Yosemite Conservancy is Yosemite National Park’s primary philanthropic partner. In this role, we inspire people to preserve the park and we enrich the visitor experience. Our donors have funded $119 million in grants for trail and habitat restoration, wildlife management, historic preservation and other high-priority efforts in Yosemite, resulting in more than 600 completed projects to date. Our Outdoor Adventures, art workshops, theater shows and volunteer programs create enriching experiences for park visitors of all ages, in every season.
Wondering where we got started? The Conservancy’s roots stretch back to 1923, when the Yosemite Museum Association was established as the original nonprofit partner organization in the National Park Service, created to manage funds for another NPS first — the first park building constructed to serve as a museum.
The following year, as construction was underway on the Yosemite Museum and its smaller, trailside cousin, the Glacier Point Geology Hut, the organization got an expanded role and a new name: the Yosemite Natural History Association. Over the next six decades, the Association worked in partnership with the NPS to offer interpretive programs, train naturalists, launch art and theater programs, and publish books including the Yosemite Nature Notes periodical.
In 1985, the organization evolved into the Yosemite Association. The freshly renamed park partner continued to collaborate with the NPS on educational services, in-park programs and publishing, while also launching a volunteer program, supporting Wilderness operations and taking on notable projects, such as the introduction of bighorn sheep around Tioga Pass in the late ‘80s.
Before the end of the decade, the Association’s Return to Light fundraising campaign led to the creation of the Yosemite Fund, established as a separate organization in 1988 to raise money for projects in the park. More than twenty-two years (and many notable accomplishments) later, the two organizations reunited as Yosemite Conservancy, which today draws on a 93-year legacy of pioneering partnership to fund important work throughout Yosemite, help visitors develop deep connections with the park, and celebrate the remarkable place that inspired the national park idea.
That’s the semi-short story. To learn more about our history, take a look at these milestones!