Yosemite, CA – Ahead of National Park Service (NPS) plans to celebrate its centennial next summer, Yosemite National Park officials announce an itinerary of ten signature projects they are undertaking to enhance visitor experience, restore critical ecological and wildlife habitats and engage the next generation of park stewards.
As Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher explains, “These ten signature centennial projects will continue the legacy of the National Park Service and celebrate the past 100 years of preservation and enjoyment of national parks across the country.”
The park will also commemorate its own milestone 125th anniversary on Oct. 1 with a number of events. On the date, back in 1890, President Benjamin Harrison signed the official legislation to designate Yosemite as the nation’s third national park, in the course, preserving the park’s high-country Tuolumne Meadows, Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite Valley, and surrounding lands, totaling some 1,500 square miles in all.
Below, Yosemite National Park officials share, in detail, the park’s ten signature centennial projects for the NPS 100th anniversary. They are slated for completion over the next several years, to be combined with other anniversary celebrations and geared for visitor participation:
Restoration of the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias (2013 – 2016): The NPS began work to restore the Mariposa Grove, ensuring that it thrives, enjoyable by future generations. The restoration will restore ecological processes including the giant sequoia habitat and wetlands, and increase the resiliency of the Mariposa Grove while improving the overall experience for visitors.
Engaging the Next Generation (2012 – 2016): Adopt the Class of 2016 is a multi-year program bringing the park and its resources to Yosemite gateway community students who will be graduating in 2016. This program will develop long lasting relationships between students and the park through a wide variety of activities inspiring ownership, stewardship, and awareness of the National Park in students’ backyards. Activities will take place both inside and outside of the park.
Youth Environmental Education Center (2013 – 2017): NatureBridge operates an environmental education campus at Crane Flat under a cooperative agreement with the park. This campus serves both the park and Yosemite Institute by fulfilling their shared mission. The current facilities are comprised of older buildings and structures, assembled over time, not originally designed for educational purposes. To address this issue, the park and NatureBridge began implementing a new campus in 2002, which is underway at Henness Ridge, on the Western edge of Yosemite National Park.
Meadow and River Corridor Restoration (2014 – 2017): Yosemite National Park will begin implementation of ecological restoration actions outlined in the Tuolumne River Plan and Merced River Plan. Restoration of the natural hydrology and plant communities in Tuolumne Meadows includes filling ditches along the Soda Springs Trail, removing multiple informal trails, and reducing erosion and preventing conifer encroachment by planting native plants.
Recovering Two Endangered Sierra Nevada Amphibians (2015 – 2018): Federally listed are the Yosemite toad (threatened) and Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog (endangered) with their critical habitat to potentially list in 2015. Restoring lakes and meadows focuses primarily on habitat restoration to improve breeding suitability where each species is currently present. For both species, through successive multiple year translocations, self-sustaining breeding populations can usually be established within 4-6 years after sites are restored.
Returning Endangered Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep to Yosemite’s Wilderness (2015 – 2018): This project will reintroduce a self-sustaining herd of endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep into the Cathedral Range in the heart of Yosemite’s Wilderness, in effect beginning the last major step needed for species recovery. Listed as federally endangered in 2000 the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep (SNBS) population plunged to a low of about 100 individuals. The population has since increased to over 500, but remains below the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) recovery goal.
Camp 4 Restoration and New Campsite Creation (2016 – 2018): Camp 4 will expand through this centennial project by doubling the present number of campsites from 35 to 70. The existing parking area will improve to include 130 parking spaces and a new comfort station built to serve the additional campers.
Visitor Restroom Improvements (2015 – 2017): Park management will be replacing three of the current portable toilet units at Churchbowl with a permanent restroom building. The new facility will contain flushable gender separate toilets, diaper-changing stations, and will be accessible. Future projects include Camp 4, Camp 6, and West of the Lodge, which will replace or add additional facilities.
The Ahwahnee Rehabilitation (2015 – 2016): This project will serve multitudes of guests and visitors by completing fire code upgrades to secondary egress from the upper floors to the ground floor in the east wing. In addition, this project will improve accessibility to persons with disabilities by adding a limited use/limited access (LULA) elevator to the heavily used public spaces on the south mezzanine. The creation of two additional ADA-compliant guest suites will ensure that the hotel fully meets ADA guestroom ratio requirements. Lastly, the hotel bar and associated kitchen will be renovated to improve visitor service and accessibility. All of these improvements will protect and reinforce the historic character of this unique landmark.
Emergency Services Complex Rehabilitation (2015 – 2016): The park headquarters for the search and rescue program in Yosemite Valley will undergo a rehabilitation and modernization that will to bring the facility in conformance with current life and safety codes. The project will perform electrical, mechanical, plumbing, fire suppression, structural, accessibility, egress and seismic rehabilitation improvements.
For more information about the NPS centennial celebration and Yosemite’s 125th anniversary, click here.