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New Sequoia-Kings Canyon plan preserves private use of publi

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New Sequoia-Kings Canyon plan preserves private use of publi

Postby copeg » Wed Nov 29, 2006 6:55 pm

Families get to keep permits
New Sequoia-Kings Canyon plan preserves private use of public land.
By Mark Grossi / The Fresno Bee
11/26/06 05:48:24

The fight over evicting families using private cabins in Sequoia National Park is a mild skirmish compared to the national debate over draining Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park.
But the 60 cabins are among the prominent changes in a vast, new plan for Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. The families who own the cabins can hang onto their federal land-use permits, meaning they can continue using and preserving their beloved old buildings.

The plan, released last week, does not call for evictions, a possibility the draft plan raised a few years ago. The National Park Service revised its plan after Congress passed a law two years ago allowing families to keep using their summer getaways on public land.

The only catch is that federal officials still can revoke the permits someday if they need the land for some other purpose.

Opponents are not encouraged. They say the federal government should have torn down many of the cabins and allowed the public to use more of the picturesque area called Mineral King Valley.

"It's ridiculous to let private owners stay on public land," said Paul Boley of Three Rivers in Tulare County. "A national park is a national park."

Preservation of the cabins, which date back many decades, is among almost 400 issues covered in the new General Management Plan for the adjoining Central California parks. It took nine years to complete the 600-page document, which replaces a plan dating back to 1971.

Such plans are statements of how national parks will protect and manage areas around rivers, mountains, trees and the rest of the landscape. At the same time, officials must make sure the protections don't prevent the public from seeing these natural wonders.

The combined 860,000 acres in Sequoia and Kings Canyon contain some of the Sierra Nevada's most dramatic attractions. Kings Canyon is considered America's deepest river canyon; Mount Whitney is the tallest peak in the lower 48 states; and the General Sherman Tree, a giant sequoia, is the largest tree in the world.

In Mineral King at 7,500 feet, east of Three Rivers, debate over private cabins has flared since the 1960s when the Walt Disney Co. began planning to build a major ski resort in the glacial valley.

Cabin owners fought to get Mineral King out of Sequoia National Forest where such commercial ventures are allowed. By 1978, federal legislation designated Mineral King as part of Sequoia National Park, where it would be protected from development.

But the legislation allowed cabin owners to remain only until the death of the family member who holds the permit to use the land.

For years, the cabin families then lobbied for legislation that would allow them to stay. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, finally pushed it through Congress in 2004.

Louise Jackson of the Mineral King Preservation Society said the owners got what they wanted, but they still worry that federal officials could find a reason to revoke the permits.

"The cabins are not secure forever," Jackson said. "But we think a lot of people support preserving them. The cabins do not take up much space in the valley. Mineral King is open to the public. It's a major trailhead where people start their backpack trips."

Among those who don't share her view is John Krebs, the former congressman whose 1978 legislation allowed the park to absorb Mineral King. He said all of Mineral King should be open to the public, and he was disappointed with the 2004 legislation.

He said, "There's nothing left for me to say about it now."

The reporter can be reached at mgrossi@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6316.


http://www.fresnobee.com/263/story/15291.html



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Postby hikerduane » Wed Nov 29, 2006 7:03 pm

This reminds me of the cabin in Desolation Wilderness which I believe will have to go or revert totally to the the Feds when the old rancher dies. It was neat seeing three generations camping there the last time I saw them. The Forest Service uses it too when they are thru the area.
Piece of cake.
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Postby SSSdave » Wed Nov 29, 2006 7:51 pm

Since the MK area was a 1978 addition, I can understand some validity to treating the former national forest lands special. However as I understand it those are leases of that public land. In other words it wasn't the usual situation of private land inholdings. Accordingly they always had limited rights. Generally I think most of the public would prefer to see any inholdings including leases within national parks return to the public after those contracts run out. In the case of MK, the area is very lightly used and I would expect the leases just use their cabins a few months during summer. As long as there aren't any negative issues they might as well let it be. ...David
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Postby hikerduane » Thu Nov 30, 2006 12:33 pm

Another thing, up where I live, in the early '80's some US Forest Service leases ran out and the people were very upset when they weren't renewed and they had "X" number of days to remove there cabin or whatever. The Forest Service decision was they didn't fit into present use.
Piece of cake.
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Postby mountaineer » Thu Nov 30, 2006 6:51 pm

Absolutely ridiculous to even suggest booting out those people. The only ones that are pushing to have them evicted are ones who are jealous that they don't own the lease. Pure and simple. If they were offered a lease they would jump right on it.

The argument that more of the valley should be open to the public is so stupid it really isn't worth responding to. Have you seen the land the cabins sit on? Nothing real special...just sitting in the forest.
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Postby Skibum » Fri Dec 01, 2006 4:08 pm

Oy! Hmmmm. We have the same "sort of" issues here in Grant Grove with the Wilsonia community. It's kind of hard for me to post my "personnal "thoughts, as I'm employed by the NPS. But I will say, having grown up here, I miss the old Wilsonia Lodge, and especially, for those whom might remember, the "Touch of Holland" restaurant. :(
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Postby SteveB » Sat Dec 02, 2006 6:56 pm

Maybe I'm being a bit naive with my opinion, but it seems rediculous to ME to say that just because these folks were offered a limited-term lease way back when they should have the right to stay there, in perpetuity, along with all of their decendents (or whomever they manage to transfer the lease to). Just because you are approved to move into an apartment, doesn't mean that you have the right to stay there in perpetuity (land/buildings are sold, and new owners want to convert the land to something else).

Perhaps the NPS made the first mistake by extending their leases in the first place. Let them lease the property at fair market value if they want to stay. It is public land, after all. This, to me, is no different than allowing logging or grazing on public land at below-market prices.

Heck, I'd love to live on NPS land, as I'm sure most people here would! But I'd also be well aware of the land use regs if I did so.
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