A Year in (P)review: 2016 Grants

A Year in (P)review: 2016 Grants

As part of a project supported by Conservancy donors, Yosemite researcher and intern study rare flowers blooming in the footprint of the 2013 Rim Fire. Photo: Courtesy of NPS.

Photo: NPS

Every year, our donors fund grants that fuel important work throughout Yosemite. Over the past few decades, those projects have helped the park protect a recovering peregrine falcon population, install more than 2,000 bear-proof food lockers, restore classic overlooks, transform miles and miles of trails, enable tens of thousands of kids to earn their Junior Ranger badges, and much more.

In recent years, we have provided more than $100 million in grants to  Yosemite, for more than 530 completed projects. And in 2016, as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service (and our 93rd year as Yosemite's nonprofit partner!), our donors are funding 34 new projects in the park, covering everything from meadow restoration and trail repair to research on rare mammals and summer internships for college students.  

Want to make a difference in Yosemite this year? Here's a quick preview of some of the grants your gifts will help support in 2016!

Protect plants and animals.

Yosemite's songbird studies collect valuable information on a variety of avian species, including grosbeaks (pictured). Photo: NPS

  • Results from research on fleeting "fire-following" flowers and giant sequoia seedlings will inform efforts to protect Yosemite's vibrant plant life. Elsewhere on the botanical beat, crews and volunteers will remove velvet grass and other invasive species from high country meadows, and will support Yosemite's pollinator populations by planting bee-, butterfly- and bird-friendly flora.

  • Wildlife experts are studying fire's effect on great gray and spotted owls; monitoring the herd of endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep that was released in the Cathedral Range last March; learning more about the rare Sierra Nevada red fox; using advanced technology to track black bears; expanding the park's long-running songbird data set; and restoring populations of rare frogs and turtles.

  • Alongside these flora- and fauna-focused projects, scientists are using and developing cutting-edge tools to study a vital resource on which all of that plant and animal life depends: Snow, a hugely important source of water in Yosemite. 

In Lyell Canyon, crews will continue restoring the meadow as they reroute parts of the John Muir Trail. Photo: NPS

Get out and explore.

  • Yosemite’s top-notch trail crews will tackle restoration projects throughout the park, completing repairs in the Valley and backcountry while providing young California Conservation Corps (CCC) members with hands-on trail work experience.

  • Day and thru-hikers alike will benefit from projects focused on the iconic John Muir Trail, which traverses 211 miles between Yosemite Valley and Mt. Whitney. A section of the JMT near Vernal Fall will be resurfaced with non-asphalt material; about 20 miles to the northeast, parts of the JMT in Lyell Canyon will be rerouted to drier ground, simultaneously improving the hiking surface and protecting wetland habitat.

  • Efforts to create safe, sustainable access trails for popular climbing routes continue this year, with a focus on Middle Cathedral Rock and Tuolumne bouldering areas.  For those curious about climbing,  the Ask a Climber station near El Capitan will be back in action — stop by this summer to talk to a ranger or peer up at the granite walls through a telescope!

Celebrate the past.

The Yosemite Museum (pictured circa 1930) opened to the public in 1926, and was the first building constructed to serve as a museum in a national park. Photo: NPS
    • A special exhibit this spring will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Yosemite Museum (a notable milestone for the Conservancy, whose roots go back to the Yosemite Museum Association was formed in 1923 as the first cooperating organization in the NPS).

    • While the exhibit looks back to the 20th century, other projects will help propel Yosemite's historical resources into the 21st, by creating a digital gallery from the archives and modernizing the Yosemite Research Library, a treasure trove of photos, documents and artifacts on the museum's second floor.

    • Beyond the museum’s stone walls, see how the park's living history is being preserved by crews working at the Pioneer Yosemite History Center, where three historic buildings will be repaired this year, and by new horses and mules carrying on Yosemite’s time-honored stock team traditions.

    Inspire the future.

    Youth in Yosemite Programs such as Parks in Focus help young people see the natural world in a new way. Photo: Udall Foundation

    This year's Youth in Yosemite Programs will continue to give kids and young adults opportunities to connect with, and care for, the park. 


    Bay Area middle schoolers will hone their camera skills while exploring nature and photography through Parks in Focus. College students will learn about conservation and careers through Yosemite Leadership Program academic-year programming and summer internships. Teens from communities around Yosemite will discover the national park in their backyard through wilderness expeditions with Adventure Risk Challenge and WildLink.



    That’s just the start! Learn about all of the grants you can help support in Yosemite this year, and stay tuned for updates on the 2016 projects right here on our blog.



    Yosemite Insider