Assessing storm damage to park highways and byways


Michael Theune, acting public information officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, announced several spring road openings for areas that are closed during winter. The road to Cedar Grove in the deepest canyon in America is scheduled to open for the season on Friday, April 28. 
Theune, who made the announcements during the Three Rivers Village Foundation’s monthly town meeting on Monday, April 3, said the Cedar Grove opening date can be difficult to pin down because three agencies — Caltrans, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service — share responsibility for the maintenance of certain sections of Highway 180. There are several rockslides and areas with debris to clear but no major damage. 
The Mineral King Road is scheduled to open Friday, May 26, the traditional Memorial Day weekend opener. Michael Seaward, general manager of Silver City Mountain Resort, said the water is on and that the road is open to the property. Two miles up canyon but still below the Mineral King valley, there is snow and debris blocking the road. 
A Park Service road crew is working to remove the avalanche debris and will then clear additional avalanches and tree-fall from the last mile of the road. Weather permitting, the roadwork will be completed by the May 26 opener.
Giant Forest has 60 inches of snowpack on north-facing terrain, reported Theune. He said weather was a possible factor that contributed to a seven percent decrease in Sequoia visitation for March 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.
—See the Visitor Guide in the April 7 print edition or e-edition to see additional opening dates for roads and facilities.

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