Mt Whitney Webcam
Mt Williamson Webcam
Feature Topics
Who's Online
1 registered (+ @ti2d), 11 Guests and 56 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
3268 Members
13 Forums
5341 Topics
49596 Posts

Max Online: 382 @ 11/07/12 05:45 AM
Page 5 of 7 < 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 >
Topic Options
#23125 - 04/22/12 10:21 AM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: wbtravis]
quillansculpture Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 552
Loc: Murrieta, CA
Yep, Yury actually hit in on the nail! I can't tell you how many times I talk to other hikers about summiting Whitney and one of their responses as to why they couldn't do Whitney is "I just won't poop in a bag".

Fine with me :-)
_________________________
"Turtles, Frogs & other Environmental Sculpture"

www.quillansculpturegallery.com
twitter: @josephquillan

If less is more, imagine how much more, more is -Frasier

Top
#24227 - 05/22/12 01:52 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: Ken]
dbd Online


Registered: 11/09/09
Posts: 200
Loc: San Diego
Edit: The following posts were moved here from the "Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome" thread since the discussion blends with the Wag Bag issues more than the Half Dome permits.



Originally Posted By: Ken
Bob, I've always gotten the idea that most "public comment" processes exist so that agencies can say that they have taken public comment into consideration, without taking it into consideration....and try to make it as arms-length as possible, and certainly wouldn't want to meet in person (gasp). ...

Some processes for comments are inputs, some aren't.

For national forests there are Schedules of Proposed Actions where you can find where there may be actual input opportunities. For an example site to look in INYO:
http://www.fs.fed.us/sopa/forest-level.php?110504

For an example in a national park, look in the individual programs at the park website under Management => Planning and then look under individual plans. For example in Yosemite:
http://www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/planning.htm

Some processes have no requirement for inclusion of public comment into decision processes. The NEPA process for example. The purpose of NEPA is to have your voice heard, not to require any agency to act on it. This was pointed out by the court in the HSHA case. In the thread discussing that, a url of the court's January decision was posted:
http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/files/Sequoia-Kings-Court-Order-2012-01-24-1.pdf
In its discussion the court states:
quote
NEPA is a procedural statute which does not "mandate particular results but simply provides
the necessary process to ensure that federal agencies take a hard look at the environmental
consequences of their actions." Neighbors of Cuddy Mtn. v. Alexander, 303 F.3d 1059, 1070 (9th
Cir. 2002); see Robertson v. Methow Valley Citizens Council, 490 U.S. 332, 349 (1989) ("It is now
well settled that NEPA itself does not mandate particular results, but simply prescribes the necessary
process.").
It was enacted with two goals mind: "(1) to ensure the agency will have detailed information on significant environmental impacts when it makes its decisions; and (2) to guarantee that this information will be available to a larger audience." Inland Empire Public Lands Council v. U.S. Forest Serv., 88 F.3d 754, 758 (9th Cir. 1996).
These goals are satisfied once the agency completes its evaluation; the statute therefore "exists to ensure a process, not to ensure any result." Id. at 758 (emphasis in original); see Metcalf, 214 F.3d at 1141 (9th Cir. 2000)
end quote

If you want to make effective inputs, you might try to participate in the activties that occur before or during planning, instead of afterwards as the NEPA, but the NEPA -will- "get you heard" smile if that's what matters to you.

Dale B. Dalrymple

Top
#24315 - 05/25/12 12:15 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: dbd]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
Dale, the NEPA process applies to all your examples. Of course the lead agency doesn't have to implement public comments, but they do have to consider them and explain how they were considered in the decision document. For example, when Garry Oye wrote his informal memo implementing the wag bags (which was not an official NEPA decision document), he simple wrote that comments were considered. That doesn't cut it. A decision document is supposed to make a good faith effort to address the comments. Often they bundle the comments into a group or by issue and address them as a group. A Final EIS might have an appendix with all the public comments in it and an explanation of how they were addressed.

As Ken stated, agencies don't usually take Joe Public very seriously. Joe Public is often misinformed or is labeled a NIMBY "Not In My Back Yard." Also, they assume Joe does not usually have the time or resources to follow up with a lawsuit. And let's face it, some agencies will simply do whatever they please unless directed otherwise by a court.

But organized groups are another matter. They tend to have expertise on the matter at hand and resources to fight it out in court. If they are politically connected like the commercial packers, then they have even more clout.

Top
#24327 - 05/25/12 11:25 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: SierraNevada]
dbd Online


Registered: 11/09/09
Posts: 200
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: SierraNevada
Dale, the NEPA process applies to all your examples. Of course the lead agency doesn't have to implement public comments, but they do have to consider them and explain how they were considered in the decision document. ...

Yes it applies, to record comments after the planning process and only to proposals an agency intends to implement. If an agency drops a proposal, it not longer faces a requirement to implement the NEPA process for that proposal. Agencies can be required by NEPA to solicit, record and publish public comment on a specific proposal. There is no enforcement authority in NEPA to alter agency planning to respond to that public comment.
From
A Citizen's Guide to the NEPA
Having Your Voice Heard

http://ceq.hss.doe.gov/nepa/Citizens_Guide_Dec07.pdf
'Commenting is not a form of "voting" on an alternative. The number of negative comments an agency receives does not prevent an action from moving forward.'

NEPA provides hoops you can might make agencies jump through after a plan has been proposed or implemented. It does not give you a vote, change a law or allocate an adequate budget for a desired alternate action.

If you have identified an action that has been taken that you think would have required a NEPA process, you need to identify the relevant authority to convince that a NEPA process was necessary for that action to enforce the NEPA process for that specific action that was not propoerly commented. If you think implementing wag bags is a NEPA issue, you should find out who to convince that a NEPA process was required for the wag bag implementation and seek NEPA enforcement. The NEPA doesn't require implementation of the NEPA process for actions no longer proposed and not taken.

What do you think the arguments are for requiring the NEPA process for the wag bag implementation?

Who have you identified as the relevant authority to enforce NEPA compliance based on these arguments?

Originally Posted By: SierraNevada
...
But organized groups are another matter. They tend to have expertise on the matter at hand and resources to fight it out in court.
...

One of the reasons organized groups have more clout is that they follow the issues by watching the planning process and participating there instead of waiting until after the planning is done and merely commenting after a proposal has passed to the NEPA process. Another reason is that they know who has relevant authority and apply their resources there. When the Congress passes laws and designates where they apply (like 'wilderness'), the executive branch of government is required by law to enforce such laws. If you bump into that enforcement and don't like it (or the court's interpretation) the relevant authority to change the law is Congress.

Dale B. Dalrymple

Top
#24337 - 05/25/12 05:59 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: dbd]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
Originally Posted By: dbd
If you think implementing wag bags is a NEPA issue, you should find out who to convince that a NEPA process was required for the wag bag implementation and seek NEPA enforcement. The NEPA doesn't require implementation of the NEPA process for actions no longer proposed and not taken.

What do you think the arguments are for requiring the NEPA process for the wag bag implementation?

Who have you identified as the relevant authority to enforce NEPA compliance based on these arguments?

Dale B. Dalrymple

Implementing wag bags was Alternative 5 of a NEPA Environmental Assessment. There's no debate about whether or not it should be a NEPA process, it was. After waiting a couple years they removed the toilets as an "emergency" and then implemented wag bags without a decision document. That's what happened. The process was aborted. Now Inyo is claiming that they didn't need to finish NEPA because wag bags are only a "voluntary program." Because they didn't finish NEPA, they can't issue a Forest Service Order making it official. So all the ideas about enforcing wag bags with numbers and tickets and whatnot is out the door. The only thing they can get someone for is littering. Any effort to enforce wag bags would mean it wasn't "voluntary."

We're getting way off topic for Half Dome. This forum has a long thread dedicated to this issue at Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags

Top
#24351 - 05/25/12 10:49 PM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: SierraNevada]
dbd Online


Registered: 11/09/09
Posts: 200
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: SierraNevada
Originally Posted By: dbd
... The NEPA doesn't require implementation of the NEPA process for actions no longer proposed and not taken.
...
Dale B. Dalrymple

Implementing wag bags was Alternative 5 of a NEPA Environmental Assessment. There's no debate about whether or not it should be a NEPA process, it was. After waiting a couple years they removed the toilets as an "emergency" and then implemented wag bags without a decision document. That's what happened. The process was aborted. Now Inyo is claiming that they didn't need to finish NEPA because wag bags are only a "voluntary program." Because they didn't finish NEPA, they can't issue a Forest Service Order making it official. So all the ideas about enforcing wag bags with numbers and tickets and whatnot is out the door. The only thing they can get someone for is littering. Any effort to enforce wag bags would mean it wasn't "voluntary."

