The Yosemite Fund and Yosemite Association, two of Yosemite National Park’s major nonprofit groups, are forming a unified nonprofit that will make it even easier to support projects and programs that preserve park resources and enrich the visitor experience.

“This is an exciting moment for a special place that we all treasure,” said The Yosemite Fund’s Chairman of the Board, Hal Cranston. “By combining the best elements and proud histories of the two organizations, we can do more than ever to protect Yosemite and inspire enduring connections for current and future generations.”

Following overwhelming votes of approval by Association members and the Fund’s Council, the boards of trustees of both organizations agreed to form a unified organization. The groups expect State of California approvals for the merger to take effect in January. Outwardly, the Fund and Association will operate as they are now until mid year, while the transition to a consolidated organization occurs.

“Providing for Yosemite’s future is our passion,” said Christy Holloway, chair of the Yosemite Association Board of Trustees. “We are profoundly grateful for the support of our members, donors, volunteers and staffs who have helped us reach this new and exciting chapter in our proud histories.”

Both groups see benefits from the merger, such as a larger and stronger base of park supporters, additional expertise and resources to improve overall capabilities, and expanded opportunities for supporters to participate in park programs. Cranston and Holloway thanked their members and urged continued support for projects and programs already planned for 2010.

For years, the Association and Fund have shared a common goal of helping to preserve Yosemite, along with providing educational opportunities, through complementary programs.

Since 1988, the Fund has been raising money to pour back into projects focused on trail repair and access, habitat restoration, visitor services and education, cultural and historic preservation, scientific research and wildlife management. It has supported over 300 projects, providing more than $55 million for projects that preserve, protect and enhance Yosemite National Park.

The Yosemite Association was established in 1923 as the nation’s first “cooperating association” with the National Park Service. The Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the support of Yosemite National Park through volunteerism, outdoor learning, publishing, arts, wilderness and Junior Ranger programs. The Association’s many initiatives help people of all ages and backgrounds gain an enduring connection to the park, and build a constituency for its long-term preservation and vitality.