Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Delaware North Companies (DNC) And The Yosemite Concessions Contract

Dale Matson
Townsley Lake Yosemite
Here is a portion of the story by Mark Grossi and Carmen George excerpted From the December 30th Fresno Bee.

Yosemite National Park will take bids next month on a contract worth nearly $2 billion to run the Ahwahnee Hotel, Badger Pass Ski Area and other retail outlets, but the high-stakes jockeying is already happening.

Delaware North Companies, the park’s concession operator for 21 years, last week announced that its “intangible” assets — including names, such as the Ahwahnee Hotel — are worth $51 million. And Delaware North says that if a new company takes over the Yosemite concession, it’ll have to pay to use the names.

The National Park Service says the names of historic hotels and other properties are as much a part of the park as Half Dome. But to protect other contract bidders from the added cost, the Park Service is allowing the possibility that names could be changed. It’s a hedge against a dispute later on, federal officials said.

I am not a lawyer but this seems to me to be overreaching on the part of DNC. It also appears to me that the Park Service needs better legal advice when negotiating a contract with vendors. How would you understand this statement?

“Delaware North’s 1993 contract with the Park Service required the company to acquire all assets — and to sell them all, if not chosen for the next contract, Stellmack said. Delaware North said those purchased assets include the names to the properties.”

What does “acquire all assets” mean?
It makes sense to me that DNC could and did rename the lodge in Fish Camp that they purchased from Marriott but they did not purchase any structures in Yosemite nor did they pay the costs of adding to the existing infrastructure in Yosemite.

“For now, the Park Service is not directly addressing the issue over the value of a name, instead focusing on the bids. The contract is expected to be awarded in mid-2015.”

I believe this is an issue that should be settled before the Park Service allows any bids. Can you see the potential legal problems with this strategy? I also believe it is foolish to suggest the possibility that the names could be changed since the names belong to Yosemite and Yosemite was set aside for and belongs to us, the citizens of the U.S. You don't have our permission to change the names.

Will the "Yosemite Park and Curry Company" now retroactively sue both the Park Service and DNC since they were not reimbursed for “all assets” when they lost the bid to DNC? This is a no lose situation (financially) for DNC. Even if they don't get the bid for the Yosemite concessions, they will still claim they are owed $51 million dollars. The bids will not begin on a level playing field if DNC does decide to bid since they will not have to front the extra $51 million dollars.

Both the Park Service and DNC need to reconsider their positions. It looks like the contract extensions for DNC were simply kicking the can down the road. Extending the contract six years beyond the original expiration date was unfair to other potential vendors who may have underbid DNC in 2008.

DNC needs to reconsider their position since much of good business is good will. DNC is not expressing good will by appearing to make an unreasonable demand of reimbursement for assets they never produced.

I also see a potential lawsuit coming from the Sierra Club since the idea of vendors and vending machines in Yosemite is not something they embrace anyway. This conflict would be the perfect time for them to make a point. I hope not. I hope they would offer constructive feedback also.  

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Prescription For Healthy Aging

Dale Matson

I am now 70 years old and about half way to this point, I decided that living a healthy life was the best medicine. At the time I was about 50 pounds overweight, a smoker, drinker and led a sedentary life. My blood pressure was 140/90, my total cholesterol was 295 and the doctor was recommending both statin drugs for cholesterol and blood pressure medication.

Healthy living requires both educating yourself and acting on that new knowledge. Lifestyle issues are the biggest component in most illness. I initially got involved in walking two miles a day and read Kenneth Cooper’s book on Aerobics. I used his book to begin an exercise program of running and bicycling. I have since added swimming, backpacking, cross country skiing and weight lifting. Like Cooper’s point system, I have developed my own system and shoot for 30-60 mile equivalents per week.

My eating habits were horrible and I got involved with the American Heart Association Diet Plan. Later, I joined Weight Watchers and remain a lifetime member. I no longer attend the meetings but I do weigh in the first of every month. I quit smoking and drinking. The smoking was the more difficult but I will be celebrating my 32nd anniversary of quitting smoking on January 10th. I am 50 pounds lighter than I was then and take no medication.

The Fresno Bee had an article on December 24th that caught my eye because it cited long-term research to support a healthy lifestyle. Keep in mind that a healthy lifestyle does not guarantee a longer life but the life you have will be a higher quality life while you are alive. This article was on page C4 and is part of an ongoing series called, “Ask Dr. K”. Dr. Komaroff does an excellent job of defining what constitutes successful aging to 70 years and the contributing factors supported by the research.
Click To Enlarge

I believe if followed, it is a prescription for health. I realize that there are some limitations because these are medical studies that do not include the psychosocial and spiritual aspects. As a priest and retired psychologist, I would recommend a psychological support system of family and close friends and a theological/philosophical life road map. This provides the purpose or grander design of your life trajectory.

