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#41378 - 01/13/15 08:31 PM Re: Change in the wind for JMT access? [Re: Roleigh Martin]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1548
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Late night update from the Yos Wilderness office. The Wilderness Manager asked me to clear up a couple of points from my post yesterday so here they are. Yesterday I reflected what I see as Yos managements firm commitment to the principle that once you have complied with the trailhead conditions of your permit, i.e stayed in LYV, or not, stayed in Illilouette drainage, etc, you may hike to anywhere in the wilderness.

HOWEVER, if you choose to go into the Sunrise drainage, you are contributing to the problem that Yos is wrestling with; impacts in the Sunrise and Lyell drainages. Which by the way is illustrated by some numbers Ed Dunlavey passed along to me today. How many JMT-access reservations would you estimate were issued by this date in 2012, 2013, 2014 and this year? Understanding JMT access permits as individuals with reservations to the usual trialheads and exit points at Red's or farther south? If you already know this, let the others have a chance.

Meantime, another clarification: it turns out that the current entry trailhead quotas are NOT on the table in the present effort. That means that not only will the total permits quotas at a given trailhead not be changed, but the allocation of split traiheads will not be changed. I E. Glacier point will remain at 30 per day, split 10 and 20 between LYV and Illilouette. What they are looking at adjusting is the passthrough quotas and exit quotas. I know: I do not understand either how adjusting passthrough and exit quotas is going to address total numbers travelling from LYV to Tuolumne: I am just reporting what I am told is going on.

OK, ready for the answers to today's quiz? Check back here in an an hour or so.
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#41382 - 01/13/15 11:02 PM Re: Change in the wind for JMT access? [Re: saltydog]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
I'm waiting for those numbers!

Is there any mention by Yosemite officials regarding charging higher fees so they can put more rangers on the trails?

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#41383 - 01/14/15 12:01 AM Re: Change in the wind for JMT access? [Re: Steve C]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1548
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Oh, cmon, take a guess first! WHile I go look em up again.
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#41385 - 01/14/15 08:03 AM Re: Change in the wind for JMT access? [Re: saltydog]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 579
Loc: Manchester, NH
After skimming this thread, the phases "much ado about nothing" and "tempest in a teapot" come to mind.

Might be time to do something useful, like go for a hike! smile

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#41386 - 01/14/15 08:46 AM Re: Change in the wind for JMT access? [Re: saltydog]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: saltydog
Oh, cmon, take a guess first! While I go look em up again.


Ha! I saw your post on fb, and you gave percentages but not numbers. Ten more than one is 1000%. Are they comparing trail permit requests against prior years? The JMT facebook page has exploded, which I think is a huge contributing factor.

I am wondering how many no-shows will occur. I suspect it will be a high number, just like the Whitney Lottery.

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#41387 - 01/14/15 09:47 AM Re: Change in the wind for JMT access? [Re: Steve C]
Roleigh Martin Offline


Registered: 04/22/11
Posts: 7
Loc: Reno NV
Peter Hirst and I got (at the same time) an email from Ed Dunlavey yesterday with some statistics about reservation permits and the JMT. I called him (Ed) up and he said I could repost the numbers. Here it is:

"as side note here is some current numbers from the reservations office for 2015 reservations.

For JMT permits, we are 242% of last year, 608% of 2013 and 1216% of 2012. (523 people in 2015, 233 in 2014, 86 in 2013 and 43 in 2012

For all reservations, the office is about 165% of last year."
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#41388 - 01/14/15 12:26 PM Re: Change in the wind for JMT access? [Re: Steve C]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1548
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Originally Posted By: Steve C
Originally Posted By: saltydog
Oh, cmon, take a guess first! While I go look em up again.


Ha! I saw your post on fb, and you gave percentages but not numbers. Ten more than one is 1000%. Are they comparing trail permit requests against prior years? The JMT facebook page has exploded, which I think is a huge contributing factor.

I am wondering how many no-shows will occur. I suspect it will be a high number, just like the Whitney Lottery.


Ha Ha! You didn't look close enough: the numbers are in there too. Same quote from Ed.
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#41394 - 01/15/15 06:22 AM Re: Change in the wind for JMT access? [Re: saltydog]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
Ed Dunleavy called me yesterday in follow up on prior email exchanges. He's doing public outreach on a personal level instead of the cumbersome process of soliciting comments formally, like the typical environmental process. He admitted this wasn't the ideal way to handle public input, but technically, they seem to be within their authority to make the adjustments they are proposing without any public input. So we're lucky they're doing any outreach I guess.

I'll keep echoing what I learn back to the group and other forums as well. I assume others like Salty will also continue that. This needs to be a 2-way street, so please continue posting suggestions that might be useful for addressing this problem within the limits of their ability to respond administratively. They can't make huge changes without a lengthy process.

The numbers speak for themselves, which explains the sense of urgency created by the dramatic increase in JMT permit requests. The problem is a little complicated with a lot of feeder trails people can use to access the JMT, thru-hikers vs park hikers, and all the various work-a-rounds that people come up with.

