Thursday, March 8, 2012

Yosemite Daily Report for March 8

Daily Report - Yosemite National Park
Thursday, March 8, 2012
The "Open Roads" edition
Yosemite Valley
Today: Sunny, with a high near 55.
Tonight: Clear, with a low around 35.
Friday: Sunny, with a high near 59. 
Saturday: Partly sunny, with a high near 58.

El Portal
Today: Sunny, with a high near 74. 
Tonight: Clear, with a low around 38.
Friday: Sunny, with a high near 80. 
Saturday: Partly sunny, with a high near 76.

Today: Sunny, with a high near 64. 
Tonight: Clear, with a low around 32.
Friday: Sunny, with a high near 69. 
Saturday: Partly sunny, with a high near 66. 


***Highway 120 reopening this Saturday!***
We've received great news this week -- the road repair has been completed ahead of schedule and both lanes of traffic on Highway 120 will reopen this Saturday morning at 6:00 am. We were lucky to have beautiful weather over the past few weeks, which allowed the contractor to repair the road faster than anticipated. Thanks to Michael Pieper, the Federal Highways Administration staff, and T.L. Peterson, Inc., for their swift and outstanding work. -Don

Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120) in Yosemite National Park to Reopen on Saturday, March 10, 2012
Major Road Repairs Completed Four Weeks Ahead of Schedule
Scott Gediman 209-372-0248
Kari Cobb 209-372-0529

Yosemite National Park announces that the Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120 within the park) will reopen both lanes of traffic at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 10, 2012.  The closure and road repairs were necessary after a large rockslide severely damaged the road on Sunday, January 22, 2012.
The closure was expected to last until early April, but once the repair work began, crews found the extent of subsurface damage was less than originally anticipated. The mild weather over the past few weeks was also a major contributing factor, allowing road crews to work around the clock in order to safely reopen the road to traffic.
“We want to thank park staff, the Federal Highways Administration, and the contractor T. L. Peterson, Inc., for their tremendous effort to open the road quickly,” said Don Neubacher, Yosemite National Park Superintendent. “This will help reduce the economic burden that the closure caused for our gateway communities. The reopening is also good news for community members that regularly travel on the road to other parts of the park.” 
The remaining road repairs work will occur over the next few weeks with minimal delays and intermittent single lane traffic control. (K. Cobb)

Voting at Sal's Tonight
Come enjoy some local Mexican cuisine and vote on the proposed new YEA bylaws by the light of the full moon tonight, Thursday, March 8, at the El Portal Community Hall. You can read the proposed new bylaws at and voting is tonight only. As always, your favorite beverages will be for sale by the Yosemite Employee Association, and designated drivers get a free soda. See you there! (M. Goldberg)

Bicycle Repair Night Tonight
Bicycle Repair Night from Sustainable Action is happening at Sal's in El Portal this Thursday from 7-9 p.m. Have your bike repaired, learn how to fix it, or to borrow tools and a stand to work in your own bike. If you are interested in checking out a bike from our Bike Library, email Kate to arrange to pick up a bike at Sal's or inquire there to set up a later date. Mechanical education clinics and other bike events are in the works: stay posted for updates.

El Portal Town Planning Committee Meeting
Members if the El Portal Community are encouraged to attend the upcoming El Portal Town Planning Committee meeting on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 7:00 PM at the El Portal Branch Library. NPS transportation planner Jim Bacon will be on hand to provide information and receive input on transportation issues and concerns of El Portal residents and employees. NPS planner Jim Donovan will present new information about the Merced River Plan and receive input from community members. NPS plans to fence off utility structures in Old El Portal will also be discussed, as well as planning and improvement for the community’s recreational facilities. In compliance with the American Disabilities Act, if you need special assistance to attend this meeting, contact the Mariposa County Planning Department at 209 966 5151. (M. Ross)

Change Batteries in Smoke and CO Alarms This Daylight Saving Time Weekend
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging consumers to replace the batteries in their smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms this weekend for Daylight Saving Time. This year, Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday, March 11. Fresh batteries allow smoke and CO alarms to do their jobs saving lives by alerting families of a fire or a buildup of deadly carbon monoxide in their homes. Two-thirds of fire deaths occur in homes where there are no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. That is why it is important to replace batteries at least once every year and to test your alarms every month to make sure they work. CPSC recommends consumers have smoke alarms on every level of their home, outside bedrooms and inside each bedroom. CO is called the "invisible killer," because it is a colorless, odorless and poisonous gas. Because of this, people may not know they are being poisoned. Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete burning of fuel in various products, including furnaces, portable generators, fireplaces, cars and charcoal grills.
That is why it is important to have working CO alarms in the home, on each level and outside each sleeping area. (J. Alviso)

Tuolumne Meadows Winter Conditions Update
Weather: (March 1 through March 7)
High temp: 57°F (March 3)
Low temp: 0°F (March 2)
New Snow: 11 inches
Total settled snow depth: 20 inches as of March 7

Skiing Conditions and Weather: At the time of this writing, the winds are blowing and conditions are constantly changing. There were several days this week where the high temperature was in the 50’s and this has created a supportable surface, when re-frozen, on most aspects below tree line. These are ideal conditions for ski touring as the coverage is still pretty good. Only a light dusting of snow has fallen since Monday so conditions should remain good for touring if traveling during these “re-frozen” hours.

