The comment period for the Merced River Plan will end tonight. The Merced River Plan will drive a number of changes to the park around the Merced River, affecting everything from how many visitors the park can accommodate to the number of campsites.
This plan is separate from the plan to expand Yosemite National Park, and focuses on how to preserve and restore space existing in the park. This summary document (5.6 MB PDF) provides a good overview to the 6 alternatives (including the “do nothing” option).
The plan largely focuses on restoring space near the Merced’s banks. This includes for most place the removal or destruction of many facilities, which is driving the strongest resistance to the plan. Most of the plans will lead to the destruction of historic stone bridges crossing the river, which, among other things, the National Trust for Historical Preservation strongly opposes. Nearly all plans call for a reduction in peak visitor capacity, with nearly a 50% reduction in two of the plans. Most plans call for the removal of visitor services, to varying degrees, with some increasing campsites and others reducing them.
Any alternative (outside of option 1’s “do nothing” plan) would take many years to implement and will likely encounter ongoing opposition. But with time, this could lead to some big changes in the appearance of the Yosemite Valley, from the facilities to how many people can experience the Park.