The Merced River can mean different things to different people, in part depending upon where in Yosemite National Park they view it. In the Yosemite Valley, the river is both a raging cataract and a placid stream.
The Merced is a place to gather along the shoreline for a picnic, or to float down the middle of it in a tube or raft on a lazy summer's day.
In the weeks and months ahead the National Park Service will be working on identifying the "outstanding remarkable values" that should be attributed to the river as they develop a management plan for the section of river that flows through the Yosemite Valley.
Designated a "wild and scenic river" in 1987, park officials must protect the Merced's outstanding remarkable values, its stream flows, and its water quality. Differing views over those points have long delayed an updated management plan for the Yosemite Valley, as groups that opposed the Park Service's proposals successfully battled the agency in the court system.
It was late last September when the Park Service and the Friends of Yosemite Valley and Mariposans for the Environment and Responsible Government settled their differences over the Merced River Plan and agreed to stop sending their lawyers to court. The gist of the litigation -- which claimed the Park Service was allowing inappropriate development to intrude upon the wild and scenic river corridor-- began shortly after Yosemite officials completed their first Merced Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive Management plan in August 2000.
In taking another run at developing a plan for the Yosemite Valley, the Park Service is holding a number of meetings in the coming weeks to discuss the Merced River's outstanding remarkable values. Presentations will be followed by discussion sessions with project staff and subject matter experts.
Not only are these meetings designed to explain how the Park Service is working to identify the river's values, but there will be a question-and-answer session and you'll be able to share your ideas of the river's outstanding values. There also will be discussion of methods that can be used for assessing the condition of each outstanding remarkable value and how those values can be protected and even enhanced.
These meetings get under way June 28 at the San Ramon City Hall, in San Ramon, California. For a schedule of locations and meeting times, visit this site.