We're getting way off topic for Half Dome. This forum has a long thread dedicated to this issue ...


You have a long history of misrepresenting the NEPA process here. Properly understanding NEPA relates to actions in the HSHA thread, the solar-toilet thread and possible responses to this thread.

For example, when the FS withdrew it's intent to replace the solar-toilets, the NEPA process that had been required by the solar toilet proposal ceased to exist. That an alternate discussion point in a cancelled NEPA process is latter implemented does not reconstitute the cancelled NEPA process. For example, every NEPA process includes a do nothing alternative for discussion, but adopting that alternative does not require the completion of the NEPA process for an cancelled proposal. So an action's consideration as a discussion topic in a cancelled NEPA process does not demonstrate that a NEPA process is required for it's implementation. Nor does the NEPA process for a canceled proposal satisfy NEPA requirements for any thing else. Also, the EA for the solar toilet proposal describes a situation that no longer exists. You are beating a dead horse.

Back to the general process under NEPA. A different proposal or action than the proposal in the cancelled NEPA process requires a new evaluation of whether the action, now appearing as a proposal, requires a NEPA process. If you wish to support that, it's time to start the justification of the NEPA process for the current action.

If you are interested in an action and so desire a NEPA process to promote discussion and satisfy NEPA requirements for the action, find an agency with the budget for, intent to implement and the belief in the legality, practicality, ... and desirability of the action. Then you may get a NEPA process. But the NEPA process doesn't start until there is an agency that has the action planned and budgeted (that agency budget must also include the cost of the NEPA process itself). That NEPA process won't satisfy the NEPA requirements for any action but the proposed action that initiated that NEPA process. NEPA isn't a planning process. It's a public comment on agency proposals process. NEPA only provides for public comment between planning and implementation. If you wish to use NEPA as a tool, learn what it does. And you'll recognize when others misuse it in these threads.

Dale B. Dalrymple


Top
#24357 - 05/26/12 09:07 AM Re: Yosemite: Fewer People Should Climb Half Dome [Re: dbd]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
Dale, I sign CEQA documents regularly as part of my job responsibilities so you can quit the acquisitions about me not understanding the environmental process. NEPA and CEQA are basically the same for federal or state projects respectively.

As for what I'm writing about the toilet issue, it's coming directly from letters and emails from Inyo. You're interpretation of what happened is incorrect. They simply dropped the ball on finishing the NEPA and they know it. A 1st year law student could probably win a suit over it. As for moving forward, I point out what happened as a matter of fact, but I'm more interested in a better solution i.e. new toilets than I am dragging Inyo through the mud on this.

Again, this is way off topic to Half Dome quotas.

Top
#24400 - 05/27/12 08:45 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: SierraNevada]
dbd Online


Registered: 11/09/09
Posts: 200
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: SierraNevada
... A 1st year law student could probably win a suit over it. As for moving forward, I point out what happened as a matter of fact, but I'm more interested in a better solution i.e. new toilets than I am dragging Inyo through the mud on this.
...

I'd like to see new solar toilets too.

I don't question the ease of winning a "NEPA lawsuit". But it can only force the Forest Service to publish an altered proposal and solicit, record and publish comments on the altered plan. It can't acquire, require or spend a budget for toilets. That was the point the court made when a similar argument to enforce an action on the basis of the content of NEPA comments was made in the HSHA case. Any suggestion that the NEPA process allows commenters to actually select from the alternatives discussed is a misrepresentation. Any suggestion that the comments are necessary to inform the Forest Service of solar toilets is silly. (Of course they know about solar toilets, they've burned them down! smile ).

One problem is the budget and the real problem with the budget is finding someone willing to afford the costs of defending the action against Wilderness Act/Wilderness Designation enforcement law suits from those who are happy with the current form of the Wilderness Act and the designation of Whitney and Half Dome under that definition of wilderness. This "Wilderness" problem is the same issue that effects whether more or any rangers at the cables would go without legal challenge. To get solar toilets or a higher quota on the cables at Half Dome that "Wilderness" issue is what needs resolution. Soliciting and publishing comments in satisfaction of NEPA requirements doesn't alter that situation either.

The next problem is that even if someone can afford the costs of the legal challenges, they have to win. It may be that no one considering actions in conflict with current "Wilderness" definition and designation thinks that they will succeed in changing the current definitions and designations that stand in the way. They may be right. Democracy doesn't always mean one gets what one wants.

