- Marco Rubio: U.S. at social, moral crossroads
- ‘We’re coming for you, Barack Obama’: Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL
- White flags baffle NYPD: ‘We’re lucky it wasn’t a bomb’
- N.Y. Gov. Cuomo’s office interfered with, pressured corruption commission: report
- Brit lawmaker: I would fire on Israel if I lived in Gaza
- VA apologizes to forgotten Marine veteran locked in Fla. clinic, forced to call 911
- U.S. social and economic trends on worrisome track, survey finds
- McDonald nomination unanimously referred to full Senate
- Chuck Norris honorary chairman of NRA voter registration campaign
- GOP outraged Obamacare investigators able to get coverage with fake IDs
Limit put on Yosemite hikers
Only 300 a day will be allowed to climb Half Dome
Question of the Day
FRESNO, Calif. — The hike up the granite monolith Half Dome in Yosemite National Park is one of the most iconic in the nationwide system, but officials have announced approval of a plan that permanently limits how many can do it.
National Park Service authorities will issue permits to limit the number of hikers to 300 a day, the target number since an interim plan was approved in 2010 to reduce congestion in a wilderness area and make the hike safer.
In a blow to environmental groups, the park also decided Friday to keep in place the heavy metal cables drilled into the monolith that hikers use to steady themselves on the 45-degree final climb up slick granite. Some groups had argued that handrails do not belong in a federally designated wilderness area.
"With a place like Yosemite that is so dear and important to millions of people, everyone has ideas about what wilderness protection is. We tried to find a balance that allows people to still experience Yosemite while protecting Yosemite," spokeswoman Kari Cobb said.
Over the past decade the route had been inundated with as many as 1,200 nature lovers a day seeking to experience the iconic mountain that is stamped on the California quarter, stitched on a line of outdoor clothing and painted on the side of the park's vehicles.
Congestion on the dome made it difficult for hikers to descend when inclement weather struck, as it often does on summer afternoons.
At least five people have died on the cables since 2006, nearly all with rain as a factor. Park officials want visitors to be able to descend the slick granite in 45 minutes if they have to escape a fast-forming storm, and limiting numbers is the only way to do that, they say.
As calls for rescues increased, park officials began looking for solutions in 2008.
Two years later, an interim plan was introduced to allow 400 permits through a lottery system that takes place in March in an effort to keep the number on the trail to 300. Authorities have tweaked the system since then to account for no-shows and to allow a secondary lottery two days in advance for those who travel more spontaneously.
"It was a really good tool that we used to provide no-show and cancellation permits to people who made last-minute plans," Ms. Cobb said.
In 1874, the slick dome that rises 5,000 feet above the valley floor was described as "perfectly inaccessible." But in 1919, the Sierra Club installed the first cables along the 400-foot final ascent so visitors without rock-climbing experience could hoist themselves to the summit — the size of 17 football fields — to drink in views of Little Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, endless Sierra and the valley floor.
The eight-mile round trip hike is the busiest by far of any in the National Park Service's designated wilderness areas. Over the decades the number of visitors to the park has steadily climbed, topping 4 million — in part because the park is an easy drive from Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.
TWT Video Picks
The subsidies are a hit with patients who don't exist
- Democratic Sen. John Walsh plagiarized War College master's thesis: report
- CARSON: Costco and the perils of mixing politics and business
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- Donald Sterling trial: Testimony ends as Shelly Sterling doesn't return to stand
- Beretta moving to Tennessee over Maryland gun laws
- Tom Petty: 'No one's got Christ more wrong than the Christians'
- Hezbollah warring in Syria could join fight against Israel
- Two Ukrainian fighter jets shot down
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq