Yosemite Just Saved a Family of Sequoias and It Only Cost $40 Million
Thanks to John Muir and a band of his like-minded allies, the Yosemite Valley became better known as Yosemite National Park in 1890. It was a monumental and legitimate act of Congress and the stroke of President Benjamin Harrison’s pen that made it all possible. The majestic park is renowned for its landmark natural wonders (like Half Dome), receiving over four million people explore its innards every single year. A slew of presidents and environmentalists have continued to stand in the gap in order to keep the wilderness area from the corrupted of miners and loggers. The park has remained impressively pristine (for the most part).
How much does it cost to visit Yosemite?
As it currently stands, the going rate of entry into Yosemite ranges anywhere from $15 to $30 for a seven-day pass, but that could soon change. The Trump Administration is looking to hike that price up to $70, and a lot of park lovers are grimacing at the idea. What’s the big idea? Well, the cost of maintaining such vast wilderness area is crazy expensive. Park rangers and employees busily work to keep the roads in good repair, maintain the trail systems, clean the bathrooms, and keep trees alive.
Speaking of trees, Yosemite just spent $40 million on a family of sequoias
It’s true, the park just forked out $40 million to restore one of its sacred regions — Mariposa Grove. This grove embodies 500 of some of the oldest sequoias on planet earth. Side note: Before Yosemite became a national park, President Lincoln had already deemed this particular region of the valley ‘protected land’, which made it an even more popular tourist destination. Roads were built and tunnels large enough for vehicles to drive through were drilled through some of the trees. It became a tourist mecca.
As such, the grove started to feel the pangs of the traffic. That’s where the Mariposa Grove Restoration Project came in to play. In 2013, the plans to save the grove became well-defined and by 2015, the area was closed for restoration. Yosemite National Park Superintendent Michael Reynolds explained:
As the largest protection, restoration and improvement project in park history, this milestone reflects the unbridled passion so many people have to care for Yosemite so that future generations can experience majestic places like Mariposa Grove. These trees sowed the seeds of the national park idea in the 1800s and because of this incredible project it will remain one of the world’s most significant natural and cultural resources.
Here is how that $40 million was divvied up
- The parking area was moved and a welcome plaza near South Entrance was erected
- Trails and roads were moved to protect the trees
- Giant sequoia and connected wetland areas were restored
- A shuttle between Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza and Mariposa Grove Arrival Area was added
- Gift shops were removed
- Tram tours were halted and the infrastructure was removed
The overall goal is clear
These gentle giants are capable of living 3,000 years. Luckily for the ones towering in Mariposa Grove, environmentalists were able to recognize that without proper mitigation, the trees are unlikely to live to their fullest potential. The oldest living sequoia, General Sherman, resides in Sequoia National Park. Not only is General Sherman the largest living organism on earth, it’s estimated to stand 275 feet tall with a circumference of 102 feet, weigh 2.7 million pounds, all while managing to hold up branches with a 7-foot diameter. Helping these trees stay alive is the least we can do.