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Re: Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan Draft Environmental Assessment Available for Public Review

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avatar Re: Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan Draft Environmental Assessment Available for Public Review
January 24, 2012 04:00PM
Yosemite National Park Releases Environmental Assessment for Hiking to Half Dome
Date: January 24, 2012

Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan Draft Environmental Assessment Available for Public Review

Yosemite National Park announces the availability of the Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan Draft Environmental Assessment for public review. Public comments on the plan will be accepted from today, Tuesday, January 24, 2012 through Thursday, March 15, 2012. The Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan was developed to address crowded conditions, visitor experience, and safety on the Half Dome Trail and encompasses the two mile section from the John Muir Trail to the summit of Half Dome.

The Preferred Alternative is to keep the cables in place with their current configuration and implement daily use limits of 300 people per day. This alternative provides the best combination of accessibility to the summit, free-flowing travel conditions on the cables, which improves safety, and low encounter rates on the trail, similar to use levels found on other high-use trails in Yosemite's wilderness and other wilderness areas. The park implemented an Interim Half Dome Cables Permit System for the 2010 and 2011 hiking seasons. An Interim Half Dome Cables Permit System will also be implemented during the 2012 hiking season.

In 1964, Congress passed the Wilderness Act, creating the National Wilderness Preservation System. As such, approximately 95% of Yosemite National Park , including Half Dome and the Half Dome Trail, is designated Wilderness. Consequently, all of the action alternatives were developed to improve the wilderness character of the trail.

The Environmental Assessment (EA) presents environmental analysis of five alternatives, including the Preferred Alternative. Alternative A, the No Action Alternative, would retain the cable system and continue managing the Half Dome Trail as it was through 2009, with no permits required. This action violates National Park Service (NPS) policy and will not be considered. Under Alternative B, the park would retain the cable system and implement day-use limits through a permit system allowing 400 hikers per day. Under Alternative C, the Preferred Alternative, the park would retain the cable system and implement day-use limits through a permit system allowing 300 hikers per day. Under Alternative D, the park would retain the cable system and implement day-use limits through a permit system allowing 140 hikers per day. Under Alternative E, the park would remove the cable system from Half Dome.

The park considers all public comments in making a decision, which will be documented in the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), if appropriate. If approved, the plan will be implemented for the 2013 hiking season. Hiking permits for Half Dome will be allocated through an online reservation system and/or a lottery.

The public review and comment period begins with release of the EA. The document is available for electronic review at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/halfdome. Please submit written comments electronically through the website, or join us at the park's monthly Open House at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center Auditorium on Wednesday, February 29, 2012, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., to discuss the plan with park staff. Hard copies or CDs of the EA may be requested by emailing yose_planning@nps.gov. You may also mail your comments to P.O. Box 577 Yosemite, California 95389, c/o Superintendent, ATTN: Half Dome Plan; or send a facsimile to (209) 379-1294.
> At least the "Preferred Alternative" offers a fair amount of access.

No, it DOES NOT!

Cutting down the number of visitors to "increase their wilderness experience" does not result in an overall improvement. For examle: If you cut the number given access to half from one year to the next, it does NOT double the wilderness experience for those lucky enough to get access.

People do not climb Half Dome for a "wilderness experience". They climb it for many reasons, but I have not heard any proclaim that is why they go. There are SO MANY other places to go to find wilderness, starting with walking just 50 yards off any trail. There are plenty of trips reported here showing incredible numbers of places where people can find wilderness. Who gave Yosemite the right to slam the public with ever increasing limits on the numbers of visitors to this icon of nature?

It is my opinion that Yosemite N.P. officials are misinterpreting, misusing and abusing the Wilderness Act passed nearly 50 years ago. 95% of Yosemite is designated as wilderness by the act. The park is 1189 square miles, so 1130 square miles is "wilderness". The 8-mile trail, if you figure it is 5 feet wide, covers .008 square mile. So that is 0.0007% of the national park.

Their two primary reasons for reducing the numbers is to increase visitors' wilderness experience, and to increase safety on the cables. Unfortunately, their reduction last year did not improve the safety for two who died. Reducing it even more could increase the danger due to the scarcity of permits causing people to go up in the face of incoming storms.

There are other ways to decrease the congestion on the cables. If they would just think a tiny bit "outside the box", they might even come up with something like this: Make some permits available where people have to start up the cables, say, between 8 and 10 AM or turn back, some between 10 and 12, others at 12-2, 2-4, and so on throughout each day, there would be lots of people who would happily accept the challenge. There ARE alternatives!

I sure hope more than a few will comment and tell Yosemite how foul their proposal is.
In the spectrum of what the different alternatives offer the preference isn't too bad. However the alternatives are biased towards restricted access, most disappointing sad smiley

My preference would be to increase the permits to at least 400 a day and add another cable.

If safety is a concern it seems to me it's a no-brainer that another cable is needed.

I agree that "wilderness experience" should have nothing to do with this. No matter what they do, the trail up to Half Dome is NOT wilderness. This also includes the cables, so there shouldn't be any problem with adding the second cable.

This is a case where I think they should side with "public access", not "preserve for future generations".
Hey qumqats, I disagree on two points:

>If safety is a concern it seems to me it's a no-brainer that another cable is needed.

Another cable is not going to happen. That doesn't mean safety isn't a concern, but another cable isn't going to happen, at least for the foreseeable future, our lifetimes.

