Today’s webinar was a great outreach by the park to present the 2012 process and a bit of the Environmental Assessment segment of the Half Dome Stewardship Plan. We had overwhelming participation. So much that the phone line burped and they had to set up one with greater capacity. I don’t have the total count but I’d guess about 40 callers. Usually, the CISCO webex system has audio right from the presenter to avoid the phone jam. Dunno why not this time.
The NPS people on the call were the big kahunas for the cables project. Remember these names: Echo Davenport, Planning Compliance Mgr; Ed Dunlavey, Wilderness Mgr; Mark Marschall, former Wilderness Mgr and Cables lead; Mark Fincher, Senior Wilderness Ranger.
To refresh you, 2 of the guiding numbers are the PAOT – persons at one time on the cables and the times for free flowing conditions. Past studies revealed that a PAOT of 30 would result in an easy down in case of an emergency and 70 would be the bare minimum for perceived safety. Also, the goal is 23 minutes for an UP unimpeded ascent and 19 mins DOWN.
This slide was given and explained away.
They showed a series of PowerPoints that rehashed what you read in the EA (You did read it?). The goal is NOT to provide “solitude” in the purest sense of the word, but to reduce crowding i.e. to “protect and enhance the wilderness character” on the Half Dome trail. NOTE they are talking the last 2 miles to Half Dome as well as the cables.
The preso ran about 40 minutes; then 20 for Q&A. Some didn’t really answer the real question but gave the EA answer.
1. No-shows will be replaced by the 2-day advance permit lottery.
2. Guide services will really be impacted. As little as only 2 groups for 15 each to NO commercial trips.
3. Wilderness permit holders will have to pay the $5 per HD permit also.
4. The 3rd cable idea was said to NOT reduce trail overcrowding.
5. The winners of the lottery will be drawn by a computer program managed by recreation.gov (oh boy!).
6. If the cables are taken down (option E) then the holes will be filled in and the park thinks only technically skilled climbers would be able to go up – governed by the same rules as current climbers (none). You and I know that people will put on sticky shoes and go up and then fall coming back down. Just check out YouTube.
Here are the milestones going forward. No dates given as they depend on how many comments they have to go through, but the goal is to have it all done and sealed for the 2013 season. Comments end March 15. NOTE: The Merced Plan is due July 2013 and it could override the HD Stewardship Plan. So climb it while you can.
Minutes of today will be posted on the NPS HDSP website.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning. I’d hammer in the evening, all over this land. I’d hammer out danger. I’d hammer out a warning. I’d hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters. All over this land.” – Trini Lopez
*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com