Mt Whitney Webcam
Mt Williamson Webcam
Feature Topics
Who's Online
1 registered (1 invisible), 13 Guests and 62 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
3270 Members
13 Forums
5343 Topics
49602 Posts

Max Online: 382 @ 11/07/12 05:45 AM
Page 7 of 7 < 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Topic Options
#30942 - 04/14/13 11:47 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: Bee]
dbd Offline


Registered: 11/09/09
Posts: 200
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: Bee

Originally Posted By: dbd
Why doesn't anyone want to discuss what actions we need take now to get from where we actually are to where we want to go? Not entertaining enough? Too difficult? I'm not saying that I have confidence we'll get solar toilets if we try, but I'm sure no one on this site is working in that direction whether they think they are trying


It was my understanding that SierraNevada has put a lot of time and effort in this very task in question. I recall(correct me if I am wrong) that he has written numerous correspondences, rallied others to do so, disseminated written reports on the topic, etc.


Bee

We've heard many NEPA presentations from SN. The fact is, that issue can't get us solar toilets no matter how much time has been spent on it.

As I posted last year:
05/27/12 08:45 PM
Originally Posted By: dbd

...
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.
...
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. ... 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.
...

I would add that "legal challenges" don't have to come from outside. Any supervisor in the Forest Service/Department of Agriculture chain of command who believes that the "Wilderness" issues preclude building solar toilets, or just believes that a challenge would succeed is a pretty effective barrier.

I still haven't seen any constructive activity here. What accomplishments do you, Bee, think you have seen that has taken us closer to having solar toilets than we were a year ago?

Dale B. Dalrymple

Top
#30945 - 04/15/13 12:14 AM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: dbd]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Originally Posted By: dbd
What accomplishments do you, Bee, think you have seen that has taken us closer to having solar toilets than we were a year ago?

Dale B. Dalrymple


A year ago? Accomplishments that I have seen? A year a is very short time when it comes to the mechanism of change. I will say that I was pleasantly surprised by George's reaction to the latest report that SN posted for him. It moved George to reconsider some of his earlier negative responses to the idea of solar toilets of any form (with good cause based on 'imperical' evidence of the past)Change comes in small bites and at times, sudden broad-sweeping turnarounds.

At risk of introducing a subject that is unrelated to this topic (used to demonstrate unlikely change, only), I would point out that the subject of same-sex marriage in Supreme Court cases would have been verboten a few years ago -- or maybe even one year ago; however, the winds of change had been blowing long before the cases appeared, as folks worked quietly(and not so quietly) behind the scenes. Change requires effort -- silent and unseen to much of the masses -- with the understanding that the payout may not come as quick as we all desire.(I am sure that a lot of folk in the Civil Rights Movement were asking many of the same questions about their efforts and slow pace of change)
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

Top
#30946 - 04/15/13 07:00 AM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: dbd]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
Originally Posted By: dbd
Why doesn't anyone want to discuss what actions we need take now to get from where we actually are to where we want to go? Not entertaining enough? Too difficult? I'm not saying that I have confidence we'll get solar toilets if we try, but I'm sure no one on this site is working in that direction whether they think they are trying

We've heard many NEPA presentations from SN. The fact is, that issue can't get us solar toilets no matter how much time has been spent on it.

Dale B. Dalrymple

The NEPA "presentations" on this thread came about while I was researching the history of toilets and how they came to be removed. It's hard to believe that a Federal agency would circumvent environmental law, but that is what Garry Oye did to get his way. Some of the people involved in the decision process were posting about how it was all good and they didn't need to file a decision document or consider public input (which ran HEAVILY against the wag bag program). Well legally they did need to file a decision document to complete the NEPA process, and that process includes an explanation of how public input was considered. And since they didn't file a decision document, they can't issue a Forest Order today to require wag bags. So understanding the history is vital to understanding the situation today. I shared what I learned and gave people some background on the environmental review process.

Never did I suggest taking this to court as a solution or way forward, although I did mention that if someone did, they would probably win very easily. The NEPA appeal process tends to get people's attention, so it was a good way to reopen the issue with the new management at Inyo. But I was always clear on the phone and in writing that I was not intending to pursue that direction personally.

