Each year, the experience of Yosemite's High Sierra Camps draws more than 13,000 overnight guests and thousands of additional backpackers. But decades of visitation have taken their toll, as evidenced by dust, soil compaction and declining native vegetation.
Merced Lake, the largest, oldest and most remote of the high camps, has benefited since 2001 from a volunteer restoration project implemented by Sara Luring, former camp cook and National Park Service restoration worker. The project has been recognized by the National Park Service and numerous guests. It also served as the inspiration for an extensive restoration of the remaining camps during the summers of 2005 and 2006. The High Sierra Camp Restoration Project was expanded to include White Wolf in 2007 and Tuolumne Meadows Lodge in 2008. Sunrise High Sierra Camp was revisited in 2009 for a restoration of the corral area.
At the outset, the 85-year-old camp at Merced Lake offered a glimpse into the fate of the younger camps if issues of management and proper usage were not addressed. Armed with this knowledge, Delaware North decided immediate rehabilitation and proactive measures could alleviate (or eliminate) the need for extensive efforts in the future. Furthermore, the restoration provided a golden opportunity for Delaware North associates and park partners to come together for a worthwhile cause. We believe it also helped strengthen our partnership with the National Park Service, and allowed us to demonstrate and document Delaware North’s environmental stewardship.
The picture above shows a typical scene at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge before and after volunteer workers have delineated pathways and de-compacted and re-seeded the soil around the these areas.