- Emigrant Wilderness
Infobox_protected_area | name = Emigrant Wilderness
iucn_category = Ib
locator_x = 20
locator_y = 81
nearest_city = Merced, CA
lat_degrees = 39
lat_minutes = 11
lat_seconds = 07
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 119
long_minutes = 45
long_seconds = 53
long_direction = W
area = 112,277 acres (454 km²)
January 1, 1974
U.S. Forest ServiceThe Emigrant Wilderness is a wilderness areain the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, USA. It is bordered by Yosemite National Parkon the south, the Toiyabe National Foreston the east, and State Route 108 on the north. It is an elongated area that trends northeast about 25 miles (40 km) in length and up to 15 miles (24 km) in width. Watersheds drain to the Stanislaus and Tuolumne Rivers. This area is entirely within Tuolumne County, Californiaand is approximately 140 miles (225 km) east of San Francisco, Californiaand 50 miles (80 km) south of Lake Tahoe.
The Emigrant Wilderness is a glaciated landscape of great scenic beauty. The northeastern third of the Wilderness is dominated by volcanic ridges and peaks; the remaining areas consist of many sparsely vegetated, granitic ridges interspersed with numerous lakes and meadows. Elevations range from below 5,000 feet (1,500 m) near
Cherry Reservoirto 11,570 feet (3,526 m) at Leavitt Peak, but the elevation range of most of the popular areasis 7,500 to 9,000 feet (2,300 to 2,900 m). Precipitation averages 50 inches (1,300 mm) annually, 80 % of it in the form of snow. Snowpacks typically linger into June, sometimes later following very wet winters. Summers are generally dry and mild, but afternoon thundershowers occur periodically and nighttime temperatures could dip below freezing anytime.
Various native peoples occupied this area for 10,000 years, spending the summer and early autumn hunting in the high country and trading with groups from the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada. The most recent groups were the Sierra Miwok of the western slope and
Piuteof the Great Basin. Following the discovery of gold in 1848, large numbers of miners and settlers came to the Sierra and the native cultures quickly declined. In September-October 1852, the Clark-Skidmore partybecame the first emigrantgroup to travel the West Walker routeover Emigrant Pass, continuing through a portion of the present-day Emigrant Wilderness. Several more emigrant parties were enticed by officials from Sonora to use this route in 1853, but it was a very difficult passage with many hardships and was soon abandoned. Relief Valleywas so named because of the assistance some emigrants received there from residents of the Sonora area.
In 1931, the
United States Forest Servicedesignated this area for primitive management as the Emigrant Basin Primitive Area. On January 4 1975, the Emigrant Basin Primitive Area was designated as the Emigrant Wilderness.
Since 1975, 18 small dams in the Emigrant Wilderness have been the source of an unresolved political debate. Some support proposals to maintain the dams while others feel the dams should be allowed to decay in keeping with the
Wilderness Act. A decision by the Stanislaus National Forest to compromise and leave some dams to naturally deteriorate while allowing maintenance of others was overturned in court in 2006, reigniting some of the controversy. The Forest Service chose not to appeal and the dams will gradually disappear.
* [http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/stanislaus/visitor/emigrant.shtml USFS page about Emigrant Wilderness] (public domain source)
* [http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fuse=NWPS&sec=wildView&wname=Emigrant Wilderness.net]
* [http://www.topoquest.com/map.asp?z=11&n=4230648&e=264873&s=100&size=l&datum=nad83&layer=DRG25 TopoQuest map]
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