Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove reopens after monthlong wildfire closure

After nearly a month of closure, Yosemite National Park’s famed Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias reopened to the public this week, drawing hundreds of people who gathered to celebrate the towering trees’ survival after they were threatened by wildfire were.

The 4,886-acre Washburn fire, which posed a threat to the grove’s 500 mature redwoods, has been 100% contained, Yosemite Park Ranger Scott Gediman said, although some firefighters continue to clean up and extinguish hot spots. Crews are likely to remain in the area for about a week or two more, Gediman said.

Few trails in the grove remain closed, including the Washburn Trail, the western portion of the Perimeter Trail and the Mariposa Grove to Wawona trail, but the most popular trails opened Wednesday, Gediman said.

“There is definitely evidence that a fire broke out. If you’re a visitor and you drive up, you will see the burned area between the depot and the grove, but once you get to the grove and drive up, everything is great,” Gediman said.

The Washburn Fire ignited along a forested trail in Yosemite National Park on July 7, initially sparking fears of an environmental disaster threatening the grove’s mature trees. However, the fire brigade was able to fight the fire early without damage to buildings or injuries, and major damage to the grove could be averted.

“I’ve seen dozens of fires in my career and this one was phenomenal. I’ve never seen so much support and caring among visitors and firefighters,” Gediman said. “The whole region really came together to save the Mariposa Grove.”

There are fire scars on some trees, but no redwoods died, Gediman said. Because some of these trees are 2,000 to 3,000 years old and have seen many fires, it is difficult to determine which fire caused the scars.

Flames burn tree trunks on the ground in a grove of tall trees

The Washburn Fire burns in Mariposa Grove with giant sequoias on July 8th.

(Noah Berger/Associated Press)

Gediman drove to Mariposa Grove early Wednesday to celebrate the reopening and said he had “one of the best days in a long time”. He met a family from Utah who were making a special trip to Mariposa Grove on their last day in Yosemite, and families from around the world including France, Israel and England.

“It was just a real sense of relief, excitement and celebration,” Gediman said. “People were excited to see the Mariposa Grove and a little bit relieved because they were worried about the trees. ”

Hiking the Grizzly Giant Loop—one of Mariposa Grove’s most popular hiking trails—with visitors, Gediman experienced what he called “the perfect alignment of everything.”

The group was mesmerized when they encountered a jet black fur bear walking right next to a burn scar and walking around the trail for a few minutes before leaving.

“It was an incredible and magical moment. I was just like, ‘Oh my god, that [visitors] are here on opening day on Grizzly Giant and you have a beautiful bear,'” Gediman said. “It was just perfect for me.”

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-04/yosemites-mariposa-grove-reopens-after-month-long-closure Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove reopens after monthlong wildfire closure

Alley Einstein

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