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Mather Musings: Illegal Fire Rings and Campsites

September 08, 2012 Posted by: BW - Mather District Volunteer Interpretive Ranger

Illegal Fire Rings and Campsites

Fire Ring Before - Example 1                  Fire Ring After - Example 1
Before                                                                         After
Fire Ring Before          Fire Ring After
Before                                                                           After

August 27, 2012
Near Tuolumne Meadows

Volunteers were busy in the high country this week on a wilderness restoration project near Tuolumne Meadows. The small crew was looking for illegal fire rings and campsites. In order to minimize the impact to park ecosystems and to be fair to the experiences of other wilderness users, backcountry campers are required to camp outside of the no camping zone and more than 100 feet away from trail or water. Since wood is scarce at high elevations and important to the other living things that live there, they also cannot build fire rings above 9,600 feet in elevation. When the restoration crew finds sites that violate these requirements, they remove the site so that future campers are not encouraged to use it. By carefully removing the stones and ash of a fire ring, and replacing it with dirt, gravel, duff, and other dead forest material, it is almost impossible to tell that there was ever a campsite there. These volunteers focused on areas close to the trailheads, but larger groups of restoration workers and volunteers work throughout the season in the backcountry of Yosemite to remove similar campsites.   

mather musings

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Ranger talking to kids

Yosemite Conservancy’s signature project in 2013 is Youth In Yosemite. This project encompasses 12 individual youth programs that focus on education, mentoring, and wilderness exploration. One of the programs funded by Yosemite Conservancy is the Junior Ranger program, a program that benefits over 27,000 children annually. More...