On Sept. 18, 2008 Associated Press reporter Tracy Cone accompanied our project team to Vernal Falls in Yosemite Valley. NPS scientist Martin Hutten rappelled down the 300-foot sheer face of the falls with a climber from our team to gather samples from the vivid streaks of red, white, black and grey lichens on the wall.

These beautiful streaks are covered with falling water and mist most of the year, and have never before been sampled. By learning what lichens exist in Yosemite National Park, scientists can use them to as "early warning systems" for detecting air and water pollution or impacts from climate change and biome shifts in the park.

Climbers from The American Alpine Club are helping the National Park Service rangers preserve and protect Yosemite by working together with them on these types of "Citizen Scientist" projects. Climbers are also helping in other mountain regions of the world, such as in the Everest region of Nepal.

Here's a link to Tracy Cone's Associated Press article about this project:

Here's a link to a National Park Service page with more images and information about our lichen samples and how they will help scientists learn about the effects of air pollution and climate changes on the natural resources of Yosemite:

Everyone who visits protected areas has a role to play in its protection. What's your role?

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