Environmental Impact Statement for Restoration of the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Yosemite National Park, Madera, Mariposa, Mono, and Tuolumne Counties, CA, 75558-75559 [2011-31024]

Download as PDF 75558 Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 232 / Friday, December 2, 2011 / Notices National Park Service. Following approval of the GMP the official responsible for implementation would be the Superintendent, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Dated: November 3, 2011. John H. Williams, Acting Regional Director, Pacific West Region. [FR Doc. 2011–31040 Filed 12–1–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–KV–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service [NPS–PWR–PWRO–1002–8566; 8826–1016– 600] Environmental Impact Statement for Restoration of the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, Yosemite National Park, Madera, Mariposa, Mono, and Tuolumne Counties, CA National Park Service. Notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement. AGENCY: ACTION: The National Park Service (NPS) is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Restoration of the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias in Yosemite National Park. This EIS addresses implementation of actions called for in the 1980 General Management Plan (GMP), presenting comprehensive design alternatives for restoring natural conditions in the Mariposa Grove, as well as improving visitor experience and access within the Grove and at the nearby South Entrance to the park. The NPS is initiating public scoping and consultation with interested members of the public, agencies, and federally recognized American Indian Tribes traditionally associated with the area to help identify topics, issues, and concerns for consideration in the EIS. DATES: Comments must be received by January 3, 2012. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In 1864, Congress passed landmark legislation preserving both the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and the Yosemite Valley. This was the first time Congress set aside public lands for the express purpose of preserving scenic and natural values, stating that these areas ‘‘shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation * * * inalienable for all time’’ (Act of June 30, 1864, 13 Stat. 325). Giant sequoia groves occur sporadically on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada as remnants of more extensive forests that existed thousands of years ago. These impressive trees are known for their massive size and jlentini on DSK4TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:03 Dec 01, 2011 Jkt 226001 longevity. The Mariposa Grove comprises about 500 mature giant sequoia trees in an upper and lower grove. It is the largest of three giant sequoia groves within the park. Distribution of the trees is limited by several factors including surface water, typically supplied by melting snow; soil and air moisture; temperature; and ground water. Giant sequoias have expansive but shallow root systems that can reach up to one hundred feet from the base of the tree. Fire plays an important role in giant sequoia ecology, creating canopy openings and releasing soil nutrients needed for seedling establishment. Fire scars on the trees indicate that fires occurred at intervals of approximately 3–15 years within the Mariposa Grove until the late 19th century. The Mariposa Grove is home to several special-status species, including the pacific fisher (Martes pennanti, a candidate for federal listing as a threatened or endangered species), California spotted owls (Strix occidentalis occidentalis), Bolander’s woodreed (Cinna bolanderi), mountain lady’s slipper (Cypripedium montanum), and Coleman’s piperia (Piperia colemanii). Cultural resources in the area include archaeological resources and several historic properties either in, or eligible for listing in, the National Register of Historic Places. Historic resources include (1) the Mariposa Grove, a historic district that includes the loop road, several trails, the Civilian Conservation Corps-era comfort station, and the Grove Museum (individually listed), and (2) the South Entrance Station, a historic district that includes the comfort station, ranger residence/garage and the entrance checking station. The Mariposa Grove Road will be assessed for its eligibility for listing in the National Register as part of the project. Non-historic structures and sites within the Grove include the parking areas, gift shop, ticket booth, tram staging area, fueling station, vault toilets, shuttle stops and bus parking areas, several trails, and communications equipment. Site Management History: Paved roads, parking areas, a campground, and other infrastructure were constructed within the Mariposa Grove from the 1930s to the 1970s. Since then, management practices have evolved along with our understanding of ecology and giant sequoias. After nearly a century of fire suppression, prescribed fire was reintroduced to the Mariposa Grove in 1971, as resource managers recognized that heavy fuel build-up could threaten its survival. Growing concerns about visitation impacts also PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 led to the decision to prohibit private vehicles in the Upper Grove. In the 1980 General Management Plan (GMP), Yosemite National Park outlined goals and actions to protect and restore the Mariposa Grove and improve the nearby south entrance to the park. Some projects have been implemented, such as removal of the campground and lodge. However, several major actions have yet to be fully designed or implemented, such as relocating parking from the Lower Grove, improving facilities, upgrading utilities, and redesigning the South Entrance Station. Purpose and Need: Comprehensive actions are needed to ensure that the Mariposa Grove continues to thrive and provide inspiration and enjoyment for future generations. Primary goals of this project are to restore degraded habitat and natural processes critical to the long-term health of the Mariposa Grove, and to improve the overall experience for visitors. Existing conditions affecting the health of the Mariposa Grove include (1) roads and other infrastructure are disrupting natural water flows, (2) facilities in the Lower Grove—a parking lot for over 100 vehicles, a tram staging area, fueling station, fuel storage tanks, generators, and a gift shop—are encroaching on sequoias and their habitat, and (3) foot and vehicle traffic have compacted soils and exposed shallow sequoia roots. Stressed trees are less resilient and more susceptible to external threats such as disease, wildfire from surrounding areas, and effects from climate change. Existing conditions affecting the visitor experience include (1) inadequate information exists to properly orient visitors upon arrival to the park or the Mariposa Grove, (2) road configuration at the South Entrance and entrance to the Mariposa Grove is confusing, (3) the parking lot fills to capacity early in the day, forcing temporary closures of the lot and road, (4) long lines