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New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby Hobbes » Sat Jan 17, 2015 6:43 am

HikeSierraNevada wrote:Whitney has an exit permit for those starting from any TH within Inyo.


There are a couple of differences between Whitney & Donohue that render this a poor comparison:

First, the vast majority of permits issued from Whitney are two-way for those entering & returning from/to Portal. Exit permits are basically an administrative procedure to keep track of others returning from points north, south & west. In order to provide a similar comparison, people would have to be primarily hiking from TM to Donohue and back.

Second, Whitney is a single, remote destination unto itself, whereas TM is the integrated heart of a very popular activity center, transit point and trail system. TM incorporates all kinds of activities, including casual strollers, day hikers, thru-hikers, campers, etc. Whitney permits can be (and are) checked at the beginning of the zone @ Lone Pine lake because that is a natural choke point - there is nowhere else to go. To the contrary, TM has trips originating both within and external to the park - it's a natural hub from/to all the surrounding NFs.

Third, for those lacking an 'official' exit permit to Portal, to my knowledge there isn't any enforcement for those electing to exit there rather than return to their stipulated exit. This makes sense for a couple of reasons, one, people are often physically unable to continue back to wherever they originally planned to hike, and two, Portal is the terminus, so they are exiting the trail.

To properly compare trail policing of Whitney to the JMT, the logical point would be placing a ranger above Nevada falls - just like they already have now for Half Dome. All YNP needs to do to manage their respective system is to determine the number of entry permits for each respective TH within the park (eg TM, HI, GP, etc) that people might wish to utilize in order to gain access to the JMT that they can directly control and be done with it.

That's all they can really do - given the particular circumstances and relationship TM plays, there are way too many variables in play to attempt to manage volume by simple, heavy handed proposals. If anyone recollects, management was trying to go down this path in the 90s for the Valley; if you recall that, then you'll remember the public backlash and withdrawal.

What I think we're really seeing is park management is loathe to admit that TM is going the way of the Valley. I think in their minds, the Valley was abandoned decades ago in terms of providing a quiet mountain experience, but TM was going to the their last redoubt. Now that it is in effect falling to the same ill effects of popularity (ah, the curse of beauty & access), whether from spill over from those skipping the Valley altogether, PCT/JMT thru-hikers, etc, they are displaying classic a Kubler-Ross response cycle before they finally accept what is occurring.



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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Jan 17, 2015 9:42 am

If only everyone were not so stubbornly tied to some "defined" and "big name" route. I see it as a total lack of creativity and overblown need for bragging rights. But unfortunately, that is today's reality. Another problem is that everyone reads JMT guides and then plan their days exactly the same, overusing and overcrowding a handful of available campsites. Also, few are willing to move off trail, even a quarter mile, to camp unseen from the trail. All this calls for better education of the public. I fear it will eventually come down to designated campsites where you have to commit to specific camps, each with a limit (this is what is done in a lot of Canadian national parks). It would be far better if the backpacking community simply regulated itself with common sense.

An off-the-wall "solution" unlikely to fly with the authorities, is to throw in the towel, get the JMT corridor out of the "Wilderness" designation and change it to a "Recreational Area" designation. Allowing the current use and pretending it is "wilderness" is a joke. One thing or the other has to go.
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby markskor » Sat Jan 17, 2015 1:15 pm

Also had occasion yesterday to converse with the powers that be.

Agreed that with the recent high interest on "doing the Muir" - overcrowding, not obeying rules, trash, saturated trail quotas, etc...something must be implemented that satisfies all concerned. Exit quotas are not the answer - impossible to control where anyone (especially me) ends up.

As mentioned above, suggest taking certain overcrowded areas of the JMT/PCT out of the wilderness designation and introduce a new "special wilderness" designation (or whatever you want to name it) - miles long but only 200 yards wide. With a new trail category, one that is no longer governed by all the strict "wilderness act" rules...then they can introduce MUIR fees ($20/head for a JMT/PCT permit?), designated large campsites monitored by rangers, toilets built, and quotas expanded. Let those who use these areas pay nominally for the privilege of hiking the 220 mile, all too oft-requested trail.

