TIOGA ROAD RE­MAINS CLOSED

The Tribune (SLO) - - Front Page - BY CAR­MEN GE­ORGE cge­[email protected]­nobee.com

Tioga Road in Yosemite Na­tional Park re­mains closed and con­struc­tion plans in­clude larger park­ing lots.

Trav­el­ers await­ing the re­open­ing of Tioga Road in Yosemite Na­tional Park will have to keep wait­ing as snow­plows con­tinue their jour­ney across the re­mote road over the Sierra Ne­vada.

There’s no es­ti­mated date for Tioga Road’s re­open­ing, but com­par­ing this year to 2017 might pro­vide a good guess. In 2017, snow­pack was at 177% of av­er­age as of April 1 (this year it’s at 176% of av­er­age) and Tioga Road re­opened June

29.

Last year, snow­pack was much lower at that time (67% of av­er­age) and the road re­opened May

21. The lat­est up­date as of May 1 puts snow­pack in the Tuolumne River basin at 149% of av­er­age.

As the wait con­tin­ues, other big Tioga Road news was an­nounced: Start­ing next year, no more road­side park­ing – and larger park­ing lots – along Tioga Road in Tuolumne Mead­ows, a won­der­land of wilder­ness sur­rounded by white gran­ite domes and peaks with names like Cathe­dral and Uni­corn.

HIGH SIERRA PARK­ING CHANGES, CON­STRUC­TION

In­stead of park­ing along Tioga Road in Tuolumne Mead­ows, vis­i­tors will park in larger park­ing lots, “ex­panded park­ing ar­eas within nearby up­land ar­eas” with no loss of park­ing spa­ces, Yosemite of­fi­cials said.

These changes fol­low a 2014 fi­nal de­ci­sion in the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River Fi­nal Com­pre­hen­sive Man­age­ment Plan and En­vi­ron­men­tal Im­pact

State­ment.

Road­side park­ing in Tuolumne Mead­ows has ac­com­mo­dated over 500 vis­i­tors in the past dur­ing peak vis­i­ta­tion times, ac­cord­ing to the Tuolumne River plan’s Al­ter­na­tive 4, which was cho­sen for the fi­nal record of de­ci­sion.

A pub­lic meet­ing will be held about these projects and others from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Grov­e­land Com­mu­nity Hall – 18720 High­way 120 in Grov­e­land – an­nounced on so­cial me­dia last week by Yosemite of­fi­cials.

“Road­side park­ing blocks views,” Yosemite of­fi­cials said, “and neg­a­tively im­pacts crit­i­cal meadow habi­tat as cars en­croach into meadow and ri­par­ian ar­eas.”

NEW VIS­I­TOR CEN­TERS

The Tuolumne River plan also calls for the con­struc­tion of a new vis­i­tor cen­ter in Tuolumne Mead­ows, ad­ja­cent to Tioga Road and across from the trail­head lead­ing to Par­sons Memo­rial Lodge.

Near the other end of Tioga Road, the Big Oak Flat In­for­ma­tion Sta­tion will be re­placed with a new wel­come cen­ter and re­strooms.

The plan ac­com­mo­dates nearly 5,000 peo­ple at one time in the Tuolumne River cor­ri­dor dur­ing peak vis­i­ta­tion times, ap­prox­i­mately the same num­bers ob­served in re­cent years.

“Un­der the se­lected ac­tion, Tuolumne Mead­ows will re­tain its over­all rus­tic char­ac­ter with limited fa­cil­i­ties and ser­vices,” the plan states. “The peace­ful set­ting will con­tinue to serve as a des­ti­na­tion for low-im­pact recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties such as hik­ing, camp­ing, rock climb­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy and wildlife view­ing.”

Other pro­posed changes out­lined in the plan can be found on­line at nps.gov/yose/ get­involved/tr­p_feis.htm.

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