form at the kiosks and intersection as visitors attempt to get information, find parking, or turn around due to lot and road closure, (5) shuttles from Wawona to the Mariposa Grove are often already full when they arrive at the South Entrance Station shuttle stop, and (6) trails and facilities need improvements for accessibility. Conditions affecting visitor and employee safety include (1) pedestrian crossings to and from the facilities and parking are undefined and hazardous amid the traffic congestion, (2) small entrance station kiosks have insufficient space for employee safety, accessibility, or comfort while working long shifts, (3) multiple left turn lanes crossing one another at the South Entrance Station E:\FR\FM\02DEN1.SGM 02DEN1 jlentini on DSK4TPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 76, No. 232 / Friday, December 2, 2011 / Notices increase potential for accidents, and (4) large vehicles have difficulty making the turn to exit the park, sometimes striking barriers and kiosks. To address these issues, the NPS will be developing a range of alternatives to restore the Mariposa Grove and improve visitor experience, consistent with goals outlined in the GMP. Grove restoration treatment plans will be informed by existing and ongoing scientific research and monitoring. Site design alternatives may include actions such as (1) relocating the parking lot away from the giant sequoias, (2) improving trails and transportation access within and to the Grove, (3) repairing, replacing, and/or removing deteriorating infrastructure and utilities, (4) redesigning traffic circulation, and (5) accommodating parking in the vicinity of South Entrance, with visitor orientation information and shuttle stops. The EIS will describe and analyze a no-action alternative (maintain current management, roads, and facilities) and several action alternatives for restoring the health of the Mariposa Grove. Alternatives will be developed consistent with applicable federal, state, and local regulations, NPS policies, and relevant park plans, including the Merced River Plan (in progress). All alternatives will include methods to minimize or avoid adverse effects to natural, cultural, and historic resources, and the ‘‘environmentally preferred’’ course of action will be identified. Written comments may be submitted online at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/ mariposagrove. Alternately, letters may be mailed to the Superintendent, Attn: Mariposa Grove EIS, P.O. Box 577, Yosemite, CA 95389. Comments may also be submitted in person, during business hours, to the Superintendent’s Office in the Valley Administration Building or the Office of Environmental Planning and Compliance, 5083 Foresta Road, El Portal, CA, or may be handdelivered at the open house. To learn more about the proposed restoration, the public is invited to attend any of the regularly scheduled park planning open houses. In addition, current project information will be posted at http://www.nps.gov/yose/ parkmgmt/mgrove.htm, or may be obtained by telephone at the Yosemite Office of Environmental Planning and Compliance (209) 379–1002. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:03 Dec 01, 2011 Jkt 226001 to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Dated: November 4, 2011. Cynthia L. Ip, Acting Regional Director, Pacific West Region. [FR Doc. 2011–31024 Filed 12–1–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4312–FY–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service [NPS–NCR–NACA–1111–8771; 3086–SYM] Notice of Meeting, National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission National Park Service, Interior. ACTION: Notice of meeting. AGENCY: Notice is hereby given that the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission (the Commission) will meet at the National Building Museum, Room 312, 401 F Street NW., Washington, DC, on Wednesday, December 14, 2011, at 10 a.m., to consider matters pertaining to commemorative works in the District of Columbia and its environs. DATES: Wednesday, December 14, 2011. ADDRESSES: National Building Museum, Room 312, 401 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20001. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Nancy Young, Secretary to the Commission, by telephone at (202) 619– 7097, by email at nancy_young@nps.gov, by telefax at (202) 619–7420, or by mail at the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission, 1100 Ohio Drive SW., Room 220, Washington, DC 20242. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Commission was established by Public Law 99–652, the Commemorative Works Act (40 U.S.C. Chapter 89 et seq.), to advise the Secretary of the Interior (the Secretary) and the Administrator, General Services Administration, (the Administrator) on policy and procedures for establishment of, and proposals to establish, commemorative works in the District of Columbia and its environs, as well as such other matters as it may deem appropriate concerning commemorative works. The Commission examines each memorial proposal for conformance to the Commemorative Works Act, and makes recommendations to the Secretary and the Administrator and to Members and Committees of Congress. The Commission also serves as a source of information for persons seeking to SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 75559 establish memorials in Washington, DC, and its environs. The members of the Commission are as follows: Director, National Park Service; Administrator, General Services Administration; Chairman, National Capital Planning Commission; Chairman, Commission of Fine Arts; Mayor of the District of Columbia; Architect of the Capitol; Chairman, American Battle Monuments Commission; Secretary of Defense. The agenda for the meeting is as follows: (1) Memorial to the Victims of the 1932–1933 Ukrainian FamineGenocide—Design consultation. (2) Memorial to President John Adams—Alternative Sites Study consultation. Please contact National Park Service Monuments and Memorials Specialist Glenn DeMarr at (202) 619– 7027 or glenn_demarr@nps.gov for specific information regarding sites under consideration. (3) Review of H.R. 3278, a bill to authorize the Fair Housing Foundation to establish a commemorative work to commemorate the national significance of the fair housing movement in America. The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. and is open to the public. Persons who wish to file a written statement or testify at the meeting or who want further information concerning the meeting may contact Ms. Nancy Young, Secretary to the Commission. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. Dated: November 7, 2011. Stephen E. Whitesell, Regional Director, National Capital Region. [FR Doc. 2011–31042 Filed 12–1–11; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4312–JK–P E:\FR\FM\02DEN1.SGM 02DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 232 (Friday, December 2, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 75558-75559]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-31024]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

