Yosemite

12:45 p.m. on October 26, 2018 (EDT)
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The Park in Yosemite is like a shrine.  It still represents the best of the Park System and the American ideal of conservation.  I was in shock however viewing the mile after mile of standing dead timber from the multiple megafires.  There were enormous accumulations of dead organic matter on the forest floor of the green forest. There were huge old snags everywhere.  After 150 years of protection the park looks terrible. 

But the fall is the magic time to be there.  The cottonwoods and willows are bright yellow, and the Pacific dogwood has turned pink and pale orange.  The park is quieter and the Valley is still just as spectacular as always.  A trip to the Merced Grove of sequoias was quiet and tranquil.  A giant old growth forest of ppine, Douglas fir, white fir, incense cedars and about 25 huge sequoias.  There was a small perfectly built log cabin on the route, used by park superintendent as a refuge.  The cabin was built with saddle notches and so perfect that no chinking was needed.  We saw one other person and some mountain lion scat on the route. 

At night around the campfire, we watched the full moon rise over the huge ponderosa pine, sugar pine and incense cedars.  Each night I would take some coals from the fire with a shovel and put them in the wood stove in the old wall tent.  Lying on my cot reading John Muir, I could watch the shadows of pine branches and cones move slowly across the the white canvas roof.  The stove popped and crackled and hissed softly.  With my dog Ruby at my side, I quickly fell into peaceful slumber. 

3:54 p.m. on October 26, 2018 (EDT)
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ppine said:

 With my dog Ruby at my side, I quickly fell into peaceful slumber. 

Where in Yosemite were you camping with your dog?

3:58 p.m. on October 26, 2018 (EDT)
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Dogs are allowed in Yosemite in all paved areas in the park, including campgrounds.  They are not allowed on any trails or in the back country.

11:17 a.m. on October 27, 2018 (EDT)
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Actually there are plenty of places with no trails to take a dog.  They have to be under control at all times. 

The most amazing thing about leaving the Park, was the amount of loaded log trucks on the highway.  They were coming off the Stanislaus and Eldorado National Forest lands. The times they are a changin.  The contrast between National Park lands and Forest Service lands could not be more apparent. 

5:46 p.m. on October 27, 2018 (EDT)
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balzaccom said:

Dogs are allowed in Yosemite in all paved areas in the park, including campgrounds.  They are not allowed on any trails or in the back country.

^This is essentially what the park rules say, although it looks like dogs don't need to be on paved surfaces when within campgrounds, but are prohibited in walk-in campgrounds.

ppine said:

Actually there are plenty of places with no trails to take a dog.  They have to be under control at all times. 

^Never seen any Yosemite regulations that allow dogs in "plenty" of areas -- dogs are specifically restricted to pavement in developed, frontcountry areas, paved roads, non-walk-in campgrounds, and on a couple of other specific roads, and always under leash. Not allowed in the backcountry, including off trail, whether under control or not. Certainly nothing in the rules that allows for both possession of a dog and legal camping, other than non-walk-in campgrounds.

From the NPS Yosemite website:

Where Pets Are Allowed

  • In developed areas
  • On fully paved roads, sidewalks, and bicycle paths (except when signed as not allowing pets)
  • In all campgrounds except walk-in campgrounds (e.g., Camp 4) and in group campsites

Additionally,

  • pets must be restrained on a leash not more than six feet long or otherwise physically restrained
  • leashed pets may not be left unattended
  • for the courtesy of other visitors, human companions are responsible for cleaning up and depositing pet feces in trash receptacles
  • remember that pet food is also bear food: store pet food as if it were human food.

Where Pets Are Not Allowed

  • On trails, including the trail to Vernal Fall (however, pets are allowed on the Wawona Meadow Loop)
  • On unplowed roads covered in snow
  • In undeveloped and wilderness areas
  • In public buildings
  • On shuttle buses
  • In lodging areas
  • In all walk-in and group campgrounds/campsites, including Camp 4
  • In any other areas, as signed

From the Yosemite Superintendent's Compendium:

36 CFR §2.15 – PETS

(a)(1) The following structures and/or areas are closed to the possession of pets:

  • All trails.
  • Non-developed and designated Wilderness areas.
  • Specific areas as posted by signs.
  • O’Shaughnessy Dam
  • Camp 4 and backpackers’ campgrounds
  • When snow depth is sufficient for skiing, pets are not permitted on unplowed roads.

