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Campaign Improves Popular Trails in Yosemite National Park

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Date: September 8, 2011

Campaign Improves Popular Trails in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite Conservancy and National Park Service Celebrate Completion of $13.5 Million in Upgrades to 75 Miles of Trails and Habitat in the Park


Yosemite Conservancy and the National Park Service announced the completion of a $13.5 million campaign to restore popular hiking trails in Yosemite National Park from Yosemite Valley to the rugged backcountry of the High Sierra.  

"Our goal was elegant in its simplicity - improve the condition of Yosemite's most treasured, high-profile trails in order to protect irreplaceable natural resources," said Mike Tollefson, president, Yosemite Conservancy. "Yosemite's spectacular trails are a mirror of the democratic notion of the National Park Service's founding - they exist for all people for all time."

The six-year Campaign for Yosemite Trails involved 75 miles of trails and is the largest ever trail repair and restoration program undertaken in Yosemite National Park. The milestone was celebrated on Wednesday with a ceremonial dedication of the East Valley Loop Trail, and recognition of generous donations and the skilled work of Yosemite trail crews.

"Yosemite's trails are pathways to discovery and inspiration. Some of the park's most important trails were improved to reverse years of degradation to benefit visitors for decades," said Superintendent Don Neubacher. "The result is better trails, restored habitats and greater education opportunities for visitors."

In the front country, repairs were made to the John Muir Trailhead in the Valley and to the east and west ends of the Yosemite Valley Loop Trail with heavily impacted areas being resurfaced with a natural looking asphalt alternative, repairs to foot bridges and new way finding signs. Near the park's southern entrance, trail improvements in parts of the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias now protect the big tree's root systems.

On 33 miles of the world-renowned John Muir Trail work addressed parts of the trail from Tuolumne Meadows through Little Yosemite Valley to Yosemite Valley. There are new stone walls, rock staircases, and drainage structures, plus habitat restoration, to improve safety and protect areas bordering the trail.

At the May Lake trailhead accessed from Tioga Road, hikers will find a more well-defined route to the summit of Mount Hoffmann, which will protect habitat. Based on the successful work at Mount Hoffmann, additional trail improvements and restoration are being made on the route to Cathedral Peak and the summit to Mount Dana. Also along Tioga Road, improvements were made to trailheads at Tamarack Flat, May Lake, Yosemite Creek/Ten Lakes, Snow Creek, and at Gaylor Lakes. The work is different at each, and hikers may find habitat-friendly and safer parking and access, food storage lockers, or wilderness education exhibits. Major portions of the spectacular 12-mile Red Peak Pass, the Sierra's highest trail at 11,000 feet in southeastern Yosemite, were repaired and rebuilt.

Eight hundred miles of trails wind their way through Yosemite's valleys, meadows, streams, forests and across polished granite. Trail degradation compromises the visitor experience and habitat tremendously. Poor drainage erodes trail surfaces leading hikers to go off-trail, creating multiple social trails that divert water flow and destroy habitat animals depend on.

The Campaign was a collaborative effort between Yosemite Conservancy and the park, with Conservancy donors contributing $10.5 million, and the National Park Service providing $3 million to the trails campaign projects. The Campaign's lead gifts were from David and Dana Dornsife, John and Leslie Dorman, Bell-Carter Foods, Inc., Diane and Bill Zuendt, HEDCO Foundation, Cliff Walker, Bill and Cynthia Floyd, The Richard & Rhoda Goldman Fund, Jon and Lillian Lovelace, and Jim and Anahita Lovelace.

"Improvements were made to trails for every type of visitor from families with small children to ardent backcountry enthusiasts," said John Dorman, Yosemite Conservancy board chairman. "These arteries provide access to unimaginable beauty and a life-time of memories."

Royal Robbins, legendary climber and a Yosemite Conservancy council member, said, "Yosemite's landscape harbors an unforgettable grand collection of peaks, domes, high waterfalls and alpine meadows. The best way to see these natural wonders is by trail."

In the last 15 years alone, Yosemite Conservancy supporters have provided more than $35 million to help the National Park Service restore trails throughout the park.

About Yosemite Conservancy

Yosemite Conservancy is the only philanthropic organization dedicated exclusively to the protection and preservation of Yosemite National Park and enhancement of the visitor experience. The Conservancy works to restore trails, protect wildlife through scientific research and habitat restoration, and offers outdoor programs that provide visitors with unique ways to connect with the park. It has funded over 300 projects through $60 million in grants in areas including trail and habitat restoration, wildlife protection, education, volunteering, and the production of award winning books and DVDs. Learn more at www.yosemiteconservancy.org or call 1-800-469-7275.

Did You Know?

NatureBridge students learning something new from their instructor.

For over 40 years, NatureBridge has served over 40,000 youth and adults annually through a unique variety of environmental education programs at their national park campuses in California and Washington, including their Yosemite National Park campus.