>No matter what they do, the trail up to Half Dome is NOT wilderness.

10 yards from the parade? Granted. Another 90? Touchdown, wilderness. There are lots of cool spots up there. You can see how bears discard daypacks.

300 day-hikers a day sounds reasonable to be, as long as the skies are blue. Otherwise, have a real experience, rain or shine, get a Wilderness Permit. Like now, dig?
It would be interesting to see how busy LYV would be if they took the cables down.
I think it would drop off substantially... and then eventually people would figure out
that going up the Merced is actually more incredible than the hike up Half Dome.
So... originally I was gonna say to take the damn cables down...

TH Quotas restrict wilderness access. This is in the same realm.

I think they are trying to keep people safe and still allow people to go up Half Dome
without climbing gear. They're trying.

Having a fixed time is recipe for trouble imo. Billy Bob busts his arse since he
underestimates (imagine that) how long it's gonna take. Ends up with heat
exhaustion. Still is 10 minutes late. 2x pain for ranger.
Or Billy and his 3 clueless compadres say "we're running out of time"... split up,
etc. etc.

Anyway, there's no perfect solution. The comments section will run amuck and
the park service will do the "Preferred Solution" or whatever they called it.

Eventually they'll have to do something with the polish.
Maybe they could just install a "tow rope" and people just get dragged up the slope.
tongue sticking out smiley



Chick-on is looking at you!
When I was on the cables in the early afternoon ALL BY MYSELF in the middle of August on a cloudless Yosemite day I could not fathom that Yosemite may take away the opportunity. Yes I have seen the pictures of the ants crawling up the cables. But there has to be a better and more imaginative answer then severely restricting the numbers who can climb across the board. If hikers are simply willing to wait until 2:30-3pm to go up the cables like I did then it is ridiculous to turn them away in the name of "overcrowding". If SteveC's idea won't work as Chick-On describes then why not at least allow late hikers after the "rush period"?

I'm fearful that Frank is correct and comments are pointless. This is going to make cross country visitor planning more difficult than it already is. I hope to go up with my boys one day...
Honestly I don't know why they don't just position a ranger where they do now...
and keep track of the number of people above the subdome. Let N number people at
a time... when limit met... no mas until someone comes back down.
Fairly simple in theory... however, it'll still piss people off that wait an hour or more
to get up... or aren't allowed due to imminent darkfall...
They could still charge people... if you come back w/o the ranger punching it... you get
your money back.



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan Draft Environmental Assessment Available for Public Review
January 26, 2012 05:34PM
Quote
chick-on
Honestly I don't know why they don't just position a ranger where they do now...
and keep track of the number of people above the subdome. Let N number people at
a time... when limit met... no mas until someone comes back down.
Fairly simple in theory... however, it'll still piss people off that wait an hour or more
to get up... or aren't allowed due to imminent darkfall...
They could still charge people... if you come back w/o the ranger punching it... you get
your money back.

Best idea! They do this in some of the tourist attractions in Europe.

BTW, Chick-on:

1. If The Goat was too far back in line, would you hitch a ride with someone else up the dome and leave the Goat behind?

2. Have you dealt with Larry about making moves on Chick-a?



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
Quote
Bee
1. If The Goat was too far back in line, would you hitch a ride with someone else up the dome and leave the Goat behind?
Did ewe really need to ask this? California does not have LNGB.

Quote
Bee
2. Have you dealt with Larry about making moves on Chick-a?
He said she looks like a Zinger. What a guy to do?
Then claims nothing is going on. I got a PI working on the case to get me proofs.



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan Draft Environmental Assessment Available for Public Review
January 27, 2012 03:44PM
Quote
chick-on
Quote
Bee
1. If The Goat was too far back in line, would you hitch a ride with someone else up the dome and leave the Goat behind?
Did ewe really need to ask this? California does not have LNGB.

Quote
Bee
2. Have you dealt with Larry about making moves on Chick-a?
He said she looks like a Zinger. What a guy to do?
Then claims nothing is going on. I got a PI working on the case to get me proofs.

There are rumors about Larry doing a badonkadonk with some bit of poultry. Maybe some photos will surface.

http://www.gocomics.com/pearlsbeforeswine/2012/01/27
Quote
chick-on
Honestly I don't know why they don't just position a ranger where they do now...
and keep track of the number of people above the subdome. Let N number people at
a time... when limit met... no mas until someone comes back down.
Fairly simple in theory... however, it'll still piss people off that wait an hour or more
to get up... or aren't allowed due to imminent darkfall...
They could still charge people... if you come back w/o the ranger punching it... you get
your money back.

This was addressed in the proposal.

"Station Rangers at the Half Dome Cables in Lieu of Use Limits
Under this alternative, a ranger would be stationed at the base of the cables to regulate traffic
during periods of congestion and/or to close the route during inclement weather. This could
eliminate the need for use limits.
This alternative was considered and dismissed because it would not decrease crowding and
provide for solitude opportunities. Encounter rates would continue to be high, and crowding would
be transferred to the summit and Sub Dome."
avatar Re: Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan Draft Environmental Assessment Available for Public Review
January 28, 2012 07:02PM
Quote
Dustin

"This alternative was considered and dismissed because it would not decrease crowding and
provide for solitude opportunities."

