Improvements completed to Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias inside Yosemite National Park

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. -- Yosemite National Park's Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias will open to visitors on Friday.

This comes after a 40 million dollar restoration project between the National Park Service and Yosemite Conservancy. The grove was closed to visitors since 2015.

A ribbon cutting for the renovated site was held at the grove's entrance on Thursday.

There are nearly five hundred sequoia trees inside the park. Many are thousands of years old.

The project included removing parking lots and trams and replacing them with boardwalks and bridges. There are four miles of newly renovated trails. A new welcome center and bathrooms were also created as part of the project

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"It restored the ecology of the grove. We put much of the hydrology back, which will also care for the trees and allow people to access it," Yosemite National Park superintendent Mike Reynolds said.

Visitors can leave their cars in a new 300-vehicle parking located near Yosemite's south gate a couple of miles from the grove. From there, they can take a shuttle to the site.

A goal of the project was to protect the future of the trees while giving hikers a look at the grove's original roots.

"Getting it back to really what it was like back when Abraham Lincoln and John Muir were alive is a great accomplishment," Yosemite Conservancy's CEO Frank Dean said.

This is the park's most extensive renovation to date.

Visitors will be able to once again visit the enormous trees when the grove opens on Friday.

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