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Merced River Plan alternatives: comment period ends April 18

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Merced River Plan alternatives: comment period ends April 18

Postby oleander » Fri Apr 12, 2013 5:54 pm

What are people's thoughts on some of the Merced River Plan alternatives?

http://yosemiteblog.com/2013/04/10/dont ... iver-plan/

I would like to comment, before Yosemite's comment period ends on April 18th.

- Elizabeth



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Re: Merced River Plan alternatives: comment period ends April 18

Postby maverick » Fri Apr 12, 2013 6:37 pm

HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Merced River Plan alternatives: comment period ends April 18

Postby oleander » Fri Apr 12, 2013 6:49 pm

Yep. Saw that great thread. It was however about the Tuolumne River plan (for which the comment period has ended).

Looking for people's thoughts on the MERCED River Plan. We have until next Thursday to comment.

Thanks,
Elizabeth
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Re: Merced River Plan alternatives: comment period ends April 18

Postby maverick » Fri Apr 12, 2013 7:20 pm

You are correct that one was here: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=8860
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Merced River Plan alternatives: comment period ends April 18

Postby rlown » Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:19 pm

Thanks Mav for the pointers to the prior threads. I suggest everyone here sign up with the Yose or Seki planning site just so you know what's happening when. There is also a more broad NPS site at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/index.cfm

I see they're doing Boreal toad recovery in the Rocky Mountains. hmm. one of my favorite topics.

It also looks like the closing on the MRP is the 21st, but that doesn't mean you should wait. The full plan download is 98 Mbs so get cracking on the reading.

Russ
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Re: Merced River Plan alternatives: comment period ends April 18

Postby rlown » Fri Apr 12, 2013 9:30 pm

Oleander.. what do you think about plan? I don't generally hike there so..
What would your changes or recommendations for change be for this?

Russ
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Re: Merced River Plan alternatives: comment period ends April 18

Postby oldranger » Fri Apr 12, 2013 9:38 pm

I have 4 pages of notes so far. Most of my focus is on the river section upstream from Nevada Fall. As an old fart I see a value in maintaining Merced Lake HSC as it is and with current capacity. I do not view it as an intrusion on my wilderness experience as the visual impact of the site involves less than 200 yards of the river corridor. Regardless of the presence of the HSC Merced lake will always be a hub of backcountry use in the area because of the proximity to several trails. I have a real problem that the management plan for the Wild and Scenic River precedes the development of the more widespread and forthcoming Wilderness Management Plan. There is a risk that decisions made for the Wild and Scenic River Management could reduce your opportunities to visit areas upstream from Merced Lake and outside of the Wild and Scenic River corridor. Right now it appears that actions are being propose to avoid any risk that visitor use could impact Outstandingly Remarkable River Values (specific term used by Wild and Scenic Rivers Act) but these values have continued to exist under existing management (with a couple of exceptions which could be dealt with without reduicing use numbers. While management could use some tweaking more reduction in use than has occurred since the imposition of quotas seems unnecessary--note that at least one alternative, though not the preferred, eliminates the HSC (which houses about 60 people including about 50 guests) but there would be either no increase in the number of TH permits (guests are exempt from quota) consequently 50 to 60 fewer people per day would be able to pass thru Merced lake area. Where are they going to go?

They are also reducing the number of backpacker campsites in the valley under all except the no action alternatives. I will be suggesting that they increase the number and that people who enter the park using bicycles, on foot, or using public transportation being given one night free and allowed one other night at 5.00 to encourage the use of non personal motor vehicle use. The NPS seems intent on limiting motor vehicles by limiting parking and eventually limiting access rather than encouraging other means of access.

Oh yeah I have asked thru e-mail for a map of the wilderness area zones which are referred to in the document but which I have been unable to find. The NPS has not been responsive to my request which will give me the right to request and receive an extension for my comments.

