Happy Isles Junior Ranger Program Nature Center Upgrades

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In keeping with the Centennial Challenge's national Junior Ranger initiative, the Happy Isles Nature Center will become the focal point of year round Junior Ranger programming in Yosemite. This project will upgrade the facility and exhibits, provide expanded curriculum for Junior Ranger programs, and train a new cadre of rangers and volunteers. This project will firmly establish a base for Junior Ranger program operations at Yosemite National Park.

Exhibits will be updated to emphasize "kids in nature" and will promote exploration of park resources first-hand, as well as introducing the National Park System and Junior Ranger opportunities nationwide.

Repair and rehabilitation of the historic Nature Center will be done with in-kind materials and in consultation with historic preservation staff to ensure all work is appropriate to the historic structure. Work will include:

- Attach primarily flat panel interactive exhibits to the north, south and west walls in the rear of the facility. Final exhibits will be determined by an exhibit designer and approved by park interpretative staff. Exhibit panels will replace current bulletin board, will be in keeping with Yosemite Valley Architectual Design Guidelines, and will not be permanently affixed.
- Replace front porch log supports and rotten components such as cross pieces. Front porch supports are rotted at the base and need to be replaced (see photo).
- Upgrade electrical including installing four new outlets similar to those elsewhere in the building so that they don't impact historic fabric of the building. Currently there are multiple powerstrips and cords along floor boards and counters (see photo). Sales area in the front lobby needs electrical upgrades to address safety concerns in the sales station. New outlets will be installed to consolidate wiring in this location. Wiring may also be necessary in the exhibit area, depending on type of displays designed. New wiring will be installed on the outside of the walls with wiring conduit.
- Install exterior entry doors with a compliant automatic door system (see photo). Code requires a remote button to be installed to access the store front doors. The installation of the button will be next to the log post closest to the doors.
- Replace toilet, selected in consultation with the park cultural resource staff to ensure its compatibility.
- Rehabilitate and relocate entrance signs to new location. The current entrance sign will be refurbished in-kind and moved to a more logical and visible location, ajdacent to shuttle stop 16. Currently the sign is below trail grade as the trail was raised after the rockfall. Additionally, the sign doesn't make as much sense in its current location with the Happy Isles bridge being out and visitors rarely venturing down this once busy trail. There is only a tiny sign at the Happy Isles Shuttle Stop indicating the location of this major facility. The relocation of this rustic sign would be more welcoming and better promote the facility (see photo).

Yosemite's annual visitation is 3.5 million visitors. The park's 2005 Visitor Survey indicates that 24% of these visitors are children. The Junior Ranger Center and its programs have the great potential to help establish a future cadre of park stewards. It is a long term goal of this project to "set the stage" for other Junior Ranger projects in future Centennial Challenge years.