$13 million Upgrade To Bridalveil Falls Area

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$13 million Upgrade To Bridalveil Falls Area

Post by maverick » Wed Mar 28, 2018 5:38 pm

The Mercury News:
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK — Bridalveil Fall is the first breathtaking waterfall that millions of visitors see when they first enter Yosemite Valley. Its pounding, cascading waters roar down 620 feet, gracing countless vacation photos and framing legendary images from Ansel Adams and other famed photographers.

But the area, one of Yosemite National Park’s iconic locations, is marred by old, smelly pit toilets, a congested parking lot and cramped, crumbling asphalt trails, all dating back decades. Now, Yosemite officials are putting the final touches on plans for a $13 million restoration of the area, with half the funding coming from a nonprofit group, the Yosemite Conservancy, based in San Francisco.

The new plan will feature a larger parking lot, modern flush toilets, interpretive signs and wider hiking trails with wooden boardwalks and more accessible features designed in the classic granite and pine national park style of the 1930s.

“The falls is doing fine, but the facilities at the base of the falls haven’t changed since the 1960s,” said Frank Dean, president of the Yosemite Conservancy, and a former ranger at Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Sequoia national parks. “Until last month there was still a phone booth there. It’s like a time warp. It needs a makeover.”

Yosemite officials are putting the final touches on a $13 million restoration plan of the area, with half the funding coming from a Bay Area non-profit group, the Yosemite Conservancy. The new plan will feature a larger parking lot, modern flush toilets, interpretive signs and wider hiking trails with wooden boardwalks and more accessible features designed in the classic granite and pine national park style. The project will begin in the spring of 2019 and be completed a year later.

Yosemite officials began the process last year. They released an environmental study in February, and expect to finalize plans this summer. Construction on the trails should begin this fall, with the heavy work starting next spring, and the entire project finished a year later, in 2020. Bridalveil Fall will remain open next year during construction, Dean said.

“The parking lot gets clogged. It’s not configured well. And the bathroom literally stinks,” said Scott Gediman, a spokesman for Yosemite National Park. “There are safety concerns on the trail going to the falls. Sometimes it’s a sheet of ice, and people fall.

“The goal is preserving the area,” Gediman added, “getting people to the falls, improving the trails, getting as much parking as we can and making it more of an experience, just like at Lower Yosemite Falls.”

The blueprint calls for expanding the parking lot by about 24 spaces to hold 80 cars, but reconfiguring the lot so that it doesn’t grow significantly in size. The old compost toilet bathrooms with four stalls will be torn down and replaced with 14 flush toilets.

A new gathering, viewing, and orientation plaza will be added near the restrooms. It will include benches and signs describing the history, wildlife and geology of the area. The new design includes bear boxes, animal-proof trash and recycling receptacles, and upgraded, re-routed trails, with two viewing platforms instead of one.

Asphalt on the trails will be removed but stone bridges built by the U.S. Cavalry in the years before 1916, when park rangers were first appointed to Yosemite, will remain.

“It seems like it will be better. The way it is now is a mess,” said Alan Carlton of Alameda, chair of the Sierra Club’s Yosemite Committee. “We support the plan. We don’t want more development on that end of the valley, but this isn’t really expanding development.”

Park officials also plan to cut down about 100 conifer trees that limit views of the falls, as part of a national parks policy that allows trimming and cutting back trees and other vegetation to improve views that have become blocked over the years in places that historically were not as thick with vegetation.

“We continue to strive for the balance of visitor access and resource preservation,” said Gediman. “We have a dilapidated facility and we are looking to minimize the impact on the natural environment and maximize the visitor experience.”

Half of the money for the project came to Yosemite as part of an obscure law, the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013. Under the law, signed by President Obama, the federal government is selling some of the massive amounts of helium it has stockpiled in an underground facility in Amarillo, Texas, since the 1920s, and $50 million of the proceeds is going to national parks for maintenance projects that have matching funding from private donors. The helium reserve was set up to provide helium for dirigibles and airships, but then was used in military applications during the Cold War. Yosemite applied for, and got a $6.5 million grant from the fund, and the Yosemite Conservancy agreed to put up $6.5 million to match it.

Since 1988, the conservancy has donated roughly $120 million to Yosemite National Park in private donations. The money has paid for major upgrades to facilities around Lower Yosemite Falls, Glacier Point, Tunnel View, Olmstead Point and other locations. One of the conservancy’s projects, a renovation of the trails and facilities at Mariposa Grove, the giant sequoia grove on Yosemite’s southern edges, opens in June to the public following construction.

“There’s a tremendous need to have facilities for visitors,” said Brian Ouzounian, co-founder of the Yosemite Valley Campers Coalition, a group that advocates for more camping facilities in the park. “It’s a long, winding road into the valley. I had a disabled brother. I know what it’s like to need a comfort station and the proper facilities. This project is long overdue.”
https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/03/28/ ... fall-area/


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Re: $13 million Upgrade To Bridalveil Falls Area

Post by John Harper » Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:39 pm

Too bad Delaware North doesn't have the same generosity or community spirit, and replace the proper names within YNP.