Mike
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Re: Merced River Plan alternatives: comment period ends April 18

Postby LMBSGV » Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:23 pm

They are also reducing the number of backpacker campsites in the valley under all except the no action alternatives.


I'm not sure if that's correct. It says: "Retain 10 walk-in sites. Remove 15 walk-in sites within the 100-foot riparian buffer to be replaced by 16 walk-in sites west of Backpackers Campground."

I interpret that as there are 25 sites now and there will be 26 sites under the "Common to all alternatives."

As to the rest of the plan, it's a bit of a mess. Instead of a "Preferred Alternative" that integrates the best of the other alternatives, the "Preferred Alternative" seems to be an attempt to create a major reaction from various interest groups (from media coverage, it’s succeeded in doing exactly that). Then the park service can say we tried our best, but everybody was so unreasonable, so this is the best we can do. Unfortunately, I think this will result in another round of lawsuits and, thus, further delay in implementing a comprehensive plan for the Merced River and Yosemite Valley. I suspect this is what the commercial operators want since it will preserve the status quo for however many more years, but it's not what is best for Yosemite.

At this point, my comments are 9 pages since I decided to give them what I call "My Prefered Alternative," including items not mentioned in any alternative -- for example, getting rid of bicycle rentals at Curry Village and Yosemite Lodge is ridiculous -- why shouldn't people, especially families with children, be able to rent bikes to explore the Valley (Tom Stienstra ranted on this in the SF Chronicle a couple of weeks ago). I also did a drag-and-drop from various pieces of the other alternatives, which adds to the length of my comments. Unlike the Tuolumne Plan, which showed creative thinking about the current situation and an intelligent response, the Merced Plan exhibits a chaotic, no-one-is-in-charge-here reaction.

Larry
Last edited by LMBSGV on Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Merced River Plan alternatives: comment period ends April 18

Postby oleander » Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:36 pm

From what I understand from my limited reading of public comments so far, this whole process is lawsuit-driven and focused around the river, not with the more comprehensive management/environmental perspective as one might wish. The Park has to comply with a judge's order to protect the Merced River, narrowly defined. Yosemite's head of planning has basically admitted that most of the planning decisions are being forced by Park Service lawyers.

I'm greatly concerned that a step taken to reduce impact on the riverbank might actually have the effect of INCREASING environmental impact somewhere else. The most obvious example is that the bike rental facilities are all going to be shut down - why? - because they are located near the river! So what are people going to do that day if they can't rent a bike? That's right - they're going to get in their cars, and make more traffic.

"They are also reducing the number of backpacker campsites in the valley under all except the no action alternatives.."

That took me by surprise as well! What possible benefit could it be to reduce backpacker campsites? My experience is that the existence of the backpacker campsites encourages me to arrive by public transit or by hitchhiking. If not bringing a car into the Valley gets me something that people with cars CAN'T have - namely, a guaranteed and cheap place to camp - then I'm going to leave the car at home or outside the park. So I wonder what the backstory is. Is the backpacker's campground located too close to the river? The chart for some of the alternatives says the backpacker spots might be partially eliminated and partially "relocated." Since I don't have the full document, I don't have any idea what that means. Relocated out of the Valley entirely? Or just away from the river? Or is "relocated" a euphemism meaning that the backpacker's campground in the Valley will disappear, and backpackers will be expected to sleep at the backpacker's campgrounds outside the Valley?

"I will be suggesting that they increase the number and that people who enter the park using bicycles, on foot, or using public transportation being given one night free and allowed one other night at 5.00 to encourage the use of non personal motor vehicle use. The NPS seems intent on limiting motor vehicles by limiting parking and eventually limiting access rather than encouraging other means of access."

Well said. I will be sure to include this in my commentary as well.

I cannot tell just from the chart I am viewing, whether the Merced plan alternatives include any modifications to backcountry access or practices ABOVE Merced Lake. For instance: Permit reductions; camping restrictions along the Upper Merced. Oldranger - does your document include that info?

