Yosemite Conservancy committed to providing $20 million to support the restoration of Mariposa Grove, matching the National Park Service’s contribution.
Giant sequoias are among the world’s rarest, oldest and largest living things. These towering trees occur naturally in only one place on the planet: the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada. Yosemite’s iconic Mariposa Grove is home to nearly 500 mature sequoias — giants stretching as high as 290 feet that sprouted from tiny, oatmeal flake–size seeds hundreds or even thousands of years ago.
Mariposa Grove isn’t just a haven for these magnificent trees; it’s a cornerstone of public-lands management in the United States. The sequoias helped inspire the 1864 act that protected the grove and Yosemite Valley, sowing the seeds for the national park idea.
In the century and a half following that landmark legislation, however, human development has left a profound mark on the trees and their habitat. Paved roads, parking lots and heavily trodden trails fragmented the grove’s wetlands, diverting water and threatening the sequoias’ long-term health.
In 2014, with support from Conservancy donors, the park broke ground on a multiyear project to restore Mariposa Grove, with the goal of ensuring that generations of visitors to come will have a chance to be awed and inspired by its natural splendor.
Mariposa Grove closed to visitors in July 2015 to ensure visitor safety during the major restoration work. During the first 18 months of the temporary closure, crews focused on restoring wetland habitat and improving the visitor experience in the lower part of the grove. They removed asphalt, built accessible trails and boardwalks, installed culverts to improve drainage, and enhanced access to two of the grove’s most famous trees, the Grizzly Giant and the California Tunnel Tree. Those improvements benefit sequoias and their human admirers alike: The new system of semi-permeable trails and raised boardwalks protects shallow tree roots and allows water to flow naturally through the grove while enabling visitors to experience the serene grandeur of the giants up close.
The final phase of the project will provide easy, environmentally sound access to the grove. Visitors will be able to start their journey at a new welcome plaza near the South Entrance, and then take a shuttle to the trees. The new system will reduce vehicle traffic near the sequoias and create a convenient way for all to enjoy this special place. The Mariposa Grove is expected to reopen in early November 2017.
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