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Torching Whitney Toilets
#36159 04/29/14 05:59 PM
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Steve C Offline OP
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Over the past years, we have had a number of threads discussing the Wag Bag pack-out system "required" of all Mt Whitney hikers.  These discussions have been carried on here and on the WPS forum (where some lengthy discussions were deleted).  Several forum members have contacted Inyo National Forest management, both current and past, to find out how the present situation came about.  Recently, video presentations from a 2010 conference, Exit Strategies Conference 2010 - Managing Human Waste in the Wild, were made available on the web, and the information from them has been enlightening.

Pulling all the information together, we have collaborated to create a video that includes clips and material from several of the conference presentations, and provides other information gathered over time.  The 18 minute video below is the result.





The above video contains excerpts from several videos contained in the conference web page.  The two presentations are:

1) former Inyo (Whitney) District Ranger Garry Oye:   Mt. Whitney Case Study

and

2) Joe Arnold, engineer at Rocky Mt NP:   Rocky Mountain National Park

2019 Edit: It has come to light that Garry Oye had worked in Chile on the opposite: installing a workable backcountry toilet:
Backcountry Human Waste Project Torres del Paine National Park - Chile February 2018 Link here.

Re: Torching Whitney Toilets
Steve C #36167 04/30/14 05:35 AM
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The comment that Whitney hikers are among the most stupid people on the planet, might also be applied to SEKI and Inyo NF managers.

Why, why, don't local wilderness managers seem to be able to pick up on what has worked successfully in Rocky Mountain? It's like the "left hand" not only doesn't know what the "right hand" is doing, but doesn't want to! So the wheels of government officials continue to grind slowly over each other and us.

Re: Torching Whitney Toilets
Bob West #36168 04/30/14 08:11 AM
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Thin skinned Garry, if you are listening.

I remember when this guy was assigned to this ranger district they did a feature on him in the Los Angeles Times. There he stated he was very proud of what he accomplished at Shasta, primarily the elimination of the latrines and the institution of a WAG Bag system...and he wanted to do it at Mt. Whitney. He was predisposed to this and he was going to get his way, period. This was about a legacy, not what is right for the area.

People like Garry Oye need to be exposed for the frauds they are. Thanks Steve, Thanks SN for your work in the area.

Garry, if you want to chat, contact me through either of the links below.

Re: Torching Whitney Toilets
Steve C #36211 05/02/14 05:31 PM
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Just finished watching the video and find the facts presented very disturbing. If the information is true and accurate with respect to environmental studies never being completed, public comments being disregarded, and individual action taken by Garry Oye with complete disregard to supervision and process, he should be fired and his boss should be reprimanded for allowing him to continue without regard to policies and procedure put in place to stifle such behavior and prevent this type of action from being taken in the first place. Actually, Garry should be prosecuted for arson, and vandalism, and be required to rebuild the toilets to their previous standard as a replacement for his unauthorized action taken with respect to public structures. To sit so arrogantly on stage and state that the visitors of Whitney are the stupidest people around, they will do what we tell them or no permit, is his ego at work... it was never about what is best for Mt. Whitney, I am a bad-ass and this is what we are doing. It was about what was best for his ego, and whoever has to clean the latrine doesn't have to do that job now. I wonder where all of these bags are being shipped off to? Tightly sealed, with a chemical stabilizer, closed tightly, anaerobically decomposing in plastic, untreated, in the dump just a few miles away. 20,000 individual bags per year? Wonder if that waste is being run over by tractors, and rained on making its way to the Owens River? Seems that the composting toilet was a better answer, dealing with trash being tossed in them possibly a separate issue? Let's just burn them down, no more maintenance here. I just saved $$XX from our budget this year. Very sad. All I can do is my part to keep the area clean and hope others will do the same.

Re: Torching Whitney Toilets
Lance #36242 05/05/14 07:57 AM
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My short-term solution: Provide WagBag disposal dumpsters at the Outpost and Trail Camps. Use stock to empty them as needed. It would be better than having the bags discarded all over the mountain.

Re: Torching Whitney Toilets
Marty #36243 05/05/14 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted By: Marty
My short-term solution: Provide WagBag disposal dumpsters at the Outpost and Trail Camps. Use stock to empty them as needed. It would be better than having the bags discarded all over the mountain.


This is a federal wilderness area...it cannot be done easily. There has to be a well established politically powerful group advocating this solution to get anyone in government interested in changing the status quo.

