Pika Fire, 7/18/23, click for larger size
Daily Report – Yosemite National Park
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
Yosemite National Park Zone Forecast
Today: Mostly sunny. A 20 percent chance of thunderstorms in the late morning and afternoon. Highs 66 to 82. South winds up to 10 mph shifting to the west in the afternoon.
Tonight: Partly cloudy with a 20 percent chance of thunderstorms. Lows 48 to 62. Southwest winds up to 10 mph shifting to the southeast after midnight. Gusts up to 25 mph.
Tomorrow: Sunny. Highs 64 to 82. Southwest winds up to 15 mph.
Additional Point Forecast Weather Links:
Yosemite Valley | Wawona | Tuolumne Meadows | Glacier Point | Big Oak Flat | Hetch Hetchy | El Portal | Mariposa | Badger Pass
NEW & HAPPENING TODAY
Early Morning Closure of Southside Drive at Sentinel Drive
On Tuesday July 18, beginning at 6:00 a.m., an FHWA contractor will remove an Incense Cedar on the south edge of Southside Drive at Sentinel Drive. Tree removal is required to extend the multi-use pathway to a new crosswalk on Southside Drive. The road and multi-use pathway will be closed and travel delayed as the tree is felled, bucked, and removed from the roadway. (J. Donovan)
Yosemite Valley Lodge Pool hours
YVL Pool will be operating from 2 PM – 7 PM until the smoke conditions change from the Pika fire (C. Layman)
Museum & Media Branch Welcome New Staff
As of July 2nd, Becky Latanich is the new Exhibit Specialist. She is excited to join the Interpretive Division at Yosemite and in a position that allows her to work creatively and with multiple divisions. Her background includes nearly 20 years spent in Interpretation, most recently as the Chief of Interpretation and Education for Pecos NHP, Sitka NHP, and Gila Cliff Dwellings NM. (Not all at the same time!) She has a master’s degree in museum studies from the University of Colorado (Boulder) and a master’s degree in anthropology from Colorado State University.
She works remotely from Santa Fe in the Land of Enchantment where she lives with her husband, daughter, three dogs, two miniature donkeys, and a dwindling number of aquarium fish. In her spare time she enjoys hiking with the donkeys, ice skating, and developing her skills as a paint-by-number expert. We are very fortunate to have her on staff. (P. Rogers)
Daily Report Mailing Issues
Due to continued technology challenges, we are having problems regularly distributing the Daily Report. We are in touch with IT and working to resolve the issue. Apologies for the inconvenience. (S. Miyako)
Glacier Point Road Delays
Construction crews will continue to work on the 15-mile-long Glacier Point Road corridor between Chinquapin and Glacier Point. Crews will be working at multiple locations along the road between 6AM and 9PM, with alternating one-way traffic control and up to 30-minute delays. The 30-minute delays will occur Monday thru Friday and continue thru August 31st, 2023. Please contact Michael Pieper, with any questions or concerns at (209) 200-1131. (M. Pieper)
Yosemite National Park Childcare Center Fundraiser
Support the Yosemite National Park ChildCare Centers and fill your belly! $10 BBQs in Yosemite Village on Wednesday July 19 from 11:30-1:00pm. Meat and veggie options. Cash, check or venmo accepted. Thanks for your support—see you there! Additional lunch BBQ Fundraiser July 26. (E. Krestch)
Museum & Media Branch Welcome New Staff
We would like to welcome Laura Bender starting a new position on July 17th. Laura will be moving into the Museum Curator position at YOSE. She was hired as the park’s Registrar in October of 2021. She has been working for the park service since 2008 with her most recent position prior to working at YOSE being the Museum Curator for the Midwest Archeological Center (MWAC). Her background is primarily in archeological curation and she enjoys the challenge that the YOSE museum brings.
