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Yosemite Valley Plan

    With millions of visitors coming to Yosemite Valley each year, development and traffic congestion pressures continue to weigh heavily on this unique national treasure.
     The National Park Service’s mission, mandated by the Congress, is to "…conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of same in such manner…as will as leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."
     Preserving the park’s natural and cultural resources in order to provide opportunities for visitor uses and enjoyment is key to planning for the future of Yosemite Valley.

Background and Goals

    The primary plan designed to guide the National Park Service in protecting and managing Yosemite National Park is the 1980 General Management Plan. This long-range plan for the entire park outlined five broad goals:

  • Reclaim priceless natural beauty
  • Reduce traffic congestion
  • Allow natural processes to prevail
  • Reduce crowding
  • Promote visitor understanding and enjoyment

The Yosemite Valley Plan aims to help carry out these goals and, in the process, to restore Yosemite Valley’s natural processes.

What is the Final Yosemite Valley Plan/SEIS?

    The Final Yosemite Valley Plan/Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) is a consolidation of several planning efforts over the last two decades. It is a comprehensive document that presents and analyzes four action alternatives and a No Action alternative for managing natural and cultural resources, facilities, and visitor experiences in Yosemite Valley. The Final Yosemite Valley Plan/SEIS was prepared based on the guidelines of the National Environmental Policy Act and was preceded by a draft that was released for public comment and review in March 2000.

    After the National Park Service’s Pacific West Regional Director signs a Record of Decision for the Final Yosemite Valley Plan/SEIS, the National Park Service would begin working to implement specific actions. The Yosemite Valley Plan would enable the National Park Service to move toward meeting the five broad goals of the 1980 General Management Plan in Yosemite Valley. In addition, the Merced River Plan zoning requirements and management elements prescribed for the Merced River in Yosemite Valley would be met through implementation of the Yosemite Valley Plan.

Purpose of and Need for the Action

    The Final Yosemite Valley Plan/SEIS was developed with these specific purposes in mind:

  • Restore, protect, and enhance the natural and cultural resources of Yosemite Valley
  • Provide opportunities for high quality, resource-based visitor experiences
  • Reduce traffic congestion
  • Provide effective park operations, including employee housing, to meet the mission of the National Park Service

    Actions proposed in the Final Yosemite Valley Plan/SEIS recognize highly valued natural and cultural resource considerations, the importance of the Merced River floodplain, and rockfall hazards in managing for the future of Yosemite Valley.
     Because Yosemite Valley is only 1 mile wide with walls several thousand feet high, both the cliffs and river present potential hazards to people and development.
     Furthermore, floodplains and periodic flooding are a critical component of the natural Valley ecosystem. As such, federal policy requires that special consideration be given to areas that are within the regulatory floodplain.
     The Final Yosemite Valley Plan/SEIS addresses these important issues, building on scientific information, laws and policies, and public involvement.

The Role and Importance of Public Involvement

    Public participation in the Yosemite Valley planning process is imperative to ensuring that the National Park Service understands and considers all relevant issues and concerns.
     During the preparation of the Draft and Final Yosemite Valley Plan/SEIS, public participation enabled the National Park Service to:

  • Analyze and incorporate comments from previous planning efforts
  • Define the range of issues to be addressed
  • Provide opportunities for the public to obtain the knowledge necessary to make informed comments
  • Collect public, American Indian, and agency comments on the Draft Yosemite Valley Plan/SEIS
  • Produce the best possible plan

Public Involvement Activities

    Over 6,000 public comments from previous Yosemite Valley planning efforts over the last 9 years were used in developing the Draft Yosemite Valley Plan/SEIS alternatives. During the public comment period on the Draft Yosemite Valley Plan/SEIS (March 28 through July 14, 2000), the National Park Service held 14 formal public meetings throughout California. In addition, public meetings were also held in Seattle, Washington; Denver, Colorado; Chicago, Illinois; and Washington, D.C. Yosemite National Park received over 10,000 public comments during this period.

