Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Yosemite to reopen Tuesday, 14 days after blaze choked air

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Yosemite National Park will reopen Tuesday, 14 days after a wildfire choked the park with smoke at the peak of tourist season, officials said Friday.

"This is truly a historic and unprecedented event in park history, and we are thrilled to welcome back visitors to Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove," said Michael Reynolds, the park's superintendent.

Visitors should expect limited hours and visitor services as the park returns to normal, spokesman Scott Gediman said. "Park visitors should be aware that there is still active fire and smoke on the roads, and people should drive with extreme caution," he said.

The scenic Yosemite Valley, 350 campsites and all the park hotels have been closed since July 25. Officials also declared a half-dozen other sites off-limits, including the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias, Tunnel View (a scenic spot on California Route 41) and Glacier Point Road.

The Mariposa Grove will reopen Monday. But Tunnel View and Glacier Point Road will remain closed as fire crews continue to battle the wildfire.

Though the blaze didn't reach the heart of the valley, it burned in remote areas of the park about 250 miles (400 kilometers) from San Francisco, making roads inaccessible and polluting the air with smoke.

The 150-square mile (388-square kilometer) fire that started on July 13 was 80 percent contained Friday.

This week, 200 park workers who live in Yosemite's popular Valley region were allowed to return, and officials lifted most mandatory evacuation orders for nearby communities.

But the park's air remains hazy. Time-lapse video by the Yosemite Conservancy, a group that supports the park, shows smoke enveloping and partly obscuring Half Dome, an iconic rock formation.

It is Yosemite's longest and most extensive closure since 1997, when floods shut the park for two months, officials said

Tourists wanting to visit Yosemite, a crown jewel of the National Park System, have to book nearly a year ahead of time to secure a coveted hotel room inside the park, where hotels and campsites fill up months in advance and are typically booked through October.

The closure has dealt a financial blow to Yosemite and gateway communities like Oakhurst and Mariposa at the height of the summer season and caused upheaval for thousands of tourists whose summer trips were canceled.

Dylan Shull, who manages the Monarch Inn and the Best Western Yosemite in Mariposa, said the two-week closure has hit the town hard

He said his hotels have hosted some of the emergency personnel involved in fighting the blaze, tourists who hadn't heard news of the closure, and visitors who showed up with the hope the park would open.

"June, July and August are the peak season and to see 30 percent occupancy was a huge hit for us," he said.

"We're all very excited. The whole town is looking forward to the reopening and hoping there are no hiccups," Shull added.

Comments
Gant homers, pitches Cardinals to 6-4 win over Nationals

Gant homers, pitches Cardinals to 6-4 win over Nationals

John Gant homers, pitches surging St. Louis Cardinals to 6-4 win over the Washington Nationals
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pawlenty's Minnesota loss caps political career with a thud

Pawlenty's Minnesota loss caps political career with a thud

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's comeback bid fizzled in the Republican primary for his old job, as voters chose County Commissioner Jeff Johnson to face Democratic Rep. Tim Walz in the governor's race
Updated: 1 hour ago

AP Top News at 12:09 a.m. EDT

AP Top News at 12:09 a.m. EDT
Updated: 1 hour ago

Taliban attacks kill 4 police in southern province

An official says Taliban attacks have killed four police in southern Zabul province
Updated: 1 hour ago
Turkey increases tariffs on certain US imports

Turkey increases tariffs on certain US imports

Turkey is increasing tariffs on imports of series of U.S. products, escalating a feud with the United States that has helped trigger a currency crisis
Updated: 1 hour ago
Turkey increases tariffs on certain US imports

Turkey increases tariffs on certain US imports

Turkey is increasing tariffs on imports of series of U.S. products, escalating a feud with the United States that has helped trigger a currency crisis
Updated: 1 hour ago
Vermont nominates 1st US transgender candidate for governor

Vermont nominates 1st US transgender candidate for governor

Christine Hallquist, the first transgender candidate to win a major-party nomination for governor, will face Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who won his party's nomination to run for a second term
Updated: 1 hour ago
Foe accused by Maduro says Venezuela military is fracturing

Foe accused by Maduro says Venezuela military is fracturing

The exiled opposition leader accused by Venezuelan authorities of directing a failed plot to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro says the greatest threat to the embattled socialist leader may be his detractors in uniform standing quietly behind him
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pillar homers in 8th to lift Blue Jays over Royals 6-5

Pillar homers in 8th to lift Blue Jays over Royals 6-5

Kevin Pillar hit a two-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning to lift the Toronto Blue Jays over the Kansas City Royals 6-5
Updated: 1 hour ago

Turkey increases tariffs on series of US imports in ongoing feud with the United States

Turkey increases tariffs on series of US imports in ongoing feud with the United States
Updated: 1 hour ago