Merced River Plan message from Jesse McGahey

To: All climbers who know and love Yosemite National Park:

I realize that many of you are probably rolling your eyes at this point about the planning process in Yosemite and the federal government in general, but being actively vocal and involved with this process is your best way of changing the things you don't like about Yosemite and keeping the aspects you love.

Yosemite National Park is revisiting the Merced River Plan after two previous plans resulted in litigation. This summer’s court settlement with the former plaintiffs allows the Park to move forward, essentially starting back at ground zero, with another plan. The court specifically asked us to have an open and transparent process.

As the climbing community’s liaison to the NPS, I see it as part of my job to encourage all of you to give your input on the future of all of the involved areas of the Merced. I am a part of the Core Team for the new Merced River Plan, and I will do my best to keep you informed on the process. To clarify here are some excerpts from the Park Service's Planning, Environment & Public Comment (PEPC) website:

"In this plan, the agency will address resource protection and restoration; development (and/or removal) of lands and facilities; user capacities; and specific management measures that will be used to protect and enhance the river's outstandingly remarkable values....The Merced River Plan/EIS will address the quantity and mixture of recreation and other public uses that may be permitted without adverse impact to the river's outstandingly remarkable values, including a discussion of the maximum number of people that may be received in the river corridor. The Plan/EIS will also include site-specific planning for Yosemite Valley, El Portal, and Wawona, along with an analysis of parkwide transportation solutions."

Here are links to comment forms, and the Yosemite-Merced River Plan homepage.

Some elements that I would expect climbers to comment on are; camping in the Valley (Camp 4 and the Pines), El Portal, and Wawona; camping stay limits; a YCA partnered climbing museum; potential outside of the Valley climber campground; El Capitan Meadow interpretive signs, restrooms, dumpsters, viewing platform for tourists or none of the above; transportation for climbers (or transportation in general). Al of these ideas are just to help you to start brainstorming. There is no plan yet, these are only areas where I think climbers should give there input.

Climbing is already an accepted and valuable part of what Yosemite is all about, not only for you the climbers, but for the 3.5 million annual Yosemite visitors from around around the world who are impressed and intrigued by climbing on Yosemite's walls. The initial public scoping period for the Merced River Plan is over December 4th. Please do your part to make the voice of climbing (access, community, culture, history, etc.) in Yosemite a significant consideration of the new plan. However, if you do miss this opportunity, there will be more periods of public involvement and outreach as the plan moves forward over the next 3 years.

I am contacting the Access Fund, the AAC, the Yosemite Climbing Association, the Alpinist, Rock and Ice, and Climbing to solicit more comments, but if you have any other suggestions on sites for outreach let me know.

Thank You,

Jesse McGahey
Yosemite Climbing Ranger
(209) 372-0360
jesse_mcgahey@nps.gov