The National Park Service (NPS) initiated the Yosemite National Park Merced Wild and Scenic River comprehensive management planning process in 1996, which set the standard for river planning for the entire country.

Why does this project matter?

In 1999, NPS resumed the planning process after the U.S. District Court determined that the absence of a river management plan hindered NPS’s ability to ensure that projects in the river corridor adequately protected the river. The plan includes management zoning to guide conservation and development practices in the river corridor, and policies to protect and enhance the Merced River’s Outstandingly Remarkable Values.

What is ESA doing to help?

ESA worked closely with Yosemite National Park to develop the 2000 Merced River Plan and EIS. In 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit directed the NPS to revise the Merced River Plan to address two issues: user capacity and the river boundary drawn for the El Portal Administrative Site.

As the natural resources task leader for the Revised Merced River Plan/SEIS, ESA facilitated alternatives workshops and led the planning team through a “Choosing by Advantages” alternative selection process. On the basis of a recent settlement agreement, ESA is now collaborating with the Park to develop a new management plan and prepare the corresponding EIS, drawing on our expertise with the Wild and Scenic River Act and steering the Park through a contentious process of court-ordered deadlines.

ESA assisted NPS in creating a comprehensive management plan and navigating environmental compliance for the Yosemite National Park river corridor project. We have provided expertise in Wild and Scenic River Act compliance, extensive public outreach, scientific technical studies, and permitting.

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