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To our Yosemite Conservancy community:

Poppies in El Portal, just outside Yosemite. Photo: Kristin Anderson (April 2020).

Poppies in El Portal, just outside Yosemite. Photo: Kristin Anderson (April 2020).

This April, poppies, redbud and baby blue eyes are brightening the Merced River Canyon outside Yosemite’s Arch Rock Entrance. Recent spring storms have brought snow to the high country and reinvigorated waterfalls. The park closed in late March, an important step to protect staff, surrounding communities and the public during the pandemic, and to reduce the risk of an outbreak in the remote Yosemite area. A hush has descended on the Valley — but animals are out and about, taking advantage of the quiet.

And as spring moves into the Sierra, important work our donors are supporting this year in the park is continuing behind the scenes. This season, park staff and others are:

  • Working on designs for the new Yosemite Valley Welcome Center, which will take shape in a refurbished building at the east end of Yosemite Village, and making progress on the multiyear effort to improve the visitor experience at the base of Bridalveil Fall.
  • Creating orientation materials for the information station at Big Oak Flat, for new climbing exhibits that will be installed in the Valley Visitor Center, and for a special museum show focused on women in Yosemite’s past and present.
  • Revamping a popular visitor orientation video (“One Day in Yosemite”) and translating several existing park-themed videos to reach a multilingual audience.

    Baby blue eyes in El Portal, April 2020. Photo: Kristin Anderson.

    Baby blue eyes in El Portal, April 2020. Photo: Kristin Anderson.

  • Surveying Yosemite’s granite walls to identify areas where peregrine falcons are breeding and nesting.
  • Producing dozens of bear-proof food lockers to replace outdated models at campgrounds.
  • Welcoming new horses and mules to Yosemite’s equine crew. The “four-legged rangers” are on their winter pasture, awaiting assignments on the park’s mounted patrol and pack teams.
  • Moving forward with a project to analyze lidar data, which will offer insights into the health of Yosemite’s forests.

We’re working to identify the extent to which some of this year’s Conservancy-funded projects will be affected by the pandemic and in what new ways we might be asked to partner with the park. As we collaborate with our colleagues in the National Park Service to ensure that critical work can continue when safe and feasible, we’re exceptionally grateful for our strong partnership with the park, and for the continued support of our Conservancy community.

While the park is closed, we encourage you to stay in touch with Yosemite and the Conservancy from wherever you are: Check out ways to experience the park from home, get creative with our art team, learn about lupines with our lead naturalist, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

What signs of spring have you noticed where you live? Conservancy President Frank Dean and his family have been keeping an eye on some fluffy new work-from-home colleagues: a trio of recently hatched chicks.

We hope you can spend some time connecting with the natural world away from screens, too! See what’s blooming in your yard or neighborhood. Try to identify different birds you hear outside your window. Sketch or write about the seasonal shifts you can observe from home. (In the Bay Area, where I’m working from home, I’m appreciating the flowers in the yard, and the chickens that recently joined my family’s feathered flock!)

We look forward to welcoming you back to Yosemite when it’s safe for us all to be in the park. In the meantime, stay safe, and embrace nature’s power to calm and inspire, wherever you are.

With gratitude, and well wishes,

Frank Dean

Flowers in Conservancy President Frank Dean’s yard. What’s in bloom where you are?