Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile Recent Posts
Yosemite Valley

The Moon is Waxing Gibbous (72% of Full)


Advanced

Re: Operational Changes to Backcountry Permitting Procedures Planned at Grand Canyon National Park

All posts are those of the individual authors and the owner of this site does not endorse them. Content should be considered opinion and not fact until verified independently.

avatar Operational Changes to Backcountry Permitting Procedures Planned at Grand Canyon National Park
November 23, 2009 01:10PM
Operational Changes to Backcountry Permitting Procedures Planned at Grand Canyon National Park
Date: November 20, 2009
Contact: Shannan Marcak, 928-638-7958

Grand Canyon, Ariz. – The National Park Service (NPS) will be making operational changes to the backcountry permitting system and placing a moratorium on the number of commercial use authorizations (CUAs) issued for guided backpacking services in Grand Canyon National Park. These changes will not affect overall levels of backcountry use or the number of backcountry permits issued by the park’s Backcountry Information Center (BIC).

In order to camp anywhere in Grand Canyon National Park (other than the developed campgrounds located on the North and South Rims), a permit must be obtained from the park’s BIC. These permits are most often obtained in advance by submitting a request either in writing or in person. Regardless of how they are submitted, requests are currently accepted no earlier than the first day of the month four months prior to the start date of the trip.

Currently
Trip Starts in this MonthFirst Day to Submit in WritingFirst Day to Submit in Person
April 2010December 1, 2009December 1, 2009
May 2010January 1, 2010January 1, 2010

Currently, all requests submitted in person receive immediate consideration. However, consideration of written requests can take up to three weeks due to the large number of requests received in writing, especially on the first day of the fourth-month-out. Many of the park’s visitors travel from across the country and around the world to take a backcountry trip and are unable to submit their advance permit requests in person. The current procedure puts these visitors at a disadvantage when requesting popular sites.

In addition, the number of people coming to the BIC to make in-person backcountry permit requests on the earliest day possible (the first day of the fourth-month-out) has been steadily growing, increasing the disparity for those who cannot apply in person and resulting in long lines and the need for additional personnel to manage the growing numbers of people.

In order to address these concerns and to streamline the permitting process in anticipation of the future addition of an online permitting system, Grand Canyon National Park will consider only written requests during the fourth-month-out starting February 1, 2010. Written requests may be submitted by fax, by letter or by hand delivery as before. Regardless of how they are submitted, written requests are considered based on the date on which they are received, and all of the requests received by 5:00 p.m. on the first day of the fourth-month-out will be placed in random order by computer and considered in that new order before the next day’s requests receive consideration.

This procedural change will mean that advance backcountry permit requestors will no longer be able to walk in and have their requests receive immediate consideration during the fourth-month-out (the earliest month permits are available.) Instead, the request will be added to the written requests received on that day. Permit requests made in person one, two and three months prior to start-of-trip will continue to be considered immediately.

Beginning February 1, 2010
Trip Starts in this MonthFirst Day to Submit in WritingFirst Day to Submit in Person
June 2010February 1, 2010March 1, 2010
July 2010March 1, 2010April 1, 2010

Potential backcountry users are reminded that permit requests are not accepted by telephone or by e-mail. However, it is expected that in the future, it will be possible to submit backcountry permit requests online. These online requests will be included with written requests in the consideration process outlined above.

In addition to this operational change to the backcountry permitting system, a moratorium has been placed on the number of CUAs issued for guided backpacking services. This moratorium has been put into effect until park managers can better understand and adapt to growing demand for CUAs.

Over the next few years, the park expects to continue the process of developing an updated Backcountry Management Plan (BMP) which will address, among other things, commercial use in the backcountry. The BMP planning process will include periods of public comment during which the NPS will seek to learn more about public demand for, and the impact of, commercially guided backpacking. This moratorium will remain in effect until the BMP is completed.

For additional information on the backcountry permitting process, please visit the park’s web site at http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/backcountry-permit.htm . Questions about backcountry permits may be e-mailed to grca_bic@nps.gov or sent to Backcountry Information Center, Grand Canyon National Park, P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023. You may also call the Backcountry Information Center at 928-638-7875 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except on federal holidays.

