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Yosemite Half Dome cables will remain, hikers still limited

  • FILE - In this 2006 file photo provided by the National Park Service, tourists climb Half Dome at Yosemite National Park, Calif. A long-awaited plan that officials say will make safer the iconic climb up Half Dome in Yosemite National Park has been approved. The hand-rail cables that some environmental groups argued don’t belong in a wilderness will stay, as will a lottery that will limit the number of hikers to roughly 400 a day. Over the past decade the route has been inundated with up to 1,200 nature lovers, causing traffic jams and a surge in calls for rescue. (AP Photo/National Park Service, File)

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK — The hike up the granite monolith Half Dome in Yosemite National Park is one of the most iconic in the nationwide system, but on Friday officials 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 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," said spokeswoman Kari Cobb.

Over the past decade the route had been inundated with up to 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.


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