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Boating in Yosemite!

Posted: 07/26/2010
By: Dave Steindorf

American Whitewater recently had the opportunity to meet with the National Park Service to discuss the Wild and Scenic River plans for the Merced and Tuolumne Rivers in Yosemite National Park.  During this three-day meeting, California Stewardship Director, Dave Steindorf, and Regional Coordinator, Paul Martzen, were able to float the Merced River through Yosemite Valley along with Park Service Staff.  This descent was the first legal descent of the river in recent history.

As most paddlers know there is no better,or lower impact way to see amazing river valleys such as Yosemite.  Even though this trip took place at the height of the tourist season, all who participated commented that it was surprising how remote it felt in spite of there being several thousand other visitors in the Valley.  Finding ways to provide floating opportunities and protect the serene, tranquil experience that floating through the valley provides were at the heart of the discussions between AW and Park Service staff. 

During the the visit we also made trips to the Wawona area to evaluate the South Merced and Big Creek reaches that run through the Park.  These are classic whitewater runs that have seen extensive use for many years, despite being technically prohibited by Park rules. The meeting also included a trip to the headwaters of Tuolumne River.  The Upper Tuolumne has its own particular challenges. In addition to being subject to the Yosemite Park Management Plan, the Wild and Scenic River Management plan, it is also subject to the Raker Act which created Hetch Hetchy reservoir to serve as the water source for the City of San Francisco and prohibited boating on the reservoir.
American Whitewater plans on providing comments to the Park Service to aide them in developing new Wild and Scenic management plans for the Merced and Tuolumne rivers.   This meeting was a valuable opportunity to inform and educate the Park Service on our interest as well as well as helping us to better understand the challenges they face in putting these river plans together.  Providing opportunities for people to experience what is truly one of the most amazing places on the planet, while protecting it for future generations, is a task that we welcome and to which we look forward to working on with the National Park Service.

To find out more, or to submit your own comments please go to: for the Tuolumne River Plan for the Merced River Plan


You can submit comments electronically to the Yosemite National Park Service planning team

Explain to the park planners why would like to be allowed to paddle in the Park, and which river sections you would like to explore in your boat..

Dave Steindorf

4 Baroni Drive

Chico, CA 95928

Phone: 530-343-1871
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