After speaking with Joe Arnold, Rocky Mtn National Park Engineer who wrote the Performance Report on Backcountry Toilets, we came to the conclusion that forcing this issue onto the Rangers just wouldn't work. Running a toilet system is difficult and you can't have people undermining the effort. Perhaps if the maintenance was contracted out to a private firm and the Rangers were not involved. That brings up personnel and contracting issues, but that's what is done at Yosemite to service the toilets with pack mules. LLamas seem like a better way to go, and I'm sure a nice business could spring up somewhere in the eastern Sierra to do the job.

So, I've been doing my background research, debating people who try to prove that toilets won't work, teaching people about environmental law as it applies to what was done, and trying to maintain positive relations with Inyo Management. In between, I have a full time job, a part-time structural engineering business, and I'm raising two teenagers. I get to Whitney every few years, so it's not like it affects me.

Top
#30947 - 04/15/13 08:28 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...
The process of getting this done without the support of the Sierra Club or like organization is nearly impossible. I watched a documentary on mountain bikers in the northwest and their struggles to get land managers to listen to their story. I was not until they various small groups and individuals coalesced around a large well long established organized group that anything got done.

If this documentary, which was produced with Forest Service participation, is to be believed, there are 21 steps to get anything approved...including the NEPA process, which is mentioned prominently in this documentary.

Whoever takes this on better be well financed and connected. The individual has zero chance.

Top
#30948 - 04/15/13 08:53 AM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: wbtravis]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
WB is 100% correct about how the process works (or doesn't work). I'm a solutions guy. I tell it like I see it and I solve problems. I think I've laid out a good foundation for moving forward, but someone else with a lot more time, patience, connections, and money needs to guide this through the planning process.

This sounds dumb, but there has to be a well defined problem to justify action. The status quo wins by default unless people organize and demand something different. As far as I can tell most people think the wag bags are not solving the problem. Some people think they can change human nature to make it work. The Sierra Club is probably in this camp, but I can't say for sure. They should be outraged at the way the NEPA process was circumvented. If that process happened on a project they were involved in, there would be lawsuits without a doubt.

Based on the comments submitted for the Environmental Assessment, the local hiking groups seem to want lower quotas regardless, and new solar toilets would not help them with that goal. So they may never come around.

The Rangers are on record stating that picking up wag bags is, "job security." They seem to think their previous bad experience with toilets is the only possible outcome, which is just not true. But their opinion matters a lot, even if a private company is contracted to do toilet maintenance.

So it seems to be a mixed bag of opinions out there, which plays into maintaining the status quo. It really depends on how the problem is defined, does the water have to be polluted to show there's a problem, or does the hiker experience matter at all? Will hikers organize and sustain a long term effort? These questions need to be addressed and a consensus needs to be built to move forward. Paraphrasing Bee, it could happen quickly once things line up, but it may take a lot of time and effort behind the scenes to get things to line up.

Edited to add some thoughts as I found time this morning.

Top
#30954 - 04/15/13 01:42 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: Bee]
dbd Offline


Registered: 11/09/09
Posts: 200
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: Bee
... I will say that I was pleasantly surprised by George's reaction to the latest report that SN posted for him. It moved George to reconsider some of his earlier negative responses to the idea of solar toilets of any form (with good cause based on 'imperical' evidence of the past)Change comes in small bites and at times, sudden broad-sweeping turnarounds.
...

Bee

That "latest report" is the same one previously posted in this thread. George replied to it 09/26/11 08:25 PM as:

Originally Posted By: George
An excellent report from Rocky but I have to say I'm not convinced the same system will work on the Whitney corridor. The key to the Rocky report seems to be weekly (!) maintenance and hauling out the solids. The USFS has a very poor record of being able to maintain anything in a remote wilderness setting. Not their fault, mostly. A combination of budget constraints and commitment.

The original Whitney toilets seems to have failed because of poor design and infrequent maintenance. The two that were built could, literally, be smelled 1/4 mile away on a bad day. I believe construction and maintenance exceeded $50,000 at least. That kind of money just doesn't exist for federal agencies anymore. Poor maintenance required that 50 gal. drums of human waste were stored nearby until they could be hauled out.

This isn't to say that, under ideal conditions (careful engineering and a guaranteed budget for, say 10 years) a system similar to Rocky couldn't be built... . I just doubt it could be maintained. As tight as budgets are for NPS, they're far worse for USFS (Inyo/Whitney corridor). To me, it's not worth taking the risk of another expensive failure.

How much of that money could otherwise be used to hire a ranger and llama, say, to pick up the abandoned wag bags?? Much more efficient use of the money and likely cheaper.

