Hello everyone,

I know that we are all dealing with impacts of this week’s serious weather. Some in our communities have been through very scary situations in the past 48 hours, and some are still in the midst of those situations. We are right there with you!

While the parks are currently closed to visitors, we do want to reach out to you, our neighbors, to let you know what we’re doing on our end. We are expecting a brief window of fairly good weather before the next atmospheric river that is predicted to arrive beginning Monday night, and hope to use that time to our best advantage.

Today, we got started assessing damage within the parks, as yesterday very few employees were in the field for safety reasons. Crews are proceeding cautiously up the Generals Highway from the Foothills Visitor Center, clearing major debris flows and checking for new places where the road has been compromised. As you can imagine after January’s events, we had reason to expect that there may be major impacts to that section, and we are discovering sites even down near Ash Mountain. We do have a small number of NPS and concession employees that are sheltering in place during this weather event in Giant Forest, Lodgepole, and Wuksachi, and an emergency way out for those people is a priority.

We have not been able to perform much assessment of any part of Mineral King yet, but knowing that sections of road were blocked by rockfall or structurally compromised from below during the last weather event, we must be very cautious in that area. The base of the Mineral King Road in Three Rivers was a water sheet yesterday and there is a lot of debris to contend with. We know how anxious the cabin communities are to know the status of your properties (and return to them). We are working to line up a helicopter reconnaissance flight in the next week, after the next weather system has moved through, to allow us to start getting a handle on what we’re looking at up there. 2023 thus far has really dealt the Mineral King Road some serious blows and we will continue to keep you in the loop as we work to make progress.

Grant Grove also has a number of employees sheltering in place and we are working to establish emergency egress for them as well, as well as the small number of winter Wilsonia residents who opted to remain in their homes there. Caltrans has Highway 180 closed and is currently focused on just achieving an emergency access lane to Grant Grove.

All areas of the parks will definitely be closed through the weekend and likely considerably longer. We don’t have enough information yet to start working on timeframes for reopening. On a positive note, following the road damage we suffered in January to both the Generals Highway (5 sites) and the Mineral King Road (3 sites) we were able to work with our partners in the Federal Lands Division of the Federal Highways Administration to secure emergency funding to repair the damaged sections of the road. They recently awarded a contractor who will be mobilizing in early April. I expect that as we discover new damage we will be working with Federal Highways to expand that contract as necessary. Prior to this event Federal Highways was trying to secure multiple road crews within the contract to support work on Generals Highway and Mineral King Road simultaneously. I don’t know how the current situation may effect that effort. Given what will likely be great demand for road contractors in the months ahead across California, though, I am pleased that we have a contractor committed to us and we will prioritize their efforts as appropriate.

Please understand that in combination with the vast fire scarred slopes throughout our road system, I expect that the flood damage to park roads we may discover in the days or weeks ahead may be greater than from any other flood event the parks have endured in many decades, including the terrible flood of 1997, and perhaps even the one in 1969. I appreciate your patience as we work to restore resident access to the Mineral King community and visitor access to all areas of the park. Our staff and equipment are once again being pushed to the max, but they are an incredible bunch of dedicated employees, and your neighbors, who are passionate about getting the park back in shape as quickly as we reasonably can. Please bear with us…

We will absolutely keep you informed as we proceed. We hope that this message finds you and your loved ones safe, well, and dry, and will send you our next update within the next few days.

My Best Regards,

Clay Jordan


[SOURCE: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks]