2013-01-03 / Front Page

Park releases new Merced River Plan

Erik Skindrud / GAZETTE EDITOR

The long-awaited Merced River Plan “prefered alternative” that could guide development and restoration in Yosemite Valley for decades to come was unveiled on Tuesday.

As written, the plan would add 161 camp sites, boosting Valley camping opportunities by 37 percent. The spaces, most of which would be walk-in sites, would be spread among Upper Pines Campground, near Ahwahnee Meadow, an area by Camp 4 and a new campground just east of El Capitan Picnic Area.

Park hopes are high that the new plan will surmount obstacles that snagged two previous versions. According to one estimate, the National Park Service spent close to $65 million on previous plans that were derailed by lawsuits.

"We believe this plan stikes a balance between visitor experience and resource protection," Park planning chief Kathleen Morse said. "We are very proud of the work that we've done."
 
According to a settlement agreement connected to one suit, the Park must have a final Merced River Plan in place by the end of July.

Under this week’s alternative, Yosemite Valley lodging units would increase by about two percent—increasing Mariposa County’s hotel tax.

Several details of this week’s proposal will likely prove more controversial as the plan is discussed in weeks ahead.

This week’s document marks Sugar Pine Bridge east of The Ahwahnee hotel for removal in order to restore disturbed shoreline there.

The plan also would eliminate commercial raft rentals and horse and mule rides in Yosemite Valley. 

The public has until April 18 to comment on the plan. Visit www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/mrp.htm to learn more. 

Read the Jan. 10 MARIPOSA GAZETTE to learn more about this week's prefered alternative.

Located near The Ahwahnee hotel, Sugar Pine Bridge would be removed under recommendations contained in a document released by Yosemite National Park this week. Erik Skindrud / THE GAZETTELocated near The Ahwahnee hotel, Sugar Pine Bridge would be removed under recommendations contained in a document released by Yosemite National Park this week. Erik Skindrud / THE GAZETTE

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