Re: Torching Whitney Toilets
wbtravis #36370 05/08/14 11:25 PM
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Let's face it, WBT, most people do Whitney as a one and done trophy hike. They should care about how the place is managed, but they don't. There are thousands of miles of real wilderness to think about instead. At least this video uncovers the shenanigans behind the scenes for the few who care. Mainly, it sets the record straight about how a wilderness toilet system can be operated without burdening Rangers. Leave it to a good engineer, a small crew of maintenance workers, and a few popular llamas. It's unfortunate that Inyo can't figure this out. But that's what started people looking deeper into this in the first place, the crazy insistence that toilets can't possibly work.

When they start proposing lower and lower trail quotas, maybe people will take notice and remember that video about how toilets can actually work.

Last edited by SierraNevada; 05/08/14 11:38 PM.
Re: Torching Whitney Toilets
wbtravis #36373 05/09/14 08:30 AM
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I wonder whether the prospect saving money would have any influence. In the original EA, it was estimated that building new toilets would cost 200,000 to install and about 5,000 per year to operate. The pack it out proposal was estimated to cost 30,000 to implement and 27,000 per year to operate. That's a payback of just over 5 years on a system with at least a 20-year life. It would be nice to know what the actuals are but according to the evidence before Inyo when the decision was made, the present system became more expensive than new toilets about three years ago, and continues to accrue that deficit at the rate of 30,000 per year.


Wherever you go, there you are.
SPOTMe!
Re: Torching Whitney Toilets
saltydog #36376 05/09/14 08:54 AM
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Saltydog,

As I said this was all about legacy, not doing what works for the public.

Garry Oye is a joke of a man.

Re: Torching Whitney Toilets
wbtravis #36388 05/09/14 11:49 AM
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WBT, as much as I share your strong feelings about what was done, the insults and condescending attitude verbalized toward Whitney hikers, and seeing a public process get hijacked by one individual "on a mission" (to use his own words), I don't agree with using insulting language. Let's keep it civil, please. The facts speak for themselves without making it personal. Thanks.

Re: Torching Whitney Toilets
saltydog #36389 05/09/14 12:37 PM
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SaltyDog, let's do the math.
20,000 permits at $15 a hiker = $300,000
to operate a trail for a 5-month season.
Wag Bags are roughly 10% of that revenue generated.

By federal law, National Forest and Park user fees are supposed to provide facilities and services for the user paying the fee. The Whitney hiker gets a plastic bag and the pleasure of carrying poop for miles. What a deal!

Maybe the video is right about Whitney hikers, perhaps we are the stupidest people on the planet?


Last edited by SierraNevada; 05/09/14 01:00 PM.
Re: Torching Whitney Toilets
SierraNevada #36397 05/09/14 04:37 PM
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Now, now, Sierra Nevada, only those making reservations get to pay the fee. Since I never reserve, I do not have the pleasure of paying the fee thus get my WAG bag at taxpayers expense.


Next time up I am going to refuse it, just to see what their response is.

Saltydog,

I did not come to that conclusion lightly. This man came here not to solve a problem but to build a legacy...the man who got people to crap in a bag at two California iconic mountain locations.

The last time I hiked from Guitar Lake to Mt. Whitney and then to the Portal, I saw a dozen of those bags left behind.

What sealed the deal for that opinion was him calling Sierra Nevada at his place of employment to dress him down. There are a few adjectives I could have used to describe him but the one I did use was more than fair.

At least he knew enough to leave the mess to someone else to clean up.

Re: Torching Whitney Toilets
wbtravis #36677 05/21/14 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted By: wbtravis
Now, now, Sierra Nevada, only those making reservations get to pay the fee.

In terms of revenue collected, I think they collect more than once when a reservation is cancelled and rebooked. Free walk-in permits are mostly cancellations, so they probably had a paid reservation even for "free" permits. The point is they collect adequate revenue to manage toilets for a five month season. And it makes one wonder where the money has gone since the toilets were torched?

Originally Posted By: wbtravis
What sealed the deal for that opinion was him calling Sierra Nevada at his place of employment to dress him down. There are a few adjectives I could have used to describe him but the one I did use was more than fair.

Maybe my post was not clear, but I don't feel that Mr. Oye called me at my office just "to dress me down." This is about his actions as a public official, not him personally. Sure he was rude and condescending on the phone, but let's face it, I'm a thorn in his side. It's nothing personal, he just doesn't want people digging up old facts and asking questions about his actions.