Solitude opportunities??? Rolling on floor laugh



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
What the xxxx! Why are they picking on Half Dome hikers to worry about "solitude opportunities"? Good grief, why don't they worry about it at Nevada Falls, or someplace else.

I'd REALLY like to know why they seem to think people hike that trail with any desire for solitude. They're joking, right?

Saaaay, I'd like to go to Glacier Point and have it all to myself. Can I get into a permit lottery for that?
Quote
SteveC
Saaaay, I'd like to go to Glacier Point and have it all to myself. Can I get into a permit lottery for that?
smiling smiley

Steve, ewe up on doze laying down cables.... eye over at Glacier Pt. looking at you.... all by myself.
wink



Chick-on is looking at you!
Quote
SteveC

What the xxxx! Why are they picking on Half Dome hikers to worry about "solitude opportunities"? Good grief, why don't they worry about it at Nevada Falls, or someplace else.

I'd REALLY like to know why they seem to think people hike that trail with any desire for solitude. They're joking, right?

Saaaay, I'd like to go to Glacier Point and have it all to myself. Can I get into a permit lottery for that?

I think it's silly too that they're considering "solitude opportunities" in regards to the Half Dome trail and cables. But that said, technically neither the top of Nevada Falls nor Glacier Point reside inside the Yosemite Wilderness boundaries. Half Dome, and the Half Dome Trail does.

My suggestion if you don't think that Half Dome cables and trail shouldn't be considered part of the Yosemite wilderness would be to talk to your U.S. Congressperson or U.S. Senator and have them introduce a bill that would exclude the Half Dome Trail and the Half Dome cables for the Yosemite Wilderness. In this regard, the Park Service hands are tied.
That's not exactly what I said. At base of subdome, not cables.
Their reasoning is flawed imo. Seriously. I'll try to attend the webinar thingy.

I agreed with Frank Dog from the start. They have already made
up their mind. Public can comment but b/c views are varied...
we get what they decide. Overwhelming though I think you will
find the GP want the cables up.
One last comment... they really have looked at it quite a bit... and
safety is paramount. They didn't just come to this conclusion
willy nilly. Give them some credit.



Chick-on is looking at you!
Quote
chick-on

Maybe they could just install a "tow rope" and people just get dragged up the slope.
tongue sticking out smiley

Or install two zip lines, instead.

One near the summit of Cloud Rest to the top of Half Dome. The second zip line from the top of Half Dome to Glacier Point! The price they could charge people for use of the zip lines could easily cover the cost to build it, manage it, and maintain it. wink


Quote
qumqats
In the spectrum of what the different alternatives offer the preference isn't too bad. However the alternatives are biased towards restricted access, most disappointing sad smiley

My preference would be to increase the permits to at least 400 a day and add another cable.

If safety is a concern it seems to me it's a no-brainer that another cable is needed.

I agree that "wilderness experience" should have nothing to do with this. No matter what they do, the trail up to Half Dome is NOT wilderness. This also includes the cables, so there shouldn't be any problem with adding the second cable.

This is a case where I think they should side with "public access", not "preserve for future generations".

NPS doesn't have the legal authority to side with "public access" over "preserve for future generations". They are bound by the Wilderness Act to protect the wilderness character of the trail. The only way around that would be to have the Half Dome trail removed from the wilderness boundaries by Congress, which would never happen. This was all addressed in the proposal. A third cable wouldn't do anything to reduce crowding and safety issues on the trail, subdome, and the summit.

"A third cable that would potentially accommodate existing use levels does not meet the
goal of reducing crowding and encounter rates on the Half Dome trail in order to protect
wilderness character and increase safety"

"The scope of this plan is to identify
alternative options for better managing the Half Dome Trail as part of Yosemite’s designated
wilderness, in keeping with the park’s Wilderness Management Plan. Finally, removal of Half
Dome from wilderness would require Congressional action. The NPS has no authority to remove
designated wilderness from the wilderness preservation system."
Quote
Dustin
NPS doesn't have the legal authority to side with "public access" over "preserve for future generations". They are bound by the Wilderness Act to protect the wilderness character of the trail. The only way around that would be to have the Half Dome trail removed from the wilderness boundaries by Congress, which would never happen. This was all addressed in the proposal. A third cable wouldn't do anything to reduce crowding and safety issues on the trail, subdome, and the summit.

"A third cable that would potentially accommodate existing use levels does not meet the
goal of reducing crowding and encounter rates on the Half Dome trail in order to protect
wilderness character and increase safety"

"The scope of this plan is to identify
alternative options for better managing the Half Dome Trail as part of Yosemite’s designated
wilderness, in keeping with the park’s Wilderness Management Plan. Finally, removal of Half
Dome from wilderness would require Congressional action. The NPS has no authority to remove
designated wilderness from the wilderness preservation system."

Thank you for spending the time to compose and type this response.

What I take your meaning to be is that the primary motives in this plan aren't the NPS's "public access vs preservation" directive, but rather the Wilderness Act's directive of Solitude and "Wilderness Experience".

That explains why there's a disconnect. Different targets, And it's a target that many people aren't aiming for.

I guess I need to actually READ the documents Embaressed
avatar Re: Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan Draft Environmental Assessment Available for Public Review
January 25, 2012 01:11AM
Quote
SteveC

There are other ways to decrease the congestion on the cables. If they would just think a tiny bit "outside the box", they might even come up with something like this: Make some permits available where people have to start up the cables, say, between 8 and 10 AM or turn back, some between 10 and 12, others at 12-2, 2-4, and so on throughout each day, there would be lots of people who would happily accept the challenge. There ARE alternatives!