(a)(1) The following structures and/or areas are open to the possession of pets:

  • Any residential area and within any structure assigned to a permanent or term employee.
  • When leashed, on fully paved roads, paved sidewalks, and bicycle pathways.
  • When leashed, on Meadow Loop and Four Mile Roads in Wawona. 
  • When leashed, on Carlon Road and Big Oak Flat Road between Hodgdon Meadow and the Tuolumne Grove parking lot.
  • When leashed, on Eleven Mile and Chowchilla Mountain Roads

Given the camping regulations, it's pretty clear from this that there's no place in Yosemite, other than non-walk-in campgrounds, where it's legal to both camp and have a dog.

10:02 p.m. on October 27, 2018 (EDT)
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I like this group, but I do not get at all the militaristic following of the rules. 

This thread is supposed to be about Yosemite, not dog management.  Let it go. 

10:15 a.m. on October 28, 2018 (EDT)
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Ppine, I appreciate your love of Yosemite, but I when someone on these boards makes a statement that is demonstrably incorrect about the regulations in our national parks, I think we have a responsibility to correct that, whether it be dogs on trails, use of bear canisters and lockers, use of drones, proper human waste disposal, or proper campsite location. It's all part of the larger vision of how best to protect and conserve these parks we live do much.

There are many people who read these boards for information and advice, and we need to be careful to make sure we are accurate.  And we need to make sure that we are not encouraging anyone else to pick and choose which specific regulations they will follow, and which they will flout.  That way leads to the destruction of these parks.

11:19 a.m. on October 28, 2018 (EDT)
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The human history of Yosemite is very interesting.  Native Americans lived there for 12,000 years utilizing the natural resources, like wood, fiber, wildlife, and wild plant foods. They used fire every fall to manage the land. 

Euorpeans showed up around 1850 in earnest and chased the Natives out.  White people ran sawmills, grazed sheep and hunted commercially until around the 1870s when the park was given protection, first in the Valley and then later other parts of the park. 

Park visitors fed the bears and camped where they wanted.  People drove through openings cut in giant sequioa trees after the advent of cars. 

Wilderness management did not exist until around 1980.  People did what ever they wanted in the backcountry following their own moral compass.  There was no permit system. 

The old donkey trips had over 100 people up in the High Camps with the Sierra Club. 

By around 2000 the number of park visitors, required more regulations and law enforcement much like an urban area.  Visitors can now be charged up to $5,000 for "improper food storage."  There are no natural history programs left, only law enforcement.  The regulations are many pages long. People still fall to their deaths.

2:10 p.m. on October 28, 2018 (EDT)
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In spite of the new laws, the Park is loved to death. It is overcrowded with all of those foot steps and heart beats. The Park ironically has suffered from 150 years of neglect.  The Yosemite Conservancy now supplies the funding that is not provided by the NPS.  Repeated multiple megafires has been the inevitable result.  Compared to visiting the Park in the 1970s or 80s or 90s it looks terrible.  So much for the rules. 

9:11 p.m. on October 28, 2018 (EDT)
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And yet the Park in Yosemite is like a shrine.  It still represents the best of the Park System, and the American ideal of conservation...

9:57 p.m. on October 28, 2018 (EDT)
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Ppine, what nags me about your remarks in this thread isn't just that you are talking about activity that is prohibited, but that you seem to know that it is against the rules but somehow think you don't need to follow them or that following them is an inconvenience or an annoyance, and that talking about the regulations on this forum is some sort of distraction.

The issue is not whether or not we agree with the rules or think they are stupid or think they are designed for people with less knowledge and experience than we have -- the issue is compliance, and further it is, as balzaccom said, talking about it openly on this forum that serves as a resource for others who may come here to learn.

