Ecological Restoration

Yosemite National Park strives to maintain the park’s ecosystem and let natural processes prevail. As human impacts have occurred since the park was established, these restoration projects seek to restore the natural balance of the park. Yosemite National Park will continue to conduct these restoration projects with the goal of resource protection while still providing for visitor access and enjoyment.
North Pines Merced River Restoration
Planting willows in the North Pines campground area.

Current Restoration Projects

  • Merced River Restoration (ongoing): This project is intended to provide the scientific and engineering information needed to guide both short-term and long-term restoration efforts along the Merced River in east Yosemite Valley by the National Park Service (NPS). The overarching goal for restoring the Merced River is to protect and enhance the values for which it was designated a Wild and Scenic River, while providing for present and future public use and enjoyment of those river values.

Recent Restoration Projects

  • Mariposa Grove Restoration (2015-2018): The purpose of this project was to restore the grove's dynamic ecology and increase its resilience. Now visitors to the Mariposa Grove will notice: a consolidated parking area and information station at the Mariposa Welcome Plaza near the South Entrance; many of the roads within the grove converted into hiking trails; over a half-mile of new accessible trails and boardwalks providing universal access for all visitors to the grove; and the removal from the grove of commercial activities such as the gift shop and tram tours.
  • Tenaya Lake Area (2012): The purpose of this project was to enhance the visitor experience while restoring surrounding habitat in the east beach area. The trail from the parking lot to the beach was relocated so it no longer crosses a fragile wetland, and native willows and other wetland plants were re-introduced for better soil protection.
  • Wawona Meadow Ecological Restoration (2010): The purpose of this project was to restore wetland hydrology by filling in ditches constructed by the CCC in 1936. Asphalt removal on the Wawona Meadow Loop trail helped to facilitate water conveyance into the meadow.
  • Cathedral Peak Route Delineation (2010): This project mitigated and reduced the ecological and wilderness impacts from multiple social trails that led up to the popular climbing peak by delineating a single trail.
  • Harden Road Removing and Restoration (2010): This project removed 1.5 miles of abandoned road near Harden Lake, allowing the park to recommend designation of 38 acres of potential wilderness to Wilderness status. This project connected with the 2009 Yosemite Fund project, Re-wilding Harden Spur Road, which reduced ¼ mile of the old road to a single-track trail and removed non-historic debris from the area. Together, the two projects helped to re-establish natural topography where possible, improve hydrologic function, restore wilderness character and improve the wilderness experience of visitors hiking out of the White Wolf area.

Previous Restoration Projects

Examples of ecological restoration projects completed over the past twenty years include:

  • Lukens Meadow Restoration (2008): The primary goal of this project was to restore natural ecological and hydrological processes at Lukens Meadow and enhance wilderness character by removing 2,000 feet of human caused impacts in the meadow, redirect foot traffic from the meadow to a pre-existing forest trail, and restore the nearly 3,000 square feet of bare ground at the far end of the lake.
  • Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias (2007): Restoration and protection of the giant sequoias included mitigating trampling on the sequoia roots and other vegetation, as well as reducing soil erosion. Placement of mulch and downed branches and logs helps the soil to absorb water making it available for sequoias and other vegetation, decreasing soil erosion and soil compaction and keeping visitors from impacting natural resources by discouraging off-trail use.
  • Happy Isles Dam Removal (2006): The purpose of this project was to restore the free-flowing character and pool-riffle morphology of this reach of the Merced River through the removal of Happy Isles Dam and associated diversion structures.
  • Tenaya Lake Walk-in Campground Restoration (1998): The walk-in campground was closed in 1990 due to water and sewage system issues. Restoration of the campground area included removing campground infrastructure, revegetation and soil decompaction.
  • Mirror Lake (1997): The objective of this project was to consolidate multiple social trails, improve ADA access, decompact soils, revegetate denuded areas, protect cultural resources, provide interpretive information and improve visitor services.
  • Stoneman Meadow Boardwalk (1994): This project restored and protected Stoneman Meadow through the removal of social trails, the construction of a boardwalk across the meadow and fencing to protect the meadow from continued impacts.

Last updated: June 25, 2018

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 577
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389


(209) 372-0200

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