Laura thinks she can tackle most any home renovation project despite having no real experience beyond watching YouTube videos. She enjoys hiking, camping, and kayaking. She hopes to someday make homemade mead from honey harvested from her own hive. She brings a wealth of experience and professionalism to the park and we are fortunate to have her. Laura and Derek just welcomed a daughter, Ellory. (P. Rogers)
Yosemite National Park ChildCare Centers Fundraising BBQs
Support the Yosemite National Park ChildCare Centers and fill your belly! $10 BBQs in Yosemite Village on Wednesday July 19 from 11:30-1:00pm. Meat and veggie options. Cash, check or venmo accepted. Thanks for your support—see you there! Additional lunch BBQ Fundraiser July 26. (E. Kretsch)
Sustainability Brownbag 7/25
Are you curious to learn more about sustainability in Yosemite? Join the Yosemite Sustainability Council for a 1-hr virtual brownbag to learn about the new NPS Green Parks Plan, current projects that are greening our park, and how to get involved. This lunch hour brownbag will be held on MS Teams from 12-1pm on Tuesday July 25th, and feature a question-and-answer session with some light networking.
Seasonal, Term, and Permanent Employees from all varieties park partners are welcome and encouraged to attend! We’re looking to build our inter-park team of change-makers in support of a sustainable Yosemite. To receive the Microsoft teams link, please sign up online via our google form: July Sustainability Brown Bag Lunch RSVP (office.com)
For questions about the event, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. (V. Vines)
Pika Update 7/17/2023
Location: Just west of North Dome
Discover date: June 29, 2023
Size: 818 acres
Yosemite Fire crews are using a confine and contain strategy utilizing natural barriers and trail, using fire to secure and strengthen control lines. The fire has moderate growth with some isolated active pockets northwest of North Dome.
A confine and contain strategy under favorable conditions allows fire to move naturally across the landscape, providing ecological benefits to plants and wildlife, while also meeting protection objectives to minimize risk to people and infrastructure. Resources are continuing to hold. Several spots east of Indian Arch are being incorporated into containment lines.
Trail closures went into effect last Tuesday evening, impacting short sections of the North Dome Trail and Lehamite Creek Trail.
Smoke impacts from the Pika Fire are expected to impact Yosemite Valley in the evenings and overnight with conditions improving as smoke lifts during the afternoons. Impacts may also be seen in the surrounding communities of Groveland, El Portal, and Lee Vining.
For current smoke conditions: nps.gov/yose/learn/nature/aqmonitoring.htm
Current Fire Information INCIWEB: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident-information/caynp-pika-fire (M. Ruggiero)
Peregrine Falcon and Golden Eagle Climbing Closures Lifted
As of July 15th, all peregrine falcon and golden eagle climbing closures have been lifted. Despite a record-breaking winter and spring precipitation, Yosemite’s peregrine falcons prevailed and had a great breeding season! 2023 had 15 confirmed nests located with 18 breeding pairs and possibly 20 occupied territories. Season highlights include:
25 fledglings confirmed
40% of located nests were alternate locations. Pairs will often choose alternate nest sites within the same territory. For example, Arch Rock has five alternate historic nest sites
After 19 years of using the same nest on the Rostrum, the pair used a new nest location this year
Higher Cathedral Rock pair nested with approx. 3 feet of snow next to their eyrie ledge
Wawona increased pair territories from one to two. Nesting occurred at Wawona Dome and Turner Ridge
This display of resiliency is a great reminder of how majestic these birds are but also, how far we’ve come in restoring this species. Thank you to the Yosemite Climbing Rangers, Fire and Aviation, Law Enforcement and Protection, Volunteers, and the Yosemite community for your enthusiasm and work in helping to protect the park’s peregrine falcons. Happy Climbing!
Yosemite Peregrines: A Story of Hope – YouTube (S. Smith)
Mist Trail Repair: July 10th – November 2nd
The Lower Mist Trail – from the John Muir Trail (JMT) junction (just uphill from the Vernal Fall Footbridge) to the top of Vernal Fall – will be closed M-TH between 7:00am and 3:30pm from 7/10/23 – 11/2/23 (subject to change). The trail will be open on Labor Day and Columbus Day. The trail will remain open Fridays and on weekends. It is expected to be open overnight, however there may be certain days when trail crew is not able to make it safe to open overnight. In that case, the gates will remain closed, and signs will be posted at the two closure gates that the trail is closed.