I don't necessarily agree with all of the rules, but in our wilderness areas that are already threatened by development and overuse and clueless tourists and human impact etc, I follow them. 

So as I said, it seems to me that this is what you are expressing, but I would be glad to hear how I am wrong.

10:38 p.m. on October 28, 2018 (EDT)
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Think hard about the term wilderness management. 

Do you think that is what John Muir, Robert Marshall, Aldo Leopold, David Brower, HD Thoreau, John Barlow, Sig Olsen, Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot had in mind?

I don't.

7:50 a.m. on October 29, 2018 (EDT)
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Trailspace Community Rules and Guidelines:

14. Keep it legal.

Do not post any information that violates any law, statute, ordinance, or regulation or promotes illegal or unethical activity.

Pets in Yosemite info from NPS:

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/pets.htm

9:18 a.m. on October 29, 2018 (EDT)
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I would like to hear an original thought about Yosemite from anyone.  

10:08 a.m. on October 29, 2018 (EDT)
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Not sure if this is original or not, but anyway...

Adverse comments about conditions, management philosophy,etc. in Yosemite are not very unusual or recent, and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Yosemite is not managed to "look pretty;"  natural conditions are supposed to dominate and that means that there will be dead, decaying wood here and there.  As I understand it, this condition is critical for many species (woodpeckers et al). But I am an archaeologist, so what do I know....

Finances are interesting.  I had a career in the NPS, and during most of my 41 years, the budget was on thin ice, a condition that exists currently throughout the system.  Yosemite is no exception.  Like other parks, it is depending more and more on volunteers and outside support for critical, core functions that should be included in basic budgeting.  I spent fiteen glorious years at Channel islands NP during the end of my career, retiring in 2001 and volunteering ever since.  I have been a volunteer there longer that I have been an employee! So step up and volunteer.

We have multi-billion tourism industry that brings in a lot of foreign exchange;  our National Parks, especially the biggies like Yosemite, are leaders in this effort.  We recently entertained some relatives from Russia - the two things they wanted to see in Ameriski were the Hollywood sign and the Grand Canyon.

It would seem just simply good business to keep these money generating attractions in good shape....

10:42 a.m. on October 29, 2018 (EDT)
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Ppine, you seem very aggressive in this discussion.  Have you posted an original thought about Yosemite?  Quoting Muir and Leopold hardly counts as original...and that fact that you love Yosemite is admirable, but it is also shared by many others on these boards, myself included.

It's true that few of the leaders of years gone by would recognize the world today. The massive population growth of the modern world makes that untenable. I hope you don't think that we should return to the year 1870...although I'd love to see Hetch-hetchy or a grizzly bear in Yosemite!

Policies for today have to meet today's realities and today's needs.  You have frequently posted that it is possible to find solitude in the wilderness if one looks hard enough and is willing to walk a bit more. I agree.  I have backpacked in Yosemite while seeing fewer than three people per day--and some days nobody.

But I also recognize that Muir WANTED people to visit Yosemite.  He begged them to visit so that they would understand how important it was, and the need to preserve it for future generations.  How is that different from today?  If we want voters to support candidates who will protect our wild areas (instead of opening them up to mining) then we need to encourage them to visit.  We need to take them on hikes and get them into the wilderness. We need more people to see and understand what we have.

Balancing the needs to preserve these spaces while still encouraging people to visit them is the essence of the policies we adopt for these parks.

And that includes limiting domestic pets to the urbanized areas if these parks.

11:07 a.m. on October 29, 2018 (EDT)
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Wouldn't it be great if all of us could ignore legal parameters because we don't like them and point to Muir and Thoreau et al. as our defense? Alas, we can't, not a single one of us.

Let's go back to the very first sentence in this thread: "The Park in Yosemite is like a shrine." Your words, ppine, and I agree. Please don't violate the law by desecrating that shrine, and please don't violate this forum's policies by promoting and justifying and defending illegal activity here.

11:24 a.m. on October 29, 2018 (EDT)
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Thanks to balzaccom. 