Re: Torching Whitney Toilets
SierraNevada #36856 05/29/14 12:21 AM
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Steve C Offline OP
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On WPSMB, Yury wrote:
Originally Posted By: Yury
It seems to me that without support from powerful friends Garry Oye could not have done this.
Do you know by any chance who may be supporting Garry?


My reply:
Quote:
I don't think it is a matter of power and support. The National Forest budgets have been cut over and over again by the federal executive branch, and so they have been working with fewer and fewer staff over the years. The old toilet system was a mess and an annoying nuisance for the rangers to maintain.

Mr. Oye was the Whitney District ranger, and all he needed to do was get the support of the remaining small number of administrators and rangers running Inyo N.F. I am sure he made a great sounding case for the pack-out system. And at the time 10 years ago, the llama-based solar toilet system in RMNP was not a well-known operation. So, with a good-sounding solution and no better alternative, he ramrodded it through.

Too bad he ignored SEKI administrator and public comments, and the NEPA process, too, along the way.

Now that more information has been made available, we can all see that there are better methods of dealing with the situation. The biggest problem to moving ahead are a willingness of Inyo N.F. to adopt something better, and just as important, varied opinions by the hiker community.

If you were to open up a discussion among hikers, there are a wide range of responses. I've seen reports from people claiming they don't mind hiking the entire JMT or hiking an entire week and packing their poop for the entire trip. I have seen alarming responses where people say Inyo should only allow a tiny number of hikers on the Whitney Trail, (while in contrast, RMNP doesn't even have quotas where their toilet system is working). And then most hikers on Whitney today simply accept that they have to carry and use WAG bags, even though there is no enforceable order requiring it. So therefore, we have the situation that is in place today: Hundreds of people daily handling and carrying biohazard waste for hours and days in their packs next to their food and gear.

I am hoping this information will become more widely known, so maybe a change for the better will eventually come about.

Here's hoping Doug doesn't delete the post.

By the way: Past threads and discussion are here: Wilderness Poop

Last edited by Steve C; 05/29/14 10:08 AM.
Re: Torching Whitney Toilets
SierraNevada #36866 05/29/14 09:28 AM
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SN,

I understand the permits can be reserved multiple times. I also understand that $15 doesn't cover the cost of writing one, if writing a sales order is any guide. I have stated here that the price of the permit should reflect demand for this trip...that is a losing battle I do not choose to fight.

Dressing down may be the wrong words but I do believe it is improper for any government official to call a citizen at his place of employment to discuss something that is not work related. I'm sure Mr. Oye had other avenues to contact you. Obviously, he did not like your spoiling of his legacy.

Re: Torching Whitney Toilets
Lance #36868 05/29/14 09:36 AM
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There is no chance he will be disciplined in any way so long as he restricts himself from skewering any sacred cows. Take the case up here of Lassen NP where the park superintendent was repeatedly informed of a dangerous situation on the peak trail and did nothing. A portion of the trail collapsed killing a child. The parents sued the NPS, and recieved a $3.5M ssettlement. During pre-trial a judge found that the superintendent had destroyed material evidence, including the remaining retaining wall and documents regarding its condition. Was the superintendent charged with any crimes or even disciplined? Of course not, she's doing a wonderful job.

Last edited by 2Old4This; 05/29/14 01:36 PM.
Re: Torching Whitney Toilets
Steve C #36870 05/29/14 09:48 AM
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New to these forums. Good to know that the guy who ruined Mt Shasta for the publuc is now working on eliminating people from Mt Whitney as well.

Re: Torching Whitney Toilets
2Old4This #36871 05/29/14 09:59 AM
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Steve C Offline OP
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I don't think anyone should be looking for retribution. What's past is history.

The most important part here is to understand that there are better solutions to the human waste problem on the Main Mt Whitney Trail than thousands of people wrapping it up and carrying it in their packs.

I would really like to see more support for a positive solution.

Edit:   2Old4This, Garry Oye has left Inyo National Forest and is employed by the National Park Service. So his impact on Whitney is history.

Last edited by Steve C; 05/29/14 10:01 AM.
Re: Torching Whitney Toilets
Steve C #36886 05/29/14 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted By: Steve C
Garry Oye has left Inyo National Forest and is employed by the National Park Service. So his impact on Whitney is history.
Not that simple.
He may spoil a lot of other places and may prevent implementation of a better solution for Mt. Whitney.

Re: Torching Whitney Toilets
Yury #36887 05/29/14 05:50 PM
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I understand that a WAG bag/Garry Oye thread was deleted on another forum.
Was it because of my question or something else?

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