Protecting the Natural Beauty of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

July 7, 2016Marya SkottePartner Stories
– Michael Sheltzer, Share the Experience

The dramatic landscapes of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks lie side by side in the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains – a testament to the majesty and geographic diversity of the Western United States. The parks offer a chance for visitors to explore expansive mountain peaks, sprawling woodlands, profound canyons, a vast array of wildlife, and the world’s largest trees. Together, the parks encompass 1,353 square miles of rugged wilderness and are home to a unique array of wildlife like the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep, the endangered yellow-legged mountain frog, and an active population of black bears.

The history of these two national parks pre-dates the creation of the National Park Service, to September 25, 1890 when President Benjamin Harrison signed legislation that established Sequoia National Park as America’s second national park. The park was originally created to protect the giant sequoia trees from loggers, making it the first national park created to protect a specific living species.

Sunrise over Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
Daniel Jeffcoach, National Park Service

Today, the long history of preservation at the parks continues thanks to the Sequoia Parks Conservancy (SPC), a recently established nonprofit that formed following the merger of two separate organizations – the Sequoia Natural History Association and the Sequoia Parks Foundation.

Created in 1940, the Sequoia Natural History Association worked in partnership with the National Park Service to protect and preserve the parks and enhance the visitor experience to Sequoia and Kings National Parks. Over the years, the organization provided over $14 million in aid to the education, research, and natural preservation of both parks.

Meanwhile, the Sequoia Parks Foundation focused their efforts on funding millions of dollars for trail improvement and conservation projects throughout the park. Since their start in 1986, the Foundation worked tirelessly to improve trail access at Panoramic Point and Zumwalt Meadow and was an important sponsor for the Rangers in the Classroom education program which has served 70,000 local children and provided over $65,000 to search-and-rescue efforts.

In October 2015, the two organizations joined forces to better serve the parks and local community. And while the name may have changed, their ability to protect and maintain this incredible national treasure for all to enjoy has remained resolute.

Today, Sequoia Parks Conservancy raises millions of dollars that are essential to park preservation and visitor education, including SPC’s upcoming campaign in support of the Crystal Cave Visitor Services and Education Center along with the eventual rehabilitation of the Crystal Cave area. Crystal Cave is a popular attraction and protected resource – showcasing stalactites and stalagmites that have been created over millions of years by subterranean streams. Currently, the Visitor Services and Education Center is a kiosk that serves as a ticket outlet, retail store, and staff office.

Crystal Cave at Sequoia National Park
Alison Taggart-Barone, National Park Service

In partnership with the National Park Service, Sequoia Parks Conservancy hopes to expand the Visitor Services and Education Center and offer new educational opportunities including interpretive displays, an improved working space for cave naturalists, and the rehabilitation of the cave entrance trail which will improve visitor flow.

To help fund park projects like this, SPC is excited to announce their Find Adventure Food Truck Fest on September 17 at Mooney Grove Park, Visalia. The event will feature delicious food from local food trucks, live music, and an array of adventure as they bring the parks to the people.

The Sequoia Parks Conservancy works hard to protect and preserve Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks so that future generations of visitors will be able to visit and learn about these incredible wild spaces. To learn more about SPC’s exciting events, educational programs and how you can get involved in their ongoing efforts, check out their website and follow them on facebook today!

Photo credits: Michael Sheltzer via Share the Experience


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