Project goal: Save heirloom apple trees planted in Yosemite Valley during the mid-1800s.

Why this work matters: In the 1850s, people planted orchards in Yosemite Valley to grow produce for the people and livestock that were surging into the newly publicized part of the Sierra Nevada.

Curry Orchard, in eastern Yosemite Valley, is part of the Camp Curry Historic District, one of several areas in the park designated as “worthy of preservation” by the National Register of Historic Places. The apple trees that once flourished in that historic orchard, however, have fallen into poor condition after decades without concerted horticultural care. Unpruned branches and dead limbs sag over the Curry Village parking lot. The unwieldy overgrowth limits space for vehicles, creates a safety hazard, and impedes efforts to harvest apples before the fruit lures black bears into the parking area. 

 This project built on a 2019 donor-supported analysis that identified Curry Orchard as one of the park’s most historically significant orchards. Using a technique known as restorative pruning, a team of National Park Service arborists stabilized, shaped and strengthened the trees by carefully clipping branches and removing dead and broken limbs.

How your support helped: Your gifts helped arborists work to reinvigorate century-old apple trees and restore the historical character of a 19th-century orchard, which helps improve safety in the Curry Village parking area, creates educational opportunities, and even improves the park’s ability to deter Yosemite’s bears from seeking food in a high-traffic area.

Project partners: Yosemite National Park and John Muir National Historic Site.

Scott Carpenter

Cultural Resources Program Manager, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

"Apples are long-lived trees, but need care to keep them viable. Absent restorative pruning, the orchard will continue declining and likely lose integrity as a contributing resource to the National Register-listed Camp Curry Developed Area."