I am not going to respond to the rules police. 

11:53 a.m. on October 29, 2018 (EDT)
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I'd rather be the police than the criminal.

12:10 p.m. on October 29, 2018 (EDT)
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We should note that John Muir was at least partially responsible for the extinction of native bighorn sheep in Yosemite.  The native sheep contracted diseases from domestic sheep who grazed in Tuiolumne Meadows...including those herded by Muir in his early years in Yosemite.

12:15 p.m. on October 29, 2018 (EDT)
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We can all agree that Yosemite is an amazing place. The Valley has actually been protected since the 1860s, longer than even Yellowstone has been a park.  I want to address just two issues, 1) wilderness protection 2) forest protection. 

Many back country users are in favor of protection of wild lands, and many are against uses like mining, timber protection or grazing on the same lands.  We would not be using our computers, driving cars or living in wood homes without them. 

 The motivation for protecting Yosemite was to protect wilderness.  We finally got the Wilderness Act in 1964 so we would always have "places for solitude and places where the evidence of man is essentially unnoticeable."  Yosemite Valley has turned into an urban park with smog, public transportation, and a high density of people and amenitites.  It is accessible to lots of people but no longer has the qualities that made it need protection in the first place.  The backcountry is managed differently mostly with a quota system to limit the number of visitors. 

Protection for 150 years has greatly changed Yosemite from natural conditions.  The main difference is fire suppression. The ppine and mixed conifer stands in the region burned on an average of 8-20 years.  We know this because of dendrochronology (tree rings).  Frequent ground fires cleared up the brush, younger age classes of trees and decaying organic matter.  After 150 years of fire suppression the Park is a giant fire trap.  When fires enter the Park they take off because there is much more fuel than in the surrounding Nat Forests. 

There are many old photographs of the Park showing much less vegetation than current conditions.  We have much denser vegetation, more stems per acre, and more dead and downed trees.  For years the NPS could not figure out why the meadows were disappearing.  Changing climate they said.  Actually it was fire suppression.  Natives used to burn the meadows in the fall. There was grazing in the park.  Meadows occur in forests when the seasonal water table is too close to the surface for trees to survive. 

No one could figure out why they had no sequoia regeneration.  Then they talked to some foresters.  The species is fire dependent and requires full sunlight to reproduce because it is shade intolerant.  The seeds require mineral soil contact and the only way to get that condition in a stand of giant conifers is after a fire.  Now the NPS in an unbelievalbe turn of events uses prescribed fire in the winter in the giant old stands of sequoia trees. 

There is actually thinning going in the Valley and the piling of slash.  The Park Service has changed its management philosophy somewhat.  They are in a tough spot .  I encourage anyne that cares about the Park, and other wild lands to visit Yosemite and look at the landscape with a critical eye.  Protectionism is not the answer for how to manage wild lands, and Yosemite is a perfect case study. 

12:21 p.m. on October 29, 2018 (EDT)
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Muir made a very strong distinction between wild sheep and the domesticated type which he  called "hoofed locusts."  He worked in a saw mill and as a herder because those were the kind of jobs he could get.  He had plenty of time to contemplate the value of the place where he lived. 

8:54 a.m. on October 30, 2018 (EDT)
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Al this talk about preservation alludes to a ideal status quo.  In fact no one can determine what that state should be, as man has been interacting with the environment for eons in the general area.  Native Americans domesticated the valleys west of the Sierra a long time ago.  And as we now know, altering the landscape has consequences downwind.  Any attempt at establishing a base line "natural state" of the ecology does so subjectively, no mater how much we try to divine otherwise.

As for "the rules."  Before we get wrapped around the axles of who is or isn't a scofflaw, consider virtually everyone exceeds the speed limit while driving.  We consider these rules were made to protect us from inept idiots who lack driving skills.  And there is truth in that observation.  Many park rules arise from the same sentiment.  I have never had a bear get at my food hang, but because some people cannot rig an effective hang, I am now required by many jurisdictions to carry a bear canister.  Pets in the park are another rule where we are forced to abide because of the lowest common denominator among us. 

