Project overview: Produce films for the popular Yosemite Nature Notes series, as well as related educational materials.

The backstory: The Yosemite Nature Notes documentary series invites viewers not just to take a virtual visit to Yosemite National Park, but to delve into some of the Sierra Nevada’s most fascinating ecological, geological and human stories, through short (7- to 10-minute) but captivating videos. One episode takes you up to Yosemite’s enigmatic “sky islands,” alpine plateaus that harbor rare plants; another examines frazil ice, the slushy frozen mist that forms in creeks and rivers when conditions are just right. The series explores efforts to protect bighorns and monarch butterflies, investigates ghost towns and night skies, and travels all over the park, from the summit of Half Dome to glacial ice retreating on remote slopes.

The series, which launched in 2009, was inspired by, and bears the name of, our predecessor organization’s print periodical. (The printed Yosemite Nature Notes ran from 1922 to 1985 and offered insights from park naturalists, rangers and researchers.) So far, Conservancy donors have funded 33 of the video series’ 39 episodes, and the series has been viewed more than 10 million times.

This year: In 2021, your support will help the Yosemite Nature Notes series continue to grow and explore new topics. With your help, Steve Bumgardner, the Yosemite-based filmmaker behind the series, will work with the National Park Service to produce two new episodes. One, a full-length (7-minute) video on giant sequoias, will follow scientists from groves and canopies to labs, as they study how drought and climate change are affecting the massive, ancient trees. The other, a short (2- or 3-minute) piece, will offer a quick introduction to Pacific fishers, with a focus on the geographically isolated and federally endangered southern Sierra Nevada population of the tree-dwelling carnivores. Both episodes will add to viewers’ understanding of the unique, fascinating plants and animals that live in and around Yosemite — and how human actions can play a part in their survival.

Looking for Yosemite Nature Notes episodes? Visit the Latest News section of our site, or find them on YouTube.

Project partners: Yosemite National Park and Steve Bumgardner (filmmaker).