National Park Service

[NPS-PWR-PWRO-1002-8566; 8826-1016-600]


Environmental Impact Statement for Restoration of the Mariposa 
Grove of Giant Sequoias, Yosemite National Park, Madera, Mariposa, 
Mono, and Tuolumne Counties, CA

AGENCY: National Park Service.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The National Park Service (NPS) is preparing an Environmental 
Impact Statement (EIS) for the Restoration of the Mariposa Grove of 
Giant Sequoias in Yosemite National Park. This EIS addresses 
implementation of actions called for in the 1980 General Management 
Plan (GMP), presenting comprehensive design alternatives for restoring 
natural conditions in the Mariposa Grove, as well as improving visitor 
experience and access within the Grove and at the nearby South Entrance 
to the park. The NPS is initiating public scoping and consultation with 
interested members of the public, agencies, and federally recognized 
American Indian Tribes traditionally associated with the area to help 
identify topics, issues, and concerns for consideration in the EIS.

DATES: Comments must be received by January 3, 2012.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In 1864, Congress passed landmark 
legislation preserving both the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and 
the Yosemite Valley. This was the first time Congress set aside public 
lands for the express purpose of preserving scenic and natural values, 
stating that these areas ``shall be held for public use, resort, and 
recreation * * * inalienable for all time'' (Act of June 30, 1864, 13 
Stat. 325). Giant sequoia groves occur sporadically on the western 
slope of the Sierra Nevada as remnants of more extensive forests that 
existed thousands of years ago. These impressive trees are known for 
their massive size and longevity. The Mariposa Grove comprises about 
500 mature giant sequoia trees in an upper and lower grove. It is the 
largest of three giant sequoia groves within the park. Distribution of 
the trees is limited by several factors including surface water, 
typically supplied by melting snow; soil and air moisture; temperature; 
and ground water. Giant sequoias have expansive but shallow root 
systems that can reach up to one hundred feet from the base of the 
tree. Fire plays an important role in giant sequoia ecology, creating 
canopy openings and releasing soil nutrients needed for seedling 
establishment. Fire scars on the trees indicate that fires occurred at 
intervals of approximately 3-15 years within the Mariposa Grove until 
the late 19th century.
    The Mariposa Grove is home to several special-status species, 
including the pacific fisher (Martes pennanti, a candidate for federal 
listing as a threatened or endangered species), California spotted owls 
(Strix occidentalis occidentalis), Bolander's woodreed (Cinna 
bolanderi), mountain lady's slipper (Cypripedium montanum), and 
Coleman's piperia (Piperia colemanii). Cultural resources in the area 
include archaeological resources and several historic properties either 
in, or eligible for listing in, the National Register of Historic 
Places. Historic resources include (1) the Mariposa Grove, a historic 
district that includes the loop road, several trails, the Civilian 
Conservation Corps-era comfort station, and the Grove Museum 
(individually listed), and (2) the South Entrance Station, a historic 
district that includes the comfort station, ranger residence/garage and 
the entrance checking station. The Mariposa Grove Road will be assessed 
for its eligibility for listing in the National Register as part of the 
project. Non-historic structures and sites within the Grove include the 
parking areas, gift shop, ticket booth, tram staging area, fueling 
station, vault toilets, shuttle stops and bus parking areas, several 
trails, and communications equipment.
    Site Management History: Paved roads, parking areas, a campground, 
and other infrastructure were constructed within the Mariposa Grove 
from the 1930s to the 1970s. Since then, management practices have 
evolved along with our understanding of ecology and giant sequoias. 
After nearly a century of fire suppression, prescribed fire was 
reintroduced to the Mariposa Grove in 1971, as resource managers 
recognized that heavy fuel build-up could threaten its survival. 
Growing concerns about visitation impacts also led to the decision to 
prohibit private vehicles in the Upper Grove. In the 1980 General 
Management Plan (GMP), Yosemite National Park outlined goals and 
actions to protect and restore the Mariposa Grove and improve the 
nearby south entrance to the park. Some projects have been implemented, 
such as removal of the campground and lodge. However, several major 
actions have yet to be fully designed or implemented, such as 
