Comments to Half Dome Stewardship Plan

 Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

     I want to publically thank Ms. Echo Davenport of the Yosemite Planning group’s Project Management team for alerting me to the release of the public comments to the Half Dome Stewardship Plan.  They are developing the “Final Solution” to what will happen with the cables. It will be cast in concrete in November 2011.  I find their cover photo odd – since we are talking about the backside of Half Dome – not theface. Click to enlarge.

     The purpose of the Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan is to provide long-term management of the Half Dome route in a manner that is consistent with the Wilderness Act and the NPS Organic Act and that provides unimpeded travel conditions.  “Unimpeded” up the cables? What if people freeze?  This is a real hairball that the park got saddled with.

     As part of the process, they did an outreach to the public in late spring of 2010 for our comments on the direction the plan should go. Did YOU send one in?  Yes, I did. Of the 40,000 people who hiked Half Dome in 2010 – and the 50-80,000 annually in years past, only 96 comments (361 ideas) were received. So don’t complain when the final ink dries. My theme was for more education prior to a hike and the use of webinars to communicate info to the public. You can read all the comments <HERE>.  I hope they will give us a status update at he Spring YC Forum March 25.  

     The Planning group has moved on to Alternative Development. I’ll try to keep you posted as to developments. Remember – one alternative is to take the cables down. That was a suggestion by someone from “Wilderness Watch.” Their self-proclaimed mission is: “to protect the lands and waters in the 110 million-acre National Wilderness Preservation System.” Give your opinion Park folks read this blog!

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “How lavish is Nature: building, pulling down, creating destroying chasing every material particle from form to form, ever changing ever beautiful.” – John Muir, 1869

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

About Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch

Mr Half Dome. Has written the only half dome hiking guide, One Best Hike: Yosemite's Half Dome. Has hiked it 31 times to day. Lives in San Jose, CA Available for presentations. Carpe Diem Experience, LLC
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5 Responses to Comments to Half Dome Stewardship Plan

  1. Rick Mengel says:

    Thank you for calling attention, and providing a link, to the public scoping comments. I was one of the 96 – letter 24. I’m from PA, and visited Yosemite for the first time in 2009. I climbed the Half Dome and found the experience to be absolutely exhilarating! I’m truly hoping that common sense will prevail, and that the Stewardship Plan will recognize and preserve the outstandingly remarkable value of the Halfdome hiking experience. I’m returning to Yosemite this July, hoping to hike the HD with my teenage daughter. I’ll be hunched over my computer keyboard on April 1, hoping to snag 2 permits. Thanks for your tips!

  2. Dean says:

    Sorry this is a bit long…

    I was reading the Wilderness Act today, it’s actually quite a nice read for a piece of govt legislation. This part is interesting…

    “…each agency administering any area designated as
    wilderness shall be responsible for preserving the wilderness
    character of the area and shall so administer such area for
    such other purposes for which it may have been established
    as also to preserve its wilderness character.”

    Now the tricky thing with legislation is interpretation…to me this section of the act is fairly clear, any agency in charge of a wilderness area must do all it can to preserve that wilderness. Here’s someone else’s interpretation of that same section…

    “This means that the evidence of man’s works must not be allowed to become any more visible than it was at the time the land was designated
    as Wilderness and added to the System.”

    This seems quite fair to me…if there is already some man made stuff in the wilderness, don’t make it any worse. Contrast this with the request made in Half Dome public scoping for removal of the cables…

    “We recognize that the cable system has been in place for many years, long before the Yosemite Wilderness was designated. But like many traditional activities or uses, the system is no longer compatible with broader public goals for the area.”

    So this commentator wants a man made structure, in place long before the Wilderness Act, removed – a structure that is barely visible until you are just about standing next to it.

    Here we have two different interpretations of the same section of the Wilderness Act…unsurprising? Well it would be but these quite different views on the interpretation of the Wilderness Act come from the same conservation group.

    I think they need to make up their mind before they comment further.

  3. Maureen Lahiff says:

    I did send in a comment, too, thanks to Mr. HD giving us the info.

    I don’t recognize my comments in the summary, but I agree with Kathy that HD shouldn’t be classified as a wilderness hike.

    I don’t think the Mist Trail should be wilderness either, at least to the top of Vernal Fall. Ditto for Upper Yosemite Falls. I enjoy these hikes, but seek solitude on other trails!

    As I said in my comment, I think starting from the perspective that it’s wilderness is the wrong way to think about keeping Half Dome safe and enjoyable for those who appreciate it.

    As an analogy, I suggest Angels Landing in Zion. The chains to get up the last part of that hike raise similar issues of traffic as Half Dome. In my experience, people on the last part of that hike are pretty helpful and patient with taking turns one-way up or down traffic.

  4. Kathy says:

    Thanks, Rick, for posting. Good read. Of course my concern remains – to allow HD to be a good, although challenging, hiking experience in a way that has folks prepared and honors the balance between preserving our Parks and allows us to experience our park to the totality of our ability. I am in the camp that says the nature of the HD hike is not truely a wilderness experience and should be considered more in the category of a Yosemite Valley Hike – with the need to prepare people that it is a very strenuous hike – make the education available, and as frustrating as the permit system can be -it does allow for both crowd control and an element of time for needed preparation and education, etc. But all of this aside, what concerns me most is the 96 responses – and I was one of them. The NPS did not have things in place that allowed for a comprehensive public response because limited dates and locations without “tech” in place to participant through online conferencing etc., did not allow for full participation of many who could have added to this conversation. Especially those at a distance who do visit the Park on a regular basis.

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