Some of the alternatives include drastic reductions in parking spots in the Valley; others (including the Park's "preferred alternative") call for increases in parking spots. Since I don't come from any kind of planning background, I don't have much of a grasp on what increased or decreased parking could mean in terms of both traffic and overall visitation numbers. It's tempting to prefer the decreased-parking, "keep Yosemite wild" option, on the theory that fewer people will visit if there is no place to put their car. On the other hand, what if the people come anyway - in their cars - and the decreased parking spots simply result in insane traffic tie-ups and people circling around in their cars till a parking spot opens up? This is where a professional planner's perspective would be helpful.

Likewise: Yosemite Lodge, and several campgrounds, will either: Stay in place mostly as they are; or they will be gutted; or they will expand. The "keep Yosemite wild" option has us getting rid of Yosemite Lodge for overnight guests. Okay. That will certainly decrease the number of overnight guest presence in the Valley. But what will be the traffic implications? Will it mean that fewer people drive to the Valley every day - since nobody has a reservation? Or will it mean that all those people come anyway, but they have to get in their car every day to exit the Park and stay in a lodge just outside the Park? If the latter: A traffic nightmare.

Maybe the document addresses this - I don't have a copy of it. Apparently it is 6 inches thick.

Without a planner's perspective, I do not know which of the six alternatives to vote for.

- Elizabeth
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Re: Merced River Plan alternatives: comment period ends April 18

Postby oldranger » Sat Apr 13, 2013 12:41 am

Elizabeth

You have a good grasp of the dilemma of reducing overnight stays with the probable increase in demand for day trips into the valley.

Much of the backpackers campground is within the floodplain of, as I recall, Tenaya creek and it is probably reasonable to move the sites but as I understood it and I haven't been into the plan for a couple weeks under most alternatives there would be a reduction in sites. There certainly is no proposal to increase sites.

As far as I can tell there are no specific proposals to modify use levels above Washburn and but I think there may be some attempt to reduce use as far as Washburn. It is not clear to me how the Wilderness Zones in the park intersect the river corridor. What I am concerned about is that concern about the lower river will result in reduced access via Yosemite trail heads and consequently put more pressure on Isberg, Post Peak, and Fernandez Passes as well as Chiquito and Quartz Mt. Which would then make it more difficult for all people to get permits for those Trailheads.

My experience in government land use planning has been that attorneys have been driving the development of alternatives for about the last 15 years. It is all about winning in court and not about either good management or even good planning and especially not about writing a good document. The initial NEPA legislation led to a 5 chapter document. This document is what? 9 chapters--10-13 have traditionally been appendices. At any rate there is so much duplication in the chapters that it is really difficult to keep things straight. As a former writer editor this kind of planning document I am certain that 200 pages of this document could be eliminated with absolutely no loss of content (it will still be long and unwieldy but it could be much better. I find it frustrating to find references to maps that I can't find and am forced to go back and forth through the document to really understand what they are proposing and why.

Mike
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Re: Merced River Plan alternatives: comment period ends April 18

Postby rlown » Sat Apr 13, 2013 11:33 am

Someone should really include in their comments back to Yose about the need to have a personal parking space for Markskor's Jeep in Curry. Without that, the plan is a flat out failure right out the gate! :)

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Re: Merced River Plan alternatives: comment period ends April 18

Postby rlown » Sat Apr 13, 2013 5:28 pm

Other than giving Mark his own designated parking spot, I do not like this game. I see this every other hour of the day at work. I hate it. The plan is for the whole area. It would be best if they broke it up by area and addressed it individually. They obviously overlap to confuse the public. That's the wrong approach. take it by area.

In my meetings, once they get to Alt 3, I stop the discussion and make sure the requirements are clear.

If this was broken down differently by Parking, traffic, lodging, TH access, I'd be happier. Required restoration of riparian environment i guess would come first.

Just waiting now for Disney to propose the zipline from the top of half dome to the back porch of the Ahwahnee.
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