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yosemite national park

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

The Ferguson Fire has now consumed close to 95,000 acres near Yosemite National Park, and hazardous smoke conditions have closed Yosemite Valley indefinitely. Nearly half of the fire is now contained, but Yosemite’s most popular tourist destination is not out of the woods yet.

At a press conference on Tuesday, officials with Yosemite, Mariposa County and multiple fire agencies celebrated increased containment, lifted evacuation orders and the opening of some roads near the park.

U.S. Forest Service - Sierra National Forest (Facebook)

UPDATE: 6:00 PM 7/27/18

Yosemite Valley is going to remain closed for a little longer than initially planned due to the Ferguson Fire. The Park Service announced today that the valley will reopen on Friday August 3rd at 4:00 PM. The Wawona community and Mariposa Grove will remain closed due to smoke and impacts from the fire. Highway 41 will also remain closed. It’s unknown when they will reopen. The popular park attractions closed earlier this week due to the fire. The closures had been set to expire this Sunday.

 

Monica Velez

As the Ferguson Fire continues to burn, part of Yosemite National Park is closing Wednesday. 

By noon, Yosemite Valley and Wawona will be closed, causing thousands of park visitors to cancel their plans. Although the air is smokey and skies are muggy, one group of five tourists from Mexico and Germany decided to take their chances. 

Ari Rodriguez and her friends arrived at Yosemite on Tuesday afternoon. She says they planned to stay at the park until Wednesday, but are heading out before the park closes.

The Yosemite Conservancy

Visitors are being ordered to evacuate some parts of Yosemite National Park by noon on Wednesday due to a nearby wildfire. The Ferguson Fire has consumed over 36,000 acres southwest of the park and is only 25 percent contained.

Park officials have announced they’re evacuating Yosemite Valley as well as Highway 41 and the town of Wawona. Park spokesman Scott Gediman says that’s mostly due to smoke from the Ferguson Fire pouring into the park. "With the high pressure system we just haven’t had much wind," says Gediman, "so you’ve got that smoke that just sits there."

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Last month, interior department secretary Ryan Zinke wrote in an op-ed that the U.S.’s national parks are being loved to death. He specifically lamented the National Park System’s $12 billion backlog in deferred maintenance. But another symptom of the overwhelming power of tourists is ecosystems that need to be rehabilitated.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

As summer tourism heats up at Yosemite National Park, officials there are reopening one of the park’s most popular destinations. On Thursday, the park unveiled the newly restored Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.

The ceremony on Thursday marked the reopening of the stand of over 500 giant sequoias. The grove of 300-foot-tall trees had been closed to the public for three years while the park carried out its biggest ever restoration project. The goal: Reduce the human impacts on the trees while still keeping them accessible to visitors.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

This past Sunday, April 22, was Earth Day. But did you know that the day before was the birthday of conservationist John Muir, or that the day after was the day widely believed to have been the birth and death of William Shakespeare? These may seem like unrelated occasions, but one special event brought all three together in Yosemite National Park.

Isolino Ferreira/Flickr / License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode

Over the past month we’ve brought you stories about how online short-term rental sites are changing the communities near Yosemite National Park. The booming vacation rental market is creating a shortage of places for locals to rent for the long-term and in some cases contributing to the area's homeless problem. And now the growing lack of long-term rentals is causing a hiring issue in Yosemite.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Thursday’s massive rockfall in Yosemite National Park has rock climbers on alert. It’s the second major fall within 48 hours on El Capitan – one of the world’s largest granite monoliths, standing over 3,000 feet above Yosemite Valley. 

The formation is popular among climbers, like Alec Wright from Eugene, Oregon. He was one of the first people on the scene after the rocks fell.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

When people think of homelessness, they often think of big cities like Fresno or Bakersfield. But in the mountains of Madera County it's a lingering problem. And as the short-term rental market grows, some fear the housing shortage in the communities just outside Yosemite will only get worse. 

Serenity Village is a seven-unit affordable apartment complex in Oakhurst targeted at helping homeless people get back on their feet.

Visitors to Yosemite leave behind 2,200 tons of garbage per year. That is equal to 3,919 dumpsters full of trash.
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park has a trash problem. The more than 4 million people who visit every year and those that live in Yosemite leave 2,200 tons of garbage there annually. The park service is working to decrease the amount of that trash that ends up in the Mariposa County Landfill.

To find out more about the park’s Zero Landfill Initiative, FM89’s Ezra David Romero  interviewed Yosemite National Park Ranger Jodi Bailey and Wildlife Biologist Caitlin Lee-Roney. Listen to that interview by clicking play above. 

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Last month National Park Service officials made headlines when they announced their plan to remove the historic names from many of Yosemite National Park's treasured amenities, like the Ahwahnee Hotel and Curry Village, it sparked a public outcry.

www.alexhonnold.com

Alex Honnold is a real life Spiderman. He’s climbed heights like El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. But what sets him apart from other climbers is that he leaves ropes and carabiners behind. In this interview FM89’s Ezra David Romero speaks with Honnold about his new book Alone on the Wall detailing 20 years of climbing history.  

Yosemite National Park

Often when we hear news about threatened or endangered species, it’s bad news – populations dwindling, and species struggling to survive. But last week there was a bit of good news, when park wildlife biologists made an amazing discovery. For the first time in nearly 100 years, the rare Sierra Nevada red fox was spotted in Yosemite National Park last month. It’s a major milestone for a species that is thought to consist of only 50 individual animals.

This week on Valley Edition we take two hours to look at the November election. The program begins with KVPR reporter Diana Aguilera’s story on a community displaced by a gas leak in Arvin. Valley Edition Host Joe Moore interviews Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin who is running for California State Controller. He also speaks with her opponent Betty Yee.

NPS Photo

A group of disabled veterans is paying tribute to 9/11 today—not at the memorial in New York, but in Yosemite National Park.

Lasting injuries and prosthetic limbs won’t hold these thirteen veterans back.  They’re hiking and rock climbing to the tops of iconic peaks like El Capitan, Royal Arches, and Ranger Rock—and they’ll all reach the summit today. Some of the ascents, like El Capitan, are known to be extremely challenging even for climbers at their prime.

Ezra David Romero

This week of Valley Edition FM89 reporter Ezra David Romero takes a look a how military grade vehicles are used by one local police force. Reporter Diana Aguilera reports on one students experience at the first pharmacy school in Central California.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Nine months after the Rim Fire tore through the nearby forest, Kevin Reynolds and Randi Jones decided to live out a dream.

Reynolds: "We kind of wanted to rise from the ashes just to let people know there are still opportunities out there."

The two of them opened an old-fashioned meat market they had envisioned before the fire hit. Instead of being scared by the fire the couple says they were inspired.

Reynolds: The fire really didn’t affect our decision to open a meat market.  We knew that there may be some issues but people still need to eat.  

US Forest Service

The hunter who is alleged to have started the massive Rim Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park has been indicted by a federal grand jury. 

The four count indictment alleges that Keith Matthew Emerald, 32 of Columbia started a fire and let it grow out of control on August 17, 2013 in the Clavey River Canyon.

According to authorities, Emerald was on a solo bow-hunting trip in the area and was rescued by a helicopter approximately an hour after the fire was first reported. 

Yosemite National Park

Update: 11 a.m. 7/31/14 - The El Portal fire has grown to 3,900 acres and is still 34 percent contained. According to authorities the evacuation order for Foresta will be lifted at 3:00 p.m. on Friday.   The Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120) leading into Yosemite Valley has now reopened. 

Update: 11 a.m. 7/30/14 - El Portal fire has grown to over 3,500 acres and is 34 percent contained. From fire authorities: 

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