What Should Be Done With Hazardous Areas of Curry Village In Yosemite National Park?

Yosemite National Park officials are debating what to do with more than 200 cabins, and tent cabins, in Curry Village in the Yosemite Valley that were permanently closed as a result of rockfalls such as this one. USGS photo.

Late in 2008 a thunderous rockfall from the cliff that holds up Glacier Point slammed down on Curry Village in Yosemite Valley. In the aftermath of that incident, Yosemite National Park officials permanently closed 233 tent cabins, cabins with bath, cabins without bath, or roughly one-third of the village's overnight capacity, due to the threat of more rock peeling off from the cliff. Now they're wondering what to do with those facilities.

This Thursday the park will open the scoping period for an environmental assessment of the options that exist for what to do with those facilities. The public scoping period will run through Wednesday, April 7. Public scoping comments will be used to assist the park in developing a range of reasonable and feasible alternatives that meet the purpose and need, including a no action alternative, and then analyzing the environmental effects of each alternative.

Curry Village is located at the base of sheer granite walls below Glacier Point near the eastern end of Yosemite Valley. As a result, portions of Curry Village are within the newly defined rockfall hazard zone established by park officials. The Curry Village area is historically significant and is included in the Camp Curry and the Yosemite Valley Historic Districts.

Here's how park officials explain the need for the EA:

Yosemite National Park has realigned the boundary of the rockfall hazard zone in response to recent rockfall events in Curry Village. Park management has closed all of the structures within the updated rockfall hazard zone to reduce health and safety hazards. As a result, the disposition of the structures within the rockfall hazard zone must be addressed because:

* The closed structures create a nuisance that attracts curious on-lookers.
* Some visitors have circumvented the temporary hazard fencing and entered the rockfall hazard zone and abandoned structures, causing the potential for vandalism and creating an illicit use of the abandoned structures.
* Wildlife use the buildings for nesting or foraging in and beneath the buildings, which could cause further structural damage.
* The historic structures will continue to deteriorate and could be further damaged if not stabilized and maintained, or removed.

The purpose of this project is to:

* Mitigate inherent safety risks associated with unauthorized visitor access to the closed rockfall hazard zone.
* Minimize the potential for further loss of historically significant structures and/or features that contribute to the Curry Village Historic District.
* Identify appropriate mitigation to resolve the potential adverse effect on the Curry Village Historic District.

On March 31 park officials will host a public open house in the Valley Visitor Center Auditorium in Yosemite Valley. Park admission fees will be waived for those attending the open house.

If you want to submit ideas you think should be considered by the EA, you can submit them electronically through the Park Service’s Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) system. A link to PEPC is provided on the project’s park website at http://www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/curry_village.htm.

Comments also can be submitted through April 7, 2010 to:

Mail:
Superintendent
Attn: Curry Village Rockfall Hazard Zone Structures Project
P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, CA 95389

Comments

I don't get it. Are these cabins considered historic? Why aren't they just demolished and removed from the area? Does every decision have to go through this bureaucratic rigamarole?

Isn't this a fine opportunity to start moving some of the excessive development out of the valley?

Some things just naturally run their course and this is one of those times.

These old cabins are in a terrible state of disrepair and the grounds around them look trampled. It's just a matter of time before more rockfalls happen and the lawsuits start flying. I say remove the cabins and return the area to its natural state.

Fourty years ago when our kids were little we stayed in these cabins. Reconstruct a couple of the cabins with a monument and fence so they can be appreciated in the furture. Its such a wonderful place and I am sure has many good memories for a lot of families.

Roger