Bass lake prepares for influx of visitors this weekend

Yosemite is hoping to open in June, but until then, families can visit nearby Bass Lake.
MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- While Yosemite National Park remains closed, neighboring communities that rely on the park's tourism dollars - like Oakhurst - are slowly beginning to reopen. They just got the go-ahead from government officials this week.

"It's really hard to say how many tourists we're going to have. Without Yosemite Park open it'd probably be cut in half," says store owner Jeff Jewett.

Yosemite is hoping to open in June, but until then families can visit nearby Bass Lake.

Day use areas around the lake remain closed, but officials say there is still plenty to do.

"The resorts are open, the restaurants are open, they're all doing takeout. I think they're getting ready for the new phase to dine-in but rentals are open and there's some live music at Bass Lake motorsports this weekend," says Rhonda Salisbury, CEO of Visit Yosemite.

Business owners along Highway 41 are hopeful the holiday weekend traffic will help boost the local economy after most places were forced to shutter back in March.

Jeff Jewett's shop Artifacts in Oakhurst reopened Wednesday with some restrictions.

"This is our peak time. So from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend, this is where we make our money. If we don't have that it's going to put a dent in our local economy," says Jewett.

Yosemite drew 4.4 million visitors last year but has been closed since March 20th.

The park still needs approval from the Trump Administration to reopen, but until then officials are working on plans to keep people healthy.

When Yosemite reopens visitors would be encouraged to pay admission fees online and the park's capacity would also be cut by 50%. Shuttle buses in Yosemite Valley would also stop.

"I've been in business almost 30 years up here and have seen government shutdowns before, floods and fires and all that stuff. It's just another thing to work around," says Jewett.
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