Yosemite Valley vehicle traffic

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longri
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Re: Yosemite Valley vehicle traffic

Post by longri » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:10 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:People will use public transportation when it becomes more efficient and pleasant than driving thier own car.
Every year or so I revisit the options for traveling to Yosemite Valley by public transportation from San Francisco. And every year I discover the same thing. Public transportation takes longer, costs more, and is inflexible. So I drive.

I saw a poster/advertisement in a BART station a few days ago. It read something like "BART to Yosemite". Ha! I wish. BART is just the first (and relatively short and painless) leg in that journey.

All of these years since the proposed plan to restrict private automobiles in the eastern part of Yosemite Valley and what has the park done to improve public transportation in the meantime? Can anyone name one thing? I don't think they're serious about it.








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Re: Yosemite Valley vehicle traffic

Post by k9mark » Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:34 pm

Would a rail system be feasible? A large parking area/s outside the park with access into the valley proper by train? The valley floor would be foot traffic only?
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longri
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Re: Yosemite Valley vehicle traffic

Post by longri » Tue Oct 31, 2017 11:11 pm

There was a train in the first half of the twentieth century. It didn't go all the way into Yosemite Valley though. The terminus was El Portal. But for a time it did carry passengers.

A train all the way to Curry Half Dome Village? You'd still need a road so that means additional space for the sets of tracks. My guess is it wouldn't be the best solution.

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Re: Yosemite Valley vehicle traffic

Post by gdurkee » Mon Dec 11, 2017 8:24 pm

As a side note, traffic this summer was especially bad. There was a lot of road construction and constant rerouting, even at peak visitor times.

I was reminiscing with a friend a couple of days ago about attending the first master plan presentation in the Valley in '72 (? -- maybe '71). Then, the plan was as many of you have mentioned, to establish parking outside the Valley and bus people in. There was a lot of talk about restoring the old RR grade along the Merced River and some pretty wild ideas of getting something into the Valley. I remember giving a talk at Housekeeping amphitheater, telling people about the plan and, afterwards, being greeted by dozens of pretty unhappy RV owners who, of course, didn't want to be deprived of their right to come into the Valley.

External parking, public transportation and even permitted vehicle use for, say, RVs looks good but the real problem is one of geography and terrain. There is just no place to put a acres and acres of parking until you get to Midpines or, likely, Mariposa. Then, of course, transit hubs to handle whatever public transportation you come up with. Buses are probably the only practical solution -- it's hard for me to imagine the design and permitting problems involved in getting rail or something in.

But clearly some brilliant plan is needed. It was gridlock this summer (exacerbated, of course, by construction). In spite of all my years around Yosemite and planning, I have no idea what can be done. Likely a reservation only access to the Valley. It would have to be enforced with large blinking signs at Fresno, Merced etc. as well as roads leading down to the Valley (Tioga, of course, is a through highway and can't be blocked). Another friend told me the other day that there were probably only 2,000 (?? I'll have to check on that but think it's correct) parking spots in the Valley. And there's no other place you can put mass parking that doesn't already have it., So there's your limit right there.

Of course, the problem is summer and even early spring. I was there 2 weeks ago and almost no one there (relatively speaking). A pleasant fall day.

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Re: Yosemite Valley vehicle traffic

Post by SSSdave » Tue Dec 12, 2017 8:42 pm

Wonder why you say Midpines since that is such a long ways? The Big Meadows suggestion has been the most obvious although it is true that those that hate any plan for external parking usually try to dismiss it for lame reasons. Now they can't use arguments about it being environmentally sensitive because its burned up like a crispy critter twice over the last 4 decades.

Just look at this map, switch to the Satellite tab then zoom in. A huge area of a half square mile. Still looks brown after the last fire a few years ago. Others have whined about those people living in Foresta not wanting it nearby. Well it is inside the National Park boundaries so those few are there as a courtesy and on borrowed time regardless.

