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Re: Yosemite National Park Announces the Preliminary Alternative Concepts Workbook is now Available on the Park’s Website

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Yosemite National Park Announces the Preliminary Alternative Concepts Workbook is now Available on the Park’s Website
Date: March 19, 2012


Workbook Designed to Help the Public Engage in Upcoming Public Meetings and Site Visits for the Merced River Plan

Yosemite National Park announces the availability of the Preliminary Alternative Concepts Workbook for the Comprehensive Management Plan for the Merced Wild and Scenic River Plan (MRP) on the park's website today. Hard copies of the workbook will be available next week. The goal of the MRP is to provide visitor access and protect resources within the Merced River corridor. The document provides a look at the preliminary alternative concepts of the MRP. This is the first opportunity for the general public to see what the park has developed, incorporating scientific analysis and public comment. These preliminary alternatives will be refined and become a part of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the MRP, which will be released in the fall. Copies of the workbook will also be provided to each individual attending the Workshops/Site Visits.

The public is highly encouraged to attend one of the upcoming Public Workshops, Site Visits, and Webinars where the draft alternatives will be analyzed and discussed. The meetings are a continuation of the park's outreach efforts from last fall in which the public was asked to provide input on what they would like to see included in the management alternatives evaluated in the DEIS. The MRP is a very important plan and will guide the future management of Yosemite within the Merced River corridor. These spring workshops are another chance for the public to review work in progress and provide input directly to park planners about a range of conceptual approaches to protecting river values and managing use within the corridor. The MRP will guide future decisions about transportation, camping, parking, lodging, employee housing and other administrative uses, restoration, and set user capacity - most notably within Yosemite Valley - and will establish the management strategy and actions for the next 20 years by modifying the General Management Plan.

The Workshop schedule is:
  • Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Yosemite Valley Auditorium
  • Wednesday, April 4, 2012, 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Golden Gate Room, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
  • Thursday, April 12, 2012, 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., El Portal Community Hall
  • Friday, April 13, 2012, 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Wawona Community Hall
Site Visits will provide an opportunity to discuss proposed actions "on-the-ground" at the locations where they may be implemented. They will be conducted in conjunction with the Workshops outlined above. Visitors are asked to wear comfortable walking shoes.

The Site Visit schedule is:
  • Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., meet at the Yosemite Valley Auditorium
  • Thursday, April 12, 2012, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., meet at the El Portal Community Hall
  • Friday, April 13, 2012, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., meet at the Wawona Community Hall
There will also be two webinars conducted that will review the draft alternatives. These will be held on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at 10:00 a.m., and on Wednesday, April 11, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. People can participate in the webinars by logging into http://yose.webex.com

The workbooks can be viewed at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/mrpalternatives. For the latest information on the MRP and all park planning efforts, please visit www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/planning.htm.
A few data points from the proposed alternatives after a quick scan:
  1. Camping alternatives range from a 1% reduction to 85% increase. Partial restoration of the River campgrounds is in two of the alternatives
  2. Some alternatives have RV-specific and new walk-in campsites, in addition to the "normal" drive-in campsites
  3. Valley lodging alternatives range from a 55% decrease to 20% increase
  4. Two of the alternatives would require day use permits during peak visitation times
  5. All alternatives eliminate the Backpacker's Campground. It's not clear if this function would be relocated to Camp 4 or elsewhere, or eliminated.
  6. Two of the alternatives eliminate the Merced Lake High Sierra Camp
I was a bit surprised that a partial restoration of the River campgrounds--and increases in valley camping in general--were on the table. I was also surprised to see the elimination of Merced Lake HSC proposed, since eliminating it would essentially end the concept of the High Sierra loop for the vast majority of hikers. (The cross-country Sunrise-to-Vogelsang direct routes are excellent, but probably beyond the abilities of most High Sierra Camp patrons...)
bump

(I too was amazed that no one besides basil said anything about this)



Chick-on is looking at you!
Removing the backpackers campground?!? Maybe making it smaller or moving it, but eliminating it? I'd hate to see that happen. I really liked that option.
I'm not surprised that there is little feedback. Most people don't care unless they are personally affected (e.g. don't get hiking permits, campground reservations etc.).

According to my info only 33 people showed up for the webinar whereas approx. 50+ dialed in for the Half Dome webinar. As much as I like Half Dome but THIS is way more important. But as I said before...as long as people are not affected they give a damn. However they will be affected because the final MRP could bring massive changes.

