SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A grove of ancient giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park is no place for a tram ride, gift shop and asphalt parking lots, say officials who are looking to have them removed.
Park officials on Tuesday released a draft environmental study on the effects of an estimated $15 million worth of improvements at Yosemite's popular Mariposa Grove. The proposal includes getting rid of the tram ride, shop and parking lots — changes designed to restore the habitat for the nearly 500 giant sequoias there.
"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.
Giant sequoias, which grow only in the southern Sierra Nevada, are the largest living things on earth, and their shallow root systems extend several hundred feet sideways.
Park officials hope that by removing the grove's parking lot, they will create a larger habitat for new trees to sprout. Visitors would then be shuttled from a station at the park's south entrance or could hike in on a new two-mile trail.