Attn: Jesse M., RE: El Cap Meadow trash can & bear boxes

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Mike.

climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 8, 2007 - 10:43am PT
Originally from thread http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=444629&msg=444629#msg444629

Several of us here voiced concern over the removal of the trash can at [El Cap Meadow] during the ST conversation with Link regarding the new bear boxes. Strong rationale was voiced for either reinstating the existing can and/or adding new ones. Last I recall, we were told (by Link) something to the effect of: if we show that we can use the bear boxes, perhaps we'll get a trash receptacle. There was objection to that notion (rightful objection IMO).

I finally got to use the bear boxes at EC Meadow. We left items in a bag with a note stating when we would be back for pickup. We also left some trash neatly bagged with a similar note (rather than drive the loop or to Bridalveil to dispose of trash). When we returned a day and a half later, the bag containing our food and cosmetic items was gone, and there was much more trash in the box.

The area by the bridge sports more litter than at anytime I can recall. It looks like hell. Sure, it is the waning of touron season, and even if receptacles were present there will always be some unenlightened gnome who will litter. But that's no excuse to ditch common sense. Having ECM on the transit stop with facilities like bear boxes (and a very apparent effort to preserve/revitalize the meadow itself) and no trash can is just plain stupid.

Jesse: Does it not seem fundamentally wrong to you to have facilities at the Meadow and no trash can? Have you seen the mess at the bridge? Is it possible you can go to bat for us to help reduce impact of the bridge/Meadow? And please explain why the only trash can was removed while its concrete slab was not. It appears the Meadow is not off the normal route by which trash would be picked up. Thanks in advance for your input and action.



Since I wrote the original post, I used the EC Meadow bear boxes once more. I encountered even more trash in them than the first time I used them.

"NinjaChimp" wrote in the thread cited above that he was sure Jesse would address this issue when he got back from an outing. No word yet.

Once more, I'm calling out to you, Jesse, to address this. TIA for responding.
Elcapinyoazz

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Nov 8, 2007 - 01:47pm PT
Good call Mike.

The idea was for the Camp 4 hosts to go down there once a week and clean out the trash, check to make sure people dated their items, and remove any undated items that had been in there over a week.

How do I know this? I was one of the hosts.

For a variety of reasons this didn't happen. I think I got down there a total of one time to clean out trash and old food. Since we had no access to a vehicle for the first half of the season, we couldn't easily get there with a truck to toss the trash into. We were supposed to request one of the on duty campground rangers or bear team members to help us out/drive us down there with a rig. Each time we requested that, the people were too busy.

During the second half of the season, the plan was to get us access to a vehicle that we would take from the weekly bear briefing, and go down there immediately following the briefing. Once the details of that (a vehicle, drivers' license clearnace, etc) were worked out, we were fired (well, as "fired" as a volunteer can be) as Camp 4 hosts. I won't go into the details of that on a public forum, but suffice it to say we "had a bad attitude".

The boxes are essentially being used as trash receptacles, and will continue to be used that way until/unless a small bearproof dumpster is installed there and/or the bear team does the weekly cleaning that is intended.

I suspect this will not be a problem next season because the camp hosts (assuming they have them again) will be given access to a vehicle from the beginning. The powers that be realize that this is something that needs addressing. And frankly, Jesse has little if anything to do with getting it done. That's no knock on Jesse, it's just where the responsibility lies for the those boxes and their care (which is the bear team people). Jesse can probably stir the pot and keep it in their consciousness, but ultimately it will be an issue for Tori and possibly Steve.
Mike.

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 8, 2007 - 02:11pm PT
I really appreciate that input, Azz. Thanks for the bump, Russ.



It's encouraging that the bear-box-as-trash-receptacle issue may not be a big one next year, but climbers still will be forced to "break the rules" by placing trash in bear boxes where doing so is plainly prohibited. Not an ideal situation, IMO. This doesn't address the general ECM/bridge litter issue that is obviously out of control (caused by non-climbing Park visitors IMO) at the meadow.

Hoping for the best...