I sure hope more than a few will comment and tell Yosemite how foul their proposal is.

I like this idea a lot -- especially since the few times I have viewed the cables from different vantage points, they were relatively empty outside of the "peak hours" of 10-2. Almost no one on them before 8am.

I did get a chuckle out of the "wilderness experience" protective statement. I prefer to get my wilderness experience on the Whitney Main Trail!



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
In what way does "Alternative A, the No Action Alternative, would retain the cable system and continue managing the Half Dome Trail as it was through 2009, with no permits required." violate NPS policy?

I disappointed that ALL alternatives are so restrictive of access. At least the "Preferred Alternative" offers a fair amount of access.

I urge everyone to comment on this.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/24/2012 10:09PM by qumqats.
Quote
qumqats
In what way does "Alternative A, the No Action Alternative, would retain the cable system and continue managing the Half Dome Trail as it was through 2009, with no permits required." violate NPS policy?

I disappointed that ALL alternatives are so restrictive of access. At least the "Preferred Alternative" offers a fair amount of access.

I urge everyone to comment on this.

In reading this proposal, I was stuck by the methodology of the proposal intended to persuade public acceptance of a predetermination decision.

Firstly, Alternative A is eliminated out of hand and without adequate explanation and, by admission in the document, merely presented as an unacceptable baseline condition. NPS "policy" is invoked without reference.

At the other extreme Alternative D and E are so highly restrictive as to be unreasonable (why not just limit the daily access to 10 people?) . Therefore, the document becomes a polemic intended to persuade rather than an invitation to problem solving or public input. It seems to me to be disingenuous for that reason. NPS should not pretend to solicit public comment when the course of action has effectively been decided. This process resembles a Hobson's Choice where any option is possible so long as you pick the NPS preferred option. Why are we wasting time, money and effort if the decision has already been made? It seems like a wasteful effort.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
Quote
Frank Furter

In reading this proposal, I was stuck by the methodology of the proposal intended to persuade public acceptance of a predetermination decision.

Firstly, Alternative A is eliminated out of hand and without adequate explanation and, by admission in the document, merely presented as an unacceptable baseline condition. NPS "policy" is invoked without reference.

At the other extreme Alternative D and E are so highly restrictive as to be unreasonable (why not just limit the daily access to 10 people?) . Therefore, the document becomes a polemic intended to persuade rather than an invitation to problem solving or public input. It seems to me to be disingenuous for that reason. NPS should not pretend to solicit public comment when the course of action has effectively been decided. This process resembles a Hobson's Choice where any option is possible so long as you pick the NPS preferred option. Why are we wasting time, money and effort if the decision has already been made? It seems like a wasteful effort.


I'm not sure by reading your post if you're surprised by this behavior and attitude of the Park Service, or are just pointing it out to everyone knowing that it has been the norm for many, many years, at least when it concerns Yosemite. I've read countless of NPS proposals, including the Yosemite Valley Plan of the 1990's and the only study that seemed sincere in its openness for input by the public was the 1980 Yosemite General Management Plan.

Especially since the 1990's what you describe above has been the standard operating procedure for the Park Service for any changes they propose for Yosemite.

The best the public can hope for is if the alternative chosen proves to be very unpopular (and it is the preferred alternative that is ALWAYS adopted), that the Park Service will delay implementation of the alternative indefinitely.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 01/25/2012 03:07PM by plawrence.
The Stewardship Plan makes heavy use on the Wilderness Act's specification of "opportunities for solitude". The definition of wilderness under section 2.(c) item 2 of the Wilderness Act states "has outstanding opportunites for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation". A quota system limits opportunites for a primitive and unconfined type of recreation.
lembert wrote:
> A quota system limits opportunites for a primitive and unconfined type of recreation.

Exactly! By "enhancing the wilderness experience" for smaller and smaller numbers, they have completely destroyed this wilderness experience opportunity for thousands of others.


They could greatly increase the opportunity for many more to experience the wilderness, if they would make additional permits available based on a time-slots. I am sure thousands would grab permits that required them to arrive before 10 AM or after 3 PM.
You're mixing definitions.

They are defining wilderness as a PLACE which "has outstanding opportunites for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation".
Placing a quota INTO that location doesn't change it from wilderness to non-wilderness.
By allowing unlimited access limits opportunity for solitude. Period.

I'm gonna go out on the visor on this one... but my guess is that you're completely against any quotas.



Chick-on is looking at you!
The only major problem I have with the preferred alternative (Alternative C) is that they didn't make a strong case why a quota of 300 per day is needed versus a quota of 400 per day (Alternative B). I think the Park Service should initially adopt the 400 per day quota (Alternative B) and if they still have crowding and safety issues with that many people, then reduce the quota to 300 per day. But I think in regards to safety and crowding that 400 per day will end up being just fine.


I agree, in fact I thought they were making a perfectly decent case for 400/day. Both of the options would keep crowding below the levels that visitor surveys indicated were unacceptable, and 400 gives more access.