relocating parking from the Lower Grove, improving facilities, 
upgrading utilities, and redesigning the South Entrance Station.
    Purpose and Need: Comprehensive actions are needed to ensure that 
the Mariposa Grove continues to thrive and provide inspiration and 
enjoyment for future generations. Primary goals of this project are to 
restore degraded habitat and natural processes critical to the long-
term health of the Mariposa Grove, and to improve the overall 
experience for visitors. Existing conditions affecting the health of 
the Mariposa Grove include (1) roads and other infrastructure are 
disrupting natural water flows, (2) facilities in the Lower Grove--a 
parking lot for over 100 vehicles, a tram staging area, fueling 
station, fuel storage tanks, generators, and a gift shop--are 
encroaching on sequoias and their habitat, and (3) foot and vehicle 
traffic have compacted soils and exposed shallow sequoia roots. 
Stressed trees are less resilient and more susceptible to external 
threats such as disease, wildfire from surrounding areas, and effects 
from climate change.
    Existing conditions affecting the visitor experience include (1) 
inadequate information exists to properly orient visitors upon arrival 
to the park or the Mariposa Grove, (2) road configuration at the South 
Entrance and entrance to the Mariposa Grove is confusing, (3) the 
parking lot fills to capacity early in the day, forcing temporary 
closures of the lot and road, (4) long lines form at the kiosks and 
intersection as visitors attempt to get information, find parking, or 
turn around due to lot and road closure, (5) shuttles from Wawona to 
the Mariposa Grove are often already full when they arrive at the South 
Entrance Station shuttle stop, and (6) trails and facilities need 
improvements for accessibility.
    Conditions affecting visitor and employee safety include (1) 
pedestrian crossings to and from the facilities and parking are 
undefined and hazardous amid the traffic congestion, (2) small entrance 
station kiosks have insufficient space for employee safety, 
accessibility, or comfort while working long shifts, (3) multiple left 
turn lanes crossing one another at the South Entrance Station

[[Page 75559]]

increase potential for accidents, and (4) large vehicles have 
difficulty making the turn to exit the park, sometimes striking 
barriers and kiosks.
    To address these issues, the NPS will be developing a range of 
alternatives to restore the Mariposa Grove and improve visitor 
experience, consistent with goals outlined in the GMP. Grove 
restoration treatment plans will be informed by existing and ongoing 
scientific research and monitoring. Site design alternatives may 
include actions such as (1) relocating the parking lot away from the 
giant sequoias, (2) improving trails and transportation access within 
and to the Grove, (3) repairing, replacing, and/or removing 
deteriorating infrastructure and utilities, (4) redesigning traffic 
circulation, and (5) accommodating parking in the vicinity of South 
Entrance, with visitor orientation information and shuttle stops.
    The EIS will describe and analyze a no-action alternative (maintain 
current management, roads, and facilities) and several action 
alternatives for restoring the health of the Mariposa Grove. 
Alternatives will be developed consistent with applicable federal, 
state, and local regulations, NPS policies, and relevant park plans, 
including the Merced River Plan (in progress). All alternatives will 
include methods to minimize or avoid adverse effects to natural, 
cultural, and historic resources, and the ``environmentally preferred'' 
course of action will be identified.
    Written comments may be submitted online at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/mariposagrove. Alternately, letters may be mailed 
to the Superintendent, Attn: Mariposa Grove EIS, P.O. Box 577, 
Yosemite, CA 95389. Comments may also be submitted in person, during 
business hours, to the Superintendent's Office in the Valley 
Administration Building or the Office of Environmental Planning and 
Compliance, 5083 Foresta Road, El Portal, CA, or may be hand-delivered 
at the open house.
    To learn more about the proposed restoration, the public is invited 
to attend any of the regularly scheduled park planning open houses. In 
addition, current project information will be posted at http://www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/mgrove.htm, or may be obtained by telephone 
at the Yosemite Office of Environmental Planning and Compliance (209) 
379-1002.
    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

    Dated: November 4, 2011.
Cynthia L. Ip,
Acting Regional Director, Pacific West Region.
[FR Doc. 2011-31024 Filed 12-1-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4312-FY-P