Mariposa Life

Yosemite keeps eye on safety, sustainability

Bike riding is among the popular activities in Yosemite Valley. The National Park Service, which soon turns 100, oversees the park.
Bike riding is among the popular activities in Yosemite Valley. The National Park Service, which soon turns 100, oversees the park. Sun-Star file

While the intellectual property rights of Yosemite’s names remain in litigation, life goes on in the National Park Service.

An occasional slip of the tongue is overlooked when a ranger refers to a landmark by its familiar name, and then corrects himself.

In Yosemite, water flows swiftly, over and around boulders, and leisurely in other spots. The presence of water is one attraction visitors and residents appreciate most. And while the snowmelt from higher elevations continues to trickle into the valley, caution is advised.

At the recent Yosemite Gateway Partners (YGP) meeting, Alan Hageman, Yosemite’s preventive search and rescue supervisor, spoke briefly.

“The river is deceptive. People come to enjoy the park, but hazards exist below the surface,” Hageman said.

Most water rescue emergencies involve individuals who weren’t floating or swimming. Visitors can stay safe by remaining on trails and behind barriers. Those in the water should wear a life jacket. Do your research and check with rangers for approved water activity areas.

The land is beautiful and naturally visitors want to explore, yet the land should be treated with respect.

Every Tuesday at 7 p.m., Yosemite Search and Rescue presents a film depicting actual emergency response missions in the Yosemite Theater at the Valley Visitor Center. See www.yosemiteconservancy.org/experience-yosemite for details.

Yosemite Park Superintendent Don Neubacher spoke of parking area improvements, scheduled for the upcoming fall and winter season. Construction will begin after Labor Day.

Increased entrance fees will pay for the additional parking spaces, new comfort stations and upgraded intersections.

By Memorial Day 2017 improvements to the day-use parking lots should be complete.

“There will be pain, but stay calm and be patient,” Neubacher said.

In the meantime, visitors can avoid traffic headaches by riding with YARTS – the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System. YARTS serves the gateways and connects directly with Yosemite’s free Valley shuttle, which runs daily every 10 minutes.

Each YARTS ticket includes park entrance. Routes access the four entrances from Mariposa, Madera, Mono and Tuolumne Counties, and most are open throughout the year. See www.yarts.com for schedules, prices and more.

A presentation on local tribal sustainability practices was given by the Honorable Ron Goode, of the North Fork Mono Tribe. He spoke of current effects of climate change on Native American resources.

For the past few years, tribe members have worked on restoring meadows and springs, clearing understory and drains, which allows natural vegetation to grow again. This project has included burning out invasive plants, to encourage renewed health of surrounding trees.

Residents and wildlife depend on natural resources, and reclaiming the land is one step toward preserving their land, water, hunting/fishing/gathering and environmental rights.

To learn more and view photos of new growth, visit North Fork Mono Tribe’s Facebook page.

Deanna Wulff shared her Sierra National Monument proposal to unite the parks. In between Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks is an area of the Sierra National Forest and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land that’s being destroyed by commercial exploitation. This area is approximately twice the size of Yosemite (1.4 million acres).

“I have traveled across the west and haven’t found another place like the Sierra Nevada,” Wulff said. “We need to take care of this region.”

As director of the Sierra National Monument Project, she has gained 110 business and organizational supporters plus five congressional supporters. Visit unitetheparks.org to see how you can get involved.

Also at the YGP meeting Jonathan Farrington was presented a plaque of appreciation for his efforts in developing the first sustainability conference, held in 2014.

As a YGP board member and co-chair of the conference, Farrington’s work improved communication between the park and her gateway community representatives. He raised the money and pulled everything together to make the first conference a reality.

YGP hopes to hold another sustainability conference by 2017. For details see www.yosemitegatewaypartners.org/yosemite-sustainability-conference/.

Founders Day is Aug. 25, when the NPS will celebrate 100 years of stewardship.

See www.nps.gov/subjects/centennial/index.htm or www.nationalparks.org/founders-day for information regarding birthday events taking place at all our national parks.

Yosemite sits in our back yard, but the state of California is home to 27 national parks, monuments, sites and trails. Visit this link to plan your next visit and learn more: www.nps.gov/state/ca.

Designated as a world class national park, Yosemite is as majestic and awe-inspiring as ever. While summer is a great time to visit, other seasons have much to offer as well. Whether you go for the adventure, the wildlife, the scenery or serenity, just go.

Debbie Croft writes about life in the foothill communities. Follow her on Twitter @ghostowngal or email her at composed@tds.net.

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