I was extremely impressed by the amount of detail that was compiled by YNP and published in the workbook and it was an extremely interesting read. So even if someone doesn't want to comment I recommend reading it.smiling smiley
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Half Dome Hiker
I'm not surprised that there is little feedback. Most people don't care unless they are personally affected (e.g. don't get hiking permits, campground reservations etc.).

According to my info only 33 people showed up for the webinar whereas approx. 50+ dialed in for the Half Dome webinar. As much as I like Half Dome but THIS is way more important. But as I said before...as long as people are not affected they give a damn. However they will be affected because the final MRP could bring massive changes.

I was extremely impressed by the amount of detail that was compiled by YNP and published in the workbook and it was an extremely interesting read. So even if someone doesn't want to comment I recommend reading it.smiling smiley

I think that there are multiple reasons that people are not commenting. There have been too many plans coming out at the same time or just right after other ones that people are getting burned out reading and commenting on things. Some people think that their comments are not read so why bother. At least one of my comments have been posted in the public records of each plan that I have commented on so I know that they are read and I have also talked to some of the planning people and they said that they read every single comment. Along the same lines is that it is felt that even if comments are read the park is going to do what they want anyway even though it is in conflict with other plans that have been approved. I can understand that point of view because that has appeared to have happened more than once. The planned building of the new Yosemite Institute is one example.

While both this recent workbook and the one that came out this fall are detailed, the amount of different areas that need imput on is overwhelming and it is hard to come up with a decent comment that will mesh all areas together. The carrying capacity section is even harder to comment on not only because it is a very contriversial aspect but how do you determine what is too many people. I have trouble with this section because of the methodology of how people the number of visitors are estimated. Somewhere I read that they are saying that they consider each car having 2.9 people in them. In our case, there are three of us so which one of us is 9/10 of a person? LOL I personally am not comfortable making comments on carrying capacity using actual numbers unless a better method of counting people is used. I read somewhere that it was stated that the valley should only have 25,509 people there at one time. Just how did they come up with that number?

You are right Half Dome Hiker. Of the multitude of plans that have come out in the past few years, this one will have the most impact on the most number of people. If someone has only the time to comment on one plan then this is the one they should concentrate on.
Just to note, today is the last day to comment on this phase of the plan.

Please do so if you care about how Yosemite Valley is developed (or restricted) in the future.

Also maybe this isn't very clear to some people, but the Park Service planners believe that ANY ONE of the five proposed preliminary alternatives outlined in the workbook fulfills ALL THE REQUIREMENTS of the Wild and Scenic Act and that of the litigation brought about by Yosemite aborted first crack at this. So any of the proposed concepts COULD be legally implemented as far as the Park Service in concerned.

What the Park Service wants from us is to know OUR PREFERENCES in regards to these proposed alternatives. They want to know what we like from each one, and what we DON'T like from each one so they can make improvements based on OUR feedback.

So if you have any suggestions, please let them know by the end of today.
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plawrence
Just to note, today is the last day to comment on this phase of the plan.

Please do so if you care about how Yosemite Valley is developed (or restricted) in the future.

Also maybe this isn't very clear to some people, but the Park Service planners believe that ANY ONE of the five proposed preliminary alternatives outlined in the workbook fulfills ALL THE REQUIREMENTS of the Wild and Scenic Act and that of the litigation brought about by Yosemite aborted first crack at this. So any of the proposed concepts COULD be legally implemented as far as the Park Service in concerned.

What the Park Service wants from us is to know OUR PREFERENCES in regards to these proposed alternatives. They want to know what we like from each one, and what we DON'T like from each one so they can make improvements based on OUR feedback.

So if you have any suggestions, please let them know by the end of today.
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Emailed my comment about an hour ago. I did what was suggested at the end of the Webinar and like you said - let them know what you like or dislike in each alternative. It will be interesting what the DEIS will be like. I talked to a few people at the planning office and from what I hear, they do not believe that all of the alternatives fullfills the requirements. Alternate 5 certainly doesn't especially in regards to Footnote five of the lawsuit. They had to present all ends of the spectrum.
Interesting. I have talked several times to the head planner in charge of this project, Kathleen Morse, and she has insisted and made very clear, including stating it clearly to all those attending the public workshop in San Francisco which I attended, and also at the Yosemite Conservancy "Spring Fling" held on March 30 in Yosemite Valley (which I also attended), that ALL the proposed alternative concepts fullfil all the requirements of the Wild Rivers and Scenic Act AND the litigation, including Footnote 5.

