Park has only eight days to plow Tioga Pass before Memorial Day holiday
Threats that the sequester might slow down efforts to open Tioga Pass appear to be true after Yosemite National Park officials acknowledged this week that a $2.4 million cut to the park’s budget includes cuts to snow removal.
The cuts will force the park to delay plowing the road to May 15—just 11 short days before the Memorial Day holiday that historically marks the official beginning of the Eastern Sierra’s summer season.
“This is just terrible,” said Mono County Supervisor Tim Alpers. “It’s really beginning to look like the people in Washington simply don’t care about any of us.”
According to the county’s public works director, Jeff Walters, the park will do its first flyover via helicopter of the road this coming Monday, April 15.
“At that point, we will know more,” Walters said.
The park is at about 50 percent or less of its normal snowpack for this time of year, meaning the park only has to plow through about half as much snow as it usually does.
“They think they can get it done,” Walters told the county supervisors Tuesday. “But it’s too soon to be sure.”
The county agreed to help the park by plowing from the Eastside toward the west side of the road, something it does every year when necessary.
But the time frame is very short. Roads need several days to dry out after plowing, meaning the plowing has to be done in about eight days, allowing three more for drying.
“It’s a big concern,” said Alpers. “They are really threading the needle. This is the gateway to the entire Eastern Sierra.”