Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

One hundred years ago this summer, a group of U.S. Army cavalry soldiers left the Presidio in San Francisco, and made the hot dusty trek across the San Joaquin Valley to both Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. Veterans of the Spanish American War, were charged with protecting the new national parks from poachers, timber thieves, and with building park infrastructure. They were in essence America's first park rangers. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Beneath the shadows of Half Dome and El Capitan, in the heart of Yosemite Valley, lies the Merced River. It’s been known as a Wild and Scenic River since 1987. It’s a federal designation that aims to preserve river ecosystems and values. But after a major flood damaged much of the park’s infrastructure in 1997, environmental groups and park management clashed over plans for how best to restore the park in compliance with the law. Now, after 15 years marked by lawsuits and studies, a new management plan for the Merced River has been released.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we  take the listener to one of the many strawberry stands that dot the San Joaquin Valley’s rural roads. But how often do these vine-ripened strawberries reach school menus? FM 89’s Rebecca Plevin explores the first partnership ever to exist between Fresno Unified School District and a Reedley farmer to bring local berries to cafeterias.

Spring has come early to the Yosemite Valley, and the melting snow makes for a spectacular rush of water off the granite face of Yosemite Falls, the tallest in North America.

Early March is when park officials would normally be gearing up for the busy tourist season. Instead, they're figuring out how to cut $1.5 million from their budget. Without a budget deal, the sequestration has forced the Park Service to cut a total of $134 million from sites around the country.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

It has taken more than a decade, but Yosemite National Park finally released today its draft plans to protect and restore the Merced River corridor for the next 20 years.

The plans, which include six different alternatives, are intended to preserve the river, and provide visitors with opportunities to enjoy the river, according to Kathleen Morse, chief of planning at Yosemite National Park.

“It’s a dual purpose plan: One to protect the resources, and two, to provide access to them,” Morse said.

Courtesy Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park officials announced today that missing 23-year-old park employee Jessica Garcia has been found alive. 

Search and rescue crews located the missing employee on Tuesday in a rugged area around two miles from the South Fork Drainage of the Merced River.

Garcia was reported missing after she failed to show up to work on Sunday. She was last seen near Wawona on Saturday. 

From the official press release:

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A West Virginia resident is the third person to die of hantavirus in the last month after visiting Yosemite National Park. The outbreak of the rare disease, which is contracted through contact with the urine or feces of infected deer mice has prompted a worldwide health advisory for individuals who visited the park earlier this summer. A total of eight cases have been reported so far. All of the cases but one involve people who stayed at the "Signature Tent Cabins" at Yosemite's Curry Village. The other case involves a person who visited camps in the High Sierra.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The hantavirus outbreak in Yosemite National Park that has sickened six and killed two could grow much larger, according to the Centers For Disease Control. On Friday the CDC  issued a health advisory, warning that as many as 10,000 people who stayed at tent cabins in Yosemite National Park between June 10 and August 24th may be at risk for the disease. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The outbreak of hantavirus among people who visited Yosemite National Park continues to grow, as two additional people have been diagnosed with the disease, according to the California Department of Public Health. That brings the total number of Yosemite related cases this year to six. Most of the individuals who became infected stayed at tent cabins in Curry Village earlier this summer. 

Calls by scientists to warn Yosemite visitors on the dangers of hantavirus apparently went unheeded by park officials until recently. Christina Jewett of California Watch reports that a document from 2010 indicates that public health officials had suggested steps to reduce the risk of infections in the park's tent cabins, and to educate the public about the disease.