NPS Half Dome scoping Meeting recap

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
On June 16 I attended the subject meeting. The attendance was abysmal. 11 total people for 2 presentations. Many of those from the 4:30 session stayed thru the 8:30. I saw no one from the blog there. Apathy? Or just too hard to get to Berkeley at 4 pm?

Is there anybody OUT THERE?

The park did its due diligence: 4 staff came down. Mark Marschall, Wilderness Mgr; Mark Fichner, Senior Wilderness Ranger; Donna Sisson, Interpretation and Echo Davenport, Project Management.

Mark Marschall

Mark Fichner

Donna Sisson

Echo Davenport

Salient points:
* There is nothing sacred about the cables; they are not grandfathered in for protection historically or otherwise.  They CAN be taken out.
* The NPS is only focused on the overcrowding situation and not a global concern. They need to provide an escape route off the cables so people can manage their own risk. They are concerned with the last 2 miles of the Half Dome trail.
* The refuse to pursue removing Half Dome from the congressional designation of Wilderness.
* Installation of another set of cables will not be considered.
* They have only received 26 written electronic comments. Remember, up to 80,000 people do this hike annually. Hello?
* PSAR (Preventative Search and Rescue) will be at the Happy Isles trailhead of the JMT at 5 am on Fridays to educate. Not other weekdays.
* There is little staff and money to carry out the program. The existing wilderness budget is covering the permit program and the additional Rangers. Yosemite has to pay the people to administer the Cables permits. That is where the $1.50 fee comes in.
* They’ll propose 3 alternatives: 1) Take the cables down, 2) Limit access via a permanent permit system, 3) Leave things as they were in 2009. My money is on #2.
* Many suggestions were offered and written down from the 11 die-hards at the meeting. These will be captured.  We talked about a way to turn in unused permits – there is no money to manage such a system now. Also, a way to have walk-up permits issued.
* I suggested that there be human to human education before a permit is granted – similar to the Wilderness Permit program. It was embellished to reduce resource time by having group presentations scheduled that hikers would have to attend. 

June 25 is the deadline for your comments. Send <HERE>.

To learn more about the Program click <HERE>.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Aside from mere money profit one would rather herd wolves than sheep.” – John Muir, 1869
*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –


13 Responses to “NPS Half Dome scoping Meeting recap”

  1. Sönke Says:

    Thanks for attending the meeting for US and thanks for the summary. It is a frustrating low number of people showing up. 😦 It just confirms what I’ve been thinking for a long time: very few people really appreciate nature – for most of them it’s just “Oh yeah, let’s do this awesome hike – take a picture – call Mom from top of Half Dome – have a beer afterwards – FUGGITABOUTIT”. Sad but true and it applies to National Parks, State Parks and Wilderness areas everywhere. It’s not just a Half Dome or Yosemite thing.

    I hope Half Dome will be accessible for all of us in the future. However it looks like a permanent permit system is unavoidable.

    Rick: thanks again for spending YOUR time and money so WE all might continue to enjoy the Half Dome experience.

    • mrhalfdome Says:

      Good thoughts. I think we are im the Wii generation – people may even be able to buy a Half dome game so they can sit on the couch with Cheetos and a beer and virtually do the hike. Never leave your home!

  2. John Lauer Says:

    #4 Keep current permit system in place, and assess what works and what does not, and make alterations accordingly. Get permits sent out to people more than a week or two ahead of time, why can`t they send these out as soon as they are purchased? Create a better cable system. It is very obvious that a 3 cable up and down route would alleviate congestion and disorder to some extent. Plus, use better cable area equipment. Why in the world are they using cheap old wood boards? Crazy!

  3. John Lauer Says:

    26 comments, this is crazy and is the slim metting attendance. I will submit comments, will get the total above 30 straight away. Not even willing to consider a 3rd cable, this is criminally negligent.

  4. John Lauer Says:

    1st comment to Yosemite: Why have they allowed the Tioga pass webcam to stay broken since early December 2009- outrageous ;p

  5. andy Says:

    For me I had a business obligation. Have to pay for those permits 🙂

    Man, the constant repeat of removing the cables is scary. I hope your right about retaining the permit system. Isn’t that ironic, now I’m hoping for permits.

  6. John Lauer Says:

    They won`t remove the permit system. Smart move, who knows how many 1000s of people would have eventually decided to all hike to HD summit on Summer Saturdays , most at 1PM. One thing, I noticed at Yosemite, that I have never experienced before, what`s with all the POOP on the trails. I mean, can`t people who are riding stock up, somehow outfit the animals so the poop isn`t all over the trails? This was all over John Muir trail even close to HD itself

  7. Andrew Says:

    With the permit system, I have to be lucky enough to get a permit for the climb and then I have to be lucky enough to get reservations for the campground on the same dates. I’m usually not to lucky, last time I picked up a sea shell, I got a busy tone…………..

    • mrhalfdome Says:

      Good one Andrew.

      Guyz, do the math… if you count allt he days permits are required and multiply by the 400 permits given out each day, I think you end up with about 19,000 possible trips up HD in a season….Hmmm if 50-80,000 people did it last year…there are going to be a lot of folks zipped out of the trip now. sigh

      • John Lauer Says:

        Yes, what is the low-down on how the permit system has worked thus far? Any people getting sent down who tried to go up without permits? Just think of all the permits that got purchased and are going unused, also… Yes, guilty!

    • John Lauer Says:

      You should have got Verizon

  8. Scott Baines Says:

    The principal problem is that so many people want to use the cable system that safety is compromised. The NPS-proposed solutions are basically: let far fewer people use it; let no one use it.

    I have great respect for the individuals of the NPS but this sounds like a case of classic bureaucratic logic. What would make the most sense is a permit system and a second set of cables with a designation that one set is for ascent and the other for descent. Frankly, the public comment process also comes off as a bit of a sham when they come into it with a precondition that they will not even consider an additional cable route.

    • mrhalfdome Says:

      That’s what happens when population and thus participation increase. The same thing happended when they first instituted Wilderness Permits. The early brid catches the worm. I hope you send you comments into the NPS.

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