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Re: Yosemite National Park: Wilderness Stewardship Plan — Public Scoping Period now open

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From the National Park Service:


November 23, 2015

Wilderness Stewardship Plan Scoping

Yosemite National Park began a public scoping process for an updated Wilderness Stewardship Plan. The current Wilderness Management Plan was adopted in 1989. The new plan will provide additional policy direction and address contemporary management challenges. Yosemite National Park has over 700,000 acres of designated wilderness, which is maintained for its unique character and enjoyment of future generations.

Public meetings will be held on December 8 2015 and January 20, 2016. Webinars are scheduled for December 16, 2015 and January 5 and 12, 2016. These meetings and webinars are designed to inform the public about the purpose and need for the plan and to provide opportunities for the public to ask questions and give feedback on the scope and direction of the plan. Comments can be submitted online, at public meetings, or via mail to Superintendent, Yosemite National Park, Attn: Wilderness Stewardship Plan, P.O. Box 577, Yosemite, CA 95389. Written comments will also be accepted during public scoping meetings.

The public scoping period will remain open through January 29, 2016.

More information can be found at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/yosewild.



From the National Park Service:



Wilderness Stewardship Plan
Yosemite National Park » Wilderness Stewardship Plan » Document List

Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range of central California, the Yosemite Wilderness area encompasses more than 704,000 acres and accounts for over 94% of the total area of Yosemite National Park. Officially designated by the California Wilderness Act in 1984, the Yosemite Wilderness has long been a place for inspiration, wonder, and discovery.

The purpose of Yosemite's wilderness stewardship planning effort is to review the management direction established in the 1989 Yosemite Wilderness Plan and update it as necessary to better align with contemporary use patterns and NPS policy.

In particular, there is a need to examine and refine the existing plan to incorporate new information and understanding about changes in visitor use patterns, methods of managing visitor use, techniques for trail design and construction, and concepts for managing stock in wilderness settings. There is also a need to incorporate new policy direction and definitions for wilderness character into the park's wilderness management framework and to review the status of potential wilderness additions. Finally, there is a need to determine the extent to which commercial services will be performed in the Yosemite Wilderness.

Once completed, the direction in the revised Wilderness Stewardship Plan will apply to both visitor and administrative use (National Park Service and concessioner) in wilderness. While some site-specific actions may be necessary, the primary focus of the plan will be to provide a framework for measuring and monitoring wilderness character to ensure that future management actions will be taken as needed to adapt to changing conditions.

Scoping meetings will be held in December 2015 to review the goals of the planning effort and to provide an opportunity for the public to interact directly with park staff. Once confirmed, information regarding upcoming public scoping meetings (e.g., dates, locations, and times) will be posted under the "Meeting Notices" tab on the left hand side of this page.

Contact Information:
Yosemite National Park, Strategic Planning Division
(209) 379-1270






Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/23/2015 01:22PM by plawrence.
Quote
plawrence
From the National Park Service:


November 23, 2015

Wilderness Stewardship Plan Scoping

Yosemite National Park began a public scoping process for an updated Wilderness Stewardship Plan. The current Wilderness Management Plan was adopted in 1989. The new plan will provide additional policy direction and address contemporary management challenges. Yosemite National Park has over 700,000 acres of designated wilderness, which is maintained for its unique character and enjoyment of future generations.

Public meetings will be held on December 8 2015 and January 20, 2016.





The public meeting on Tuesday, December 8th (6:00 PM to 8:00 PM) will be held at the Berkeley REI located at 1338 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, California.

The second public meeting (on Wednesday, January 20th) will be held at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center Auditorium located in Yosemite Village. The meeting is scheduled to run from 12:00 Noon to 2:00 PM.

No public meetings appear to be scheduled in Southern California, the Central Valley, or elsewhere.

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plawrence

The public meeting on Tuesday, December 8th (6:00 PM to 8:00 PM) will be held at the Berkeley REI located at 1338 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, California.

Any of you going??

It's close to us. We saw some awful stuff this year. I've put on our calendar. Hopefully, we can make it!
I live about 5 miles away from the Berkeley REI. If anyone can't go but wants someone in person to bring up a burning issue, I'll be happy to pass it along.
Anyone go?

Forgot to ask around!!!

I was the chatty one front left in berry fuzzy hoody. Basilbop was with me wearing green Sequoia NP t-shirt.