WBraun

climber
Nov 8, 2007 - 02:17pm PT
Mike.

I think you better re-address this topic in spring.

There's nobody here anymore. The place is a tombstone now.

Good for me though ......
Nefarius

Big Wall climber
Fresno, CA
Nov 8, 2007 - 02:58pm PT
I'm just kinda curious why this is being put forth as kind of a climber issue??? Yes, climbers frequent the bridge. However, now that there is a shuttle stop there, why not have a trash receptacle there, as well? Especially, when you do things like funnel ALL of the park traffic across that bridge. I've never seen the bridge so busy with tourists, not monkeys, as I have this season! Wow!

This just seems like another one of those issues that is kind of being unfairly placed on the climbers' heads. Rather than having Camp4 hosts being responsible for the receptacle and boxes, why not simply add it to the normal route that takes care of these things in other areas of the park, like common sense dictates? Otherwise, it just seems like folks at the bridge are being setup for failure.
jstan

climber
Nov 8, 2007 - 03:02pm PT
If I owned Yosemite (can't nearly afford it) I would hesitate to put a dumpster at the bridge because that is the first introduction visitors get to the Valley floor. Not good. Not good at all. I don't know that the following is true but from reading Tom's reports it seems there is a pretty steady flow of parties coming off the cliffs and picking up their cars there. Does everyone make a point of cleaning all the trash out of the bear box when they pick up their own trash? That might be all that is required? A continuing Facelift.

Another comment wherein I may be all wet. Jesse's job is as climbing ranger. In that job he is intended to interface one on one with climbing visitors. It is a little out of scope to use him as a public access point. If that is OK with the NPS he should probably ask for a raise. Like any large organization that interfaces with the public, the NPS has very specific requirements in mind for their public access points. We are asking Jesse to keep two balls in the air without running into trouble. The first answer to this might be to make requests to him privately. A start at least.

Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 8, 2007 - 03:20pm PT
It may worth mentioning that 99% of the users of the Valley, and of the El Capitan meadows area, are non-climbers. The NPS does its best to ensure that the Valley appears to be a clean natural environment, but it is in fact highly impacted by human activity.

During the two FaceLifts I've helped with, and looking back, it's surprising that there aren't more toilets at places like El Capitan meadows and bridge. Actually, there aren't any toilets there at all, or at other high use locations. There are hundreds of thousands of annual visitors to the location. There are a few toilets scattered around the Valley, although the budget for building and maintaining them is probably limited. (Adopt-a-Toilet, anyone? The Patagonia toilet, perhaps?) Certainly having such facilities also affects the environment, at least as yet another human intrusion on the Valley. But in balance it would help. Build more (sightly) toilets in high traffic areas, make sure they're well maintained, provide recycling and garbage disposal, and ensure the locations are marked on the maps.

As for climbers putting garbage in the bear boxes by the bridge - well, they know better.
elcap-pics

climber
Crestline CA
Nov 8, 2007 - 03:26pm PT
Yo.. interesting stuff.... I personally clean up any trash that is on "my side" of the bridge and I have seen that most climbers are very aware of keeping their trash policed up... so when I leave around 4pm I can assure all that there is no trash on the east side of the bridge, even down to the cig butts... also there are more tourons getting off the bus in one cycle (every half hour) than there are climbers all day.... So I have not seen a trash problem at all as it is quickly removed if something is left when I am there. That said I dont go into the food storage lockers at all unless it is to steal some goodies from my posse buddy KFC.. so I dont know what is going on there...
That's what I know... ECP's
Shack

Big Wall climber
Reno NV
Nov 8, 2007 - 04:18pm PT
"As for climbers putting garbage in the bear boxes by the bridge - well, they know better."

Of course Mike knows better, but that is exactly his point.
If there was still a trash can there, they could throw their trash away,
instead of being "forced" to use the bear boxes....
or do you expect them to leave the trash in their car?
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 8, 2007 - 04:42pm PT
Garbage, climber and (likely) car have to have arrived at El Capitan meadow from elsewhere. Either a campground with a garbage can, or farther afield, with garbage disposal en route. It may be an inconvenience to take a few moments to stop and dump the stuff somewhere suitable, but no more. Although if people are generally using the bear boxes for garbage, I agree it might be easy to wonder "why bother?".

