Yosemite Spends $40 Million to Protect 500 Giant Sequioas

June 19, 2018 at 3:33 pm

Tourism was hurting the grove of 2000-year-old trees that inspired Yosemite National Park, so it just spent $40 million rerouting roads, trams and trails away from the trees and restoring their habitat

A grove of 500 1800-year-old giant sequoias known as Mariposa Grove is what inspired Abraham Lincoln to create Yosemite National Park in 1864.

The Grove is home to the largest living organism on the planet, a 2,100-year old giant sequoia named General Sherman, weighing 2.7 million pounds and standing 275 tall.

Today the trees in the Grove are becoming sick after nearly a century of intensive tourism.

“Nowadays, more than 7,000 cars can infest Yosemite on the busiest summer days … and exhaust-spewing trams are sent scuttling through the trees,” writes Melissa Breyer for TreeHugger.com.

“The shallow root systems were feeling the strain of all that asphalt and having trouble getting the water they needed.”

The Mariposa Grove Restoration Project, funded by the non-profit Yosemite Conservancy, changed all that.

After $40 million dollars and years of work, a healthier, more protected Mariposa Grove reopened to tourists on June 15, 2018.

Changes included:

• Restoring giant sequoia and associated wetland habitat, including natural hydrology

• Removing commercial activities from the Grove such as the gift shop and tram tours

• Realigning roads and trails that were located in sensitive sequoia habitat

• Building accessible trails to allow for improved access without impacting sequoias and other sensitive areas

• Moving the parking lot and dding a shuttle service to keep cars farther from the trees

The coastal redwoods — the giant sequoia’s siblings and the tallest trees in the world — haven’t faired as well. Before the 1850s, they blanketed 2 million acres of California’s coast. Now only 5 percent of the original old-growth forest remains.

As long as they are protected, the Mariposa Grove giant sequoias, should live at least another thousand years.

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