If you have additional questions regarding CUAs, please contact Molly Schroer, Concessions Management Specialist, at 928-638-7707.
CUA should not be allowed in any National Park. Period.

Just My Opinion.
Quote
bill-e-g
CUA should not be allowed in any National Park. Period.

Just My Opinion.

What you propose would pretty much put the Yosemite Mountaineering School out of business. Granted CUAs aren't given for guided climbing, but I suppose are available for basic rock climbing instruction. And of course they do have guided day and overnight hikes.

It would also eliminate mule rides at the Grand Canyon as well as guided horse rides in Yosemite.
Fair enough. Perhaps you have a point. I could be persuaded.

Not sure getting rid of guided horse rides in Yosemite is a bad idea though. Actually I'm sure it isn't.
Or Grand Canyon.

I'll get blasted for this... but I'd get rid of the High Sierra Camps too. Either that or get the
ridonkulous amount of supplies in in a different way.
Horses are far from "light on the land" and "leave no trace".

On a separate note. Kudos to the guy on the 4 mile trail with his dog who, when told his
dog wasn't allowed on the trail, took it in stride and hiked out immediately with rufus.
The positive kudos made up for the kudos-not for taking the dog on the trail even after having seen the crossed out dog on the "entering wilderness" sign.



Old Dude
My biggest problem with the guided horse/mule rides are that they are somehow exempt from the wilderness trail permit limits. I'm sure they have an overall affect for limits placed on regular hiker permits but without having to meet the requirements themselves. This is where money talks.

I have mixed feelings about the HSC's. Granted, their supply logistics create a huge impact on the the trails but they do provide a lighter weight hiking experience for a lot of folks who might not otherwise be able to pack everything on their back for several days.

One thing I'm curious about. There are a few ranger guided back country tours, mostly for HSC guests. I even ran into one at the top of the Sunrise Lakes switchback trail led by the lady ranger who has received all sorts of accolades. They were en route from Sunrise to May Lake or vice versa. I somehow suspect these tours may also be exempt from the trail permit system, especially since they cross Tioga Road. Anybody know for sure?

Jim
Quote
tomdisco
My biggest problem with the guided horse/mule rides are that they are somehow exempt from the wilderness trail permit limits. I'm sure they have an overall affect for limits placed on regular hiker permits but without having to meet the requirements themselves. This is where money talks.

I have mixed feelings about the HSC's. Granted, their supply logistics create a huge impact on the the trails but they do provide a lighter weight hiking experience for a lot of folks who might not otherwise be able to pack everything on their back for several days.

One thing I'm curious about. There are a few ranger guided back country tours, mostly for HSC guests. I even ran into one at the top of the Sunrise Lakes switchback trail led by the lady ranger who has received all sorts of accolades. They were en route from Sunrise to May Lake or vice versa. I somehow suspect these tours may also be exempt from the trail permit system, especially since they cross Tioga Road. Anybody know for sure?

Jim

I thought most of the guided horse/mule rides in Yosemite were day trips, which wouldn't be subject to wilderness permits. I thought all overnight trips which set up camp would be subject to wilderness permitting. I know in the Grand Canyon one doesn't need a backcountry permit to stay at Phantom Ranch - whether or not it's by mule or foot.

As for the High Sierra Camps, one doesn't need a separate wilderness permit to hike into one and stay there overnight. The DNC page describes the reservation as serving as a wilderness permit. I'm not 100% sure, but I also saw something that indicated that the concessionaire arranges for wilderness permitting for guests.
y_p_w,

I seriously doubt that the HSC reservation system (although regarded as a wilderness permit) actually is accountable to the trailhead quotas. If it was it would wipe out many of the quotas before our 24-week advanced reservation window for hiker permits even opened.

Jim
The five HSCs are not wilderness areas. If you hike from camp to camp you are dayhiking. It would be like hiking from the the Yosemite Lodge to the Awanee Hotel via the Snow Creek Trail/Yosemite Falls Trail. No permit required.