I'll publish thoughts later. Need to get home and rest.
I don't live near where they are having meetings so I am very interesting in hearing your thoughts. I have heard some rumors that I am very concerned about.
Re: Yosemite National Park: Wilderness Stewardship Plan — Public Scoping Period now open
December 09, 2015 09:54AM
Rumors such as...?

The sense I got from the meeting is that one of the main concerns is that the current trailhead quota system is out of sync with changing use patterns and cannot effectively manage the current types or levels or usage. This seems to be due in part to various movies (such as Wild) and social media (such as this website) bringing attention to specific destinations. It seems a lot of people want to go to a specific place or "do" a specific trail, not just go somewhere and get away--which is too bad since there is so much good stuff in Yosemite. No one knows if the current visitation patterns will continue or if they are a "blip" and things will settle back to more "normal" patterns. *

There is (was?) a big problem with people using the wrong permits illegally to start the JMT, which both results in excessive use in the JMT corridor (above what the trailhead system would allow for) and also makes it harder for those who want to visit destinations within Yosemite to get permits. The Donahue exit quota was an interim solution to this problem.

I didn't get the sense that there's a desire to make drastic, sweeping changes to the 1989 Wilderness Management Plan--but it all depends on what feedback they receive from the public (hint, hint).

* The impact of "social media" on visitation is something that JKW, Chickon Boo, and I struggle with: we really enjoy sharing the trips we do and the feedback we get, but it's heartbreaking to return to a place we posted about a year ago and find new, illegal fire rings, cut branches or other recent impacts that could to be due to our highlighting a new attraction on this forum. Some of our trip reports have been vague on specific locations for this reason, and there are a few trips that we haven't posted anything about--decisions that we never take lightly.
It has to do with the need that some people want to have solitude as soon as they step across the Wilderness boundary. In the Tuolumne Meadows area, that would be a issue since the Wilderness boundary is just a few hundred feet from the road in places. Which would mean that if you just want to take a short walk to one of the domes or even Parson's Lodge you would have to get a permit to do a day hike. Can you imagine the logistics of requiring that every one that wants to take a short stroll would need a permit? Actually this was brought up in the Tuolumne River and Merced River planning processes so in reality it is not just a rumor. I can no longer backpack but I do understand your concerns about illegal use of permits and the damage and impact that you see on your trips since I spend a lot of my time at parks picking up other people's trash and if I did that as recorded VIP time I would most likely get an award. Controlling visitation numbers and use is a double edged sword. Too much and the park environment suffers but too little means that less people go to a park or can do less in a park and people who fall in love with nature are the ones that support the parks and fight to protect them.

Edit: I really wish that Yosemite would put more emphasis on the LNT program so that those that do visit have the knowledge to protect the park better while being there. I have been to other parks where a separate brochure is handed out with the park newspaper outlining LNT and not just hidden in the pages like you see in the Yosemite Guide. They also need more focus on the "front country" visitor. (although from what you are saying the back country visitor needs more education too) I have to admit that I have a vested interest in that since that might allow me to spend less time picking up other people's trash and asking them not to feed the animals and more time actually being able to enjoy nature.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/09/2015 12:04PM by parklover.
Re: Yosemite National Park: Wilderness Stewardship Plan — Public Scoping Period now open
December 09, 2015 01:49PM
Nothing specifically was mentioned about extending the use of quota permits for day-hikers beyond Half Dome, but such permits do appear to be a tool they want to be able to use should the need arise.

I do question the emphasis on solitude (as measured by visitor encounters per mile or hour) in recent planning documents; the Wilderness Act's only mention of solitude is in the definition of a Wilderness Area in that it "has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation." It's hard to argue that that isn't the case for Yosemite; you won't find solitude on the JMT or Half Dome trail, but there are ample opportunities for solitude elsewhere in Yosemite--JKW, Chickon Boo and I find them almost weekly.* I do think that day-use quotas could be appropriate if needed to protect the wilderness from resource degradation due to over-use or to protect visitor safety, but there are also other means to reduce such impacts that should be evaluated as well (e.g. trail improvement or relocation).

I wholeheartedly agree with front-country visitors being an issue--many such visitors seem to believe that orange peels, nut shells, or tissue paper are biodegradable. I think definitely more education--and enforcement--is needed here. Too many people equate Yosemite being a "Park" with an urban "park" and treat them similarly.

