The national park idea is rooted in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, located in the southern end of Yosemite National Park. Since it was first protected in 1864, it has been a primary destination for many. In 2011, we embarked on a plan to restore giant sequoia habitat in the Mariposa Grove. After a multi-year process with input from the public and staff, a final restoration plan was formalized through the Mariposa Grove Restoration Project Final Environmental Impact Statement at the end of 2013.
The implementation of this project was made possible by generous donations from the Yosemite Conservancy. On June 30, 2014, the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act, the Yosemite Conservancy joined the National Park Service to break ground on this major collaborative effort to restore Mariposa Grove. Their donors and the National Park Service each provided $20 million for the $40 million project. The Mariposa Grove then closed in the spring of 2015 in order to fully complete this project which was the largest restoration project in the park's history.
The two primary goals of this project were to improve giant sequoia habitat and visitor experience. This included addressing the declining conditions of the Grove and nearby South Entrance that were adversely affecting the ecological health of the sequoias (e.g., roads, trails and other buildings encroaching on roots of the ancient trees, hydrology issues). The Mariposa Grove re-opened on June 15, 2018.
Some of the restoration project highlights include:
- Restoring giant sequoia and associated wetland habitat
- Realigning roads and trails that were located in sensitive sequoia habitat
- Constructing a welcome plaza near South Entrance, which allowed for the relocation of the parking area from Mariposa Grove
- Adding a shuttle service between the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza and Mariposa Grove Arrival Area
- Building accessible trails to allow for improved access without impacting sequoias and other sensitive areas
- Restoring natural hydrology
- Improving orientation and wayfinding
- Removing commercial activities from the Grove such as the gift shop and tram tours