Yosemite plan opts for fewer hikers on iconic Half Dome

The number of hikers allowed to scale Yosemite's iconic Half Dome could be severely restricted by 2013 if an environmental assessment of the wilderness area is approved as written.

Park officials have been studying how to balance the preservation of wilderness with the growing popularity of the day hike to the top. In years past up to 1,200 people a day would make the trek, crowding the cables that allow hikers to hoist themselves up the final ascent.

Rangers say crowds make the climb unsafe because hikers can't quickly descend the slick granite if a storm arises. They say 300 people a day is a more manageable number. Some argue the cables should be removed from a federally designated wilderness area.

Public input will be accepted until March 15.