Possibly El Capitan-in-a-day teams that properly dispose of their garbage on the way to the base could be given a five minute credit toward their time?
Mike.

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 8, 2007 - 04:54pm PT
"As for climbers putting garbage in the bear boxes by the bridge - well, they know better."

Indeed we do, Anders. It's posted clearly on the boxes that they are not for trash disposal.

I have tried to avoid using the boxes improperly by planning ahead and asking fellow climbers to run trash during thier YV rounds. But there are instances when I refuse to take a drive in the Valley solely to drop trash in a can. To my mind, the impact of an extra vehicle on the loop is worse than a bag of trash sitting in a bear box. Until I'm presented with a compelling reason not to, I'll continue to disobey the trash-in-box rule as long as there is no trash can at ECM and I've planned to park my car overnight. Others, as Azz states, will do the same.

The previous can at ECM, small as it was, served a useful purpose. It, or something like it, needs to be there at ECM.


jstan, Thanks for your input. I did email Jesse as you suggested. The route by ECM is principally the exit route from the Valley, not an entrance route. During construction, traffic is (was?) being re-routed by ECM, but that's normally not the case. We did remove all trash from the box we used (along with 200 feet of ancient fixed line and junk slings off the Captain). But people are obviously not doing that across the board. If folks would label their trash as such, it would make self-policing easier. Next time up, I will cruise all the boxes for trash if I'm planning on driving the loop or exiting the park. I encourage others to do the same.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Nov 8, 2007 - 04:55pm PT
I've used the bear boxes at the El Cap Meadow bridge many times since they were installed. The contents seemed to be predominately food - I didn't notice much trash in them.

Nobody is forced to put trash into them. People climbing El Cap have vehicles; that is how they got their mountain of gear to Yosemite. Just take a drive around the loop if you need to get rid of trash. Or put it in your food box along with your actual food - it doesn't require any additional space.

Let's just be glad we have bear boxes there. It was a nightmare before, and required a lot more driving around to find bearboxes than it would now to do a trash run.

[Edit: good points just above, Mike.]
Shack

Big Wall climber
Reno NV
Nov 8, 2007 - 05:34pm PT
"Just take a drive around the loop if you need to get rid of trash."

Sorry Clint, but that is a terrible solution, as Mike pointed out.
All that smog and wasted gas/time and extra congestion is ridiculous.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Nov 8, 2007 - 06:49pm PT
Shack wrote:

> All that smog and wasted gas/time and extra congestion is ridiculous.

Yeah, sure.... About as ridiculous as all the smog, wasted gas/time and congestion involved in driving to/from Yosemite? Or that produced by the garbage truck when it drives around to clean up after us? It's a drop in the bucket....
Shack

Big Wall climber
Reno NV
Nov 8, 2007 - 08:02pm PT
Clint..Surely you jest?

One trash truck, that already has to make the rounds, ie. Bridalveil Falls etc...
VS.
Dozens, maybe scores of cars a week making the loop in the valley each week...


Yep, I guess that's the same impact.

and by tour logic, they should do away with the shuttle buses too, right? Everyone can just drive everywhere then.
Brilliant!


yo

climber
The Eye of the Snail
Nov 8, 2007 - 08:16pm PT
Bump for all this. At least bring back that can down by the deer attack sign.


(Shack = commie...hahaha)
JesseM

Social climber
Yosemite
Nov 8, 2007 - 09:15pm PT
"Jesse: Does it not seem fundamentally wrong to you to have facilities at the Meadow and no trash can? Have you seen the mess at the bridge? Is it possible you can go to bat for us to help reduce impact of the bridge/Meadow? And please explain why the only trash can was removed while its concrete slab was not. It appears the Meadow is not off the normal route by which trash would be picked up. Thanks in advance for your input and action.

Since I wrote the original post, I used the EC Meadow bear boxes once more. I encountered even more trash in them than the first time I used them.