Coming in on SR41 is this burned area too:

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.66862,-119.72549&z=15&t=T

Not as ideal as it is not as level but then similar terrain to many parking lots at large ski areas. The nice thing at 5k it is usually below the snow line. Along the Merced on SR140 there is little possible though some have suggested here:

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.67144,-119.79840&z=15&t=T

A modest sized area but that would uproot a modest number of park folks that have lived there for decades. They would need to be accommodated elsewhere. So the real location for most parking would be Big Meadow, just 5 miles from the valley at Pohono Bridge. But as noted that is where the external parking haters are most desperate to reject it as they know it could actually be THE solution.

I continue to say lets move ahead, the issue only will get worse, stop listening to selfish monkeywrenchers, be pragmatic, and DO IT!
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Re: Yosemite Valley vehicle traffic

Post by gdurkee » Wed Dec 13, 2017 2:15 pm

I must rise in gentle remonstrance that because a meadow -- or anywhere else -- burns up like a crispy critter that it's somehow not environmentally sensitive. The one does not preclude the other, quite the opposite. The early arguments (ca' 1970s) were that Big Meadow was an important example of a low elevation meadow, of which there are few in Yosemite. While the fires that went through were pretty hot, they were not outside what would have happened had fire been a common part of the ecosystem. With the acres of burned trees it's become a haven for woodpeckers feeding on the insects in the standing burned trees. The open slopes are now going to various brush species bringing in more deer and other interdependent species that weren't there when it was a dense pine monoculture.

The forest/meadow interface is a critical part of any diverse ecosystem. Owls and raptors use the surrounding trees to wait for prey species as well as nest in the area. In addition, much of the meadow itself is a wetland supporting aquatic species and insects. I don't know how active management of the meadow is, but there's also quite possibly small islands of perennial grasses that used to cover California before sheep and cattle so drastically changed species composition. There have been very active efforts throughout our national parks to restore both native grasslands and associated fen and wetlands. I'll mention specifically Happy Isles as an incredible example of the restoration of a parking lot to fen. It's truly great. It's a great place to sit and listen to the small streams and watch the dozens of bird species taking advantage of the insects that have also been brought back. The same is happening in Sequoia park at Halstead Meadow.

We are back, yet again, to what a National Park is for and how to manage what's there. We tend to imagine parks as being there only for their most dramatic features or sometimes their most obvious megafauna. So, Yosemite for it's cliffs, Yellowstone for buffalo and elk. The good news, for us selfish monkeywrenchers anyway, is the last 50 years or so of park philosophy and science recognizes the complex relationships involved in a national park; the recognition that a meadow, however crispy, is still a vital part of a complex ecosystem that makes up Yosemite. I like to think neither you nor anyone else would argue for a large parking area in Tuolumne Meadows. Big Meadow is no less important to Yosemite's ecosystem and character. In this case, it was decided long ago that Big Meadow and the surrounding Foresta area is too ecologically important for a parking lot. I cannot imagine how any NPS administration would ever allow one there.

I'd also like to make a small plea here that, while I cheerfully admit there are very practical arguments for adding more infrastructure to accommodate visitors or allow a variety of uses that are sometimes controversial, it would be good if we could all maintain the basics of a respectful demeanor. So, in this case, words like "whining", "selfish monkeywrenchers", "parking haters" kinda takes away from recognizing each other's otherwise brilliant and insightful observations about parks and the human condition.

I remain, respectfully,

George

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Re: Yosemite Valley vehicle traffic

Post by SSSdave » Thu Dec 14, 2017 4:14 pm

George though I appreciate your professional view point like others who have likewise thankyou, it is also true there are others with professional backgrounds that disagree though this forum is not a place to argue about details. However I will note if one includes low elevation Sierra Nevada meadows at 4k to 5.5k outside park boundaries, they are not all that uncommon. From my side of the fence it has always looked to us like monkeywrenching. As noted there are many all too ready to put forth what we see as weak arguments that absolutely hate the notion of not being able to drive their precious vehicles into the park regardless of how awful it ever gets plus the many local region tourist businesses against such. Like your first input they prefer act like Big Meadow is not even on the table obviously because it such a weak position.

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