As an engineer, I approach these things in a predictable manner. I'm working to better define the problem, list out options, and evaluate pros and cons of various solutions. I'm probably overthinking this because their administrative options for quick response are so limited. To do this logically, the total permit numbers shown above need to be broken down better and there must be other data out there about trail usage on different portions of through the park. Not sure any of that will happen, but I'll keep trying to include a system engineering approach to the problem.

I stressed the importance of coordinating with neighboring jurisdictions and taking a Regional approach for addressing long distance trails like the JMT and PCT. They intend to do that later.

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#41410 - 01/16/15 07:09 AM Re: Change in the wind for JMT access? [Re: SierraNevada]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
I spoke with YNP Wilderness Manager Ed Dunlavey again Thursday afternoon, so I thought I'd echo what I learned back to the groups. He vetted this text, so it should be correct.

The problem: big surge in demand for permits feeding onto the JMT, as discussed above. The biggest concern is the Sunrise drainage reach of the trail. The field survey data seems to be out of date, but this area was at or above carrying capacity in 2010 and has only gotten worse. Lyell Canyon was near capacity in 2010, so its assumed to be over capacity now with the additional demand. Apparently the usual overuse impacts are manifesting with more fire rings and bear incidents. It may not be directly from JMT hikers, but too many hikers lead to new camp spots, and some percentage of hikers will screw up with food storage.

The options: they have historically made changes to entry quotas through administrative action without formal review. They don't seem to be considering any new limits on total entry permits, which means the total number of permits may not change. They are considering changes to the current pass-through quotas out of the valley and/or Glacier Pt, and adding a new exit permit SOBO out of Lyell Canyon.

The proposed solutions: I believe there are 20 total pass-through permits (past LYV to Sunrise/Merced) shared between the two trailheads (HI and GP). One idea is to allocate those 20 permits amongst all the trailheads that feed into the Sunrise reach of trail (HI, GP, Sunrise Lakes, Cathedral, etc) and let them get assigned by lottery. So a regular Sunrise Lakes permit from Tenaya Lake might not allow you to circle back up to TM and beyond on the JMT, only the pass-through permit would allow that. This change would reduce access to the JMT from feeder trails, but allow the same total number of in-park hikers. Presumably, they would camp away from the JMT and reduce concentrated impacts. I recommended they separate the pass-through permits beyond LYV into either Merced or Sunrise destination trails instead of lumping them together as they are now. I don't think there's a problem with the Merced reach, so why affect those hikers? On the other hand, more people might start going from Happy Isles through Vogelsang to get to Donohue, but they would be limited by the exit quota for continuing on SOBO.

The solution for Lyell Canyon is focused on a new exit quota. This option has never been used before in YNP, so they are struggling to visualize the ramifications. Ultimately, this will also affect all thru-hikers no matter where you start in the park if you want to continue SOBO over Donahue Pass. They were considering Red's Meadow as the exit point, but I pointed out that was beyond their jurisdiction, and they've already backed off of that. So it will probably be Donohue Pass if they implement an exit quota. The proposed quota number is under debate. A major consideration is if they coordinate with Inyo and Toiyabe NF to include hikers starting from the Bridgeport Twin Lakes area or other surrounding areas. If they do that, it would reduce the available exit permits starting from within YNP since some of the quota would be taken from hikers starting elsewhere. Or they could increase the quota to accommodate the additional traffic. They are consulting with the NF managers, but I think that level of permit coordination would be more complex than they can handle on short notice. It may come later. Bottom line, an exit quota might push more starting traffic into the surrounding Nat Forests, which might affect permit options for hikes in those areas.

Lastly, the Yosemite Wilderness Plan Update is scheduled to kickoff this spring/summer, which will give them a chance to perform more comprehensive planning with better information, public review, interagency coordination, and more options on the table. So keep your powder dry on the big solutions, and feel free to comment on what I've described here. I will relay it back to Ed.

This is moving quickly, by government standards, so if this topic interests you, please don't delay getting your ideas posted. Please don't shoot the messenger, I'm just trying to help.

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#41411 - 01/16/15 10:41 AM Re: Change in the wind for JMT access? [Re: SierraNevada]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
Several points:

1. Has anyone discussed raising hiker fees enough to support more rangers working in the impacted areas? I raised the point in an email to Ed Dunlavey a few days ago, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. Inyo has increased fees (but have not raised them in years) in the WhitneyZone, but unfortunately those seem to mostly support the clerical rangers in the Visitor Center. It is time the hiking community pay its own way. With more rangers out there, the fire rings and other damage, I would hope, could be minimized. I cringe every time I see more limits on numbers, as in the exit quota, while no other solutions are explored.

2. I think Inyo NF may have tried coordinating quotas with surrounding entry trails from outside Inyo, and it is pretty much abandoned. Hikers starting from Toiyabe/Bridgeport will be few, so it seems pointless to try to set a quota or permit system that requires them to carry a special permit, too.