Dale B. Dalrymple

Top
#24406 - 05/28/12 12:03 AM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: dbd]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
Originally Posted By: dbd
Any suggestion that the comments are necessary to inform the Forest Service of solar toilets is silly. (Of course they know about solar toilets, they've burned them down! smile ).

Actually, its not silly to inform Inyo of the Rocky Mountain NP Engineer's Performance Report on Backcountry Solar Toilets. 1) They claimed toilets wouldn't work, which is a major reason why we have Wag Bags today. 2) The current Forest Supervisor had never seen this information.

You can read a lot of complaining about wag bags on this and other forums, but at least I did something about it. I laid out the facts about how the environmental review was not completed properly, I countered the notion that solar toilets somehow won't work, and I got them rethinking this problem. If the hiking community supports toilets, perhaps they will give them another try. I'm not holding my breath because Wag Bags are cheap and easy to hand out.

Top
#26198 - 07/25/12 05:57 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: SierraNevada]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
Update July 2012: I recently received the public documents from the 2004 Environmental Assessment. The comments were overwhelmingly against the Wag Bag Alternative 5. There were some duplicates, some totally off topic, one comment before the comment period, and a petition in support of new toilets with 85 signatures with addresses.

After sorting them, I tallied up 19 "Pro Wag Bag" comments. Inyo came up with 18 "Pro Wag Bag" comments so I'm being generous.

Inyo tallied up the comments in support of a particular Alternative, they did not count the many letter that were openly hostile to wag bags but didn't specify a particular Alternative. Secondly, Inyo grouped the petition with 85 signatures into one comment. Consequently, Inyo came up with 44 comments in favor of toilets (new ones or keeping the existing ones going).

Inyo: 44 for toilets. 18 for wag bags.

I went a step further and included the comments that came in opposing wag bags as a bad idea. Many of those didn't follow protocol and support a particular Alternative. I can't report these as pro-toilet, but many of those comments are very hostile about wag bags, no doubt about that. Secondly, I think people that sign a petition with addresses and phone numbers should be counted, so I include them as well.

My Count: 141 for toilets. 19 for wag bags.

Every environmental group who commented (4) supported wag bags and most of them also wanted lower quotas. One of those groups also recommended keeping the toilets at Outpost Camp. Some of the pro wag bag comments have a last name of an officer in one of those organizations, probably family. Further Googling would probably find more correlation but I'm only speculating. To summarize, the support for wag bags is mostly from environmental groups who also want to lower the quotas.

Lastly, the NPS Sequoia-Kings Canyon wrote a long letter that was politely skeptical of wag bags, "Our anecdotal information on the compliance with pack out your human waste programs in alpine environments is less than optimistic. Mount Rainier NP has attempted this with less than full success. In many areas of NPS in alpine environments, we continue to believe that toilets with occasional helicopter removal is the most protective of wilderness resources such as water sources, soils, vegetation as well as aesthetical wilderness values."

One more time for emphasis, the NPS SEKI wrote Inyo that toilets would best preserve wilderness values.

Top
#26565 - 08/06/12 10:09 AM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: SierraNevada]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1548
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Originally Posted By: SierraNevada
Everyone is entitled to their opinion about quality, but these threads have (or had) a lot of links to reports, photos, and other information. Over 300 views in less than 4 days here on this board. I think people are interested because this issue affects them very directly.

What keeps you coming back?


Questions like this:

There really is no rule requiring use of wagbags vs conventional methods? How does Inyo square that with their web statement that human waste "must be packed out", or the Rangers' practice of checking for wagbags?

And is it also true on the NPS side, where SEKI gives the same impression that pack-out is required?

Also if there is no rule requiring it, then it is much easier to understand that the decision to implement - consisting of nothing more than supplying wagbags - in itself does not even trigger NEPA - no "Major Federal Action" involved, as opposed to a much larger program involving removal of existing toilets, etc.

PS: The fact that public comments heavily favor one alternative over another have never held much sway in NEPA review. Plenty of courts have held that NEPA is largely procedural, and that an agency decision has to be totally irrational in order to be reversed, not just sub-optimal or even not a good idea. I think one even found that the EIS could show that the sun would cease to rise after a particular action, and a decision to go ahead would not violate NEPA.
_________________________
Wherever you go, there you are.
SPOTMe!

