Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Action Alert - Act today to help preserve bouldering in Yosemite

TODAY IS THE LAST DAY the National Park Service is accepting comments on the Merced River Plan (MRP). Please follow this LINK and copy and paste the text below to help preserve bouldering access in Yosemite Valley. Please post comments to this post when you have submitted your comments, so I can stop bugging you!!


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Here are my comments regarding the Issues addressed in the Merced River Plan Workbook:

- Issue 7: I prefer option C - the only two options provided in the MRP Workbook to reduce river bank impacts at the Upper and Lower Pines Campgrounds are to eliminate or relocate campsites that are near the river. I believe that before these options are considered, efforts should first be made to fence and sign the areas of the riverbank to be protected, as has been done at Devil’s Elbow, and then design river access points in resilient locations and restore riparian areas to natural conditions.

- Issue 9: I prefer option B - more primitive / rustic camping should be created.

- Issue 10: I prefer option C - replace existing bridges with foot bridges designed to enhance the free-flowing condition of the river.

- Issue 12: I prefer option B - restore visitor use opportunities at upper and lower river campgrounds.

- Issue 15: I prefer option A - the installation of a roundabout and under-crossing for pedestrians to relieve congestion.

- Issue 19: I prefer option A - develop more camping to increase capacity.

- Issue 20: I prefer option D - the installation of a pedestrian underpass to allow access to Lower Yosemite Falls. Relocating the lodge entrance or an overpass don’t seem practical and won’t work.

- Issue 22: I prefer option D - the Merced River Gorge segment west of Pohono Bridge has a number of popular climbing areas, including Cookie Cliff, the Rostrum, Reed’s Pinnacle, Elephant Rock, and many others bouldering areas. Climber parking and approach access to these areas should be retained and improved to reduce impacts. Curbing to formalize parking areas may eliminate many parking areas for smaller climbing and bouldering areas that planners might not know about.

- Issue 23: I prefer option A - develop more camping to increase capacity


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As a climber who boulders in Yosemite Valley frequently, here are some additional thoughts:

- The bouldering in Yosemite Valley is universally regarded as some of the best in world. The unique combination of rock quality, rock features, boulder sizes and quantity make the bouldering in Yosemite an Outstandingly Remarkable Value (ORV) that should be protected. Additionally, climbing has a long a significant history in Yosemite Valley.

- Bouldering requires a large amount of gear that makes using shuttle services impractical. Therefore maintaining and increasing the level of recreational parking is critical.

- The bouldering at Camp 4 is considered the birthplace of modern bouldering and has the largest quantity of all the bouldering areas in Yosemite Valley. The site of the former gas station was previously used by boulders for parking but has since been used as a staging area for the recent road improvement projects. I strongly recommend this area be reconfigured into a day use parking when the road improvements are completed.

- The recent reduction of parking in the Ahwahnee Hotel lot has adversely effected climbers as there is a large bouldering area at the base of the talus field and many climbing areas (Royal Arches, etc) are access from this point.

- A permitted parking system would adversely affect those who boulder because of the quantity of gear required for our recreation. There are no reasonable alternatives to transporting the gear in our cars and parking near the bouldering areas.

- The Park should ensure climbing needs are addressed in the MRP, particularly parking locations throughout the Valley and the Merced Gorge segments. Where appropriate, roadside parking should be paved to reduce impacts and moved off the shoulder to improve safety.

- More access options to lesser attractions in the Park and surrounding area rather than regulatory solutions such as day-use reservations, parking permits and closures. All reasonable day-use parking facilities should be developed or improved in the Valley, including Camp 6, Curry Village, and the wilderness parking lot.