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County sends list of concerns to Yosemite

April 9, 2013

 

Proposals to limit horseback rides, roadside parking on Tioga Pass Road alarm county

When Yosemite National Park decided to do a new management plan for the Tuolumne River region, Mono County residents took notice.

About 25 percent of the millions of annual visitors to Yosemite National Park arrive there via the Tioga Pass Road, making the road, which begins near Lee Vining, one of the county’s most critical roadways.

The Tuolumne River parallels the road for many miles, beginning west of the pass and continuing through the Tuolumne Meadows area.

What happens to the river—what is allowed, what is not, what is encouraged, what is not—is no small thing to Mono County, even though the river is not within the county’s borders.

Especially alarming to the county is the park’s proposal to limit horseback riding, remove a gas station, remove a mountaineering school, and limit roadside parking near the river.

On Tuesday, the county supervisors took their worries to the park in the form of a letter.

“It’s obvious they want to limit human interaction,” said Supervisor Tim Alpers. “That is critical to a point, but this is also our backyard, it’s a source of our livelihoods here. The park can get very focused in their little world, and not always think about including us. We need to let them know our concerns.”

The following are the main issues Mono County officials want the park to consider as it moves forward on its new river corridor management plan for the Tuolumne River:

nA confusing proposal to possibly limit parking alongside Tioga Road near Tuolumne Meadows was challenged by the supervisors, who asked for clarification.

nA proposal to remove a gas station near Tuolumne Meadows was challenged. “The plan’s proposed removal of a commercial gas station appear inconsistent with the plan’s retention of the fuel facility for the NPS,” the letter stated, “Gas station removal could cause visitor inconvenience and generate needless trips out of the Tuolumne area for fuel.”

nA proposal to eliminate commercial daytime horseback trips (not private trips or overnight commercial trips) was a big issue for the supervisors and county tourism officials. “Elimination of experiential visitor services and attractions reduce the motivation for people to stay longer in the region and/or to return at another time to take part in these activities,” the letter stated.

The official comment period for this plan closed last month, but there will still be many more opportunities for more feedback in the coming months and years.

The next step for the park in regards to the plan is to create what is called a Draft Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS. This draft EIS will incorporate all the comments on the plan, and the park service’s response to the comments and will be available for yet another round of public comment sometime this year.

A new management plan for the Merced River, which runs through Yosemite Valley, is also on the table. The comment period for that plan ends on April 18.

For a copy of the plans and a complete description of all alternatives, visit the park’s website at

www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/mrp.htm(MRP) or http://www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/trp.htm (TRP). 

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