Top
#26575 - 08/06/12 11:46 AM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: saltydog]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
I've asked Inyo Management the same question about all the language implying that this program is mandatory. The reply I got was, "thank you for taking the time to point this out in our various publications."

The District Ranger confirmed there is no Forest Service Order. Almost every FSO requires a NEPA decision document to accompany it. Since they did not complete NEPA, they are stuck in an interesting dilemna.

Regarding the question about whether NEPA even needed to be completed for the WAG bag program. Well, Inyo certainly thought so since they produced a length Environmental Assessment with five alternatives. The WAG bag alternative had enough potential impacts to possibly require an EIS. Please read the EA and you'll see they were very worried about massive noncompliance and enviromental degradation. This is were a lawyer would have a field day for implementing something like that without completing NEPA for that alternative.

Regarding public comments: you are correct, there is no NEPA requirement to satisfy public opinion, it would be paralizing to get any project done if that were the case. HOWEVER, one of the main tenants of NEPA is to provide for public input into the decision making process. The decision document is supposed to decribe how public comments were considered in the final decision. It's in the NEPA guidlines and Forest Sevice policy documents. Here's a quote from the Forest Sevice template for completing the EA process:

Public Involvement
The proposal was listed in the Schedule of Proposed Actions on [insert dates]. The proposal was provided to the public and other agencies for comment during scoping [insert dates]. In addition, as part of the public involvement process, the agency [insert description of public involvement efforts and reference to documents in record detailing results].
Using the comments from the public, other agencies, and [insert others such as tribes, depending on the situation] (see Issues section), the interdisciplinary team developed a list of issues to address.

If removing the toilets and implementing a WAG bag program (Alternative 5) did not have impacts, then they should have simply completed a Finding of No Significant Impacts (FONSI) and a proper decision document including an explanation of how public comments were considered, and then they could issue a Forest Service Order. Instead, they were not transparent and Garry Oye published a psuedo-decision document implementing Alternative 5. He had the nerve to thank Whitney climbers for helping to find this solution.

EDIT: The need to properly consider public comments is especially important in this case because the solution shifts the burden for managing human waste from the agency on to the hiker's back. With public comments running 7:1 against this approach, and with the impacts described in the EA; it's seems arrogant to me to ignore the public, circumvent the NEPA process, and then pretend it's all above board and mandatory.

If this WAG bag alternative fails, these same people will be claiming that toilets won't work and they will call for reduced quotas, which seems to be the real agenda for some.

Top
#26602 - 08/06/12 10:07 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: SierraNevada]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1548
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Very good analysis and interpretation.

This leaves the more concrete questions: the answer you got on inquiring sounds as close as you are going to get to: yeah you're right, we've got no business saying its required but we're going to push it as long as we can get away from it.

And the NPS question. SEKI gives the impression that the Whitney Zone extends down to the Crabtree station, and that wagbags/pack-out are required from there on. OF course they also give the impression that bear boxes are required on the HST, which I know is wrong. Makes you wonder if Inyo really has a rule there, too.

In any event, SEKI issues bags with HST permits, and says at the time (and I think on the permit with Whitney exit)that they are required past Crabtree. Not so?

Are they just cooperating with Inyo or did SEKI/NPS actually issue a rule?
_________________________
Wherever you go, there you are.
SPOTMe!

Top
#26610 - 08/07/12 07:59 AM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: saltydog]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
Originally Posted By: saltydog
In any event, SEKI issues bags with HST permits, and says at the time (and I think on the permit with Whitney exit)that they are required past Crabtree. Not so?

Are they just cooperating with Inyo or did SEKI/NPS actually issue a rule?

Good question. I was not aware of SEKI handing out bags for the HST or implying they are mandatory. I thought they had a cache of bags at Crabtree and that was the extent of their cooperation with Inyo on this. SEKI originally advised Inyo against the WAG bag alternative in a long letter commenting on the 2004 Environmental Assessment. I guess they had to adapt to the situation once the toilets were removed.

It brings up another question - what does a northbound JMT hiker do with his/her plump WAG bag, carry it all the way to Yosemite Valley? Do they have a collection point at Crabtree?

I just want to add that everyone should still use WAG bags because there really is no good alternative right now. The purpose of bringing all this up is to be honest with the people who are shouldering the burden for this solution. They should not be relying on public deception and evasion of environmental law to force this on everyone, in my humble opinion.