Hikers and backpackers headed to Little Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and points beyond from the trailhead at Happy Isles may hike uphill on the Mist Trail if they reach the Mist Trail/JMT junction by 7:00am, Monday through Thursday. Otherwise, they must hike the JMT. (W. Weaver)
The Merced Grove is Closed for Restoration
Giant sequoias are adapted to frequent, low-intensity fire and depend on fire for reproduction. Frequent fires reduce fire intensity by thinning the forest of small and unhealthy trees and reducing the accumulation of dead branches and trees. But over the past century, fires were suppressed, and drought and insects killed millions of trees in Yosemite. In the Merced Grove, there is limited sequoia regeneration and fuel loading has increased to dangerous levels. Currently, we cannot safely introduce fire without first mechanically removing fuels first. Since 2020, wildfires have killed almost 20% of mature giant sequoias across their range due to extreme fuel loading, and we aim to prevent that outcome in the Merced Grove. Therefore, we are removing small diameter conifers, hazard trees, and dead and downed wood to reduce wildfire risk to the sequoias and firefighters as preparation for the first prescribed fire in and around the grove. The grove will be closed for 2.5 months during the restoration for visitor and worker safety. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or for access. (G. Dickman)
Wawona and Yosemite Valley Wildfire Protection Project
As part of an ongoing hazardous fuels reduction project to protect communities, increase forest resilience, and decrease risk to firefighters and the public, small trees and dead and down wood will be removed in Wawona and Yosemite Valley. In Wawona, material north of the south fork of the Merced River on NPS land and private property through a partnership with Mariposa County Resource Conservation District. In Yosemite Valley, crews will be working along North Side Drive between Middle Brother and El Capitan picnic area and between El Capitan woodlot and Pohono Bridge. Actions within Yosemite Valley are in preparation of prescribed fire. Material is either piled to be burned later or transported for carbon capture where it is used for wood products, electricity generation, or used as fill in restoration projects. (G. Dickman)
Valley-wide Continuous Flow Intersection Improvement Project
Sentinel Drive remains closed for construction as the FHWA contractor pours and finishes concrete for pedestrian improvements at the site of the abandoned bus stop and Sentinel Drive parking area. Granite masonry work continues thru the week beginning July 17. Asphalt pavement patching is scheduled for the week beginning July 24. The contractor is also working on construction of traffic diverters (or raised medians) at the valley chapel parking area and Sentinel Drive intersections at Northside and Southside Drives. Completion of work depends on the readiness of labor and availability of equipment and materials. (J. Donovan)
Yosemite Valley Shuttle Bus Stop Improvements
The NPS contractor continues work at seven sites for new pavement construction in Yosemite Village, Curry Village, and on Happy Isles Loop. Disruption and delays in traffic circulation are to be expected. The contractor is authorized to conduct traffic control operations Monday through Thursday. (J. Donovan)
Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment
The contractor has completed work in Wawona and in Yosemite Valley. However, vehicle chargers are not available until the units can be energized and commissioning is complete. Until further notice, working charging stations are limited to eight at Yosemite Valley Lodge, two at the Ahwahnee Hotel, one at the Village Store, and two between the El Portal market and gas station. (J. Donovan)
Dispatch Expansion Project
The Dispatch Expansion project will convert most of the El Portal Warehouse lobby into office space for the Emergency Communications (Dispatch) Center. The lobby area is an active construction zone and therefore is off-limits to non-construction workers. To access the Dispatch office area, follow the signs in through the Trails area door just inside the fence/gate. Warehouse occupants and visitors need to use alternate means of ingress/egress until that portion of the construction is finished. Do not enter through the RMS building unless you work there. Expect intermittent construction noise throughout the project, which is scheduled to be completed in September of 2023. Contact Nicole Belle Isle, Project Manager, for more information. (N. Belle Isle)
Riverbank Restoration Between Sugar Pine Bridge and Ahwahnee Bridge, June through August
The Vegetation and Ecological Restoration branch will be conducting riverbank restoration work between Sugar Pine Bridge and just past Ahwahnee Bridge from June-August. This project will remove riprap from the riverbank, plant willows and other native species, and install an engineered log jam at one location on the riverbank to enhance riparian habitat and mitigate the effects of Sugar Pine Bridge on the Merced River. This restoration project is part of the Merced Wild and Scenic River Management Plan, which aims to reverse some of the past human impacts to meadows and riverbanks, to protect and enhance river values, and to promote public access and enjoyment of the river. To learn more about this effort, visit: https://www.nps.gov/yose/learn/nature/mercedriverrestoration.htm (E. Dickman)