Alas, noting what is the law is a valid concern in this forum, but so is discussing how to enjoy the wilderness in a responsible manner.  I am sure there is a way to bring dogs into the BC in a responsible manner, but that liberty has been revoked due to others who lack the sense of stewardship and discretion.  So here we have a law, like speeding, where failure to abide makes one only an outlaw, unless harm results, in which case they may then be deemed a criminal.  I'll reserve my judgement of who is criminal and who is a steward until I can observe firsthand the individual's conduct. 

Ed     

9:22 a.m. on October 30, 2018 (EDT)
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Good post Ed...but I would ask what protocols would you suggest for taking a domestic animal into the protected wilderness?  Obviously the pet should not interact with wildlife in any way--chasing it, mating with it, altering its activities in any way--which means on a leash or under perfect voice command.  But there is one more element--domestic dog poop carries viruses and parasites that can be fatal to wild animals.  Until I hear of a dog owner who packs out the pet poop, I won't agree that ANY domestic animal should be allowed in the wilderness. 

See my note about John Muir above.  What we don't know can kill us--or something we love.

10:16 a.m. on October 30, 2018 (EDT)
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Stop talking about dogs please.  It is annoying. 

I have laid out some important things to consider about the Nation's oldest park.  Would anyone care to comment?

12:33 p.m. on October 31, 2018 (EDT)
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I believe that the floor and valley bottom lands of Yosemite are not part o the designated wilderness, while the walls of the valley are within the wilderness.  The valley floor and environs was essentially an urban park well before the NPS showed up.  The flat hats have only been on hand for 102 years.

You are citing photos of a managed landscape, managed by Native Americans or many eons, and by European, etc. as the valley became a draw, managed or a bit by the US Army.

Within wilderness, not highly urbanized tourist enclaves such as the valley floor, the practice is that natural processes should dominate, but this hasn't always been the case, and it takes time to change the appearance of the outcomes of previous philosophies.

When I began firefighting with the NPS in 1956, we put out everything that even began to look like it was smoking, without question.  Same deal in the USFS and throughout the wild lands community.  Things changed later on, and prescribed burns and naturally caused fires that met the prescription have been in vogue for several decades (since 1975 or thereabouts - I am not certain), both within the NPS and outside.

I understand the Ferguson fire diminished once it burned up to the park and encountered lands that had been so managed, so apparently something must be working right - if these reports are accurate

It is unfortunate that visitor use is so highly regulated in Yosemite, but that is inevitable when you have a huge number of visitors.  For my own recreation, I prefer less frequented parks, or USFS wilderness areas, like the Gila in New Mexico.

10:46 a.m. on November 1, 2018 (EDT)
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The USFS would not consider prescribed burning in the 1970s. I know that because my head professor proposed the idea in 1975 and was flatly rejected.  The idea of prescribed burning and the importance of fire in forest ecosystems has been proposed in every decade since the creation of the USFS around 1910.  It has been practiced only since around 1985 at any scale. 

The NPS has been much slower to embrace the concept of fire.  They decided to try their "let it burn" policy in Yellowstone in 1988, during the driest summer in a century with disasterous results burning up over 2/3 of the Park.  They still have a lot to learn compared to the Forest Service. 

After a week of observations of the Park and the surrounding Nat Fors, I can tell you with great confidence that the Forests are in much better shape than the Park.  If the Ferguson Fire diminished in the Park, it was probably due to weather not land management. 

Yosemite is a case study in the failure of Protectionism.  This is not conjecture on my part.  If you talk with a plant ecologist with the Park Service they will tell you the same thing.  Now comes the tough part, which is trying to get caught up in fuel management under the constraints of Park Service guidelines. 

4:11 p.m. on November 1, 2018 (EDT)
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" If the Ferguson Fire diminished in the Park, it was probably due to weather not land management. "

What can I say, not being there...This statement was made by someone who was on scene (unfortunately I cannot find the reference..) so there is this opinion, and yours...

