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Re: User Capacity Symposium

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avatar User Capacity Symposium
January 24, 2008 10:22AM
Yosemite National Park Invites Public to User Capacity Symposium
Date: January 23, 2008

Symposium designed to address user capacity issues in national parks and other public lands, including implications for Yosemite National Park's future park planning efforts

The National Park Service invites the public to a User Capacity Symposium in Yosemite National Park to be held at Yosemite Lodge in Yosemite Valley from February 6-8, 2007.

The purpose of the User Capacity Symposium is to further the understanding of and explore approaches to addressing user capacity in national parks and other public lands by engaging public land managers, researchers, elected officials, tribes, and the general public in an open dialogue. User capacity is the types, locations, and extent of visitor and other public use in the parks.

Addressing visitor use in national parks as vast and complex as Yosemite requires a variety of methods and perspectives. During the symposium, the public will have the opportunity to understand further why planning and managing user capacity is important, to build a common understanding of and language for user capacity, and to identify and understand the effectiveness and consequences of different management strategies.

The User Capacity Symposium will consist of two days of meetings facilitated by Mary Orton, an outside environmental and public policy mediator, and an optional Yosemite Valley field trip guided by park planners. The schedule will be as follows:

DAY 1: Wednesday, February 6th, 9am to 5pm

Facilitated Meeting

DAY 2: Thursday, February 7th, 9am to 5pm

Facilitated Meeting

DAY 3: Friday, February 8th, 9am to 12pm

Optional Field Trip in Yosemite Valley

Please respond to Jim Bacon, Park Planner, at 209/379-1067 if you plan to attend or for more information. Reservations should be made as soon as possible, and no later than February 1, 2007. Information is also available at http://www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/symposium.htm.

Park entrance fees will be waived for symposium participants.

Re: User Capacity Symposium
January 24, 2008 11:56AM
I think we should mob the place ;-)

Wilderness forever,
Bruce Jensen
avatar Re: User Capacity Symposium
January 27, 2008 08:02PM
Regarding the Yosemite User Capacity Symposium, the park service has already stated that they do not want a carrying capacity, and will find a way around it, as is the case with their faulted V.E.R.P. system, which allows for growth as perspectives change over time. The changes they have made to Yosemite Valley and are making will be to the intended exclusion of average Americans who want to camp in Yosemite Valley, and the increase of the foreign day trip visitors that arrive on tour buses from San Francisco each day by the droves, swarming the park with people wandering all over the park by the tens of thousands each day. That is where the park service is headed with their new development plans for Yosemite Valley, with the removal of campgrounds and campsite is the Valley over recent years.

If you'll notice, the park has managed to eliminate three and a half entire campgrounds from the Valley recently, while they have invested in the development of spectacular tour bus friendly infrastructures that enables the Valley to accommodate ten times the amounts of daily visitors that it ever did on the busiest of days at any time in the past. Specifically, I am referring to the strengthening and widening of various roads into and out of the valley, that they say will accommodate the large tour buses better, the expansion of paved trails at the Lower Yosemite Falls area, that they say will accommodate more people, which they feel is a positive statement. Clearly their new Yosemite Lodge plans will accommodate more people and is going forward as planned, along with their new city like sewer expansion project, which has been underway now for ten years.

However, the U.S. court of appeals is now reviewing the issue of a Carrying Capacity for our beloved Valley, for all the right reasons. The park service had wanted to eliminate the requirement of a “carrying capacity” in their latest Merced River Plan, but the public created a law suit to hold their feet to the fire. The public won the law suit in regards to the issue of a “carrying capacity”, because we the public understand what they meant by their statement that the park service wanted to "accommodate all who want to come", something of a mantra they have used over time. This is a term they use which actually means that they intend to update the park to accommodate as many people as possible, on any given day, to accommodate a burgeoning foreign tour bus industry. The park service is paving the way for these new tourist businesses capitalizing on Yosemite National Park, while eliminating campgrounds* for Americans who like to recreate there by way of the most popular method of visiting the park; which is camping.

