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Yosemite Conservancy Funds $1.7 Million in Habitat Protection and Visitor Improvements to “Yosemite’s Favorite Beach”

Yosemite National Park, June 18, 2012 – Yosemite’s Tenaya Lake, once called “Lake of the Shining Rocks,” will sparkle even more brightly following major restoration efforts this summer to its east beach and surrounding wetlands and trails with funding provided by Yosemite Conservancy.

“Tenaya Lake has a captivating natural beauty that charms park visitors young and old alike. Those coming to the east beach area will have an even better high country lake experience as a result of the restoration efforts made possible by our donors,” said Mike Tollefson, president, Yosemite Conservancy.

The visitor experience will be enhanced thanks to extensive habitat restoration plans for the east beach area. The trail from the parking lot to the beach will be relocated so it no longer crosses a fragile wetland, and native willows and other wetland plants will be re-introduced for better soil protection. The new trail, which will be wheelchair-accessible, will include educational signage highlighting Tenaya Lake’s sensitive ecology, recreational history and trail systems. Picnic areas are being thoughtfully restored, and will include the addition of a long communal table perfect for larger family gatherings.

“The new trailhead will be clearly marked to keep hikers on track and out of sensitive environments,” said Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher. “There will be a sense of arrival at the lakefront where visitors will have special places to relax and share the experience with family and friends.”

Over 2011-2012 Yosemite Conservancy is providing $1,715,000 to fund the work, made possible by Conservancy supporters such as Southern California residents Jennifer and Greg Johnson, who call Tenaya Lake “Yosemite’s favorite beach.”  Jennifer noted, “People who may not be able to hike to a backcountry lake can still take a short walk to experience the beauty and spirituality of the high country or spend a fun day at this wonderful beach with family, surrounded by spectacular scenery. It is our hope that places like Tenaya Lake will be there for future generations and this restoration work will accomplish that.”

Initial improvements to the east beach area began last year. Located at an elevation of 8,150 feet, Tenaya Lake is just off Tioga Road, which provides easy access for summer visitors of all ages and abilities. It is also a popular launch point for backpackers, who can set out on a number of trails that crisscross the high country.

The lake’s popularity resulted in the challenges of crowded parking areas, unsafe traffic conditions, and unintended harm to fragile ecosystems, shoreline erosion and unwanted run-off.

“The restoration work will address the effects of overuse while preserving the lake’s natural integrity and beauty,” said Neubacher. “At the same time, it will improve accessibility and will make the overall visitor experience even better for an incredibly diverse group of users. Yosemite Conservancy donors make projects like this possible.”

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 projects in areas including trail and habitat restoration, wildlife protection, education, volunteering, and the production of award-winning books and DVDs. Learn more at yosemite.org or call 1-800-469-7275.

Peter Bartelme, Yosemite Conservancy, 415-664-1503, pb@prstrategies.com
Jennifer Miller, Yosemite Conservancy, 415-434-1782, jmiller@yosemiteconservancy.org
Scott Gediman, National Park Service 209-372-0248, scott_gediman@nps.gov 
Kari Cobb, National Park Service 209-372-0529, kari_cobb@nps.gov