Project goal: Limit preventable accidents and help visitors enjoy the park safely through data-driven educational efforts.

Why this work matters: Many of the approximately 250 accidents, injuries and other incidents that require emergency responses in Yosemite each year are preventable. The park’s Preventive Search and Rescue (PSAR) initiative launched in 2007 to reduce the number of avoidable incidents through three primary methods: education, landscape design that discourages risky behaviors, and temporary or long-term trail closures.

This project focused on the first pillar of the PSAR program: education. With support from our donors, the PSAR program’s educational efforts have grown and formalized in recent years. The PSAR team shares key information to help people stay safe, stressing the importance of respecting guidelines, closures and railings; the value of carrying essential items, such as food, water, warm layers and headlamps, even on short hikes; and more. Ultimately, the PSAR program aims to provide people with information they need to stay safe, make sound decisions and enjoy their experience in the park.

How your support helped: In 2020, with your support, the PSAR team adapted their outreach during the COVID-9 pandemic. Four seasonal rangers and one intern spent the summer engaging with hundreds of hikers each day on the routes between Little Yosemite Valley and the summit of Half Dome. While our volunteers, who normally support PSAR, were not on hand for 2020, Conservancy naturalists and program managers stepped in to cover the gap and staff the PSAR station at the JMT/Mist Trail junction, where they and three local volunteers shared key safety information and helped people understand the one-way restriction on the Mist Trail (a pandemic precaution).

Your support also helped the team create and install hazard-specific signs along trails, and produce website updates, social media posts and videos to spread safety messages to people around the globe.

Project partners: Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Hospitality, and Friends of Yosemite Search and Rescue.

Jack Hoeflich

Emergency Services Manager, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

"Preventive Search and Rescue (PSAR) is a park-wide initiative to increase safety awareness and thereby decrease the incidence of injuries and accidental fatalities in Yosemite National Park. The PSAR program uses a data-driven, evidence-based approach to identify and implement education, enforcement and engineering strategies to reduce the number of Search and Rescue incidents."