* Well, relative solitude: I can't seem to get away from the other two no matter how much I try... they keep tempting me with bacon and pancakes.
Solitude is really something that is hard to measure because each person has their own definition of what it means to them and even then, it could changed depending on how they are feeling or where they are. There are times for me that solitude is when there is no one around me that I can see or hear, times where I only want my family around and other times I don't mind coming across a small group of people once in a while. ( If they have pancakes and bacon, they can join us) I just don't feel that people should expect solitude when they are within in a mile or so of a road which is why I have issue with talk about the possibility of having to have a day use permit when you are just going to be a few hundred feet across the Wilderness Boundary for a short period of time as had been proposed in other plans. Part of my problem is that I don't feel that the T Meadows area is a wilderness area because you are not far from a busy road and development so maybe the boundary should be adjusted in that area. I think the emphasis should be more on what you referred to as resource degradation no matter where you are in the park.

I guess that I am getting more crotchety as I am getting older and am less tolerant of people who come to parks and don't follow the rules and even more so don't use their common sense while they are there. Cant they just stay home and let the rest of us enjoy the parks?
Dearest Parklover,

Love what you just wrote! Didn't hear a peep about day use issues during the meeting we attended. Actual issues were raised by the attendees, not the NPS representatives. The NPS reps were there to outline the process and answer questions.

In terms of permits, biggest issue seems to be quotas for trails in/around the JMT/PCT corridor, especially with JMT entry points! BUT no matter what we say in the meetings, we must submit our concerns and our suggestions for solutions. This meeting was to tell us what they were trying to focus on, how they were gathering information, the timeline for the process and getting the brainstorming process going. I'm sorry, still haven't sat down to process all of it, but Parklover, would love to run thoughts by you and discuss. Several special interest groups are obviously concerned. There was a rep from an equestrian trail rider group, and a climber who said he was representing the climbing community. Not sure exactly how officially. Doesn't matter, really, at this point.

Basilbop, Chickon and hopefully others and I will be collaborating and refining ideas so we can present as coherent an argument as possible for the issues we care about.

All - if you care and have ideas, you should prepare them and submit them by January 29, 2016!
Thank you JKW. I can't backpack anymore so don't have any first hand info on the back country issues but I would gladly include anything that you, Chick on and Basibop feel that is important in my comments. You can PM me if you don't want to post them here.
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basilbop

I didn't get the sense that there's a desire to make drastic, sweeping changes to the 1989 Wilderness Management Plan--but it all depends on what feedback they receive from the public (hint, hint).

* The impact of "social media" on visitation is something that JKW, Chickon Boo, and I struggle with: we really enjoy sharing the trips we do and the feedback we get, but it's heartbreaking to return to a place we posted about a year ago and find new, illegal fire rings, cut branches or other recent impacts that could to be due to our highlighting a new attraction on this forum. Some of our trip reports have been vague on specific locations for this reason, and there are a few trips that we haven't posted anything about--decisions that we never take lightly.

Did you or JKW give any specific feedback about how they could improve their wilderness management plan? Did anyone suggest putting more limits on which trails stock animals could travel on? What was the general gist of the public comments?

(I wish I could have attended the meeting, but I had a prior commitment in the South Bay that I wasn't done with until 6:30 PM Tuesday night, and then I would have been looking at an hour-plus trip during via the Nimitz during the evening rush hour.)
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plawrence
Did you or JKW give any specific feedback about how they could improve their wilderness management plan? Did anyone suggest putting more limits on which trails stock animals could travel on? What was the general gist of the public comments?

As I just wrote above, the meeting was more to explain to us what the process is, what they hope to accomplish, the timeline, and the key points they are focusing on.

They are soliciting thoughtful comments from users of the wilderness on the issues we see and are important to us and suggestions we may have on how to deal with said issues.

There was a lot of general musing, issue raising and anecdotal stories from the audience. There were questions to NPS reps as to what they've seen in terms of trends, anecdotally, or with real numbers. Basilbop and I were trying to find out what they thought of basic issues and how they were discussing them. We will try to frame our suggestions on improvement based on the language we picked up on during the meeting.

There will be three webinars, and one more physical meeting, iirc - but that's 9 days before the comment period CLOSES. I'm probably going to attend at least one webinar, try to glean more about what those people are really dealing with...