On the 'unconfined type of recreation', the document is counting the permit requirements (options B and C) as a moderately negative impact on that issue. Its the issue of _solitude_ that the permit requirements are considered a positive impact, and I'd say that even option C doesn't really fit my idea of solitude (encounters w/ other hikers would be slightly more than the Cathedral Lakes trail, B's only marginally worse than C). I'm doubting that most hikers on the Half Dome trail are expecting my idea of solitude.
According to the Wilderness Act, when a designated wilderness area has a primitive and unconfined type of recreation, not having solitude does not change it from wilderness to non-wilderness. A quota system limits opportunities for a primitive and unconfined type of recreation.
Quote
lembert

According to the Wilderness Act, when a designated wilderness area has a primitive and unconfined type of recreation, not having solitude does not change it from wilderness to non-wilderness. A quota system limits opportunities for a primitive and unconfined type of recreation.

When it comes to climbing to the top of Half Dome, absolutely not. Everyone is still allowed to summit Half Dome via other routes, and rock climbers do that all the time during the summer (and spring and fall).

The quota only restricts people who want to use the cables to get to the top of Half Dome. It does not limit other means (via other routes) for getting to the top of Half Dome. If you want to summit Half Dome via Snake Dike, no permit is required.
Quote
plawrence
When it comes to climbing to the top of Half Dome, absolutely not. Everyone is still allowed to summit Half Dome via other routes, and rock climbers do that all the time during the summer (and spring and fall).

The quota only restricts people who want to use the cables to get to the top of Half Dome. It does not limit other means (via other routes) for getting to the top of Half Dome. If you want to summit Half Dome via Snake Dike, no permit is required.

Great point! But also keep in mind that technical climbers almost always descend Half Dome using the cables. I think the issue for NPS is safety, not wilderness character, like everyone seems to be squabbling about. I climb Snake Dyke all the time, and I always use my harness and carabiners for safety when I descend the cables, especially because I am usually fairly weak by the time I get to them. I would say I'm a strong and skilled climber, yet I still recognize the inherent danger of these cables. From my perspective, allowing hundreds of often inexperienced day-trippers to roll the dice on these cables is a pretty insane prospect for an agency tasked with protecting the safety of park visitors. NPS has no way of verifying the skill level of Half Dome hikers. Most of them don't even even speak to a ranger before being issued their permits. Every time I descend those cables, I see people who have the fear of death in their faces and who clearly are not prepared. I applaud NPS for trying to reduce crowding on the cables, it's already a major catastrophe waiting to happen as it is. Imagine the public outcry if a bunch of little kids fell to their deaths because someone slipped and knocked them of the cables?
The quoted text contains the wording: "limits opportunities".
moved.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/01/2012 01:24PM by dbagnall.
What is "unconfined and primitive"?

My interpretation is this: the area is relatively large (so you can gain solitude if desired) and the area is absent of structures.

Having a quota has nothing to do with unconfined and primitive.



Chick-on is looking at you!
With respect to 'unconfined', here's what the EA says in finding a negative impact from a permit system. Quoted text from Option B, C and D have the same text:

Quote
Yosemite National Park
Unconfined Recreation. Wilderness users would be required to obtain and carry a permit. Users would also be required to carry personal identification and may be checked by a law enforcement ranger along the Trail. All of this would represent a loss of spontaneity and would affect the unconfined quality of wilderness character. Impacts would be localized, moderate, long-term, and adverse.

If I have to get a piece of paper to do a day hike, the NPS is admitting there's harm to an 'unconfined' experience. They're saying that other wilderness values, and NPS requirements, would be enhanced.
Ok, unconfined just means you can go where you please. Sorry I opened my trap.

Can't help saying though:

I get quota permits all the time... and after leaving the TH have a huge park for me to enjoy.
I don't feel confined. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to get that permit
for free and camp just about anywhere w/i reason.



Chick-on is looking at you!
The full statement was “A quota system limits opportunities for a primitive and unconfined type of recreation.”
Those that want solitude don't climb HD.

I'd venture a guess that many poeple doing HD are doing so as a member of a group, and enjoy the camaraderie of that group. In other words they're not seeking solitude at all.

We're back to "It's not wilderness!"

If you want wilderness and solitude it's quite easy to hike a short distance off trail, even in the valley.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/26/2012 08:39PM by qumqats.
Frank, you are right on the money. I was thinking the exact same thing as I read through it.

There is really only one logical and reasonable alternative presented. The rest are designed to drive you to that one alternative.

The powers that be have made up their minds, and I really doubt any public comments will change their course. I just hope their motivations are in the right place.

I always picture the politicians in the background lining their pockets somehow with decisions like these. I know...lets create a panel of highly paid commissioners (friends and family members) to oversee the process.



"It is all very beautiful and magical here - a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breath it., let the sun bake it into you" - Ansel Adams
Just for fun, let's try to weight the positives and negatives here...

Paying for a permit - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - -5
Carrying a permit - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - -1
Carrying Identification - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - -1
Being asked to show permit & identification - - -2

Fewer people on the trail - - - - - - - - - - - - - - +1
Fewer people on the cables - - - - - - - - - - - - +5
Increased safety -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - +5
"Enhanced" wilderness experience - - - - - - - +1

No permit available due to full quota - - - - - - -100
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ----------------
Net per person - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -97

Multiplied by 100 additional per day reduction in permit availability times 120 permit days

- - - - - - - - - - - - - Net affect:- - - - - - -1,164,000
Not having to read about "Another Half Dome Death":

Priceless

(sorry, couldn't help myself... knew shouldn't have posted anything in HD thread)
(just shoot me now)



Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan Draft Environmental Assessment Available for Public Review
January 27, 2012 12:15AM
Quote
SteveC
Just for fun, let's try to weight the positives and negatives here...