Other crowded trails Sierra should also be included/ part the problem too, specifically Half Dome and the Mt. Whitney corridors ...when 100+ individuals pass through one trail in a single day, this is not wilderness any longer. As also mentioned above, sections of these trails are now freeways, and even though crowded, still need/deserve protection. As long as the Wilderness designation remains attached, realistically, nothing can be done.

Maybe just make separate thru quotas...one specifically for the MUIR with strict rules attached for camping in crowded areas - rangers who check - and another quota for all other wilderness trails.
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby HikeSierraNevada » Sat Jan 17, 2015 1:20 pm

I've avoided interjecting too much of my person opinion in this matter, but the last few posts sum it up. I think the west side entry system needs to be tweaked. I think there are too many complications with an exit permit without a lot more analysis and public input. IMHO, the exit permit option should be considered under a more comprehensive planning effort, not as an interim solution. These things are hard to undo once they are in place.

Lastly, I think public education should be given a chance. Explain the problem and ask for cooperation on park websites, social media, and when people pick up their permit. Make it a standard part of the bear lecture. There will always be noncompliance, but a large percentage of hikers will adjust their camping plans to help solve a problem; once its explained to them and good alternatives are presented. That's my $0.02 Please keep the respectful discussion going.
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby maverick » Thu Jan 29, 2015 10:47 am

Update:

New JMT exit quota information will be updating on NPS JMT home page, and their
posting a FAQ sheet at 1000 am this (1/29/15) morning.
The change will be effective in the permit centers beginning 2/2/15.
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby ERIC » Thu Jan 29, 2015 1:13 pm

On Thu, Jan 29, 2015 at 12:10 PM, Dunlavey, Ed wrote:

Over the last several years, Yosemite National Park has noted a significant increase in demand for permits to hike the John Muir Trail (JMT). From 2011 to now, there has been a 100% increase in JMT permits requested. The trail’s rising popularity has strained the traditional methods that hikers use and access the JMT. The increased number of JMT hikers has made it difficult for non-JMT hikers to obtain wilderness permits for other trails within Yosemite National Park. Also during this same time, the NPS has noted an increase in the number of resource related impacts within the Sunrise Creek and Lyell Canyon. Finally, some wilderness camps along the trail in Yosemite have seen a sharp increase in overnight users, which negatively impacts the quality of the visitor experience.

To protect access for other hikers and preserve the quality of the JMT experience, Yosemite National Park will implement an exit quota on an interim basis. The exit quota will help the park to address access and resource concerns until a comprehensive approach can be developed through the Wilderness Stewardship Planning process. The interim quota will limit the number of hikers exiting the Yosemite Wilderness over Donohue Pass to 45 per day. The exit quota applies to all wilderness permits reserved or issued after February 2, 2015.

Traditional wilderness trailhead quotas are not being reduced. The interim solution will help to restore traditional wilderness use patterns, balance access for JMT hikers with non-JMT hikers in the Yosemite Wilderness, and reduce physical and social impacts. Additionally, the interim quota will allow Yosemite National Park to collect visitor use and impact data along the JMT. Yosemite National Park anticipates launching a planning process to develop an updated wilderness management plan this spring and invite all to participate.

For more information about the new exit quota and the rationale behind it visit: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/jmtfaq.htm

Here are some additional suggestions:

1) Please have your folks read the FAQ's. They will be posted at the link provided

2) Remember our goals. Restore a balance to available permits for thru hikers and Yosemite based hikers. Protect resources and provide a good visitor experience.

3) We will be more discerning on obvious work arounds to the exit quota resulting in denials.


Thanks,

Ed Dunlavey
Wilderness Manager
Yosemite National Park
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby markskor » Thu Jan 29, 2015 4:23 pm

Confused...so what else is new?

