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50th Anniversary of Mount Everest’s first ascent spurs new conservation effortsIn conjunction with the 50th anniversary celebration of Mount Everest’s first ascent, the American Alpine Club (AAC) announced its financial backing of a five-year conservation effort aimed at restoring the alpine environs of Mount Everest. The AAC has contributed $21,600 to date, enough to cover the first year of the estimated $127,300 restoration project. Working alongside The Mountain Institute (TMI), Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife, and indigenous Sherpa communities, the project seeks to mitigate the environmental impact of trekkers and climbers in the alpine zone of Nepal’s Sargarmatha National Park. Over 27,000 tourists visit the 443-square-mile national park each year. The Sherpa-directed project will include both the restoration of high-use areas in the Khumbu region as well as major efforts to promote education and training of both visitors and locals. The major goal of the restoration effort, says Dr. Alton Byers, director of research and education at TMI, is to curb the increasing problem of erosion by creating established trekking routes, constructing anti-erosion barricades, and restricting yak grazing and harvesting of high-altitude shrubs for fuel. The AAC hopes the restoration project will serve as a grassroots example of conservation for mountain communities around the world. According to AAC International Conservation Chair Peter Ackroyd, “We are excited that this action, taken by the membership and leadership of the AAC, will encourage others to invest in protecting these mountain environments that so many people enjoy.”