Paying for a permit - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - -5
Carrying a permit - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - -1
Carrying Identification - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - -1
Being asked to show permit & identification - - -2

Fewer people on the trail - - - - - - - - - - - - - - +1
Fewer people on the cables - - - - - - - - - - - - +5
Increased safety -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - +5
"Enhanced" wilderness experience - - - - - - - +1

No permit available due to full quota - - - - - - -100
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ----------------
Net per person - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -97

Multiplied by 100 additional per day reduction in permit availability times 120 permit days

- - - - - - - - - - - - - Net affect:- - - - - - -1,164,000

Should all quotas be eliminated?
Half Dome sucks. It's totally overrated. It's a nice big block of granite, but getting to the top is not a major achievement.

Mr. Half Dome might disagree, but he's busy doing motivational speaking on cruise ships.

Mt. Whitney sucks. It's totally overrated. It's the highest peak in the contiguous 48, but the main trail was built for mules.

The mules look at us and ask "what's your problem?" The marmots and the bears say "nice backpack!"
QITNL won't have to worry about dayhike permits then. Some of us still want to have the opportunity in the future to hike "sucky" Half Dome and Mount Whitney. I've enjoyed all of my visits to the tops of these mountain tops. No it is not a "wilderness" experience...I have never approached ascending either with that in mind. (And then you also know where most of the hikers are, so you can steer clear of these places if you want.) Why criticize people who want to hike these and other busy hikes? Can't we do this kind of hike and ones of true wilderness and enjoy both?


Anyway, I believe that the timed suggestion...arrive at 9am, 10am, etc. for your chance to use the cables...would not work...either for those that overestimate their abilities or for those that may not have the best day physically on that particular day at that particular hour. How many of you have felt not quite up to par, but still went out for your hike, maybe at a slower pace...still made it to your destination, but just not as timely as usual. (Does it sound like I'm talking from experience?) Heat and weather in general can play a part. Conditioning and nutrition can play a part. What hike you did the day before can affect your performance. So scheduling not only a particular day to climb the cables, but a particulat hour may be a bit too restricting.

I just posted elsewhere, that, just by the luck of the lottery draw, there may be particular days where the majority of the Half Dome hikers are first timers, novices, inexperienced...whatever you wish to call them. The lottery won't differentiate in terms of ability or experience (or IQ winking smiley .) If there a 100 people or 400, it only takes one person to screw up.

I will agree that the cable "traffic jams" on the busiest days were ridiculous.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/27/2012 10:17AM by hikerchick395.
QITNL misses the point. The view from the top of Mount Whitney on a clear day a memory for a lifetime. It is amplified by the difficulty of getting there. The same goes for Half Dome. I don't have to do these hikes over and over. Just one clear day and I can move on to other things. A few pictures, and a look into a grand wilderness that spreads out to the horizon



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/30/2012 08:42AM by lschaaf.
What point am I missing?

If the view is the criteria, the summit of Whitney is a big flat pile of rubble. Half Dome is similarly level. You can go to the edge and look down, but neither offers much of a 360.

Much better views in the vicinity of each can be found from Mt Muir and Clouds Rest. You can enjoy them relatively crowd-free since neither has been turned into an industry.

Not to rain on the parade.

I think the point your missing is that big rock that everyone sees when they visit Yosemite is Half Dome. The view from the big rock really isn't the point. It is the idea that for the rest of your life you can look at that rock and remember that you made it! Same for Whitney.

And here is a couple competing pictures. August 23, 2011 Mid-Afternoon No Clouds in the Sky. Every time I think about Yosemite taking away this opportunity it irritates me more. And on my way down the cables at about 4:00 pm---I was the ONLY person on the cables the entire descent. And there were only a few left on the summit.






Quote
chicagocwright

And on my way down the cables at about 4:00 pm---I was the ONLY person on the cables the entire descent. And there were only a few left on the summit.

Which I why think it's very unfortunately and quite odd that the preferred alternative is Alternative C (a 300 per day quota) versus keeping the current 400 per day quota (Alternative B).

If you haven't done so already, you need to express your opinions on the matter at the Yosemite NPS website and be sure to mention how uncrowded it was during your visit to the top of Half Dome. I simply don't understand the logic of wanting to limit the access to Half Dome even further than the current 400 per day limit since this limit seems to have solved the problem of too many people on the cables at any particular time.

.
avatar Plan to limit Yosemite’s Half Dome access splits wilderness advocates and hikers who love it
January 31, 2012 12:55PM
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — There was a time not long ago when a climb to the top of Yosemite National Park’s Half Dome was a solitary trek attempted by only the most daring adventurers. Over the past decade, however, the route has been inundated with up to 1,200 nature lovers a day seeking to experience the iconic mountain that is stamped on the California quarter, stitched on a line of outdoor clothing and painted on the side of the park’s vehicles.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/plan-to-limit-yosemites-half-dome-access-splits-wilderness-advocates-and-hikers-who-love-it/2012/01/29/gIQAgddAaQ_story.html



Cables on June 12 2008
What time? (Now I am just more irritated...)
Quote
chicagocwright

What time? (Now I am just more irritated...)

