The snow pack of 2014 - 2015 in the Sierra was an unprecedented low of 5% of normal. Thankfully, the snow pack of 2015-2016 was close to normal. We will be in the western Sierra in two weeks, and I wonder what effects of the very low snow pack of 2014/15 remain, especially at 8,000 feet and above. Moreover, are there any extra precautions we should take to minimize our impact on this stressed area? (Although we never make campfires, feel free to include information on campfires in the context of this question.)
Severe drought effects established plants more than the annuals, as seeds often have a very extended lifespan and will germinate when new moisture arrives. Appropriate practice whenever hiking in our State and National parks apply: Stay on trail, don't disturb vegetation, collect wood, or host fires. Stay aware of redds in rivers and creeks and do not disturb them. Pack out all waste, even human (fecal containment packs are available from some retailers and from some park stations). Set up camp on durable ground, not in meadows or grasses, and follow strict leave no trace guidelines. Generic rules are designed with severe conditions and persistent conservation in mind. Enjoy your park visit.