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#41413 - 01/16/15 11:39 AM Re: Change in the wind for JMT access? [Re: Steve C]
Krishna Offline


Registered: 04/15/11
Posts: 101
Loc: Woodridge, IL, USA
Yes, I am all for increasing the fees. Additionally, as Grand Canyon does, keep a portion of the fees from the rejected permit applications to prevent flood of permit applications, as it encourages now in YNP process. Retaining a portion of the rejected application fee also discourages multiple attempts by the same person or groups.

GC system also keeps the full fee of rejected permit applications, keeping some portion as a credit for the applicant for a future plan, usually to be used within a year. This usually never happens and GC system keeps the money.

I prefer this to the lottery!

Krishna

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#41415 - 01/16/15 06:55 PM Re: Change in the wind for JMT access? [Re: Krishna]
RenoFrank Offline


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 414
Loc: Reno, NV
Originally Posted By: Krishna
Yes, I am all for increasing the fees. Additionally, as Grand Canyon does, keep a portion of the fees from the rejected permit applications to prevent flood of permit applications, as it encourages now in YNP process. Retaining a portion of the rejected application fee also discourages multiple attempts by the same person or groups.

GC system also keeps the full fee of rejected permit applications, keeping some portion as a credit for the applicant for a future plan, usually to be used within a year. This usually never happens and GC system keeps the money.

I prefer this to the lottery!

Krishna


I've had two applications denied for camping in the Grand Canyon back country this month. I don't think they kept any application fee:

"THANK YOU for your interest in the Grand Canyon! Unfortunately, your request for a permit (startdate in MAY) has been denied because space is not available for any of the itineraries or variations you requested. We have not charged your credit card and/or are returning your check. We are sorry this trip did not work out."

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#41436 - 01/18/15 01:45 PM Re: Change in the wind for JMT access? [Re: RenoFrank]
Krishna Offline


Registered: 04/15/11
Posts: 101
Loc: Woodridge, IL, USA
Rules might have changed. In 2011 and 2012 GC kept my money and sent a credit letter saying that I can use the credit within a year which I have not had a chance.

Krishna

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#41629 - 01/29/15 01:21 PM Re: Change in the wind for JMT access? [Re: Krishna]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7233
Loc: Fresno, CA
Yosemite National Park has posted their new "Wilderness Permits for John Muir Trail Hikers" today.

Here is first part of the information:
Quote:
Over the last several years, Yosemite National Park has noted a significant increase in demand for permits to hike the John Muir Trail (JMT). From 2011 to 2015, there has been a 100% increase in JMT permits requested. The trailís rising popularity has strained the traditional methods that hikers use to access the JMT. The increased number of JMT hikers has made it difficult for non-JMT hikers to get wilderness permits for other trails within Yosemite National Park. Also during this same time, the NPS has noted an increase in the number of resource related impacts within the Sunrise Creek and Lyell Canyon areas. Finally, some wilderness campsites along the JMT in Yosemite have seen a sharp increase in overnight users, which negatively impacts the quality of the visitor experience.

To protect access for other hikers and preserve the quality of the JMT experience, Yosemite National Park is implementing an exit quota on an interim basis. The exit quota will help the park to address access and resource concerns until a comprehensive approach can be developed through the upcoming wilderness stewardship planning process. The interim quota will limit the number of hikers exiting the Yosemite Wilderness over Donohue Pass to 45 per day. The exit quota applies to all wilderness permits reserved or issued after February 2, 2015.

Wilderness trailhead quotas are not being reduced. The interim solution will help to restore traditional wilderness use patterns, balance access for JMT hikers with non-JMT hikers in the Yosemite Wilderness, and reduce physical and social impacts. Additionally, the interim quota will allow Yosemite National Park to collect visitor use and impact data along the JMT. Yosemite National Park anticipates launching a planning process to develop an updated wilderness management plan this spring and invites all to participate.


Their graph of JMT usage:

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#41630 - 01/29/15 06:20 PM Re: Change in the wind for JMT access? [Re: Steve C]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1100
Loc: NorCal
I just emailed Ed about these numbers. He gave Salty much more dramatic numbers, which were posted here and on other forums.

PREVIOUSLY: For JMT permits, we are 242% of last year, 608% of 2013 and 1216% of 2012. (523 people in 2015, 233 in 2014, 86 in 2013 and 43 in 2012)

NOW: A 100% increase (doubling) over 4 years.


100% increase (2x) over 4 yrs is a lot different than 1216% increase (13x) over 3 yrs.

Ed told me there were as many as 80 people going over Donohue in one day. That's a pair of hikers every 12 minutes on average over an 8-hr day. I'm not convinced that's really a problem because so many of those thru-hikers do not camp in Lyell Canyon anyway.

I'm sure the demand has increased significantly, but they have not done a good job quantifying the problem. Let's see how it works out, and get involved in the Yosemite Wilderness Management Plan Update if you think they can do better.

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