Top
#26631 - 08/07/12 01:32 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: SierraNevada]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1548
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
OK: Here's an interesting little factoid. I just did a pretty thorough search of the Inyo NF website, and the only statement I found that packing out human waste is required is in a couple of press releases from around 2006 and 2007. The only other mention of wag bags I found is in the information on permits: that the bags are handed out with permits, not that they are required. You would think that if it were a requirement, you would come across it looking for a permit.

The only mention on the site itself of wag bags and packing out is in the Mt Whitney advisory you can find -- if you look for it -- on the Mt Whitney information section downloadable on the permit page:
Whitney pdf

This page carefully says that wagbags are the "only acceptable method" in a long persuasive paragraph, but unlike with bear canisters, never says they are required. This may sound like nit picking, but Inyo chose to put it this way, and everywhere else says "required" when they mean "reguired". There is a big difference here between arguing for them and requiring them. Clearly the intent here is to convey the idea that they are required without stepping over the line of saying so.

There are specific instructions on disposing of human waste by burying it elsewhere on the site, but aside from the old press releases, I couldn't find that Inyo actually says anywhere that pack-out of human waste is required.

How they got the message out there that hikers are required to pack it out may be a genius piece of policy and communication, but as far as I can tell -- and I say this advisedly -- it looks like it ain't so.

Someone please tell me where this is wrong. And "Everyone knows it" is not a good answer. Show me.

And PS: Yes as of last year SEKI goes through the drill when issuing permits with Whitney exits: I still have several from last year after backing off Kaweah Gap
_________________________
Wherever you go, there you are.
SPOTMe!

Top
#26671 - 08/08/12 06:18 AM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: saltydog]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
Yes, Salty Dog, they seem to be playing carefully with semantics on this point. It should confirm what I've been writing about lack of legal authority, and it also confirms there is no other acceptable alternative since they removed the toilets.

From the Inyo NF Mt Whitney Trail Webpage
Dispose of Waste Properly

"At Mt. Whitney, the only acceptable way to dospose of human waste is to pack it out. There are simply too many visitors in the area to use other common waste disposal methods." [typo is theirs]

We can either voluntarily carry poop in a WAG bag, or carry poop in a WAG bag voluntarily, your choice. confused

Top
#26684 - 08/08/12 08:54 AM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: SierraNevada]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Has anyone refused a WAG Bag? If so, what has been the reaction of the staff at the ESIVC.

Admin note: This topic has re-opened in April, 2013, from the thread, "Grow Up or Go Home". Talk and debate about solar toilets has been appended here, while discussion of hikers leaving their mess behind remains in the other.

On 04/11/13 08:58 AM wbtravis wrote:
Quote:
This is a part of the problem that plagues this mountain. People wanting all but are not willing to pay the price. We see this all quota season long with the questions they ask here. Where to I rent crampons, what's the best motel in town, do I really need to acclimatize, etc.

This will continue until the Forest Service tags on an environmental fee onto the permit and builds a modern toilet system on the sites where they once were. This is a problem created by the forest service in the personage of Garry Oye, not a hiker problem...neophyte hikers and once-and-doners are only going to do what they always do. They knew the volume of people who went up this trail and the type of hiker who went up this trail. They made the problem let them deal with it. It is not our job to cover up for their mistakes.

Mr. Oye in a letter to me said his people were not paid to handle hazardous waste. The end result is his people are handling hazardous waste daily during the quota season rather than one to two times when waste helicoptered out.

Top
#30891 - 04/11/13 11:44 AM Re: Grow Up or Go Home [Re: wbtravis]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
On the basis of expense and effectiveness (as I currently understand it) I'm still supportive of wag bags in the very heavily used trail corridors they're required. I don't support expanding that requirement beyond Whitney to Guitar Lake. I've not looked into composting or evaporative toilets in maybe 4 years or so, but have yet to come across one that actually composts at altitude and low temperatures. There's a bunch out there an in use, but they require a lot of initial cost to build (in remote areas over $30,000); a lot of year maintenance costs (a dedicated person to do it); and you're still packing out raw waste.

Now, this could well have changed in the last 5 years. A quick Google scan doesn't really show anything definitive one way or the other. If I were really dedicated, I'd at least call Yosemite and see if they've gotten any of theirs to work.

