How Many Tourists are Too Many in the Yosemite Valley?
When last we visited the legal wranglings over Yosemite National Park's Merced River Plan, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had taken under advisement arguments over just how far the Park Service most go to meet federal laws (specifically the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the National Environmental Policy Act).
Well, the court still has not spoken, but that hasn't put a halt to this issue. On February 6th, 7th, and 8th Yosemite officials will offer the public an opportunity to discuss user capacity in the Yosemite Valley.
The purpose of the User Capacity Symposium is to further the understanding of and explore approaches to addressing user capacity in national parks and other public lands by engaging public land managers, researchers, elected officials, tribes, and the general public in an open dialogue. User capacity is the types, locations, and extent of visitor and other public use in the parks.
Addressing visitor use in national parks as vast and complex as Yosemite requires a variety of methods and perspectives. During the symposium, the public will have the opportunity to understand further why planning and managing user capacity is important, to build a common understanding of and language for user capacity, and to identify and understand the effectiveness and consequences of different management strategies.
You can find details of the session here.
What will be interesting to see coming out of this forum, aside from what the public says and how Yosemite officials respond, is whether there will be any impact across the rest of the national park system? After all, Yosemite Valley is not the only corner of the system that has crowding problems. Ever visit the South Rim of the Grand Canyon during the summer months?
It's a bit ironic, of course, that at a time when there is concern over whether overall visitation to the national parks is stagnant or on a decline, that there are worries over how many people are too many in the Yosemite Valley. But if you've ever visited the valley in June, July or August, you know how little elbow room there can be. Ditto with the South Rim.
(Thanks to Rick Deutsch at Hike Half Dome for tipping the Traveler to this upcoming meeting.)