, techniques for trail design and construction, and concepts for managing stock in wilderness settings. There is also a need to incorporate new policy direction and definitions for wilderness character into the park's wilderness management framework. Finally, there is a need to determine the extent to which commercial services are necessary in the Yosemite Wilderness.
The WSP/EIS will apply to both visitor and administrative use (National Park Service and concessioner) in wilderness. While some site-specific actions may be necessary, the primary focus of the plan will be to provide a framework for measuring and monitoring wilderness character to ensure that future management actions will be taken as needed to adapt to changing conditions.
The Park initiated the WSP/EIS in November 2015 and conducted a public scoping comment period from November 10th, 2015 to January 29th, 2016. The Park hosted two meetings and three webinars, in an effort to engage the public and other stakeholders in the planning process.
Most recently, the park released preliminary concepts and ideas aimed at addressing two of the more complex issues within wilderness: visitor use and capacity, and stock use. The public was given the opportunity to engage with NPS staff during four in-person meetings, and two web-based webinars. The public was also encouraged to provide input and feedback regarding these ideas. The comment period was open from July 29th - September 30th, and is now closed. The comments are currently being analyzed and documented, and will be made available to the public later this Fall.
The Park will continue to seek public opinion throughout the planning process. The NPS anticipates the release of the Draft WSP/EIS, during the Spring of 2017. Please check back here for updates.
Yosemite National Park, Strategic Planning Division
Yosemite National Park, Environmental Planning and Compliance