With only 45 exit permits now allowed...JMT quota allowed over Donahue, how does this "new" method make things easier for other hikes (other meaning any other hike other than the MUIR) in the Yosemite area?

If 45 permit requests are made in Tuolumne or Valley in one day- HI - LYV - Sunrise - TM, It would then appear nobody else would then be allowed on the same trail. Are not Half Domers in direct competition for these same slots from HI?

Are these 45 "extra" JMT slots, added to when coming out of TM, or are they just subtracted from the regular quota slots going Mammoth ways?
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby schmalz » Thu Jan 29, 2015 4:58 pm

I think the most likely change in backpacker behavior that we'll see is a large increase of people hiking up the PCT from Cottonwood Meadows. That is now by far the easiest way to do the whole JMT without worrying about red tape.
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby RichardCullip » Thu Jan 29, 2015 5:14 pm

markskor wrote:Confused...so what else is new?

With only 45 exit permits now allowed...JMT quota allowed over Donahue, how does this "new" method make things easier for other hikes (other meaning any other hike other than the MUIR) in the Yosemite area?

If 45 permit requests are made in Tuolumne or Valley in one day- HI - LYV - Sunrise - TM, It would then appear nobody else would then be allowed on the same trail. Are not Half Domers in direct competition for these same slots from HI?

Are these 45 "extra" JMT slots, added to when coming out of TM, or are they just subtracted from the regular quota slots going Mammoth ways?


It my understanding that there are about 100 daily permits available from the 5 most popular combinations of trailhead and first day destination (Lyell Canyon, Sunrise Lakes, Glacier Pt-LYV, Happy Isles-LYV and Happy Isles-Passthru). Under the old regulations, all of these were potentially available for JMT hikers. The new regulations are only going allow 45 out of the 100 or so daily permits for JMT hikers by applying an exit quota over Donohue Pass. In this way, the chances of obtaining a JMT permit will be less and the chances for a hike within Yosemite National Park boundaries will be greater. In addition, the chances for a walk-up permit to exit Yosemite National Park via Donohue (JMT) will be greatly reduced as only Lyell Canyon will have 10 permits a day set aside for walk-ups.
Last edited by RichardCullip on Fri Jan 30, 2015 8:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby HiSierra » Fri Jan 30, 2015 6:42 am

Yes, that's the intent, Markskor, to open up more slots for people traveling withing the park, thereby dispersing the camping impacts away from Sunrise and Lyell. More people will also start from NF trailheads adjacent to YNP.

In my discussions with Ed, I've been advocating better data to define the problem. Yeah, we know the interest is way up, but how is that really affecting the actual number of hikers on the trail? More importantly, how is that impacting the camp areas where the damage accumulates. In the case of Lyell Canyon, a lot of JMT hikers go over the pass in a day. All of the in-park hikers will be camping in the area. Who's doing more damage? Hard to say without better data.

I've also been advocating better public information about the specifics of the problem. Let people know there are two areas where camping has become concentrated, and they should try to avoid those (Sunrise area and Lyell Canyon). Show them these areas on a map, and alternative areas to camp, as part of the "bear lecture." A good percentage of hikers will want to avoid crowds, bears, and overused sites. But they have to know in advance. This info should be on the website for trip planning as well.

The exit permit is not the perfect tool to solve these problems, but it will probably help more than hurt things. Get involved in the upcoming Yosemite Wilderness Plan Update process where more solutions will be on the table, public input will be officially solicited, and hopefully better data will be available. Hiker feedback and creative ideas contribute to better outcomes.
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby tim » Fri Jan 30, 2015 7:11 am

Interesting that there's no link to finishing south of Reds Meadow. So that takes a southbound Tuolumne to Mammoth hike off the table. I guess the logic is that you can always do it in the opposite direction?
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Re: New Yosemite JMT Permit Rules?

Postby caddis » Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:02 am

3) We will be more discerning on obvious work arounds to the exit quota resulting in denials.



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