Old Dude



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/25/2009 08:42AM by mrcondron.
Quote
mrcondron
The five HSCs are not wilderness areas. If you hike from camp to camp you are dayhiking. It would be like hiking from the the Yosemite Lodge to the Awanee Hotel via the Snow Creek Trail/Yosemite Falls Trail. No permit required.

O.K., so they get around the wilderness permit/trail impact issues by declaring the HSC's not wilderness even though they are surrounded by designated wilderness trails that everybody else needs a permit for to stay overnight nearby. Somebody can do the Sunrise/Merced/Vogelsang route in 3 nights permit free but I need a trailhead permit because I'm not spending big bucks every night at their camps for a tent cot, big meal, and campfire songs? As I said before, money talks.
It's more because the wilderness hiker is making an impact on the wilderness by sleeping on the ground, crapping in the ground, and creating a visual impact. Quite unlike the HSCs.

Plus I believe that permitted wilderness hikers are not welcome to sleep on the non-wilderness ground of the HSCs.



Old Dude
Quote
tomdisco
Quote
mrcondron
The five HSCs are not wilderness areas. If you hike from camp to camp you are dayhiking. It would be like hiking from the the Yosemite Lodge to the Awanee Hotel via the Snow Creek Trail/Yosemite Falls Trail. No permit required.

O.K., so they get around the wilderness permit/trail impact issues by declaring the HSC's not wilderness even though they are surrounded by designated wilderness trails that everybody else needs a permit for to stay overnight nearby. Somebody can do the Sunrise/Merced/Vogelsang route in 3 nights permit free but I need a trailhead permit because I'm not spending big bucks every night at their camps for a tent cot, big meal, and campfire songs? As I said before, money talks.

DNC claims that the reservation serves as the wilderness permit:

http://www.yosemitepark.com/Accommodations_HighSierraCamps_LodgingDetails_GettingReady.aspx

Quote

WILDERNESS PERMITS
Your Yosemite High Sierra Camp reservation confirmation is your wilderness permit. Please bring it with you. Meals-only guests must pick up a wilderness permit from the National Park Service before departing. You must show your dinner confirmation to obtain this permit. Wilderness Permits can be picked up either in Yosemite Valley or Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Permit Office.

Actually - the whole thing about "wilderness permits" doesn't necessarily mean only camping in fully designated wilderness areas. In Yosemite that really means the same thing as "backcountry permit" elsewhere. One of my interests is wilderness designations as it affects Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County. I've learned and heard quite a bit about the differences between fully designated wilderness and "potential wilderness" as if applies to the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm in Drakes Estero. My understanding is that the High Sierra Camps are actually "potential wilderness" as are a number of places where one might camp in the Yosemite backcountry.

You don't actually see this on most maps. Most maps that highlight wilderness areas don't seem to differentiate between fully designated and potential wilderness. Anything in the wilderness plan is usually just highlighted as "wilderness area". I've seen several dams in Desolation Wilderness which are probably listed as potential wilderness in the original wilderness plan. My guess would be that the outhouse in Little Yosemite Valley (and maybe even the entire Little Yosemite Valley campground) is "potential wilderness". They've got a whole bunch of things that would be considered "nonconforming uses" including the aforementioned outhouse, permanent bear boxes, and other assorted structures in the area. I'm not 100% sure, but I'd think the Moraine Dome campground would also have to be "potential wilderness".
avatar Re: Operational Changes to Backcountry Permitting Procedures Planned at Grand Canyon National Park
November 25, 2009 01:47PM
Quote
y_p_w
As for the High Sierra Camps, one doesn't need a separate wilderness permit to hike into one and stay there overnight.

Yet SEKI requires one to get a permit for Bearpaw HSC. Never quite understood that one.
You need a wilderness permit to sleep in the backcountry. Period.
The HSC 'hikers' do not count against the quota.

y_p_w does bring up an interesting point regarding installations.
I guess in the true nature of the wilderness act bear boxes
would not be allowed. My guess is that they are deemed
necessary to keep the wilderness 'wild' so allowed.
(there are no installations at Moraine Dome area...)
Hmm... I wonder if technically fire rings should not be allowed.

