Project goal: Restore and protect natural processes and wilderness character in Yosemite’s backcountry.

Why this work matters: Nearly 95 percent of Yosemite is congressionally designated wilderness, the highest level of protection for public lands. The park’s vast backcountry welcomes thousands of hikers and backpackers each year, with numbers increasing as wilderness travel gains in popularity. Those travelers can inadvertently affect wilderness ecosystems, by setting up camp in sensitive areas, trampling plants and soil, and carrying invasive plant seeds.

The long-running Keep It Wild program, which our donors have supported since 1988, addresses three common issues:

  • Backcountry campsites located too close to water or trails, which can negatively affect ecosystems and disturb the solitude many wilderness-goers seek.
  • Informal “social” trails, which can disrupt habitat and natural water flow.
  • Non-native plant populations, which threaten native species and biodiversity.

Through Keep It Wild, National Park Service teams survey thousands of acres; remove hundreds of campsites, trails and invasive plants; and restore natural topography, vegetation and hydrology. Their work re-establishes ecological integrity, makes wilderness more resilient and helps minimize human impacts — which, in turn, can help prevent future impacts, by removing visible examples of habitat-harming behaviors, such as large fire rings on lakeshores, which might tempt others to leave similar traces.

How your support helped: Your gifts helped NPS crews complete a successful season of surveys and restoration work to revitalize and protect habitat throughout the Yosemite Wilderness, despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. They surveyed nearly 1,300 acres, traveling on foot to search for and address impacts in places such as Little Yosemite Valley, Fletcher Lake and Lyell Canyon. While in the wilderness, they removed 30 inappropriately located backcountry campsites and treated 249 acres of invasive plants.

Project partner: Yosemite National Park.

Victoria Hartman

Wilderness Restoration Specialist, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

"Keep It Wild enhances and protects the natural processes and plant and animal communities that make up the dynamic Yosemite Wilderness."