January 15, 2008
Announcing public scoping for Vogelsang Backcountry Utilities Improvement Project
Public scoping for this project will open on Tuesday, January 15, 2008, and will be open until February 13, 2008. A link to project information will be posted on the park's website at www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/vogelsang.htm. A public meeting will take place on Wednesday, January 30, 2008 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm during the monthly Open House in the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center Auditorium.
The purpose of the Vogelsang Backcountry Utility Improvement project is to address public health and safety issues and utility deficiencies at the Vogelsang High Sierra Camp and the Backpacker's Camp. The deficiencies exist for a variety of reasons including new state and federal regulatory requirements, age, and deterioration of existing facilities. The camp's water supply comes from an underground spring which has been used since the camp opened in 1923. The current water supply system was built in 1963 and the wastewater system was replaced in 1987. The composting toilet at the Backpacker's Camp was constructed in 1984 as an experiment and has been closed since 2004 due to extensive damage caused by marmots.
The water supply and wastewater system upgrades would incorporate measures to comply with both state and National Park Service regulations. The water supply component of this project may involve adding filtration and disinfection to the water supply and repairing or replacing the water storage tank. The wastewater component of this project may involve addressing grease build-up in the septic tank, fixing or replacing the dosing tank, and repairing the mound system or switching to chlorination and a spray field, and would explore grading and revegetation of the mound. Additionally, this project may involve replacing or removing the Backpacker's Camp composting toilet, removing facilities that are no longer in use, adding stock hitching poles to the backcountry utilities staging area, and restoring social trails.
Scoping is an opportunity early in the planning process for the public to suggest issues to be considered in the proposed project. Ideas and concerns from the public help to identify the range of issues that should be addressed in this planning effort. During scoping, the National Park Service mission, Yosemite's enabling legislation, and other relevant laws and policies are revisited to ensure any potential actions are consistent with all relevant guidance.
Written scoping comments should be postmarked no later than February 15, 2008. Comments can be submitted at public meetings, by mail, fax, email, and through the Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) commenting system. A draft document will be available for public review in summer 2008. To request a hard copy or CD ROM version of the Environmental Assessment and to submit written comments:
Mail: Superintendent, Yosemite National Park
Attn: Vogelsang Backcountry Utilities Improvement Project
PO Box 577
Yosemite, CA 95389
For more information on park planning efforts, visit the website at www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt.htm.
Project and Planning Updates
Tuolumne River Plan Public Planning Workshop: On February 9, 2008 from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm in the Valley Visitor Center Auditorium, the NPS will host the next in its ongoing series of public planning workshops. The workshop will focus on developing indicators of river health and quality visitor experiences for the Tuolumne River Plan. Workshop details will be posted to the park's website at www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/trp.htm.
Environmental Education Campus: Park staff is wrapping up this season's resource surveys that will provide more detailed site information for Henness Ridge. Yosemite Institute and park staff have conducted meetings to select a new design contractor that will develop design concepts for a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified campus. A new environmental analysis consulting firm has also been selected, and will begin compiling this information for a Draft EIS, with public review anticipated for Spring 2008. Public scoping was completed in November 2002. These scoping comments and additional data collection at Crane Flat informed the park's decision to broaden the range of alternatives to include the Henness Ridge location. More information about the project is available at www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/eecampus.htm, or at our monthly Open Houses.
Yosemite National Park to host a User Capacity Symposium
Yosemite National Park is hosting a User Capacity Symposium on February 6-8, 2008 in Yosemite Valley. The public is welcome and invited to attend (RSVP required).
The purpose of the symposium is to continue the dialogue on best practices for addressing user capacity in national parks and other public lands by bringing together professionals and researchers versed in visitor use and user capacity, and to make the topic accessible to the public. If you're interested in attending, please RSVP by February 1st, 2008 to Jim Bacon at 209/379-1067.
Reconstruct El Portal Road at the "Narrows" (a quarter-mile section of road upstream of the Big Oak Flat Road (with connections to Highway 120)/El Portal Road intersection) Please note the following update on the contractor's construction schedule for the El Portal Road reconstruction at the "narrows":
This project has the following traffic impacts:
- Monday through Saturday – 30 minute delays from 6:30 am until 6:30 pm.
- When traffic lights are in use during non-work hours there will be a seven-minute wait time.
- No night closures are scheduled for the next two weeks.
Call 372-0200 (press 1, 1, 2) for last-minute updates on the status of the closure/opening of this road.
Northside Drive will remain closed until further notice due to the 12/18 rockfall.
The rockfall, located west of Camp 4, was first heard at around 4 pm, but anecdotal reports indicate that there was continued activity into the night. The area is currently being monitored by park staff. Southside Drive will continue to be accessible for inbound and outbound traffic. Please call 209/372-0200 for updated road conditions.
North and Southside Drive
Northside Drive remains closed between El Capitan Crossover and Pohono Bridge while crews place culverts on Northside Drive west of El Capitan Crossover. (Northside Drive is also closed between Yosemite Lodge and El Capitan Crossover due to rock slides.) Also, Southside Drive will have intermittent 15 minute delays as crews continue working on headwalls and rock inlets and outlets.
Wawona Tunnel Repairs
Crews are continuing to work on the Wawona Tunnel Ventilation system (No delays are anticipated, but there may be times with intermittent five-minute delays). Work will continue thru April 2008.
Big Oak Flat Slide Repair
Work will not start until January or February 2008.
Yosemite Creek Pedestrian Bridge Replacement
Anticipate construction of the new bridge to start in late January or early February 2008.
Valley Trail Paving
John Muir Trail (between Happy Isles and Vernal Fall Bridge) is underway, though work has stopped and will resume when weather permits.