June 30, 1864
The Original
Yosemite Master Plan


Approved June 30, 1864
(13 Stat. 325)

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there shall be, and is hereby, granted to the State of California the "cleft" or "gorge" in the granite peak of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, situated in the county of Mariposa, in the State aforesaid, and the headwaters of the Merced River, and known as the Yo-Semite Valley, with its branches or spurs, in estimated length fifteen miles, and in average width one mile back from the main edge of the precipice, on each side of the valley, with the stipulation, nevertheless, that the said State shall accept this grant upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation; shall be inalienable for all time; but leases not exceeding ten years may be granted for portions of said premises.

     All incomes derived from leases of privileges to be expended in the preservation and improvement of the property, or the roads leading thereto; the boundaries to be established at the cost of said State by the United States surveyor-general of California, whose official plat, when affirmed by the Commissioner of the General Land Office, shall constitute the evidence of the locus, extent, and limits of the said cleft or gorge; the premises to be managed by the governor of the State with eight other commissioners, to be appointed by the executive of California, and who shall receive no compensation for their services.

    And be it further enacted, That there shall likewise be, and there is hereby, granted to the said State of California the tracts embracing what is known as the "Mariposa Big Tree Grove," not to exceed the area of four sections, and to be taken in legal subdivisions of one quarter section each, with the like stipulation as expressed in the first section of this act as to the State's acceptance, with like conditions as in the first section of this act as to inalienability, yet with same lease privilege; the income to be expended in preservation, improvement, and protection of the property; the premises to be managed by commissioners as stipulated in the first section of this act, and to be taken in legal subdivisions as aforesaid; and the official plat of the United States surveyor general, when affirmed by the Commissioner of the General Land Office, to be the evidence of the locus of the said Mariposa Big Tree Grove.
(U.S.C., title 16, sec. 48.)

February 8, 1887
Authorizing The Dawes Act
Approved February 8, 1887
(U. S. Statutes at Large, Vol. XXIV, p. 388 ff.)

     An act to provide for the allotment of lands in severalty to Indians on the various reservations, and to extend the protection of the laws of the United States and the Territories over the Indians, and for other purposes.
     Be it enacted, That in all cases where any tribe or band of Indians has been, or shall hereafter be, located upon any reservation created for their use, either by treaty stipulation or by virtue of an act of Congress or executive order setting apart the same for their use, the President of the United States be, and he hereby is, authorized, whenever in his opinion any reservation or any part thereof of such Indians is advantageous for agricultural and grazing purposes to cause said reservation, or any part thereof, to be surveyed, or resurveyed if necessary, and to allot the lands in said reservations in severalty to any Indian located thereon in quantities as follows: To each head of a family, one-quarter of a section -- To each single person over eighteen years of age, one-eighth of a section; To each orphan child under eighteen years of age, one-eighth of a section; and, To each other single person under eighteen years now living, or who may be born prior to the date of the order of the President directing an allotment of the lands embraced in any reservation, one-sixteenth of a section; . SEC. 5 --That upon the approval of the allotments provided for in this act by the Secretary of the Interior, he shall . . . declare that the United States does and will hold the land thus allotted, for the period of twenty-five years, in trust for the sole use and benefit of the Indian to whom such allotment shall have been made, . . . and that at the expiration of said period the United States will convey the same by patent to said Indian, or his heirs as aforesaid, in fee, discharged of such trust and free of all charge or encumbrance whatsoever: . . SEC. 6 --That upon the completion of said allotments and the patenting of the lands to said allottees, each and every member of the respective bands or tribes of Indians to whom allotments have been made shall have the benefit of and be subject to the laws, both civil and criminal, of the State or Territory in which they may reside.
And every Indian born within the territorial limits of the United States to whom allotments shall have been made under the provisions of this act, or under any law or treaty...
And every Indian born within the territorial limits of the United States who has voluntarily taken up, within said limits, his residence separate and apart from any tribe of Indians therein, and has adopted the habits of civilized life, is hereby declared to be a citizen of the United States, and is entitled to all the rights, privileges, and immunities of such citizens, whether said Indian has been or not, by birth or otherwise, a member of any tribe of Indians within the territorial limits of the United States without in any manner impairing or otherwise affecting the right of any such Indian to tribal or other property.
(U. S. Statutes at Large, Vol. XXIV, p. 388 ff.)

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Nature Notes
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."
     -- John Muir, 1901

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