Long Awaited Half Dome Stewardship Plan Environmental Assessment is Here!
The Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan Draft Environmental Assessment is now available for public review. Public comments on the plan will be accepted from Tuesday, January 24, 2012, through Thursday, March 15, 2012. The Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan was developed to address crowded conditions, visitor experience, and safety on the Half Dome Trail and encompasses the two mile section from the John Muir Trail to the summit of Half Dome.
The Preferred Alternative is to keep the cables in place with their current configuration and implement daily use limits of 300 people per day. This alternative provides the best combination of accessibility to the summit, free-flowing travel conditions on the cables, which improves safety, and low encounter rates on the trail, similar to use levels found on other high-use trails in Yosemite's wilderness and other wilderness areas. The park implemented an Interim Half Dome Cables Permit System for the 2010 and 2011 hiking seasons. An Interim Half Dome Cables Permit System will also be implemented during the 2012 hiking season.
In 1964, Congress passed the Wilderness Act, creating the National Wilderness Preservation System. As such, approximately 95% of Yosemite National Park , including Half Dome and the Half Dome Trail, is designated Wilderness. Consequently, all of the action alternatives were developed to improve the wilderness character of the trail.
The Environmental Assessment (EA) presents environmental analysis of five alternatives, including the Preferred Alternative. Alternative A, the No Action Alternative, would retain the cable system and continue managing the Half Dome Trail as it was through 2009, with no permits required. This action violates National Park Service (NPS) policy and will not be considered. Under Alternative B, the park would retain the cable system and implement day-use limits through a permit system allowing 400 hikers per day. Under Alternative C, the Preferred Alternative, the park would retain the cable system and implement day-use limits through a permit system allowing 300 hikers per day. Under Alternative D, the park would retain the cable system and implement day-use limits through a permit system allowing 140 hikers per day. Under Alternative E, the park would remove the cable system from Half Dome.
The park considers all public comments in making a decision, which will be documented in the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), if appropriate. If approved, the plan will be implemented for the 2013 hiking season. Hiking permits for Half Dome will be allocated through an online reservation system and/or a lottery.
The public review and comment period begins with release of the EA. The document is available for electronic review at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/halfdome. Please submit written comments electronically through the website, or join us at the park's monthly Open House at the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center Auditorium on Wednesday, February 29, 2012, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., to discuss the plan with park staff. Hard copies or CDs of the EA may be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also mail your comments to P.O. Box 577 Yosemite, California 95389, c/o Superintendent, ATTN: Half Dome Plan; or send a facsimile to (209) 379-1294.
Open House January 25, 2012
Join park staff on Wednesday, January 5, 2012, to talk about ongoing plans and projects. Representatives from the Mariposa Grove Restoration Project, Half Dome, Merced River Plan, and others will be on hand to provide updates. Wilderness Rangers will also answer questions about the 2012 Interim Permit Program for the Half Dome Cables.
The open house is from 1 to 4 pm in the Auditorium located behind the Valley Visitor Center. Park Entrance fees are waived for attendees.