They were very clearly admitting that they have been extremely reactionary to changes in use and haphazard in implementation.

I got a little agitated listening to one of them try to explain away the egregious erosion caused by the mule teams not walking on the causeway in Rafferty, for instance. Might be true, but after DECADES of building trails in the park, they still don't know how to construct a trail a mule will actually use? (I need to process more).

plawrence, you missed some things maybe, but you didn't miss any real opportunity to voice your concerns and suggestions. That's just started! And you can do it multiple ways. Check out the website to see.

All, my understanding is that they are working on legal documents, and all our comments become part of the legal record. Our comments and suggestions may not be implemented, but they need to read them and acknowledge them somehow. And future legal claims can refer to the comments submitted during this process. So, IMO, it's worth writing out your thoughts!

I encourage all of you who care to take a few minutes. If all you can spare is 10 minutes to write about the hottest topic on your mind, I ask you do it and submit it. I don't care if you agree with my thoughts or not. I believe the process about speaking up for our parks is very important. I've focused on Yosemite, I think most of you reading this have as well. Yosemite is worth a few minutes of my time thinking about how we can try to care for it better in the future. I hope it's worth a few minutes of yours.
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parklover
Edit: I really wish that Yosemite would put more emphasis on the LNT program so that those that do visit have the knowledge to protect the park better while being there. I have been to other parks where a separate brochure is handed out with the park newspaper outlining LNT and not just hidden in the pages like you see in the Yosemite Guide. They also need more focus on the "front country" visitor. (although from what you are saying the back country visitor needs more education too) I have to admit that I have a vested interest in that since that might allow me to spend less time picking up other people's trash and asking them not to feed the animals and more time actually being able to enjoy nature.

While I think education is vital and needed, and that generally more is better, it is not a panacea for all resource issues in the park. For overnight users, Yosemite has a good education program. Each visitor needs to come in and talk to a ranger about LNT practices and other regulations. It's not perfect but compared to surrounding forest service areas or other national parks where there is hardly any education or the rangers aren't very knowledgeable, it is good. Yet, despite this, we still see a ton of impact in the wilderness. I can't see a way to dramatically improve the education without a sizable time and monetary investment. At a certain point, if you now have 30 people visiting a certain area per day instead of 10 people per day years ago, you are just going to have more impact and no amount of education will prevent that. As for day users which vastly outnumber overnight users, I don't think adding another pamphlet will dramatically improve visitor education. However, days users are a tremendously more difficult user group to manage.


Quote
basilbop
I do question the emphasis on solitude (as measured by visitor encounters per mile or hour) in recent planning documents; the Wilderness Act's only mention of solitude is in the definition of a Wilderness Area in that it "has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation." It's hard to argue that that isn't the case for Yosemite; you won't find solitude on the JMT or Half Dome trail, but there are ample opportunities for solitude elsewhere in Yosemite-.

My counter to that would be, should we manage separate trails/areas differently? That is, should we have an area that is allowed to be crowded while other areas are managed for solitude? That seems to me what you are, perhaps inadvertently, suggesting. I hope you see the obvious issues with having two classes of wilderness protection.
While I agree that the impact of larger amounts of people visiting will have more impact not matter what amount of education, there is still more that could be done in Yosemite considering that Pete Devine of the Yosemite Conservancy is a LNT Master Educator and I find that Yosemite has less education for front country visitors than other parks we go to. In the recent Yosemite Guide the LNT information is on page 10 and is one column that is title "Yosemite Guardians" and this is how it is for every issue. I mentioned a separate brochures because we have gotten them in other parks, like Yellowstone and it is handed to you on top of the newspaper guide that you get as you go through the entrance so it is easily seen. Other parks have a whole page in their guides about LNT. While there might not be a "dramatic" increase of people following LNT, every bit helps. Since this coming year 4th graders and their families get in free and it will be the 100th anniversary, maybe it is time that more focus on park stewardship and LNT be done not only in Yosemite but in other national parks.



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 12/13/2015 11:56AM by parklover.
Re: Yosemite National Park: Wilderness Stewardship Plan — Public Scoping Period now open
January 27, 2016 05:08PM
Just a friendly PSA update for those of you who haven't gotten your comments submitted yet--you have until Friday, January 29.
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