George


So it looks like George's turnabout is real progress, if he will just stop turning and if he was wrong the first time.

Dale B. Dalrymple

Top
#30956 - 04/15/13 04:43 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: dbd]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California

Originally Posted By: DBD
That "latest report" is the same one previously posted in this thread. George replied to it 09/26/11 08:25 PM


okay, excellent -- glad someone is keeping track of these things.

_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

Top
#30961 - 04/16/13 07:41 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: dbd]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
Quote:
That "latest report" is the same one previously posted in this thread. George replied to it 09/26/11 08:25 PM as:


That's great! <Insert animated emoticom of a guy laughing his ass off... .> Well, I re-read both and admire my consistency though not my memory. I truly have no memory of previously reading that report or writing the first comment but am relieved that they don't contradict each other. My memory may be tanking but the internal logic centers are functioning!

But I'll stick with cheerfully agreeing it's technically possible but repeat that no one has come up with a reason toilets need to be (re)built. We can quibble that USFS did or did not follow the letter of NEPA etc. I will tell you from first-hand experience a statement like "they would probably win very easily" if going to court is spectacularly wrong. It's a total crap shoot (um, so to speak). The HSHA suit against Sequoia Kings that Morrison and Forster took on (pro bono) and won, probably cost near a million dollars. I talked to a USFS attorney who defended the USFS master plan and they spent well over $500,000 just to unsuccessfully defend (from the same law firm) their EA a few years ago.

SN absolutely correctly says "This sounds dumb, but there has to be a well defined problem to justify action." That's not dumb, that is the crux of the this whole discussion and, from an EA/NEPA standpoint, nothing said here has successfully addressed that.

I don't really care about the toilet brouhaha problem except to the extent I hear the distant baying of hounds and the ancient instincts of my kind want to join in the chase. But I think it's useful to have an overall understanding of the Wilderness Act and how you go about complying with its requirements. For any project, you need a Purpose and Need statement. The two are fairly inextricably linked. The Purpose is based on the Need and aims to solve or mitigate that need. It has to be within the strictures of the Wilderness Act and assorted supporting laws and regulations (e.g. NEPA, National Historic Preservation Act & other stuff).

Quote:

does the water have to be polluted to show there's a problem, or does the hiker experience matter at all?


It's all about the Environment. So yes to the first: as above and within the strictures of the Wilderness Act etc., if you can show that stream or other environmental pollution is increased either as a result of wag bags or because the toilets were removed, then you're starting to build a need that a Purpose can address.

But no, the hiker experience matters very little except as it applies to the WA. Hikers merely unhappy about crapping into a bag would have no influence in how a Need is developed. Aesthetics, though, is arguably a need (e.g. wag bags left hither and yon) in that they disturb the wilderness feel of a place. But is building a large toilet and the associated maintenance a reasonable intrusion necessary to solve that problem? Or would other Alternatives in such a document be better -- e.g. hiring extra rangers to pick up and pack out abandoned wag bags? What is the Environmentally Preferred Alternative? Which would have less environmental impact to achieve the purpose and solve the need?

So SN et al have indeed done a terrific job of establishing a technical solution to what -- so far and within the meaning of the Wilderness Act -- is, unfortunately, a non-existent problem.
_________________________
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
#30964 - 04/16/13 11:29 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: George]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7234
Loc: Fresno, CA
Interesting points, George.

All this makes me wonder... If there is no problem as far as the Wilderness Act goes, and if there is no Forest Order requiring me to use a Wag bag, what would be the problem then, if I were to find a spot far enough from the trail and from water, and doing my business in a cat hole?

Top
#30968 - 04/17/13 07:59 AM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: Steve C]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
Steve, I'm not a lawyer (and I don't play one on TV), but I see no legal reason why you can't use basic wilderness methods for human waste in the Whitney Zone. As a practical matter though, it's hard to find a decent spot to dig a cat hole anywhere above say 10,000ft, and the good holes have probably been used already. If everyone did that, the quotas would have to be reduced. That seems to be the real goal here for some people, so it would play into their hand.

George, the NEPA process was botched so badly they can't issue a Forest Order. In effect, they already admitted defeat legally, the only thing left would be for a judge to remedy the situation. Who knows what a judge would do to right the ship, but what Garry Oye did should be very disturbing to anyone who follows environmental law. Nobody drafts a lengthy and detailed 50-page EA, switches the preferred alternative during the public notice, waits years until it turns into an "emergency" and then circulates a memo disguised as a decision document that lies about overwhelming public opposition. Congratulations, Garry if you're reading this, you got your way and nobody seems to care how you did it.

