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[pct-l] Request for comment-Proposed letter to YNP

Yosemite National Park
PO Box 577
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

I n order the environment and wildlife of Yosemite National Park to be
preserved for generations of future Americans it will be necessary to secure
voluntary compliance of Park regulations by Park users. 

On August 27, 2001 I was asked to take part in the "Yosemite National Park
Wilderness Visitor Study" during my trip from Tuolumne Meadows to Kennedy
Meadows [HWY 108].  During this period I observed several incidents that, in
my opinion, will negate voluntary compliance. 
	The overuse and trashing of campsites and watercourse by stock. At
Smedburg Lake an irregular area of approximately 200' x 300' at the outlet
was essentially covered by horse manure [pictures enclosed]. This area
contained many, if not most, of the backpacking campsites at this lake.
Similarly, Wilmer Lake's campsites were largely trashed although not as
badly. At both lakes the water's edge was inundated by horse manure.
	In Kerrick Canyon,  a NPS trail maintenance camp was destroyed by a
bear [pictures enclosed].  There were over 25 burlap bags of garbage and a
dozen or more coolers that were left unprotected.

The park needs to encourage the "leave no trace" [LNT] ethic among
backpackers. However, you can understand how I felt at Smedburg and Wilmer
Lakes about digging a 6" hole 300' from a watercourse, burying my human
waste, and carrying out my toilet paper when the ground and the lake shore
was literally covered with horse shit. 

What bothered me most about the trail camp in Kerrick Canyon was that the
NPS workers obviously felt that they could protect themselves from a bear
intrusion without the use of bear canisters or bear boxes. The problem with
this example is that virtually all experienced backpackers feel the same
way. Time and again I have heard: "I have never lost food to bears and don't
need to use a canister, even if the novice backpackers need to use one."

The Yosemite National Park backcountry is not Disneyland. One is expected to
clean up after oneself. In the case of stock damage, my understanding is
that Park Regulations preclude leaving horse manure in established
campsites. One way to insure compliance with this regulation is to encourage
backpackers to report on these conditions. Another backpacker, hiking about
a week before me wrote: "I was really disgusted with Wilmer lake- thought it
should be renamed Wilmanuer lake. I've never seen a place so badly
impacted".  Backpackers notice and will be more than willing to report
transgressions by horse packers. What is most interesting is that in the
section between Bond Pass and Kennedy Meadows Resort, a pack station, the
campsites were free of horse manure even though we saw significantly more
horse activity in this area. Obviously it is possible for multiple-use
concepts of the land to work if the regulations are followed.

We also noticed that horse packers, even horse packers under contract to the
NPS, are not using bear-proof enclosures to protect food and garbage. Again,
this sets the example to backpackers that there are exceptions to the
mandatory bear canister rule. This is not a prescription for voluntary

In the case of bears, the uneducated requirement of bear canisters will not
save the bears. We ran across an experienced pair of backpackers more than
30 miles into their hike. Although they had purchased a bear canister
several years ago they were still looking to hang their food because, even
after several days, they couldn't get all their food into the canister.
Further examination revealed that they simply didn't know how to properly
pack a bear canister. The NPS needs to educate backpackers on the use of
bear canisters in a manner similar to Inyo National Forest and make sure
that it is understood that all food must be contained in a canister before
nightfall. This should apply to everybody including horse packers and the


Tom Reynolds