I would rather not get into a debate about the relative competence of one Federal Agency vs another, though there has been many a "thoughtful discussion"around a hot stove over the years.  I have seen a lot of cooperation over the years, especially recently in the Unified Command era.  Plenty of competent people in both agencies, along with the occasional dolt.

I have fond memories of showing up at Gila Clffi Dwellings Nat'lMon, immediately adjacent to the Gila Wilderness in 1968 (my, how time flies!) with my Navajo crew of stone masons.  We were there todo some repair work on the clif dwellings, but the FS District Ranger had seven unattended fires burning and he needed bodies.  My bucko crew was willing and able, so we lined up and flew off, two by two, in the helicopter.  Being a courteous dude, I put myself at the back of the line.  When my turn came, all the fires were manned - No OT for me!!

The District Ranger mentioned that we could have left all those fires alone, because the woods were pretty wet and just light fuels were being consumed.....

BTW, i was just reading an article in the LA Times, concerning the use o private enterprise to aid in forest fuel clearance work.  The article states that the Forest Service....has a backlog of tens of millions of acres worth of forest rehabilitation work that could cost billions of dollars to complete."  It ultimately depends upon what Congress, in its infinite wisdom, appropriates....

One request.  Let's please not talk of Yosemite as a "shrine."  It is an outstanding park and an international tourist magnet, but is is mostly dirt and rocks and trees, etc., pleasingly arranged.  I would rather leave it at that.

4:52 p.m. on November 1, 2018 (EDT)
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The question beckons: what is the objective of managing an ecosystem?  Are we trying to preserve it, control some aspect of it, or facilitate exploitation of resources?  Some of these objectives are in direct conflict, while some may be as difficult as shaping water.  

Trying to manage an ecosystem under the best of circumstances is a tango between man and nature, where both are stepping to different tunes and meters, while the dance floor itself keeps changing underfoot.

The current drying climate trend and resulting beetle infestations exemplify the challenge.  If we assumed we had a management paradigm that suited the ecosystem prior to the intensifying drought, it would fail to address how to deal with the bugs killing entire stands of forest.  I took several trips to the Eastern Sierra last summer.  I encountered ever increasing amounts of ghost stands, even above 10K' where the only management that was ever administered was permit quotas and prohibiting wood fires, starting back in the 1980s.  The forest now looks like a green skin mountain dotted with brown freckles.  In one case I could not recognize a campsite I have utilized on a recurring basis since the 1970s, such was the toll taken by the bugs.  We can let the bugs do their thing, but that leads to excess fuel loads, then wild fires, and then we are back to the same issues we blame on management policies. 

I have a well intentioned if not misguided friend in the California Fire Safe Council who suggests we collect grounded fuel and use it to generate electricity. It certainly would reduce the occurrence of wild fires and seems a renewable energy resource.  But the carbon footprint of this plan with all the transport logistics tells me this at best just creates another environmental issue.  And then there is the issue of inadvertently transporting flora and fauna to new locations.  In any case the human risk of conducting clearing operations in steep terrain is bound to have astronomical costs.  And how this is to be carried out without the obtrusive use of heavy equipment is anyone's guess.  My friend states with a wave of his hand he has it all figured out.  I don't think he realizes the job of wood collector is one of the lowest compensated occupations on the planet.

We could try to mange the infestations.  I am told they are cutting down afflicted trees in the civilization interface zones of the San Bernardino Forest, then burning the wood en situ, to prevent transporting and spreading the bugs.  $$omething tells me this policy is not feasible to deploy across an entire watershed. And in any case the amount of newly open forest floor presents a dramatic change to the ecology, one surely to result in long term alterations in the region.  Every time an opening occurs in the ecology, native species must compete with invasive species for the available resources.  Thus the newly emerged meadows will not be the meadows of yore.  Alas we cannot get back to there from here.  We have a very long way to go before we will have any idea how to tango gracefully for more than a few bars with nature.

Ed

6:59 p.m. on November 1, 2018 (EDT)
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Good points.  In one of the parks in which i have worked, you often hear the phrase, "return to pristine conditions" - which often means - stop cattle grazing, get rid of recently introduced exotic species (rats and feral pigs).

