Today, Yosemite National Park officials released a draft environmental study on the effects of an estimated $15 million improvement project at Mariposa Grove. The plan includes removal of the tram ride, gift shop, and parking lots to restore the habitat for the almost-500 ancient, giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum). Also, a road would be re-routed, so that wetlands could be restored.
“Today we know more about how to manage our national parks, and we would not be putting a parking lot within a giant sequoia habitat,” park spokesman Scott Gediman said.
Park officials believe that by removal of the parking lot for the grove, they will increase the size of the habitat for new trees to sprout. Giant sequoias are the largest living things on earth, grow only in the southern Sierra Nevada, and have shallow root systems that extend several hundred feet sideways. Visitors to the Mariposa Grove would either be shuttled from a station at the southern entrance to the park or could hike in on a new two-mile trail.
The project would be paid for by the Yosemite Conservancy. Comments on the plan, which is available on the park’s Web site, will be accepted through May 7. Park officials hope to break ground in June on the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln‘s signing of the grant that set aside Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove for preservation, an historic first for the federal government.
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