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Access Outlook Improves in Yosemite’s Merced River Corridor

A recent draft of a report detailing the many values of the Merced River Corridor of Yosemite Valley contains good news for climbing access. In a recent draft of their Outstanding Remarkable Value report, Yosemite National Park officials acknowledged climbing as one of the important uses of the Corridor, which extends a quarter mile on either side of the river.

In a press release, the Access Fund stated that “this is important because climbing as an activity is now more likely to be ‘protected and enhanced’ rather than restricted.” This development is particularly pertinent as the Merced Corridor contains many celebrated climbing areas–such as The Rostrum, Cookie Cliff and Middle Cathedral Rock–and access to even more, like El Capitan and Half Dome. first reported on growing access concerns in the corridor issue on July 19, 2008. With over 5 million visitors coming to the Park yearly, and a large majority of those visitors staying in Yosemite Valley, many groups, including the Friends of Yosemite Valley and the Park Service, have recognized the need for regulation of Yosemite’s natural resources, though opinions on the nature of that regulation have varied greatly.

On February 2, 2010, reported on an Access Fund request that climbers send letters to YNP authorities to help advocate for climbing as an integral and historic part of Merced River recreation before the end of the Park’s “scoping period.” Now with rock climbing listed alongside other social and recreation values of the river, the Access Fund is hoping that the future of climbing in Yosemite Valley will be more secure. In a letter commenting on the ORV draft, Access Fund Regional Coordinator Paul Minauta also expressed desire for increased roadside parking and “primitive, walk-in style” camping facilities in the National Park.

Yosemite National Park held several workshops starting June 28 regarding their draft of their ORV report, and plan to hold more workshops and roundtables over the course of the next week to listen to community feedback before the draft is finalized in the coming months. Further information, including dates and locations, is available at the Access Fund website.