Campers bring their food with them, they often have kids and campfires, and they don't meet the modern "green" compliance requirements the park wants to aspire to. This is where the public needs to jump in. Many of us either like to camp or we want to protect the rights of future Americans who will want to camp in Yosemite Valley, like many of us have done. We can be "green". More often than not, we are environmentally concerned. We are okay with limiting the number of footprints on the ground, to preserve and protect our park.

If the park would replace the campgrounds they removed, they should establish a use carrying capacity for the park around the inclusion of those park visitors first, before they decide to establish a carrying capacity that might include five-million international tour bus visitors in the park per year. The park service's manipulation of the demographics of the visitors, targeting visitors who spend money over Americans who just want to camp, is wrong. Please consider attending this symposium, if you want to contribute your views to their so called efforts to establish a plan for moving forward with a Carrying Capacity for our park. Join the efforts, if you agree, with the Yosemite Valley Campers Coalition, or www.yosemitevalleycampers.org, in their effort to protect camper’s interests in Yosemite, by setting a limit on how many people can swarm into Yosemite Valley each day or year, but only after the campsites that they removed in 1997 without public comment are replaced.



* The campgrounds removed, as mentioned above consist of Upper and Lower Rivers Campgrounds, half of Lower Pines Campground and the Yosemite Valley Group Campground.

Post Edited (01-27-08 20:07)

Re: User Capacity Symposium
January 30, 2008 08:32AM
mark2 wrote:

> <snips> Specifically, I am referring to the strengthening and widening of various roads
> into and out of the valley, that they say will accommodate the
> large tour buses better, the expansion of paved trails at the
> Lower Yosemite Falls area, that they say will accommodate more
> people, which they feel is a positive statement. Clearly their
> new Yosemite Lodge plans will accommodate more people and is
> going forward as planned, along with their new city like sewer
> expansion project, which has been underway now for ten years.

I don't disagree with any of this, but I do think the improvements to the area near the base of Yosemite Fall have been positive. It is much nicer than that obnoxious parking lot that was there, and the trail out there is greatly improved (I wish it were all granite slabs).

Wilderness forever,
Bruce Jensen
avatar Re: User Capacity Symposium
February 13, 2008 04:20PM
I understand that many feel the removal of trees to enhance the view of the Lower Fall from the road area was an great enhancement, and some feel that the construction of the massive restroom facilities there with large stones, which matches the equally massive bus stop near by, also known by park employees as the "Halprin Memorial" after its architect, is seen by many Yosemite Fund contributors as a beautiful thing. But, many do not agree.

Regarding the parking lot, many believe that all they needed to do was to move the buses, like they did in the end. Without buses, the parking lot could have sufficed. Right now, it looks like a small out of place grassy postage stamp among trees, where a parking lot once was. It does not look natural in that setting, but if that's the only restoration to justify three times the pavement that was once there, they do have that.

By removing this historic horse and carriage parking area, they then accomplished the largest traffic backup problem in the park, and in the end, they simply moved the buses, something that they could have done without the fanfare and money, which was 12 million dollars mostly from Yosemite Fund donations.

One of the other controversies is the creation of the trail on the east side of the creek, to reduce soil erosion and compaction resulting from foot paths caused by people off the trail. They say people were walking down that side of the creek anyway, and because of that a paved trail was needed. The argument for it is also the ADA compliance which enables people to go that are in wheelchairs. Some will debate that the solution to create hardened trails whenever the need arises in not the solution to impact. There is always a way to harden a trail, make it wider and implement crowd control measures that simply accommodate more and more people. But, as we watch the issue of the Yosemite User Carrying Capacity topic move forward in the park, if the solution to traffic is to pave more trails, there will eventually be less and less natural areas there. The park becomes less and less like the place that Fredrick Olmsted once wrote a report congress about, back in 1865, effectively outlining the first VERP, on what to do and not do with the park.

That report, as any carrying capacity discussion now is all about managing impact, but now the solution seems to be more pavement. Limiting traffic will have to be a solution at some point moving forward. Why not make that argument now? The argument was made by Olmsted and ignored, and the debate continues. In another fifty years it is estimated that over twice the traffic will be coming to Yosemite per year. I believe we need to talk to the park about NOT accommodating ALL who want to come, as time goes on.

Post Edited (02-13-08 16:32)

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