The costs you cite for other lawsuits are typical, but they have nothing in common with the bizzare way that the Whitney Environmental Assessment process was mishandled. No group with skin in the process would ever let that happen in real time, and (almost) any judge would reprimand the agency acting in that manner.

As to the Wilderness Act, this thread has a great number of photos of toilets within designated Wilderness, so that argument doesn't match reality throughout the Sierras. They were used for decades in the Whitney Zone. The bigger question is why is this special zone with enormous popularity and difficult management challenges considered "Wilderness" in the first place? It makes more sense to set the boundary at Trail Crest, in my opinion.

In any case, toilets were considered compatible with Wilderness ethics under these unique circumstances for decades. This concern about Wilderness values was mentioned in the EA but it was not a deal breaker because of the history and the reality that toilets provide the best environmental protection. Apparently a trail littered with plastic bags full of human waste is the new definition of Wilderness.

Top
#30971 - 04/17/13 07:06 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: SierraNevada]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
Quote:
As to the Wilderness Act, this thread has a great number of photos of toilets within designated Wilderness, so that argument doesn't match reality throughout the Sierras. They were used for decades in the Whitney Zone. The bigger question is why is this special zone with enormous popularity and difficult management challenges considered "Wilderness" in the first place? It makes more sense to set the boundary at Trail Crest, in my opinion.

In any case, toilets were considered compatible with Wilderness ethics under these unique circumstances for decades. This concern about Wilderness values was mentioned in the EA but it was not a deal breaker because of the history and the reality that toilets provide the best environmental protection. Apparently a trail littered with plastic bags full of human waste is the new definition of Wilderness.


True, but I wonder how many were installed in the last, say, 10 years before EAs and environmental compliance became much stricter? For instance, Sequoia Kings put a bridge on the South Fork crossing. The EA was about 25 pages and took two months to write. It was quickly approved. A couple of years later, I was the lead writer for an EA to replace 3 existing ranger stations. That took several years to write, went to 150 pages and wasn't approved for almost 10 years. Those aren't necessarily equivalent to putting in a toilet, but the point is there's major scrutiny of anything being built in designated wilderness. Something we could easily do 10+ years ago is now difficult to impossible.

Regarding Wilderness boundaries: a reasonable point in some ways but now impossible to change. Ostrander Ski Hut is an enclave within the Yosemite Wilderness. The boundary is something like 10 feet from the walls of the hut and the guy who drew the boundary admits that was a major mistake. The old septic tank (at 25') is outside that boundary so when we needed to create a better toilet system, we couldn't because we couldn't repair the old septic tank. (Toilets, it's always about toilets...). It would literally take an act of Congress to change any wilderness boundary.

Also true that the toilet itself is not a deal breaker within the WA. But you still have to show it's the best environmental choice (not an absolute, there's wiggle room, but it's got to be pretty solid compared to the other Alternatives). If the USFS EA was shoddy or dishonest -- and I'll take your word for it (and am not surprised) -- getting it overturned still wouldn't help all that much. You'd have to go back to square one, show the need (unacceptable impacts of status quo) then justify the toilets compared to other alternatives.

As a side note, there might have been a chance before the old ones were destroyed. You might have been able to argue a Categorical Exclusion (Cat X) and put the new one on the existing site without an EA. But I think once those were gone, that chance passed. We very possibly could have gotten a Cat X for putting new ranger stations on the existing footprint of the old one, but SEKI opted for the safest course with a full EA.

An interesting point about not using the wag bags. I don't know. Sequoia Kings has what's called the Superintendent's Compendium -- these are local park rules with the force of law. So there's one that says all rules shown on the wilderness permit must be obeyed and to not do so is a violation of the Compendium with a fine and CFR violation code. I don't know if USFS has a similar regulation through the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations). When you get a permit, does the permit say you have to use the wag bag in the Whitney corridor? Or do they just hand you the bags and say use them (please). If the latter, then it probably doesn't have the force of law. You could contact the USFS Law Enforcement Office and ask. I'd be interested in what they say.