I would also recommend keeping a journal in which you record your daily activities. This can become an organizing feature of your life and will hold you accountable for making certain that your days are productive. It is also useful keeping a record of medical interventions, medicines, weight and exercise. I hope many of you folks who read this will see the importance of the decision to take charge of your life in general and your health in particular, especially as the new year is about to begin. It is time for some of you to stop killing yourself on the installment plan. Those who already follow a plan like this should be affirmed. Happy New Year.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation

Dale Matson

I am not normally a “joiner” but I am a member of the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation. These endangered and elusive sheep are strung out along the Sierra Crest from Yosemite to Whitney in small herds. Most folks would not know that Fresno County is home to many of these sheep.

I was fortunate to get a brief glimpse of two sheep two years ago on the 60 Lake Basin trail out of Rae Lakes. They were gone faster than I could get my camera out from the case on my belt. Much of the hiking I have done in the Central Sierras has included long gazes at rock faces in an attempt to spot “boulders with legs” as Elizabeth Wenk described them in her book on the John Muir Trail.

Arguably the most important individual in the Foundation is Dr. John Wehausen, a member of the board of directors. He has been involved in sheep research and relocation for many years. I have had an opportunity to talk with him on the phone and communicate through emails. There are YouTube videos here: and here:

John has always been willing to offer me tips on where I might have the best luck finding a particular herd. The overall growth of the herds has been encouraging with an increase from 500 to 600 sheep in the last two years and the population of all 12 planned herd units. The hope is to continue to expand the populations and habitat.

I received my annual newsletter yesterday and read it twice because of the encouraging progress and dedicated individuals doing this work of restoration of a magnificent and noble species. Thank you all. The organization website is here:
There is a considerable information available on the website and an opportunity to join/donate to this wonderful organization.

The Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation is dedicated to the future of Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep. P.O. Box 1183, Bishop, CA 93515 (760) 872-2928.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Back To The Back Country: Tamarack Snow Park

Dale Matson 

Click on Images To Enlarge

We loaded two sets of backcountry waxless skis (freshly hot waxed), poles, boots with backcountry bindings and daypacks into the back of the truck. This included water, food, GPS, Satellite Phone, waterproof gloves, cap, hooded rain shell etc. By this time the dogs were already on high alert prancing outside the kitchen door. I put them in the backyard while I was getting the gear into the truck but their doggie radar was up and they knew they were going along. We folded the back seats down giving the dogs a large area to sit inside the cab for the hour and a half drive up to Tamarack Snowpark from Fresno.

This was the first trip of the season back to the snow. We have had a good season so far with about 30 inches of powdery snow on the ground at 7,000’. We hit the sweet spot for clear roads and powdery snow. Once the snow melts and freezes a few times, it can be crusty or icy. Either way it is no fun to ski on that type of snow. The dogs have problems with it also. What we really like about the snow at this depth is the dogs stay with us and follow in our ski tracks. Otherwise, if they went in front, they would ‘post hole’ up to their chests in snow. Thus, unlike summer hikes, they don’t have to be on a leash.

We got to the snow park and prepared our gear. I turned on the GPS and set a waypoint by the truck. I also turned on my Suunto Ambit II. I let the dogs out and they went running around the parking area as they waited impatiently for us to head down the main trail. Snowmobiles had packed the main trail and the dogs could run up and down it with ease as we skied forward on unseasoned legs. We got to the Raven trail that heads to the Shaver Lake overlook and turned right. This is for Nordic skiing only. Someone had gone out this way before the most recent snowfall so you could see the grooves under the fresh snow. We only had to break trail through about 8 inches of fresher snow. After about half a mile outbound it was obvious the dogs were sinking in way too much as they struggled to follow us. We decided to head back to the main trail and ski further out on that. We let Duke and Susie run ahead of us as we skied on the surface packed by the snowmobiles.

We turned around after about an hour and headed back to the truck. We leashed the dogs back up a couple of hundred yards before we got back. There are often little children and dogs near the parking area and our dogs are a little too rambunctious. We made our usual stop at Norm Kato’s place in Shaver Lake for well-earned treats.

It’s a good season for this area. The grass is green and the air is clear. The wilderness is wearing her fresh veil of snow and there was a quiet solitude as we pushed through the fresh snow. Hopefully we will have a real winter in the Sierras this year.