My hunch – and it's only a hunch – is that they're leaning closer to something based around Alternative 4 since the first three alternatives would probably prove to be highly unpopular with the public at large, including getting the attention of California's two U.S. Senators (Boxer and Feinstein) and they're very concerned (off the record) that Congress would get actively involved to prevent any very restrictive alternative, like Concepts 1 and 2, from ever being implemented.
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plawrence
Interesting. I have talked several times to the head planner in charge of this project, Kathleen Morse, and she has insisted and made very clear, including stating it clearly to all those attending the public workshop in San Francisco which I attended, and also at the Yosemite Conservancy "Spring Fling" held on March 30 in Yosemite Valley (which I also attended), that ALL the proposed alternative concepts fullfil all the requirements of the Wild Rivers and Scenic Act AND the litigation, including Footnote 5.

My hunch – and it's only a hunch – is that they're leaning closer to something based around Alternative 4 since the first three alternatives would probably prove to be highly unpopular with the public at large, including getting the attention of California's two U.S. Senators (Boxer and Feinstein) and they're very concerned (off the record) that Congress would get actively involved to prevent any very restrictive alternative, like Concepts 1 and 2, from ever being implemented.
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I guess it depends on who you talk to in the planning office and what meetings you have gone to. I have compared notes with other individuals that have attended things that I have not and they have heard different comments, seen conflicting data or heard information that was not given in all of the venues. I sometimes wonder if this is because of the rearrangement of staff after the last workbook was commented on. I still can't see where Concept 5 would meet the requirements of the lawsuit especially in light that it supports the maximum amount of facilites and visitors; it is worse than what is going on now.

Personally, I find concepts 1,2 and 5 on the extreme ends and if anying of those concepts would be adopted then there would be public outrage. The people who support 1 and 2 would scream about 5 and it's lack of protection of the natural resources and it's failure to control user amounts. Number 5 people will scream that 1 and 2 restricts their ability to access something that their taxes support. I would prefer something that combines actions that are more in the middle of the scheme of things. I also feel that they are rushing things through to completion and some aspects should have been looked at more closely. In one of the webinars a question was asked about how the User Permit system, the differential parking, and satellite parking would work and the answer was that they have not figured out how they would be implemented. I find it hard to make decisions about things if I don't have the information the I need.

All in all the Concept workbook was easier to understand and use than the other workbook. Now, the question is: what is the DEIS going to say and will there be an alternative that will protect river values in such a way that does not have great restrictions on how and when the park can be used.
Personally, I could live with most of what's proposed in Concept 5, EXCEPT for the additional development proposed in west Yosemite Valley (a new campground between Eagle Creek and the El Capitan Picnic Area, and a new auxiliary parking lot located at the El Cap Crossover near Southside Drive). As I expressed publicly at the San Francisco workshop, there should be ABSOLUTELY NO NEW development west of Camp 4 and Swinging Bridge. If the Park Service wants to redevelop areas in east Yosemite Valley, that could be okay (depending what is proposed), but please leave the west valley mostly undeveloped. (I also did suggest that they could repurpose the Yellow Pines campground (which is now used exclusively by Yosemite Park volunteer workgroups) to a regular campground available to the general public at large.

As I noted in a previous post, I confirmed with the head planner of this project in regards to all the proposed concepts (1 through 5) meeting the requirements of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the litigation. They believe that all the proposed concepts do. (The other park planners I talked to at these meetings confirmed this belief too, so I'm not sure which park personnel were giving you different feedback.) Obviously, some of the parties involved with the litigation might beg to differ, though according to the lead planner, the planning department has been working closely with them throughout this planning process.

But a central point they made during the three presentation I attended in regards to these preliminary alternative concepts is that the people and vehicle capacity of Yosemite Valley is heavily dependent on the infrastructure put in place inside Yosemite Valley. In Concept 5 they demonstrate that with ADDITIONAL infrastructure, Yosemite Valley could support more people AND more vehicles that it currently does and STILL have the Merced River protected from environmental damage. In Concept 1 they show that restoring more of the Merced River and its associated flood plains to a more natural and wild state throughout Yosemite Valley (though it is only classified as a recreational river within Yosemite Valley) would result in a severe reduction in the people and vehicle capacity of Yosemite Valley. In other words, there's no one single number (or even one RIGHT answer) in regards to the people and vehicle capacity of Yosemite Valley.

The central question they have been asking is: what type of Yosemite Valley do we, the public, want?



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/21/2012 11:33PM by plawrence.
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