Project overview: Implement a systemic monitoring effort across Yosemite Valley to close information gaps between multiple partners and departments and better understand the bigger-picture impacts of fire, resource management, and restoration activities.

How your support helps: Yosemite resource and fire management staff and their partners are investing millions of dollars in river, meadow, and forest restoration projects in Yosemite Valley to restore ecological processes, reduce fire hazard, and protect cultural and scenic values as part of the Merced River Plan, Scenic Vista Management Plan, Fire Management Plan, and General Management Plan. Now, it’s important to evaluate how all of these individual restoration efforts are complementing one another.

Thanks to support from Conservancy donors, this project aims to develop an understanding of the cumulative effects of management at a landscape level through a comprehensive monitoring strategy. The strategy will allow Yosemite to address many critical management questions, document and evaluate the progress towards restoration goals, and support adaptive management to guide future restoration planning and implementation.

Closing these information gaps, particularly impacts to sensitive species, will aid fire managers as they navigate compliance questions, develop resource protection measures, and identify operational tactics.

This year: With your support, a team will pool data from multiple sources: existing park-wide airborne LiDAR and terrestrial LiDAR data to assess forest structure and fuel loading, field samplings to quantify plant diversity and assess forest health, examinations of the effect of recent fire management on hydrologic function through a network of soil moisture sensors, and monitoring of red-legged frog populations to characterize upland habitat that is known to occur in burn units.

Together, this information will allow resource and fire managers to spatially link forest structure, fire behavior, diversity, and function — informing predictions of future management impacts and hazard analyses for valued resources.

With your support, this monitoring strategy crosses numerous disciplines and will facilitate a bigger picture, multi-resource view of our shared goals and objectives.

Project partners: Yosemite National Park

Lacey Hankin

Fire Ecologist, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

Establishing this monitoring network now is critical for tracking landscape-level change as restoration continues, and will help in long-term evaluation of management success.”