"NinjaChimp" wrote in the thread cited above that he was sure Jesse would address this issue when he got back from an outing. No word yet.

Once more, I'm calling out to you, Jesse, to address this. TIA for responding."


Mike et all,

Thanks for the concern about the Bear Lockers and lack of a dumpster. I have been laid off for the winter...(no funding for a year round Climbing Ranger), but I still will do my best to represent the YNP on this.

The Wilderness Climbing Management team (i.e. myself, maybe a summer intern, and some sound sage advice from the acting Wilderness Manager) does share some of the responsibility for the El Cap and other Big Wall bear lockers. We think of these as wilderness trailheads and like most of our trailheads we have food storage lockers available to store all scented and food items while on your wilderness trip. In this case itís a climbing experience.

I get out to the El Cap lockers as much as I can, which is definitely not enough. The fact being I'm stretched pretty thin on climbing coverage of the Valley and Tuolumne. We did arrange last year for the Camp 4 hosts to remove garbage, this year things didn't work out. Next year I will at least have an intern, and who knows maybe another seasonal Ranger to work with! Sweet.

As far as the specifics of getting a dumpster, I don't have a strong opinion, but I wouldn't say I am fundamentally opposed or a proponent either. There are so many considerations, to start with: the sound of a garbage truck dumping trash is not a very pleasant sound, as many of you who climb in the developed areas of the Valley know. I don't have the power to put a dumpster at El Cap Bridge, and don't really want that power. For now it seems like the best thing to do is for everyone to pitch in to keep the place clean. And I see that happening all the time. Climbers help, the bear team helps, Valley Rangers help, and Tom Evans helps, and so on. Folks ignorant of what it means to Respect our Parks and wild lands do not help.

However, if any of you feel strongly about this issue or any other in the river corridor, (which is most of the Valle) I encourage you to make your comments public by going to the Yosemite Planning website

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planning/ -

Go to the Merced Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive Management Plan and you can follow links to public scoping. I'm pretty sure it is still open for comments.

Once again let me remind everyone that I'll be on vacation and far away from anything resembling computers for a large part of the winter. I'd love to be here longer, but until the NPS makes it a priority for us to have a permanent Climbing Ranger, thatís not going to happen. In the mean time Africa here we come!!

Peace,

Jesse McGahey
Presently Laid Off Yosemite Climbing Ranger
Mike.

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 8, 2007 - 09:41pm PT
Jesse,

Thanks a bunch for:

Taking your time to respond
Your actions with YNP RE this issue
The link where we can comment
All your efforts on climbers' and park visitors' behalf

Have a great Winter. I hope to meet you next year.



Thanks to all who cared enough to add to the thread. Consider commenting in the supplied link (TIA). Thanks in advance for picking up some trash when you see it. And, did I mention...Thanks!

I know Yosemite is a special place for very many of you. It sure is for wifers and I. Here's to the steward attitude and everyone making the place a little less haggard (Ken, Anders, all facelifters, all who contribute). You rule!

Cheers. See ya there.
Mike.

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 9, 2007 - 01:06pm PT
Unless I'm missing something, the comment period appears to have long since ended:


From http://www.nps.gov/archive/yose/planning/mrp/revision/comments/

"From January 14 through March 22, 2005, the National Park Service held a public review period for the Draft Revised Merced River Plan/SEIS. Interested groups and individuals were invited to submit written comments regarding the plan's revision."

JesseM

Social climber
Yosemite
Nov 9, 2007 - 01:21pm PT
Mike,

You are right that the public scoping period has ended for the New Merced River Plan. However, you are looking at the 2005 version. We are having to go through the process again due to a lawsuit.
* (Scoping period lasts through June 9, 2007)

There will still be more room to be involved after our planning team moves to the next level of drafting alternatives. Here is the specific URL for the newest version. I recommend reading some of the materials they have listed.


http://www.nps.gov/archive/yose/planning/newmrp/

Sorry, to get you all psyched up only to find out you were too late!

-Jesse
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