By the angle of the sun, I would guess right around noontime on a Thursday afternoon (based on the date given for the photo).



Wow! what is with some of you people!?!

"...the trail to HD is not wilderness?"
"...screw future generations?"
".. I don't want to carry and ID on the trail"

Everyone needs step step back and realize this is not about YOU and how easy it is for YOU to plan a HD trip or if YOU need to carry an ID on the trail: Boo F-in Hoo.
There are much much larger issues here than your personal convenience. The use of YNP and all its trails and roads including the HD cable route impact the environment, species, a watershed (the Merced river), and the use of wilderness for future generations; all of which are LEGALLY protected by various laws. The cables are, in fact, in total violation of wilderness use laws and the only reason they are there is because they were installed before the area became a designated legal wilderness and someone made the stupid decision to 'grandfather' the cables in. An additional cable is not an option. It can't even legally be done.

Please before further commenting on this plan please:

1) Remove yourself from the equation. Your personal needs are not a factor here.
2) Actually read the document you are commenting on.
3) Understand the LEGAL definition of Wilderness and what it means for all of Yosemite including HD.
4) Understand that HD and the trails to HD are very close to the Merced river which is a protected wild and scenic river (also a legal designation) and a watershed.
5) Realize the permit system IS happening. This has been decided (read the document).

My personal wish is for the cables to be removed completely. Taking myself out of it, I see that a permit system is the best compromise. I would prefer to see a 300 per day limit
plus a small number of available walk-up permits. I would also like to see them require everyone use a harness and clip to improve safety. It's obvious people come to Yosemite
expecting a similar experience as Disneyland and many visitors have no idea what they are getting into or even how to be responsible for their own safety when they enter a wilderness.
Frankly, if there were not so many people tramping up to HD in flip-flops and sweatpants, leaving piles of unburied human waste behind every rock and tree, and needing SAR
to come rescue them or recover their dead bodies because they are totally unprepared for what they are attempting then this really would not be such a big issue but that is unfortunately
how many visitors choose to 'experience the wilderness' in YNP.

The cables are a left-over relic from the days when glacier point firefalls, dynamiting natural dams, cutting holes in trees so cars can drive through, and feeding the bears nightly to put on a show
were all deemed acceptable ways to manage the park. The NPS 'made their bed' when they left the cables up and used marketing to create an icon out of Half Dome. They have lived with the
consequences for the past 80-some years but now at least they are trying to -partially- fix the problem.
nm



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/02/2012 06:24AM by bbb.
dbagnall,

When fanatics succeed in shutting everyone out of the wilderness, there won't be anyone left who will advocate for the wilderness. Nobody will care, since they can't go there anyway.

I get so tired of hearing the self rightious advocate blocking all the Disneyland people from the wilderness because they don't deserve to be there. We see the climbing community advocate taking the cables down -- because they can get up there without them. We see the people who can wander anywhere in the wilderness any day of the year advocate shutting down Half Dome, because they are better than all the fat dumb Disneyland types.

Closing Half Dome to more and more people does not preserve it for future generations. It's a rock -- it will outlive all the future generations!

As for preserving the Merced River... my only "damage" to the river is to tip-toe to its banks and dip and drink its water -- UNfiltered no less. Nobody climbing the Half Dome cables is damaging the Merced.

Before Yosemite N.P. starts making changes for "safety" on Half Dome, they should first try to improve the safety on places where more people die -- like the Mist Trail and Vernal Falls. I don't get the reason Half Dome has all the sudden become their most important safety concern. I think there is an element of dbagnall's mentality in the park management's thinking: "If we can just keep more of them out, we can all sleep better at night."

There are other ways to improve safety and reduce crowding without shutting down people's access to what could be the best wilderness experience they will ever have. Locking people out of the wilderness should be the option of LAST resort.
Hey Steve - Thanks so much for your comments. Half Dome is certainly an emotional issue no matter which side of the issue you stand on. I understand your concerns about cutting off the wilderness to "non-climbers"
and others who may not have the means (physical/financial/or otherwise). That is certainly something that must be seriously considered. While you obviously disagree with my personal opinion to remove the cables I am unsure if you disagree with my (compromised) support for the permit system or not. Certainly the permit system does not cut off access to HD; but only limits it. I wrote my post supporting the permit system. It limits numbers but does not "lock people out". It's a good compromise and I am sure that is why the NPS is choosing it. Frankly, even if the cables were removed I would disagree that the wilderness is effectively shut-down to the general public.

How about a little reality check in terms of "....shutting everyone out of the wilderness, there won't be anyone left who will advocate for the wilderness. Nobody will care, since they can't go there anyway."
There is a paved highway that takes you directly into the heart of the Sierra, to the base of numerous granite cliffs, waterfalls, and wilderness trailheads. When you get here there are hotels, a grocery store, a post office, busses everywhere, traffic jams, parking lots. I reality, the valley wilderness experience is being "cut-off" by sucking bus fumes while staring up at Yosemite Falls. There is zero sense of Wilderness left in Yosemite Valley. It feels more like a magnificent city park not unlike Golden Gate or Central Park than a Wilderness. You have to leave the valley floor to get to the Wilderness now. You should feel lucky that Yosemite Valley was not included in the Wilderness boundaries of Yosemite National Park when they were first drawn (as it really should have been IMO). If that had happened there would be no roads into the valley and no buildings here at all. I think we are all pretty lucky to have what we have (despite the environmental impacts). Are you similarly upset that there is no elevator to the top of El Cap? an escalator to the top of Yosemite Falls? Where do the lines get drawn? Why must there be cables to get to the top of HD in order for you to get a wilderness experience? There are numerous opportunities throughout the park no matter what your physical abilities.