John

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Re: $13 million Upgrade To Bridalveil Falls Area

Post by longri » Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:54 pm

Well it's not as if it's free. Half of that money is coming from the government, which means you and me.

These sorts of development projects always strike me as being very expensive for what you get. Two dozen extra parking spots? It's still going to be a full lot and the toilets will likely be a mess, just like the overbuilt bathroom house near Lower Yosemite Fall. Adding walkways, signs, and an orientation plaza? Just more Disneyfication of a natural setting.

I notice the plan includes cutting down 100 trees.

I'm not a fan of the Conservancy. I recently read how lodging in Yosemite has an "optional" donation to the Conservancy that is "automatically included" in your bill. To not donate you have to opt out in person, assuming you noticed the fine print in the first place.

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Re: $13 million Upgrade To Bridalveil Falls Area

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Mar 29, 2018 4:35 pm

I am not against selectively taking down a few trees. I have walked around there and it IS really hard to see the falls. Yosemite Valley is becoming more forested over time. So what is the "real" Yosemite? The tree coverage when John Muir first saw it? Today? I suspect it will be similar to the changes they made at Yosemite Falls. At first I thought it was stupid. The last few times I have been in Yosemite, I have taken the time to walk around and it does not strike me as "Disneyifcation" at all. Public bathrooms area always a problem. And the overall over-crowding, whether the improvements are made or not. I do hope in the plan they will expand the shuttle busses to go all the way to Bridalveil Falls.

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Re: $13 million Upgrade To Bridalveil Falls Area

Post by John Harper » Thu Mar 29, 2018 4:56 pm

I have no problem providing access to disabled people to enjoy Yosemite. They are "you and me" as well. Lots of these improvements make people who wil never get to do the things we do at least get a taste of nature. I teach many high school age "special education" students, and to allow them access that others have is not only fair, it's what real Americans do and are proud of. That's American exceptionalism.

$13 million is one month of golf weekends at Mar-a-Lago for President Trump. Why not complain about that? To me, that's damn expensive for what we get.

John

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Re: $13 million Upgrade To Bridalveil Falls Area

Post by longri » Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:21 pm

John Harper wrote:I have no problem providing access to disabled people to enjoy Yosemite. They are "you and me" as well. Lots of these improvements make people who wil never get to do the things we do at least get a taste of nature. I teach many high school age "special education" students, and to allow them access that others have is not only fair, it's what real Americans do and are proud of. That's American exceptionalism.
That's a very good point. Yosemite Valley isn't wilderness. It's probably mandated that such access be provided. On top of that the condition of the Bridalveil Falls area has been embarrassingly bad for years. But I think they have a tendency to use too heavy a hand when it comes to projects like this. The NPS loves bulldozers and dump trucks. After all who will miss 100 trees? That's how they "protect natural resources".

John Harper wrote:$13 million is one month of golf weekends at Mar-a-Lago for President Trump. Why not complain about that? To me, that's damn expensive for what we get.
That's just a silly thing to say. Of course enormous amounts of money are wasted in countless ways. If money were that easy to come by then why begrudge DNC a few tens of millions? The fact is that it is a lot of money that is being spent on this project, money that won't be going to other things.

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Re: $13 million Upgrade To Bridalveil Falls Area

Post by John Harper » Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:53 pm

longri wrote:
John Harper wrote:$13 million is one month of golf weekends at Mar-a-Lago for President Trump. Why not complain about that? To me, that's damn expensive for what we get.
That's just a silly thing to say. Of course enormous amounts of money are wasted in countless ways. If money were that easy to come by then why begrudge DNC a few tens of millions? The fact is that it is a lot of money that is being spent on this project, money that won't be going to other things.
Not silly, just an example of $13 million of government spending. Not sure what DNC is. Definitely agree we all like our goodies and spend too much.

John

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Re: $13 million Upgrade To Bridalveil Falls Area

Post by rlown » Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:56 pm

Don't bring Trump into the discussion. Or politics for that matter.

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Re: $13 million Upgrade To Bridalveil Falls Area

Post by longri » Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:07 pm

John Harper wrote:Not silly, just an example of $13 million of government spending. Not sure what DNC is. Definitely agree we all like our goodies and spend too much.
I meant it's silly to use government (or other) wasteful spending as an excuse for more wasteful spending.

DNC is the corporation you first used in a kind of weird way to lend support for this project.

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Re: $13 million Upgrade To Bridalveil Falls Area

Post by Cross Country » Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:40 pm

13 millon (thirteen millon)!! OMG.
Despite the fact that what made Longri write this makes me think he's an ideologue, I must say that 13 millon is a lot of money. Someone wrote here that there is NO MONEY for the backcountry (killing fish). My educated opinion is that that is pure BS. I have to think that many people here can appreciate what 13 millon is to 13 thousand. 1000 to 1 (one thousand to one!!!!!). OMG again. To think that the gov is spending no money (NO MONEY!!!!!!!!) to kill fish is pure unadulterated BS. What kind of idiot wouldn't understand the ratios here?
ONE THOUSAND TO ONE.
If there is 13 million spent for this thing, think about how much must be spent to kill fish. AND how the h--- could anyone who doesn't believe in magic think that killing fish is good (maybe apeasing the gods?)

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