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Apple celebrates National Parks and the work of restoring El Capitan Meadow

Preserving Yosemite National Park (Source: Apple)

For its annual celebration of US National Parks, Apple has spotlighted the efforts of Yosemite Ancestral Stewards to restore a sacred black oak grove in El Capitan Meadow.

Apple has long been celebrating and supporting the preservation of National Parks, with donations, Apple Watch activity challenges, and also fundraising via Apple Pay. Plus it's named macOS after Yosemite in 2014, and El Capitan in 2015.

This year it's highlighting the work it has helped fund in Yosemite National Park, that sees the first tribal conservation crew, "a group of Indigenous youth passionate about protecting the land and culture of their tribes."

"Since 2017, Apple customers have been able to support programs like this one through an Apple Pay campaign celebrating the National Park Service's anniversary," says Apple.

The sacred black oak grove is at the base of El Capitan, and over the years it has been affected by the tourism. As hikers seek out a close-up view of El Capitan, they "stumble off the beaten path," and create social trails, also known as desire paths.

But when park visitors veer off the planned routes and onto these paths, they become a threat to the black oak grove because of the volume of them trampling on the ground and destroying what's there.

"It takes a very long time for those things to come back," Nellie Tucker, of the Yosemite Ancestral Stewards program (YAS) says. "That's one less blade of grass that a butterfly can land on, or something can eat. And then it becomes another space for invasive plants."

YAS has spent this summer restoring El Capitan Meadow alongside the Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps (ALCC). It's the first tribal conservation crew made up of young adults from the Yosemite National Park-affiliated tribes.

"Back in the day, to regulate how much leaf litter or invasive species were on the ground, Indigenous people would come in and plan out where they would burn and how they would do it," says YAS crew member Nicole Long. "So they help the black oaks thrive because they're a very resilient tree, just like all oaks, and they need the smoke and the fire to help reproduce, to help germinate, and to get rid of competition plants that can kill them."

Previously, forced removal split up indigenous communities and also cut the people out of the process of caring for the land.

"Here in Yosemite, the Ancestral Stewards program is an attempt to introduce a new generation of the original caretakers to the land, while creating pathways to employment and career opportunities for Indigenous youth," says Apple.