Avalanche and Snowpack Conditions: For the latest avalanche advisory for this area go to for the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center and click on advisory. The ESAC site is updated several times a week and more often during weather events.

No natural avalanche activity has been seen in the Tuolumne backcountry area yet this season. Recent storm activity has been cold, with low density snow falling on a mostly consolidated, settled snowpack. High winds have affected most slopes above tree line. In between storms, the sun has also created crusts between snow events. Backcountry travelers should be cautious of these when on slopes greater than 30 degrees, primarily on North and East aspects. We dug a snow pit on a west aspect of Mt. Dana, at 11,000’ this week and observed a shallow slab on top of an old suncrust with faceted snow above and below the crust. Travelers should be wary if this snowpack is ever loaded with new snow.

Wildlife: A pair of Hairy woodpeckers were tapping on a Whitebark Pine snag at the Tioga Pass entrance station earlier this week. A Pine Marten was also seen investigating the nearby hut that evening.

Questions: Power and phones are out for the season. Contact the Wilderness Office at 209/372-0740 with any questions or concerns. Bring your ski & skin wax and happy skiing!!

Laura & Rob Pilewski
Tuolumne Winter Rangers
For regular updates, bookmark our blog on the park's website: (M. Ortiz)

Badger Pass Daily Snow Report - 3/8
Base Depth: The conditions on the slopes are excellent.
Snow Conditions: Packed powder
Temperature: High 51, Low 33
Runs Groomed: Bruin, Eagle, Turtle, Rabbit, Badger
Lifts Open: Turtle, Bruin, Eagle, Badger
Runs open: All except Beaver
XC trail snow conditions: Glacier Point Road not groomed. Old Badger Summit groomed. Conditions on GP road are good in some areas and thin in other areas. In general, areas that are shady and protected from the wind will have good coverage. However, snow pack is thin, so areas that are in the sun a good part of the day are melting fast. Road pavement is now exposed in some of the normal sunny trouble areas: Summit Meadow, the top of the hill after the Bridal Veil Creek Bridge, just past the Mono Meadow Trailhead, along the road at Clark’s Range View area, near the Sentinel Dome parking area, and on the switchbacks down to Glacier Point. These areas will grow every day until we get more snow .
Tubing Hill: No tubing; need more snow. (E. Fraley)


For Rent
4 bedroom / 4 bath house w/garage & basement. Located in town of Mariposa. Refrigerator, washer & dryer provided. $1200/month. Harold Casto @ 377-8203. (Y. Radanovich)

25th Anniversary of the Middle Brother Rockfall
Saturday, March 10, marks the 25th anniversary of the 1987 Middle Brother rockfall, the largest rockfall in Yosemite's documented history.
On the afternoon of March 10, 1987, Ranger Jim Tucker received a call from Road Crew Foreman Ralph Parker, who reported that a road crew patching potholes on Northside Drive below the southeast face of Middle Brother had witnessed several small rockfalls and had heard loud cracking noises coming from the cliff face. Upon arrival, Tucker and Ranger Kim Aufhauser witnessed another small rockfall. Tucker, sensing a growing hazard, instructed Parker and his crew to leave the area, and ordered westbound traffic stopped at Camp 4. Ranger Phil Hibbs located Trail Crew Foreman Jim Snyder and the two set up a spotting scope in Leidig Meadow to observe the release point. As the cars piled up behind Camp 4, Tucker received a radio call from Chief Ranger Roger Rudolph, who suggested that Tucker strongly consider reopening Northside Drive. As Tucker and Aufhauser returned to Camp 4 to discuss the situation with Rudolph, they turned back many visitors, including a pair of skeptical hikers who were ordered to leave the area. At they proceeded toward Camp 4, Tucker and Aufhauser heard a tremendous thundering sound.
At 2:47 pm, a huge slab of rock broke loose from the top of Middle Brother. Snyder later described the cliff “unfolding like the stairs of an escalator”. The giant slab disaggregated into a rock avalanche as it hit a prominent ledge and cascaded to the talus slope below. As boulders smashed into the talus slope and sent dust and debris outward, Hibbs yelled, “Run!” Snyder, wanting to run but also wanting to watch the event unfold, tried to do both until he and Hibbs were enveloped in dust and small rock fragments. Stumbling blindly, they made their way to back to Tucker, who was preparing to send out a search party. When the huge dust cloud finally cleared, approximately 180 feet of Northside Drive was covered in rock debris up to 12 feet deep. Several boulders had landed on the far side of the Merced River. There were no injuries, and, aside from a patrol car dented by flyrock, no property damage.
Another large rock fall occurred later that day at 5:10 pm, and smaller rockfalls went on for weeks. The total estimated volume of the rockfalls was 600,000 cubic meters, or 1.4 million tons. Northside Drive was closed for months, and traffic was rerouted to Southside Drive; in anticipation of future rockfalls, reversible detour signs are now posted at key intersections to quickly establish two-way traffic. The 1987 Middle Brother slide provided impetus for Valley Rangers and Search and Rescue to plan and train for large rockfall events, and also initiated a scientific process for documenting and monitoring rockfalls. A triggering mechanism for this rockfall was never identified. (Thanks to former NPS employees Jim Snyder and Jim Tucker for sharing their recollections of this event.) (G. Stock)

Passing of Former Yosemite National Park Employee
Thomas R. Tucker, Sr. (1922-2012)

Former Cabrillo National Monument superintendent Thomas R. Tucker, Sr. passed away on February 24, 2012, surrounded by family members in San Diego, California.

Tom was born on October 27, 1922, in San Diego, California. His family moved to Mariposa when he was a young man. Tom learned the value of hard work by working in the woods and on the family ranch side-by-side with his stepfather, Fred Branson. Tom began his NPS career during his senior year of high school by working on the Yosemite Trail Crew. Tom demonstrated his work ethic and desire to fulfill a commitment made to his high school principal by hiking 18 miles from Merced Lake to Yosemite Valley to attend his high school graduation ceremony in Mariposa in June 1940.
Tom enlisted in the United States Army in 1943, becoming a Platoon Sergeant in an Ordnance Ammunition Company. He landed at Utah Beach on D+16, and served in the European Theater for the remainder of the war. Tom continued to serve in Europe after the war, gathering and disposing of munitions until he returned to the United States in late 1945 as a Master Sergeant and was awarded the Good Conduct Medal for his service.
Following his discharge from the Army in 1946, Tom returned to Yosemite and began work on the forestry crew.
In February 1947, Tom met Evelyn Buschlen of Glendale, California, who was an employee of the Curry Company at Curry Village. Tom and Evelyn were married at the Yosemite Chapel in 1949. Shortly afterward, he became a National Park Ranger, working in the Wawona District of Yosemite National Park. He moved to Yosemite Valley in 1954, and was selected as the Mather District Ranger in 1958. As Mather District Ranger, Tom distinguished himself as a Fire Fighter. The National Park Service recognized Tom’s performance as Mather District Ranger with the Outstanding Professional Services Award.
Tom transferred to Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego in 1962, initially serving as Chief Ranger, then Superintendent. Tom oversaw the completion of the new Visitor Center, expansion of Cabrillo National Monument and its programs, and outreach to the community, including the notable growth of the annual Cabrillo Festival.
Prior to his retirement in 1980, Tom received the Department of the Interior Meritorious Service Award and Distinguished Service Award. He was knighted by the Portuguese government for his contributions to Portuguese-American relations.
Tom is remembered by his family and NPS friends as a warm, generous and caring man of great integrity who served as a role model for all who knew him.
Tom’s wife, Evelyn, passed away in 2004. Tom’s family includes his two sons, Thomas R. Tucker, Jr. and James C. Tucker; two daughters, Mary Jane Tucker Martinez and Eva Linda Tucker de St. Croix, nine grandchildren and seven great-grandsons. Tom’s sister, Alva Branson, resides in Murrieta, CA. Jim Tucker served at Yosemite for 32 years, retiring as the Acting Deputy Chief Ranger in 2006. Tom’s NPS legacy lives on through his grandchildren, Helli, Hanni and Cullen Tucker who have held a variety of positions at Yosemite.
Tom was a 50 year member of the Mariposa Masonic Lodge. Over his life, Tom enjoyed fishing and hunting. He always enjoyed music (particularly Big Band era music) and loved to sing. Tom would want to be remembered through a contribution to the Cabrillo National Monument Foundation.
Condolences may be sent to Jim Tucker, Post Office Box 1844, Mariposa, CA 95338.
Memorial arrangements are pending at Fort Rosecrans in San Diego. Questions about the memorial service may be directed to Jim Tucker at the above address or via e-mail. Jim’s electronic address is: (K. Tucker)