Now, there's nothing really wrong with using a vault type system -- and where you somehow separate the urine from the solids (a problem in itself) -- and just haul it out, but you have to recognize that's what you're doing and plan for it. That's what we did at Ostrander ski hut (average of 20 people per day to a max of 27). A four month season requires about 15 Jonny Partner cans. Not a bad solution but would never work on Whitney corridor.

I'm interested in information on actual working systems since this comes up occasionally but, for the moment, am not at all in favor of them over wag bags.

g.

PS: A dragon? That would improve the experience some... .
_________________________
None of the views expressed here in any way represent those of the unidentified agency that I work for or, often, reality. It's just me, fired up by coffee and powerful prose.

Top
#30897 - 04/11/13 05:23 PM Re: Grow Up or Go Home [Re: George]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
Originally Posted By: George
Now, this could well have changed in the last 5 years. A quick Google scan doesn't really show anything definitive one way or the other. If I were really dedicated, I'd at least call Yosemite and see if they've gotten any of theirs to work.

The best modern system in Yosemite that I'm aware of is the composting system in Little Yosemite Valley, and a smaller one at the top of Nevada Falls. If anyone has used these they probably had a surprisingly good, mostly odor free experience. They have an old model at Vogelsang High Sierra Camp (10,000ft) that was basically a holding tank, bad design and lack of maintenance. For the challenging locations at higher elevation, the best example is Long's Peak in Rocky Mtn NP (a popular 14er with similar usage as Whitney). This has all been discussed in previous posts, but at the bottom of this post is a link to the a report by a National Park Engineer Joe Arnold that describes about 30 years of successful toilets at a higher elevation than Trail Camp. At these difficult locations, a solar powered dehydrating system is the way to go. The history of success with the toilets at Long's Peak proves that it could be done at Whitney where we have more sunshine than Northern Colorado.

For any toilet system, especially at higher elevations, it takes dedicated staff to perform regular maintenance to make it a success. The best design in the world would fail if it was not kept up. So the only way it would work at Whitney would be to get full buy-in from the people required to maintain it. The current generation of Whitney Rangers struggled horribly with the crappy designed old toilets and they are probably scarred for life about this. At Long's Peak, they use Llamas on a weekly basis and the task is not all that bad. No helicopters. The Llamas are very popular with the hikers and it gives them a chance to meet people on the trail and teach the ethics that Laura and others are screaming about (understandably).

And for those who love wag bags so much, go ahead and use them all you want, at home, on the trail, at the office, just don't force them on everyone else as the only possible solution to a difficult problem.

Performance Evaluation of Backcountry Toilets

Top
#30906 - 04/12/13 09:51 AM Re: Grow Up or Go Home [Re: SierraNevada]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
An excellent and well written report. Many thanks for the link. It's a variation -- and apparently a successful one -- of the toilets that were on the Whitney trail (evaporative)but which failed. It would be interesting to compare the designs and why the previous ones failed. Did the Whitney sites just not get enough sun? Are there better sites? Looking at the photos, it's hard to imagine the ones sited in the meadow would be approved today.

The key, as repeatedly stated, is regular maintenance. The use of llamas would also be important. It wouldn't make sense to be packing out 2,500 lbs of human waste while generating that amount or more of stock generated manure and urine using mules.

So, I'm now convinced it's technically possible (Yay!). But I'm still not convinced the cost, aesthetic intrusion of toilets and taking a chance on the long-term ability of USFS to provide maintenance is a justification (vs. wag bags). Building one or two would require an Environmental Assessment (maybe even an EIS).

Getting anything built within a designated wilderness would be a huge struggle. I'm totally winging it, but I would think you'd have to show serious environmental impacts -- such as water pollution and/or impacts as a result of wag bags being used -- that could be mitigated or solved by installing the toilets.

Arguably, you could send maintenance or rangers up every 3 weeks to scour the rocks for abandoned bags and pack them out on a much cheaper schedule and saving the cost of installing the toilets.

But beyond that -- and here dim memories of previous threads on this subject begin to surface -- is why this subject gets so emotionally charged? There seems to be some weird fastidiousness when crapping into a bag that I don't really understand.

Anyway, maybe worth pursuing and very likely useful for other sites (non-wilderness). Just don't see it happening on Whitney.

g.
_________________________
None of the views expressed here in any way represent those of the unidentified agency that I work for or, often, reality. It's just me, fired up by coffee and powerful prose.

Top
Page 5 of 7 < 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 >