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



Thanks, Tom - The content of your letter is great.  My suggestions are =
to add as subject line and headings - the superindendent (or staff) will =
appreciate a letter whose headings they can scan in order to get a sense =
of the scope of the letter before reading the details.  It also makes it =
more likely (imho, of course!) that they will read the details.   I've =
formatted the letter in "rich text" so that the formatting comes =
through.  If you'd like, I can format it in an MS Word file & e-mail you =
an attachment.

You might add something about your (ahem) decades of hiking in Yosemite =
& the Sierra in general....establish your credibility with the Super who =
doesn't know you from....well, you know...

I've taken the liberty of re-arranging your letter into several topics, =
and hope that you're not offended!  Feel free to use or trash my =
re-arrangement.  Thanks particularly for taking the time to organize =
your thoughts & put them into writing. =20

So here goes:=20

Superintendent (get name if possible)
Yosemite National Park
PO Box 577
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

Subject: Suggestions for Compliance with YNP Regulations

Dear Superintendent (again, get name if you can)

This letter is to inform you of my recent observations in the Yosemite =
National Park backcountry, and to call your attention to some real =
problems which I believe are in your power to correct.   I think that =
all of us who know and love Yosemite believe that better compliance with =
Park regulations by Park users will help ensure that the environment and =
wildlife of the Park is preserved for future generations. =20

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 discourage voluntary compliance =
simply because bad examples are shown by individuals who should know =
better:=20
  a..  Overuse and trashing of campsites and watercourse by stock.  My =
understanding of Park Regulations is that they forbid leaving horse =
manure in established campsites.   But at Smedburg Lake I observed 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.   =
Another backpacker, hiking about a week before me wrote: "I was really =
disgusted with Wilmer lake- thought it should be renamed 'Wilmanure =
Lake.'  I've never seen a place so badly impacted". =20
  b.. Apparent disregard of bear canister regulations by backcountry =
trail maintenance crew.  =B7 In Kerrick Canyon, (on date???) I observed =
a NPS trail maintenance camp that was destroyed by a bear [pictures =
enclosed].  I observed more than 25 burlap bags of garbage and a dozen =
or more coolers that were left unprotected.  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 =
in my experience 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."=20
  c.. Apparent disregard of bear canister regulations by backcountry =
commercial stock packers.  I noticed that horse/stock packers, =
apparently horse packers under contract to the NPS, were 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 practice does not encourage voluntary compliance.
  d.. Inadequate compliance with bear canister requirement by =
backpackers.  Uneducated use of bear canisters will not save bears.  We =
ran across an experienced pair of backpackers more than 30 miles into =
their hike.  Although they were using a bear canister (which they had =
purchased 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.  After examining their packing technique, I observed that =
they simply didn't know how to pack a bear canister properly . The NPS =
needs to educate backpackers on the use of bear canisters in a manner =
similar to Inyo National Forest and make sure that backpackers =
understand that all food must be contained in a canister before =
nightfall. This should apply to everybody including horse packers and =
the NPS.
  e.. Leave No Trace" [LNT] Ethic.  The park needs to encourage the LNT =
ethic among BOTH backpackers and "stock packers."  I'm sure 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 were literally =
covered with horse shit.=20
The Yosemite National Park backcountry is not Disneyland.  Most of our =
mothers don't work there.  All of us are expected to clean up after =
ourselves.  We are expected to keep human food away from wild animals.   =
I believe it would help if you encourage backpackers to report on =
conditions like those I've observed.   Backpackers notice and will be =
more than willing to report transgressions if you make it easy for them. =
  Such reporting can be easily done both by using end-of-trip forms =
attached to the wilderness permit, by printing a link to the Park =
website comment page, and by printing an e-mail address. =20

Some folks are demonstrating that successful compliance CAN be achieved. =
 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 I 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.

I hope these comments are useful to you in your continuing efforts to =
steward Yosemite into this 21st century.

Regards,

Tom Reynolds



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