Ah... crap... just remembered if you are rock climbing you don't need a permit.
Go figure. You can spend a week on the face of El Cap... no permit required...



Chick-on is looking at you!
Quote
chick-on
You need a wilderness permit to sleep in the backcountry. Period.
The HSC 'hikers' do not count against the quota.

Which brings up an interesting possibility. One could theoretically camp partly at the HSCs and partly in the real backcountry during the same trip. I wonder what the rules are there since the HSC permitting process doesn't seem to count against any entrance trailhead quota. What if it's a HSC the first night and a self-contained tent the next night or the other way around?

Quote
chick-on
y_p_w does bring up an interesting point regarding installations.
I guess in the true nature of the wilderness act bear boxes
would not be allowed. My guess is that they are deemed
necessary to keep the wilderness 'wild' so allowed.
(there are no installations at Moraine Dome area...)
Hmm... I wonder if technically fire rings should not be allowed.

Ah... crap... just remembered if you are rock climbing you don't need a permit.
Go figure. You can spend a week on the face of El Cap... no permit required...

The High Sierra Camps are permanent commercial interests. That is one definition of a "nonconforming use" that precludes full wilderness designation. The NPS manages those areas as "de facto wilderness" by treating them as wilderness to the extent that they can. Permanent bear boxes would not be allowed in full wilderness.
Quote
y_p_w
Permanent bear boxes would not be allowed in full wilderness.

They may not be allowed... but they are there.
There are a number along the JMT in SEKI.
That area for sure is "full wilderness"... if ever there is any...



Chick-on is looking at you!
Quote
chick-on
Quote
y_p_w
Permanent bear boxes would not be allowed in full wilderness.

They may not be allowed... but they are there.
There are a number along the JMT in SEKI.
That area for sure is "full wilderness"... if ever there is any...

It's hard to tell what is and isn't "full wilderness". For the most part it's probably in some map that can be requested from the park main office or buried in some file cabinet in Washington, D.C..

It wouldn't surprise me if some tiny plots of land were declared as "potential wilderness" just to allow for a few nonconforming uses but to otherwise treat is as wilderness. In many ways "wilderness" is more a bureaucratic designation.
In Yosemite I don't make any distinction between the words wilderness and backcountry. The NPS has chosen to call the trail permits "wilderness permits" issued by "wilderness permit offices". Apparently the NPS in Yosemite makes little use of the word "backcountry".

In any event I just know we don't have the environmental impact of a horse or mule supplying or visiting the HSC's, regardless where we tread. Just imagine what the response would be if we mere humans applied for a trailhead permit and made note of the fact that we would be digging ruts in the trails, turning rocks into sand, requiring the right of way, stomping heavily on natural areas during breaks, and dropping copious amounts of urine and feces on both the trails and in streams whenever and wherever we had the urge. Think we would get our permit?
Quote
tomdisco
Just imagine what the response would be if we mere humans applied for a trailhead permit and made note of the fact that we would be digging ruts in the trails, turning rocks into sand, requiring the right of way, stomping heavily on natural areas during breaks, and dropping copious amounts of urine and feces on both the trails and in streams whenever and wherever we had the urge. Think we would get our permit?

People do that a lot already. Even the ones who don't take horses. Either that, or toilet paper blooms all the way to Half Dome....
Quote
tomdisco
In Yosemite I don't make any distinction between the words wilderness and backcountry. The NPS has chosen to call the trail permits "wilderness permits" issued by "wilderness permit offices". Apparently the NPS in Yosemite makes little use of the word "backcountry".

I believe that the NPS and some Forest Service units treat "wilderness" and "backcountry" differently.

I don't know of any NPS units with Congressionally designated wilderness that requires a permit to hike without camping. However - there are official wilderness areas under FS control which require "day use permits". Most are free and typically self-issued at the trailhead. Non wilderness areas wouldn't require a permit for day use. I think the rules on backcountry camping vary. I suppose some areas might consider it "dispersed camping" while others would require permits.
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login