Steve, I think that is a fair effort. I'm going to give it a little time to digest, before I respond.
One thing that I do want to talk about is a concept that I learned about last week that I didn't quite understand before: official hazards in wilderness. This was in the context of an advanced class in cutting trees that I was involved in, in which we were discussing what hazards exist that the public must be warned about. The answer: there are none by definition. The wilderness is a wild place that is not defined by man nor managed by man. As such, it should not have it's dangers be defined by any agency, but rather, be defined by the individual traversing it themselves so as to actually experience a wilderness place. To do otherwise is to steal wilderness from American experience.
So to have a ranger stand in a wilderness area, and order people to do something because of danger, is antithetical to wilderness meaning. People who are into wilderness are very passionate about these things!
If that is true, what is the justification for banning base jumping in Yosemite?
It seems a bit arbitrary considering that the wilderness is "managed by man", in that things like trail building/maintenance, fish stocking, and restrictions on access take place. And when you pick up a wilderness permit the rangers do warn you about hazards, at least in general terms. Since the cables are man made, and maintained by the park service, it's not exactly untouched wilderness anyway. What is the problem of turning people away if conditions are dangerous?
Base jumping, paragliding, Ultralighting, parachuting...are significant activities of man. I don't think you would consider it to be a normal activity of nature to be standing in a grove of trees, and see a parachute-laden person descending.
Fish stocking is no longer allowed in wilderness.
Trail maintenance is done to concentrate impact, so it is not spread all over the place, which is what would happen if trails did not exist (when they tried that-think Mirror Lake), and so that the trails will not deteriorate and cause damage to the surrounding areas. Enormous effort goes into doing in such a way so as to not leave a trace of the work that was done.
What is the problem of turning people away if conditions are dangerous?
Then you have taken on the responsibility of turning people away if any
dangerous condition of any kind
exists....which means that you turn people away all the time
, because the cables are ALWAYS dangerous, that darn slippery rock and that pesky slippery cable. And then they have to supply rock shoes, and tie in carabiners and harnesses, water, guides, insurance, etc, etc, etc
people can be warned that wilderness is inherently wild and dangerous, and they are taking responsibility
for their own safety.Edit: Posts following this one were moved to the "Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags" thread, since they blended more into that topic.