More Horsepower, Less Emissions: Going Green in Yosemite

DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite's newest fleet vehicle - the Chevrolet Spark.

DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite’s newest fleet vehicle – the Chevrolet Spark.

To keep Yosemite National Park a little greener during a California drought, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite has introduced two new ways for employees to travel in Yosemite Valley that requires no fossil fuel consumption and adheres to the guidelines of the company’s GreenPath sustainability program. In the first case, an all-electric vehicle was added to the fleet – the Chevrolet Spark. Unlike the hybrid shuttle buses that operate in Yosemite Valley, the Spark plugs in and runs on electric charge only. The Spark is also sized smaller than your average vehicle to make that charge last longer. Used primarily as a mail delivery vehicle in Yosemite Valley, the Spark can go for 82 miles on a single charge! We compared the smallest vehicle in our fleet to the largest horse in our stables, Goliath, and found more horsepower and less emissions with the economically-sized Spark.

The Chevrolet Spark, Goliath the Horse and JR the Stables manager in Yosemite.

The Chevrolet Spark, Goliath the Horse and JR the Stables manager in Yosemite.

Along with adding the Spark to our fleet, the new Employee Bike Thing rolled out this summer. This employee bike rental program employs 40 retired rental bikes from Yosemite’s bike stands as new transportation for Yosemite Valley employee residents. Each cruiser style bicycle is assigned to an employee for the entire summer season with a required security deposit.  When the bike is returned at the end of the season, a full refund is issued. This new program helps DNC associates get to work on time, provides a daily dose of exercise and lessens traffic congestion in Yosemite Valley.  The Employee Bike Thing will also allow new associates to explore Yosemite Valley and provide more opportunity for adventure.

Matt and Jeff enjoy their new ride from the Employee Bike Thing.

Matt and Jeff enjoy their new ride from the Employee Bike Thing.

If you can’t tool around Yosemite Valley in an all-electric vehicle, bike riding is definitely the way to go. Though not a participant of DNC’s Employee Bike Thing, Yosemite National Park’s Superintendent, Don Neubacher, also commutes in Yosemite on his bike.

National Park Service Superintendent Don Neubacher also bikes to work in Yosemite.

National Park Service Superintendent Don Neubacher also bikes to work in Yosemite.

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Yosemite Parking under the MRP

A Range of Alternatives for the Merced River Plan

A Range of Alternatives for the Merced River Plan

On peak days in Yosemite Valley, traffic and parking can be a challenge. The Merced River Plan outlines a few options to improve parking and traffic flow to give people a better experience when they visit.
Under Preferred Alternative 5, the National Park Service proposes many strategies including:

  • Increase day-use parking spaces in Yosemite Valley (+5%).
  • Improve traffic circulation by building underpasses and roundabouts in key locations like day-use parking and across from Yosemite Lodge at the Falls.
  • Accommodate approximately 19,900 visitors per day in East Yosemite Valley, compared to current peak visitation of about 20,900.
  • Continue to manage overnight-use capacity through wilderness permits and reservation systems for lodging and camping.
  • Manage day-use capacity for East Yosemite Valley through traffic diversions and monitoring.
  • Create an additional parking area in the west end of Yosemite Valley to accommodate overflow traffic.
  • Provide additional public transit and free shuttle bus services, with routes extending further west to include locations like Bridalveil and the new proposed parking area.

What do you think?

Submit a comment to the National Park Service. The comment period is open until April 18, 2013. Your comments matter. Public input has strongly helped to shape the draft plan, and it’s important for everyone to continue to provide feedback for the next phase as planners develop a final plan. Learn more about the Merced River Plan.

What’s With Yosemite Valley Traffic?

As the number of visitors increase during the summer months, the National Park Service is experimenting with different ways to control traffic in the east end of Yosemite Valley. We’d all like to see less congestion, more efficient traffic flow, and a system that allows emergency vehicles to respond to incidents effectively. But what exactly does that mean?

Here is the latest from NPS on what changes to expect when you drive into Yosemite Valley starting May 21, 2012.
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