So much for the sequester. It looks like Mother Nature (or, well, climate change) is winning. Due to the federal sequestration last month, the opening of Tioga and Glacier Point roads were a big unknown. Basically, to save money, the park was going to push off snow plowing operations by a month, which could have meant road openings in June. Over the past thirty years, both roads usually open around Memorial Day weekend.
"Now with the lower snowpack, the cost of plowing is a fourth or fifth lower," said Scott Gediman, a Yosemite spokesperson. He said the opening dates, pending any spring storms or complications, are May 3 for Glacier Point and May 11 for Tioga .
That's very good news for tourism in the Eastern Sierra. Tioga Road is a boon for economic activity in and around Lee Vining, the small town at the bottom of the mountain pass artery. "If there are no visitors, no one is spending money, and the influx of visitors arrive when the pass is open. It's almost like night and day," explained Elin Ljung of the Mono Lake Committee, which works with the local chamber of commerce.
And these are not the only early opening dates for the area: Last week, Inyo National Forest began plowing around nearby Mammoth Lakes, a bit of good news for the high sierra's weekend (fishing) opener this Friday.