Here is an interesting article about the HD plans in USA Today from 2/4 http://travel.usatoday.com/destinations/story/2012-02-04/Is-Yosemites-Half-Dome-being-loved-to-death/52951480/1

Keep up the discussion everyone! I am glad we have forums to express our viewpoints and learn from each other. We all have one thing in common; We love Yosemite!
I'm consistenly conflicted regarding my opinion on this issue. While I certainly like the opportunity to use the cables to get to the top of HD when I please, I'm not against SOME form of keeping that an enjoyable experience at least in the form of avoiding waiting for hours to get on insanely crowded cables. I'm reminded of the approach of Deer Valley Utah ski resort where they limit the number of lift tickets they sell per day to keep the crowds to a level where you can still have fun. You can get "guaranteed" tickets ahead of time or take your chances at the window. The more I consider it the more I wish Yosemite (for the Valley, anyway) could have "permits" to drive into the valley. Not to eliminate cars entirely like Zion, but at least enough to keep the place enjoyable. I know that starts an entirely different debate, but my idea would be to allow this restriction to supercede and even eliminate the HD "problem". As an out of state visitor, I have a bias in this direction, but here is what I think: If I invest my money and time in MONTHS of planning to visit what I consider one of the most beautiful places on earth (and one that can accomodate some of the hardships of travelling from out of state -- it's hard to fly with a full week's worth of camping gear to stay in less "developed" places) I would hope that at least some of that effort could be reciprocated by the residents of the Golden State for their visits. In other words, California is a very blessed state. Is it that much of a burden to ask "locals" to plan their trips far enough in advance to secure permits for the benefit of all who vist from around the world? There are more than enough places for people to go for spur of the moment day or weekend trips without clogging up a small part of the world that could reasonably be considered "for special trips only". How many of us get irritated at the people who drive up in an RV then sit around in North Pines being loud all weekend and hardly ever leaving the camp site? There must be something we can do to remove the incentive for this and redirect it appropriately, and I think permits would at least help by requiring a little more advance planning relative to other locations. I would be willing to bet that most people wouldn't mind adjusting their trip dates slightly if it meant a more "unspoiled" visit might occur. A hotel doesn't let 500 familes/night book when they only have 300 rooms; why should Yosemite Valley (and Half Dome) be any different? I know that the devil is in the details just like with any new proposition, and that people who are lucky enough to live 30 miles from Yosemite Valley would be outraged by this, but who knows how to fix a problem like this and keep everyone happy??
Back in the 1990's the Park Service dealt with this problem for one or two summers by simply limiting the amount of vehicles that could enter the park at any one given time.

But they did have a de facto "permit" system in place in such as anyone who had an overnight reservation at one of lodging properties (Curry Village, the Ahwahnee, Yosemite Lodge, the Wawona) or had a campground reservation or wilderness permit were still permitted to drive in regardless if the "vehicle quota" had been reached. All other vehicles would be turned away at the entrance gates.

It proved to be highly unpopular, not just by would-be park visitors that were turned away, but also with the local motel owners of the surrounding communities who ended up with pissed-off guests who couldn't enter the park they had traveled so far (in many cases) to visit.

This quota policy was soon abandoned.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/05/2012 01:11PM by plawrence.
Quote
plawrence
Back in the 1990's the Park Service dealt with this problem for one or two summers by simply limiting the amount of vehicles that could enter the park at any one given time.

But they did have a de facto "permit" system in place in such as anyone who had an overnight reservation at one of lodging properties (Curry Village, the Ahwahnee, Yosemite Lodge, the Wawona) or had a campground reservation or wilderness permit were still permitted to drive in regardless if the "vehicle quota" had been reached. All other vehicles would be turned away at the entrance gates.

It proved to be highly unpopular, not just by would-be park visitors that were turned away, but also with the local motel owners of the surrounding communities who ended up with pissed-off guest who couldn't enter the park they had travelled so far (in many cases) to visit.

This quota policy was soon abandoned.

Wow. Good to know. As I suspected, that type of policy requires a mountain of details to be worked through to be successful. Still not sure it should be abandoned for all time, though.
People, today is the last day to comment on the plan to limit access to Half Dome even more than it was last year.

Please PLEASE, go to the Yosemite web site and ask them to think outside the box, and find more ways to allow people to access Half Dome without the rush hour crowding.

There are lots of people who would adjust their schedules and start their hike super early, or to arrive later in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. Yosemite could give out three or four times the current number of permits, if they would just invent a time-slot system.

If they would try it for just one day or maybe a week, it would be easy to observe the possibilities.

Please comment on the proposal!

But one last note: If you are someone with the attitude that people in flipflops, or those who are out of shape, Disneyland tourists, or fat or dumb -- or whatever, don't deserve to hike, please do NOT comment.

The Yosemite main page is here:
---- Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan - EA Public Review

Here is the link to "Comment on Document"

Here's the document:
---- Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan EA (1.7 MB, PDF file)
---- Draft Environmental Assessment
---- January 2012



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/15/2012 02:33AM by SteveC.
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