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Eliminate Permits For Hiking Half Dome?

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For the past three years, permits have been required to scale Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. One citizens group would like to see those permits dropped.

Mason Harrison, founder of was Thursday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”.

Harrison, who currently lives in Washington D.C., grew up in the Motherlode and graduated from Summerville High School.

According to Harrison, he and his friends spent several Summer days and nights hiking in the Sierra Nevada, Yosemite National Park and climbing Half Dome.

Every year, tens of thousands of Americans journey to Yosemite National Park with many wanting to summit Half Dome. But Harrison claims the right to summit it, is being taken away.

According to Harrison, the National Park Service has needlessly closed the Half Dome Trail to thousands of individuals, citing overcrowding.

Hiking the Half Dome Trail requires a special permit which Harrison claims is virtually impossible to obtain.

“Failure to obtain proper government paperwork before hiking can now result in a $5,000 fine or up to 6 months in jail” said Harrison.

“To make it worse, park officials are considering a plan to close the Half Dome Trail altogether or continue the current permit process which has already denied access to thousands of families, hikers, backpackers and casual visitors.”

Park officials are considering five options:

A) Go back to the rules of pre-2009 and not require any type of permit.
B) Retain the permit system and allow 400 hikers per day.
C) Retain the permit system and allow 300 hikers per day.
D) Retain the permit system and allow 140 hikers per day.
E) Remove the cables from Half Dome.

The park’s preferred alternative is C, to keep the permit system and allow only 300 hikers per day. The public comment period for the Half Dome Trail Stewardship Plan continues through March 15. The plan will be implemented for the 2013 hiking season. For 2012, the interim plan is to allow 400 permits per day.

Harrison is adament that the National Park Service was established to allow people to enjoy their natural heritage and “now is not the time to deny thousands of Americans access to one of the most popular hiking trails in California”.

Harrison would like people to speak out and tell the National Park Service to re-open the Half Dome Trail as it was before 2009 and even add a third cable to the route.

The “Newsmaker of the Day” is heard each weekday morning on AM 1450 KVML at 6:47, 7:47 and 8:47am.