The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

May 21, 2010
Bear market doesn't hamper bear viewing
Despite the recession, Yosemite National Park saw an increase in visitors last year.

About 3.7 million people visited Yosemite during 2009, a 9 percent increase from the year before, according to the latest National Park Service statistics. That's the most visitors Yosemite has seen during any year since 1996.
Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks also had more visitors last year than during prior years, with almost 1 million coming to Kings Canyon and about 600,000 visiting Sequoia.

It was a little less crowded at Lassen National Park and Point Reyes National Seashore, which both posted small drops in visitors from 2008 to 2009.

Looking to avoid the crowds in Yosemite? Go in February, by far the least busy month, with 79,000 visitors last year. August was busiest at the park: 643,000 visitors.

--Phillip Reese

May 14, 2010
Cougar warnings lifted on American River Parkway

This spring, joggers on the American River Parkway trail have had more to worry about than daredevil cyclists or wandering dogs on extended leashes. Try a mountain lion sighting.

Sacramento County rangers in March posted signs on a two-mile stretch of the trail between the Sunrise Bridge and Nimbus Fish Hatchery warning that mountain lions had been spotted in the area.

After a thorough investigation, the signs now have been removed. Steve Flannery, the county's chief ranger, said he seriously doubts mountain lions lived in that area, bordered by Gold River. "But we like to take precautions and warn people as promptly as we can," Flannery said.

Flannery said the sightings were reported by workers at a security company that patrols Gold River.

"We were skeptical, because there's very limited habitat over on that stretch of the parkway," Flannery said. "That's not a very good hunting (area) for a lion."

Flannery says that twice in the past 10 years the Department of Fish and Game has verified sightings of mountain lions - but no "incidents," meaning direct contact with humans - on the county stretch of the parkway.

-- Sam McManis

About The Public Eye

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