But is that "pristine"?  A thousand years ago, native Americans built villages and small towns, harvesting local products, building fires, and otherwise influencing the environment all through the park, leaving a rich record.  This was true throughout the Americas.

Indeed,the concept of wilderness as an area "where the hand of man has never set foot" is questionable - many uninhabited areas noted by early explorers may have been due to the massive toll of introduced European diseases on native populations.  In the Gila Wilderness, for example, there is a rich and deep archaeological record of occupation, although much of that area was described as 'unpopulated"

Yes, managing lands is not at all easy, beset with unforeseen consequences and surprising outcomes,, often not at all immediately obvious.

I almost forgot - those Native Americans had dogs - who knows where they were allowed??

9:32 a.m. on November 6, 2018 (EST)
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The National Park Service has learned over the years that pristine conditions can not be maintained by putting a fence around a Park and "protecting" it. 

Forests are dynamic ecosystems full of competition for moisture, light, growing space and nutrients.  Impacts to them are normal in the form of fire.  The NPS has learned that removing fire by supressing it does not allow forests to be maintained in "pristine" or "natural conditions."

4:56 p.m. on November 6, 2018 (EST)
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So Ppine you ask for suggestions how to deal with the parks.  I think you have to first ask what the mission of any attempt to manage should be.  Any suggestions?  Let's stick to Yosemite, since that is the context of this thread.

Ed

7:27 p.m. on November 6, 2018 (EST)
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It is hard to say what the NPS thinks of now are their mission statement.  I believe that they practiced Protectionism as a doctrine until recently.  It could have been the Yellowstone fires in 1988 that first caused them to doubt their old traditions. 

They are trying to accomodate fire, with very mixed results.  We really need to ask them what they think their mission statement is.  I never thought I would see a loaded logging truck leaving the park, but it happened two weeks ago.  I never thought I would see slash piles in Yosemite Valley, or prescribed fire being used in the Park, but it is all happening. 

7:55 p.m. on November 6, 2018 (EST)
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I think you are right about the Yellowstone fire.  That changed forest management all over the West.  But that was now fully thirty years ago...

 

So what you do think the mission of Yosemite SHOULD be?

11:23 a.m. on November 7, 2018 (EST)
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Hard to answer balzaccom.   I have never believed in Protectionism.  I am trained in silviculture and forest ecology.  Since change and  impacts are normal in forests, I believe you should accomodate and anticipate them. 

What is happening in the Valley is on the right track.  It is being intensively managed after 150 years of neglect.  The high elevation backcountry is relatively wet and has a mosaic of vegetation types, which means that fire can be used and has been used for management. 

The challenging part is the frontcountry outside the Valley.  There are many very productive forest habitat types between about 3,000 to 6,000 feet.  They have very large older age class forests where mortality greatly exceeds new growth.  They have way too many stems per acre, and lots of standing dead and fallen dead trees.  In order to effectively use fire for management, I would be in favor of doing some selective logging and removal of dead organic matter.  Then fire could be used to manage those sites in the future.   The NPS needs to get caught up so they can use fire safely.  Then fires will stay on the ground and be easier to control during the off season cooler, wet burn season. 

In a very real sense the NPS has used uncontrolled wild fire as their only de facto management tool with terrible results. 

3:32 p.m. on November 7, 2018 (EST)
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184 forum posts

I visited Yosemite a couple years ago, and agree that the valley has management issues.  The views from the premier properties were surprisingly poor.  We eventually realized that that was because a lot of brush had been allowed to grow up since the  properties were built.  Historically, the brush had been burnt out.  Another bit of silliness was the NPS wanted to get rid of the historic pool at the hotel because a swimming pool did to fit within their view of recreation in the park.  

10:27 a.m. on November 8, 2018 (EST)
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3,660 forum posts

It is not just the brush, but fallen dead trees, standing dead trees and way too many live trees that create all of the fire issues. 

March 24, 2019
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