Just checking the SEKI permit, there's nothing about a specific wag bag requirement for Guitar Lake and beyond. I absolutely don't want to advocate not using them there, but unless there's something else for the NPS side, it's voluntary (and there may well be something else...). I also want to point out that the ranger there reports much less problem with toilet paper and feces under rocks. I think there's also some evidence of lower levels of e coli in the lake, which is to say the bags have a net positive effect.

Well, anyway, I do want to give SN an attaboy. As a long-time advocate and organizer for various forlorn hopes, I'm impressed with the quality of the groundwork you've done. As noted, I don't agree with the need, but the basis of all change is educating the public in an honest and straightforward way and hoping others join in. So, on that front: solid work!


_________________________
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
#30972 - 04/17/13 08:04 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: George]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2213
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
SN is our very own Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha.

Perhaps the real answer is to grandfather in non-wilderness corridors say, 100 meters* either side of the road/trail. Look at either side of the road on the Glacier Point topo. WMT, just like the HD trail, is not wilderness, at times it's a freaking narrow superhighway to a specialized tourist destination. A specialized tourist destination that we are loving to death.

* Meters - eventual standard measurement. 100M is about a football field in length.
_________________________
Verum audaces non gerunt indusia alba. - Ipsi dixit MCMLXXII

Top
#30973 - 04/17/13 08:14 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: George]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2213
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
Originally Posted By: George
A couple of years later, I was the lead writer for an EA to replace 3 existing ranger stations. That took several years to write, went to 150 pages and wasn't approved for almost 10 years.

Perhaps the Ranger Station wine cellars became a sticking point?
_________________________
Verum audaces non gerunt indusia alba. - Ipsi dixit MCMLXXII

Top
#30976 - 04/17/13 09:28 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: George]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
George, you raise a lot of points again, and thanks for the attaboy. I forget that nobody is really keeping up with the 132 previous posts, but it gets frustrating to go back over this stuff again and again. This is all described somewhere above.

First point George, your SEKI NPS management commented on the EA in a letter to Inyo. They strongly recommended NOT going with the wag bags, stating their very own NPS negative experience with them due to lack of compliance. So no, SEKI is not requiring them either.

The EA was actually a very well written document. The only thing shoddy or dishonest was the way it was handled. The problem was that it recommended installing new toilets. The District Ranger at the time, Garry Oye, didn't like the preferred alternative. (He since moved to the NPS in Washington by the way and I would love to debate him on what he did.) He was dead set on going with wag bags and he abused the process to get that result. The first thing he did was change the preferred alternative in the public notice, so it didn't match the Environmental Assessment. This created confusion, a lot of work for his staff explaining things and several commenters raised questions about it. Inyo sent me copies of all the EA comments so I know what I'm talking about. The hiker groups went for wag bags and generally recommended lower quotas. That's why they looked the other way while Garry made a mockery of NEPA. Individuals, on the other hand, overwhelmingly opposed wag bags and wanted the toilets replaced. But individuals don't really matter in the environmental process, they don't sue.

Then came nothing. Inyo did a pilot study with toilets and wag bags and nobody really complained much because they still had toilets. Then came the memo. It looked a lot like a NEPA decision memo. It was circulated as if it were an environmental document. After years of delay and poor maintenance, surprise, the toilets were so worn out he claimed he had to act on an emergency basis to remove them. The memo thanked the hikers for their positive feedback and for helping him find a solution. That's the lie I refer to above. Garry, please feel free to respond if you're reading this from Washington.

So the Environmental Assessment process is supposed to end with a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) which means they can proceed with the selected alternative. Or if there are significant impacts, and the EA identified many potential impacts with the wag bag program, then an Environmental Impact Statement is required before they can proceed with the alternative. Well, Garry implemented the Wag Bag Alternative in the EA without completing either. That's why his memo was not actually a decision document. And that's why they can't issue a Forest Order requiring you to use a Wag Bag. I can't believe I'm writing this again.

Having explained all that, as I've written above, it would be easy for a law student to force them to go back and complete the NEPA process since they implemented an alternative with known impacts without completing the process. But in the end, they would undermine the effort to establish and maintain a working toilet system. That's why I haven't been in favor of that approach. Maybe I'm wrong about that. It might be the only way to get anything going.

As to moving forward, it takes an official organized group, with the threat of a lawsuit or perhaps an actual lawsuit, and someone who can sustain a frustrating effort to build a coalition to eventually get something done. As you can tell from my writing style, I don't have that level of patience. I'm a designer and builder. I can tell you what's feasible, I can design it and I can build it. But don't ask me to sit through meeting after meeting playing Kumbaya with people dreaming in fantasyland of how they can change human nature with nothing but time. Sorry if I've insulted planners, but you gotta admit deep down it can feel that way sometimes.

