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HOrses

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Re: HOrses

Postby oldranger » Mon Dec 07, 2009 3:59 pm

Peter,
Thats what happens when you have too much time and you are trying to avoid your wife's list of honeydos.

Here are a couple more points I forgot:

I always thought there should be a couple of trails in the park where horses should not be permitted. I always thought of Roaring River as "horse country" because there were so many cowboy trails dating back to before it became part of the park. But even then I thought there should be restrictions on when stock could utilize the trails, thought cross country travel on stock was not appropriate west of crowley canyon and s. of the Belle Canyon Entrance trail. Finally I thought (still do) that cross country stock travel should be restricted to below 10,000 feet. This would prevent stock use into Big and Little Brewer Lakes but would have no impact on any other stock use since at least 1980. Stock used to go up into Cunningham Creek drainage but sometime prior to 1984 an avalanche left trees crisscrossed across the only possible stock route. Stock also used to go up to Big Bird and then up to Scenic Meadow. There are a bunch of other routes still useable in the area.

Finally even though "horse country" I always felt that one meadow up Deadman or Cloud Canyons should be closed to grazing each summer. That would enable people to see what an ungrazed meadow looks like. Usually only one or two meadows were grazed each year to the point that that it was obvious, kind of like a golf course with horse turds instead of golf balls. But even a meadow barely grazed looks different--the ends of the grass are flat instead of pointed and it just doesn't wave the same in the wind.

Whoops! I think she just got home!

Mike
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Re: HOrses

Postby maverick » Mon Dec 07, 2009 4:05 pm

Hi Mike
After all that, all I want to know is what you really think about the issue, I know your
holding back Mike! Peter
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Re: HOrses

Postby oldranger » Mon Dec 07, 2009 5:14 pm

:rolleyes:

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Re: HOrses

Postby balzaccom » Mon Dec 07, 2009 6:29 pm

Great posts, Mike. Thanks.

There is a lot of thought and a lot of wisdom in those words.

Now: what can we possibly do about some of this stuff? Is it possible to encourage the USFS along some of these lines?

And I have to admit, I'm not afraid of taking an issue public. I've even considered setting up a dummy corporation that would buy up some of the grazing rights in national forests...I'll be we could sell that idea to any number of environmental organizations. But I've now learned that you have to be approved by the USFS before they will allow you to participate in the bidding process.
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Re: HOrses

Postby oldranger » Mon Dec 07, 2009 9:32 pm

Balzacom

The FS has reduced the number of AUMs in grazing allotments so much that many of them are currently not being grazed or the numbers greatly reduced over the past. Grazing in many areas is more of a hobby or traditional activity for families that have been running cattle for generations. Similarly the amount of both private and commercial stock use is a fraction of what it was when I started backpacking. There are pretty large organizations putting pressure on the FS and BLM to reduce or even end grazing on public lands throughout the west. I suspect if that is your interest then a google search can turn up someone already involved in trying to end grazing. My point wasn't to get you up in arms but to point out that there are a small fraction of domestic 4 footed creatures in the high sierra compared to the beginning of the 20th century. I would never want to go backward to those days but think that responsible stock use like responsible backpacking is an acceptable backcountry use.

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Re: HOrses

Postby balzaccom » Mon Dec 07, 2009 11:07 pm

Thanks Mike...and you didn't get me up in arms. I once spent a really unpleasant night being bothered by cows all night long in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, so my arms were already up there somewhere.

But I am not fanatically opposed to all horses in the wilderness. I see they have a place, but I would like those who use them to limit their impact as much as possible.

And I agree about backpackers also being litterbugs. Worst of all, (and I am a fisherman) is that fishermen are pigs. More trash dumped in more pristine environments than anybody else by far. I can't remember the last time I went fishing where I didn't drag out some monofilament, drag up a lure, or clean up some trash left by fishermen.
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Re: HOrses

Postby maverick » Tue Dec 08, 2009 10:39 am

HI MIke

Little off topic but I know how much you enjoyed riding your horse when stationed at
Roaring River, when is the last time you had a chance to get back in the saddle?
I know you visited some of the small lakes up on the bench, but did you ever go all
the way up to Big Brewer Lake?
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Re: HOrses

Postby oldranger » Tue Dec 08, 2009 11:37 am

Peter,

I rode from granite creek to Sadler Lake this summer on the first day of my upper Merced trip. With two weeks of food I would never have been able to meet up with Markskor on the appointed day without that first day lift.