For Rent
2 BD/1 BA Condo, completely refurbished, covered parking, pool, fireplace, private laundry room, refrigerator, range, microwave, and dishwasher. Located on Hwy 49 North, 5 minutes to Mariposa. Water, sewer, and trash pickup included. Non-smoking, $800/month, plus deposit. Please call (209) 966-5029 and leave message. (Y. Radanovich)

Snow Survey Results
Park Rangers have completed the March 1 snow surveys. The water content of the snowpack is 26% of average. (M. Fincher)

Four Mile Trail Closed
The Four Mile Trail is closed below Union Point (approximately halfway up the trail to Glacier Point) due to hazardous snow conditions. The lower section of the trail remains open. (M. Seiler)

Half Dome and Wilderness Information
You can speak to a ranger about Half Dome permits, wilderness conditions, and trip planning by calling 209/372-0745. This line will be staffed Monday through Friday from 9am to 12pm, and 1pm to 3pm. (M. Seiler)

Yosemite Conservancy Announces Retail Operations Manager Opportunity (El Portal)
What a great opportunity for an experienced retail manager who is passionate about the Yosemite National Park and the guest experience. Become part of the El Portal Yosemite Conservancy team in this full-time, year-round management position. The Retail Operations Manager oversees the day-to-day operations off Yosemite Conservancy retail locations throughout the Park. During the peak season (April-October), Yosemite Conservancy operates 5 retail stations and during the off season, 2 remain open. This position reports to the Retail and Publishing Director and manages two full time Sales Supervisors and three seasonal Sales Supervisors. Yosemite Conservancy is competitive in salary and provides excellent benefits. For more information about Yosemite Conservancy, the position and how to apply, see . (T. King)

Job Posting – Yosemite Conservancy – Seasonal Warehouse Assistant (El Portal)
The Seasonal Warehouse Assistant reports to the Warehouse Coordinator and is responsible for providing fulfillment support to the retail department. The position is primarily responsible for receiving product, fulfilling orders, assisting in the delivery of product to retail stations, the transfer of product between warehouses and the El Portal office summer recycling needs. For more information about Yosemite Conservancy, the position and how to apply, see (T. King)

Ever Better Community Conference
Saturday, March 17, 2012, 9:00am - 3:00pm, at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds. Donation: $10 or a canned good for those in need. All are welcome to the Ever Better Community Conference. Contact Jackie Burns, 209-966-6971. (J. Burns)

For Rent
Modern studio apartment in Mariposa. $450/month. Call Frank - 966-6726 or (cell) 209 628-0979. (Y. Radanovich)

Big Oak Flat Road Closed
Big Oak Flat Road is now closed between the Foresta Road Junction on the Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120) and the El Portal Road (Highway 140) junction. It is anticipated that the work will be completed before the Easter Weekend. The park will issue periodic updates on the road reconstruction progress and estimated dates for reopening.


Kevin Killian will be the Acting Chief Ranger March 5-9. Charles will be in travel status out of the park but available by cell phone.

Paul Laymon will be Acting Chief of Facilities Management from 3/1 - 3/19. He may be reached at 379-1077.
Danny Schaible will be acting Branch Chief for History, Architecture and Landscapes from March 5 thru March 8, 2012. He can be reached at 209-379-1295.
Sharon Miyako will be acting branch chief for Education until March 14th. She can be reached at 209-375-9503.
Gene Smith will be acting Roads & Trails Branch Chief 2/22/12 through 3/13/12 while Lou Summerfield is out of the park. He can be reached at 379-1120.
Rachel Lewis will be acting Wilderness Patrol Supervisor while Dan Abbe is out of the Park effective 3/6 - 3/11. She can be reached at the Wawona RO 209-375-9520.
Madelyn Ruffner (379-1226) is on a 120-day detail as Acting Environmental Planning and Compliance Program Manager. Madelyn may be found at her regular desk location in the EPC Trailer. Elexis Mayer (379-1377) has temporarily moved to the Planning Trailer to continue her work on the Merced River Plan. For further assistance, you may also contact Jessica Zeek (379-1002), Administrative Support Assistant for Environmental Planning and Compliance.
Jack Hoeflich will be acting Valley District Ranger until further notice.
Andy Fristensky will be Acting Deputy Chief of Interpretive Operations until further notice. He may be reached at 372-0599.
Jeffrey Trust will be Acting Yosemite Valley Field Interpretation Supervisor until further notice. He may be reached at 372-0307.
Ron Watson will be the Acting Supervisory Information Technology Specialist until further notice. He may be reached at 379-1074.
Brenna Lissoway (379-1283) is on a detail as the Park Archivist. If you have need to access the Archives, or have archive related questions, you can call 379-1282 or 379-1104.

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