Visitors embarking on Yosemite’s iconic hikes to Half Dome, Nevada Fall or Vernal Fall on the John Muir Trail begin their journey by walking among massive boulders draped in dark green. The vibrant mosses growing on the boulders thrive in the cool, moist air near the Merced River, creating a lush scene that stands out from the typically dry Yosemite landscape.

Over the years, the boulders along the trail, particularly in the first half-mile, were marred by people etching initials, words and symbols into the mosses and lichens, exposing the bare granite underneath. Such “eco-graffiti” disturbs the unique ecosystem found along the trail, and detracts from the wilderness experience of the more than 300,000 visitors who hike through the boulders each year.

In 2014, with your support, park rangers worked with more than 250 youth volunteers to restore more than 60 vandalized boulders along the John Muir Trail and the Mirror Lake Trail by transplanting native mosses onto carved areas. Along with supporting the health of a unique ecosystem, preserving an iconic wilderness experience and engaging the next generation of Yosemite stewards, this project will ultimately prevent future vandalism by reducing the prevalence of carvings on boulders and, in turn, the perceived norm that such vandalism is acceptable.

With your help, the park is restoring beautiful moss and lichen communities, discouraging vandals and enhancing visitors’ natural Yosemite experience.

Partnering with Yosemite National Park and NatureBridge.

Garrett Dickman


Project Notes

While NatureBridge students were working on the project, a visitor stopped, watched and remarked, ‘It’s like you are restoring my church. Thank goodness for people like you.’