I regularly rode up to the 10,000 ft level on Brewer Creek. Once rode up to Little Brewer. But the stock passable route up to Big Brewer goes over some really sensitive steep damp grass. The horses would chew it up terribly. My philosophy, even though I rode places that rangers before me and after me never rode, was "just because you can ride a horse someplace doesn't mean that you should." I got really pissed when some NPS folks rode horses all the way up to Big Brewer, it was legal but it wasn't right. It took a few years before the scared terrain healed.

I used to keep the cowboy trail up the west fork of Ferguson to the last meadow open but when the commercial packer at the time kept leaving a mess at the campsite I destroyed the site and stopped clearing the trail which made it much more difficult to get a pack string through. Since then many of the trees burned in a fire in the mid/late 70's have fallen and there is a large section of trail that is completely impassable to stock and not fun with a backpack. There is a get around but you really have to know the area or have someone give you directions.

Balzacom

I've experienced that several times but not since 1981 and believe it or not it was in Kings Canyon NP. Since most of Kings Canyon did not become a park until 1940 existing permittees were allowed to continue grazing until their death. So I think it was through 1985 there were still cattle grazing around Williams and Comanche Meadows. Not knowing grazing was permitted I was shocked to be awakened by cows one night when camped at Comanche Meadows. This was the year before I became a backcountry ranger. For several years after grazing was not permitted in the park cattle continued to graze in the park because the cows couldn't read the park boundary signs.

The the second time I ever went into Long Creek in Sept of 1973 (s. of yosemite in what was then Minarets Wilderness, now Ansel Adams) there were cows and an old cowboy with his dog gathering the cattle before the start of hunting season. We had a few cows visit us the previous night north of the old Chitwood Cabin (now ruins). My early backpacking was in the Granite Creek area and NF San Joaquin River and it seems that in the late 50s and early 60s there were more cows than deer.

If you really want to hear about the old days I bet George has stories about chasing sheepherders out of Yosemite when he was a young ranger. :D


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Re: HOrses

Postby quentinc » Tue Dec 08, 2009 10:33 pm

Balzac:

Here is a great organization that shares your (and my!) feelings about stock in the backcountry. http://www.highsierrahikers.org/ They have quite a number of horror stories about whether it is "possible to encourage the USFS along some of these lines," but they're probably the most effective force out there trying.
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Re: HOrses

Postby Bad Man From Bodie » Wed Dec 09, 2009 11:42 am

Image
You see a lot more sitting high in the saddle not looking down at the trail. I vote for the horse and cows are good to eat! You can all rest now knowing my kids will learn how to pack stock into the wilderness, and we go off trail - less impact and no hikers :D !
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Re: HOrses

Postby mokelumnekid » Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:27 pm

FYI- The issue of grazing and on-going abuses there, is a seperate one from horse packers. I practice a live-and-let-live with recreational horse packers. Most are fine, responsible and interesting people. Others are boorish jerks just like some backpackers I meet. I don't do horse-packing but have used commercial packers occasionally in the past to supply spike camps for geological research. All that activity was on-trail and well within what most of us would assume to be accepted "best" practices. And I follow the Golden Rule- greet everone with a smile and respect. I step off the trail when they approach and bid them a big "how-do." It isn't my cup of tea, but for some folks it is theirs, and importantly, it is allowed by law.

Grazing practices, which you mentioned, are a whole 'nuther kettle of cow-crap. While impacts from horses may be proximal to well-used campsites, the ongoing and abusive over-grazing of parts of the Carson-Iceberg and Mokelumne Wilderness is disgusting and wide ranging. A fully informed rant on that point is beyond the scope of this forum, but in a nutshell, the Stanislaus and Carson Nat'l. Forests have long turned a blind eye to manifestly illegal and unsustainable damages to large meadows and wetlands. Is grazing allowed and legal? Yes, it is based on the provisions of the Wilderness Act. Has it led to systemic/in-grained abuses? Yes. But one has to work within the system. The Central Sierra Environment Resource Center in Twain Harte has done an excellent job of opening a dialog with all concerned to see how working together, some compromises can be made that allow for existing grazing prrmits to be honored, while bringing some impacts more in-line with *current* wilderness practices. I urge you to contact/support them.

But on a related note, I am somewhat glad that there has been progress on a related topic. I remember in the '70's when you couldn't go (almost) anywhere in the Stainislaus/El Dorado/Carson Forests without running into a band of dirt-bikers. Now that was a group- especially duriung deer season- that left MOUNTAINS of garbage in the back country and ripped the dickens out of meadows etc. Thankfully, that is no longer the case. So there's some progress folks.
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Re: HOrses

Postby dave54 » Wed Dec 09, 2009 9:51 pm

I seem to be in the minority here. I do not mind horses or livestock in the backcountry. Never bothered me.
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