Last point, George. Do you recognize this toilet in a designated wilderness in your SEKI NP? Pear Lake ring a bell, due west from Whitney? It's not a flush model WILDERNESS toilet like the one at SEKI High Sierra Camp at Bearpaw on the High Sierra Trail, but it does the job and it looks pretty nice to me. Much better than plastic bags full of crap.



Top
#30986 - 04/18/13 08:55 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: SierraNevada]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
Quote:
Last point, George. Do you recognize this toilet in a designated wilderness in your SEKI NP? Pear Lake ring a bell, due west from Whitney? It's not a flush model WILDERNESS toilet like the one at SEKI High Sierra Camp at Bearpaw on the High Sierra Trail, but it does the job and it looks pretty nice to me. Much better than plastic bags full of crap.


Good photo and, really, my point. That was built well before my rough estimate of 10 years for getting serious about Wilderness and/or NEPA compliance. Yet again, it's hard to believe one could be built now. Also, Bearpaw is not in a designated wilderness. It's an enclave outside the wilderness boundary and not subject to those laws. Dial back the gratuitous snark, please.

More importantly, it doesn't "do the job." I have been closely interested in this problem since the mid-90s seeking solutions for Ostrander Ski Hut. In 2008 I wrote one of the people in charge of the Pear Lake one and the one shown in the photo:

Quote:
There are definate compsoting issues with the Phoenix and Clivus toilets. The one at the hut is a Clivus Multrum. It does not compost well due to the cold weather but it works very well as a holding tank. ... If you're considering one for Ostrander,I'd suggest to only get one if your intentions are to use it as a smell free holding tank, and not for it's composting properties.


You (and others) continue to ignore the relative environmental impacts of "plastic bags full of crap" vs. a large structure and associated maintenance costs and impacts. You cannot demonstrate that, say, hiring another ranger or worker to clean up x number of abandoned wag bags is less of an unacceptable or unworkable environmental impact.

If an agency is going to haul out raw shit, then the maintenance costs and environmental impacts of fewer wag bags is demonstrably less than that of a toilet, of whatever efficiency. That's the hurdle you have to overcome and the standard you have not yet met.

Quote:
Perhaps the Ranger Station wine cellars became a sticking point?


Well, the power consumption of the wine refrigerator was a small problem. Those darned Bordeaux are just so sensitive to the jostling of mules and temperature fluctuations!
_________________________
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
#30988 - 04/18/13 10:01 PM Re: Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags [Re: George]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
Sorry, George, was not trying to be snarky. I find it ironic that SEKI NP has this nice looking toilet at Pear Lake within a designated wilderness that happens to be due west of Mt Whitney. Has an engineer looked at the composting issues there or is this left to Rangers to figure out? This elevation is probably about as high as you want to go with a composter type, a dehydrator starts to be a better choice. In order for a composting toilet to work here, the building must be very well insulated and solar heated as much as possible. It looks like it's had a makeover in the photo, I wonder if they insulated the inside of those pretty stone masonry walls.

I didn't realize Bearpaw was in an enclave boundary excluded from designated wilderness, but it's been there for 75 yrs so it makes sense. Muir Trail Ranch is like that, right on the JMT, also with toilets of course. Same with the Yosemite High Sierra Camps. Here's the quote from the Bearpaw website, "Bearpaw is set 11.5 miles into pristine national park backcountry, high atop a 7,800-foot granite saddle overlooking the Great Western Divide. Central shower house with flush toilets and hot showers." Nice little business in the middle of a wilderness.

I think we just have to agree to disagree about this one, George. You're a Ranger recommending hiring more Rangers to pick up plastic bags, and I'm an engineer recommending toilets as the best solution for a popular area like the Whitney Zone. I look at that toilet in the photo and I don't see impacts, I see proven environmental protection that's perfect for a lot of people in a sensitive area. The costs are shared by many and it comes out similar to the plastic bags full of chemicals. We both understand the difficulty of reversing what has been done at Whitney, but I thought you could at least stop claiming they don't work. I hope you can acknowledge that toilets are not unusual in the backcountry, whether it's designated wilderness or a carved out enclave surrounded by designated wilderness.

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