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Programmatic CE for Hang Gliding CUA (Updated 2021)

Yosemite National Park » Programmatic CE for Hang Gliding CUA (Updated 2021) » Document List

This programmatic Categorical Exclusion (PCE) would allow the park to issue a Commercial Use Authorization Permit (CUA) to authorize the Yosemite Hang Gliding Association (YHGA), a nonprofit group, to conduct noncommercial hang gliding activities in Yosemite National Park. This PCE has been updated with additional resource protection measures and will supersede the former one (PEPC 43657), which had previously covered the hang gliding CUAs.

The Commercial Use Authorization is issued to companies and organizations conducting commercial activities in Yosemite National Park. The permit holder must agree to abide by the terms and conditions of the Commercial Use Authorization (attached)which is administered and managed by the Yosemite National Park, Commercial Use Authorization Office in conjunction with the Yosemite Protection Division and Resources Management Division.

Hang gliding in the park was originally conducted in cooperation with Yosemite National Park Rangers who both participated in and managed the program prior to 1992. Beginning in 1992 the Yosemite Hang Gliding Association began managing the program under a permit from Yosemite National Park.

The permit authorizes Class 1 and 2, non-powered, hang gliding in Yosemite National Park under supervision of the Yosemite Hang Gliding Association. The CUA does not authorize paragliding. The difference between class 1 and class 2 gliders is related to hang glider competitions that recognize two different kinds of "hang gliders" and does not representa functional difference as far as the PCE or CUA is concerned. In the United States and internationally, the words 'hang glider' and 'paraglider' are enough to separate the two types of wings. A basic distinction is that a hang glider has a frame and is launched by foot, while a paraglider is a frame-less parachute launched by foot. Paragliding is not permitted in Yosemite National Park.

Leidig Meadow is identified as an outstanding remarkable value by the Merced Wild and Scenic River Plan and is an area of active restoration. The public is asked to stay on designated trailes and off of sensitive meadow vegetation. While hang gliders may receive special permission to land in Leidig Meadow, it is imperative that their impact is minimized as outlined in the CUA conditions.

Areas of use are limited to the assigned Glacier Point set up area and launch site, and the Leidig Meadow landing sites. The activity is permitted to be conducted from mid-June through mid-October of the permit year. The mid-June date is dependent upon the moisture conditions of the Leidig Meadow landing area and may be delayed until the area is determined to be dry enough to allow safe landings and minimal resources impacts. Launches are allowed daily from 8 am to 9 am, but they typically occur on weekends.

A maximum of 16 launches are allowed per day, however only 5 to 7 gliders are launched on average with an average of 18 launches per month over the past 10 years. Prior to the first launch of the day the onsite YHGA monitor muse contact the Yosemite Emergency Communication Center for approval to launch. A launch will only be approved if there are no concurrent Fire, SAR or Medical air operations in the Yosemite Valley area. A launch may only take place under the supervision of YHGA authorized monitors, pursuant to the Yosemite Hang Gliding Site Manual (Site Procedures and Safety Requirements), and CUA conditions. YHGA monitors are notified of Peregrine nesting areas along the flight path that must be avoided while in flight and the information is made part of the preflight instructions for each participant.

2021 Summary Of Updates:
> Clarified -Landing in Leidig Mdw when the ground is still wet will not be authorized. (This was assumed but not stated in previous conditions.)
> Recommend that the meadow be checked by RMS, the week prior to the authorized start of the launch season to confirm that the landing area is dry enough to allow landings to occur with little impact to the natural resources. (The CUA office will contact RMS to request a check of the meadow at least 1 week prior to the 1st launch date.)
> NPS changed the activity start date to later in June when the meadow has had more time to dry out and extend the end date to mid-October (June 15-Oct 15).
> Added additional meadow protections: Pilots must minimize the amount of time spent in the meadow. After landing in Leidig Meadow pilots must move gliders to the east side of the bike path, river side, to disassemble and pack.