yosemite national park

Clay River

Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada foothills are home to the Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation, but the tribe has been enmeshed in a decades-long battle for recognition by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. To learn more about the current status of that fight, and how it’s been shaped by COVID-19, Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with Clay Muwin River, managing director of the Miwumati Family Healing Center.

 

The last living climber on the first team to scale Yosemite’s El Capitan has died from complications of COVID-19. George Whitmore, 89, is best known for his historic climb in 1958 with his partners, Wayne Merry and Warren Harding. His pioneering techniques helped the group get safely to the top. 

“They enjoyed having done it. It was a great adventure to them but none of them ever really had a big head about it, so to speak,” says his widow, Nancy Whitmore, 76. 

 

Stephanie Erikson

The National Park Service announced that while Yosemite remains open, its visitor centers, hotels and restaurants are now closed in response to COVID-19 concerns.

 

Scott Fiester with the Mariposa Chamber of Commerce said the temporary closures in Yosemite are the latest blow to Mariposa businesses already reeling from sharp travel declines in response to COVID-19.

 

The Sierra Club via Wikimedia Commons

Roughly four to five million visitors flock to Yosemite National Park each year, most of whom seek out the misty waterfalls and dramatic granite walls of Yosemite Valley. But how would those numbers change if the park boasted a second awe-inspiring valley? A recent report evaluates the economic benefits of restoring Hetch Hetchy Valley.

Courtesy of Yosemite National Park

 

And now for The Weekend -- the Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation is having its annual Big Time Gathering in Yosemite National Park on Saturday and Sunday. FM89’s News Director Alice Daniel spoke about it with Bill Leonard, chairman of the tribe. He starts by saying a lot of other tribes from the region will join in.

Kaden McAllister

April is spring break month for many schools, which for some families means it’s time for a vacation. But if you’re one of those parents who finds traveling with kids to be daunting, especially when it involves setting up tents and cooking outside, one guidebook series with a spin might help you out. It’s called Adventuring With Kids, and its newest installment focuses on Yosemite National Park.

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

While the state is experiencing a transition of power and new laws for the new year, lawmakers in D.C. still haven’t made progress on how to reopen the federal  government. That means some National Parks like Sequoia and Kings Canyon are currently closed, but the more popular park in our area - Yosemite - is still entertaining guests.

But there are caveats, including limited resources and staffing. No one is at the ranger station handing out maps, and outdoor bathrooms along the trails are closed.

Jimmy Chin / National Geographic

In June of 2017, a young rock climber named Alex Honnold broke a world record in Yosemite National Park, becoming the first person ever to free solo the iconic granite wall towering over Yosemite Valley. He climbed all 3,200 feet of El Capitan without a partner and without any ropes or safety gear, in a nail-biting three hours and 56 minutes.

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.

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