Yosemite Conservancy announced a $12 million donation to Yosemite National Park to fund dozens of projects, including a new trail to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias along the historic Washburn Road stage coach route.
Other projects include restoring bee, butterfly and hummingbird habitat, and studying species in Ackerson Meadow, the newest area of the park.
“Incredible work is being done in Yosemite to protect habitat and wildlife and to make it an even better experience for visitors through our successful partnership with Yosemite National Park,” said Frank Dean, Yosemite Conservancy president. “Gifts from Yosemite Conservancy donors make this important work possible.”
The money will be used for 34 projects this year.
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Yosemite National Park Acting Superintendent Chip Jenkins said the latest donation – in recent years the Conservancy has funded 570 projects with more than $113 million of grants – advances the park’s mission.
“Yosemite Conservancy’s generous support provides ways for us to protect and learn more about the park’s natural environment so we can be even better stewards of this national treasure,” he said.
The trail to the Mariposa Grove will be built from from the park’s south entrance.
Crews will convert remnants of historic Washburn Road, built in 1879 as a stage coach route from Wawona to Mariposa Grove, into a trail by building creek-crossing bridges, constructing a new picnic area and repairing walls made by 19th-century Chinese laborers.
The trail is scheduled to open in 2018.
Funding for the trail project is in addition to the $20 million by the Conservancy as its part of a $40 million project to restore the Mariposa Grove, which has been going on for a couple of years. Yosemite National Park is providing the other $20 million.
The Mariposa Grove is expected to reopen to the public this fall, but no date has been set.
Among the research projects is a study of Monarch butterflies – a candidate for the endangered species list – and other pollinators to help determine why their numbers are declining.
Also, scientists will release more Western pond turtles and red-legged frogs in Yosemite Valley and yellow-legged frogs at alpine lakes to aid efforts to restore those species.
Another grant will study the great gray owl and willow flycatcher in 400-acre Ackerson Meadow, which became part of Yosemite in 2016 with major support from Yosemite Conservancy.