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National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby rlown » Fri Mar 09, 2012 2:21 pm

you and TSahara should probably put for your trail reservations ahead of time like we all do. Two years in a row.. got my reservation.

Be proud all you want about being a Sierra Club member. I think they're purposeful and just as evil as any other special interest group, some of which i belong to.. just not the SC.



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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:30 pm

Treehugger- you were beginning to get some respect and you just blew it. Those of us old enough to have seen how government and regulations work, are worried not about this particular law per-se but the tendency of unintended consequences. You certainly did not have to get so nasty. I personally have been up Piute Pass many times and have NEVER seen a horse. So the fact that the packers have the ability to get permits, that I agree are excessive, does not mean they are over-running the place. Honestly I have seen more "impact" by hikers. Impact to me also includes the visual impact of the 50 people I pass as I go up the trail, since there is no limit on day hikers. I DO NOT think there should be a limit on day hikers, but that could happen as an unintended consequence. Too bad you had to step into a pile of poo after that nice post explaining the hiker's group's viewpoint. I did appreciate the other nicer post.
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby Bad Man From Bodie » Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:32 pm

Hey Moke....not to get off subject but that’s a pretty bad arse photo you got there! I’m digging all your paddling shots for sure! I need to get me a boat so I can do some paddling myself. Id like to rig it up so I can paddle the rivers then do some trolling for big macs in Tahoe. Any suggestions on boats that might fit the bill?

atreehugger wrote: As a proud member of the Sierra Club and other enviro groups, I will now be sending my check for $10 to join the High Sierra Hikers Assoc to protect the Sierra wilderness for my children AND yours. This issue has been educational...and by researching and spending some time reading the facts, I feel more informed on this subject. It appears others have not, and no doubt will continue to live in ignorance, and spread mis-information and rhetoric. :moon:
Really? Im disappointed buddy! No one is spreading misinformation or rhetoric around here, just simple differences in opinions and that my friend is what makes the world go round. FYI- there are a lot of folks including myself who have strong technical backgrounds and even careers in the environmental sciences, so make sure you sling those arrows with care when you so chose to do so.

Cheers,

Matt-
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby rlown » Fri Mar 09, 2012 5:19 pm

how much time do we give to this thread?

Edit: let me rephrase. Let the lawsuits fly. They always do; it seems how the Sierra is managed today.
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby dave54 » Sat Mar 10, 2012 11:25 am

rlown wrote:how much time do we give to this thread?

Edit: let me rephrase. Let the lawsuits fly. They always do; it seems how the Sierra is managed today.


How true. The only 'winners' in any environmental lawsuit are the lawyers.
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby TahoeSarah » Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:46 pm

hi all,

I would like to respond briefly to two points raised by Bad Man. First, he opines about "all these frivolous law suits from NGO groups such as the High Sierra Hikers Association." I absolutely respect his right to his opinions, but please consider that frivolous lawsuits are most often thrown out by the courts. That is not at all what happened here. The Court ruled (as brought by the HSHA) that the Park Service violated the Wilderness Act by permitting commercial packers to operate without limits in Sequoia & Kings Canyon Nat’l Parks. This is the opposite of “frivolous.”

For the record, the High Sierra Hikers Association (HSHA) has filed a total of four lawsuits since it was founded more than twenty-one years ago, and it has won every time. And please consider that “all these” lawsuits were filed only as a last resort—after the agencies and packers refused to respond to legitimate grievances about the consequences of ever-expanding commercial use throughout the High Sierra. (Please see my prior post, for more about this.) And the record is clear that the HSHA has never sought to eliminate commercial services; it advocates only for reasonable limits and controls.

Second, Bad Man opines that “people have the right to make a living in a tourist based economy.” While he’s most certainly entitled to that opinion, the Wilderness Act very clearly prohibits all commercial enterprise in designated wilderness areas, and allows only a very narrow exception for commercial services to be provided to the extent that they are truly “necessary.” In other words, there is no "right" to conduct commercial activities in designated wilderness areas. It is at most a privilege, and may be permitted only if found to be truly necessary. I’m not making this up; it’s the law of the land (see the Wilderness Act, which passed the House 373-1 and the Senate 73-12). Bad Man may disagree with the law—and in America that’s okay—but let’s all see his argument for what it is: a disagreement with the law.

Old Ranger has it right when he says “guides and packers play an important role in making the wilderness available to people who do not have the skills or ability to visit the wilderness on their own.” That is likely what Congress had in mind when it provided the exception to the Wilderness Act’s general prohibition against commercial enterprise, not the unlimited commercial exploitation that Bad Man seems to advocate.

Thanks for listening & considering,
sarah
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby rlown » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:13 pm

Sarah,

You've ever been on a pack trip?
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:40 pm

A narrow legal interpretation of "all commercial activity illegal" except when "necessary" would be disastrous to the outdoor community. Kurt Wedburg, is a local Bishop climber who has a guide service. Client wants to climb Mtn "X". Hires guide. Is that "necessary"? Some would say climbing any mountain is not necessary. Fishing guide, Mr. ZZ, makes a living as a guide. Family wants to go fishing. They can walk in a few miles to a lake. But they want a week trip farther in, too far for the kids to walk in. Hire fishing guide, who packs them in. Is that necessary? Probably not, the family could have humped in the gear a few miles and sat there for a week. When I had limited vacation time due to work, I got to spend more time in the mountains climbing when I hired a packer to take in gear to our basecamp. By the way, once you step on any of the cliffs in Yosemite Valley, you enter the wilderness. Hire a guide to teach your kids to climb and you are utilizing a commercial service provider. Was my use of a packer "necessary"? No, not in a strict narrow interpretation, but it was necessary for me to accomplish my wilderness goals and honestly I was glad to think that I was helping someone make a living. It is not too far a stretch of imagination to take that narrow legal interpretation to say that I have to go to court, present a medical waiver that says I am too delapitated to go into the wilderness myself, or climb a peak myself, in order to me to hire a commercial packer or guide if I so wish to so.

I do think commercial wilderness use in the Sierra needs to be regulated to PROTECT the wilderness. I have no issue with restricting commercial use in order to protect resources. Attempting to work with the Park Service and not "succeeding" could also mean that you went in totally unwilling to compromise (not saying that is the case, but a possible reason no solution was found prior to sueing). IF you are insisting on a very narrow interpretation of the "all commercial activity unless necessary", you ARE in effect, eliminating commercial services within the wilderness, not just regulating them. I certainly hope that the case goes before reasonable judges who know the difference between protecting resources and locking out a certain group of users.
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby markskor » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:43 pm

TahoeSarah wrote: ...legitimate grievances about the consequences of ever-expanding commercial use throughout the High Sierra.


Before comment, I would like to see hard numbers verifying this assertion of "ever-expanding". Seems to me (personal observation only) that there are far fewer packers running today than there were 20 years back.
TahoeSarah wrote:... packers play an important role in making the wilderness available to people who do not have the skills or ability to visit the wilderness on their own.”[/i] That is likely what Congress had in mind when it provided the exception to the Wilderness Act’s general prohibition against commercial enterprise, not the unlimited commercial exploitation that Bad Man seems to advocate.

Another question: Where Sierra is this "unlimited commercial exploitation" found? I fail to see it but, then again, I don't get out more than 50 - 60 nights a year. Additionally, why is this the only "likely" reason - "only for people who do not have the skills or ability to visit the wilderness on their own"... seems selfish. While I detest large party scars in my Sierra meadows too, there are courteous packers working who respect the land and have a "grandfathered" right to make a living. I see nothing wrong with big money enjoying the Sierra if they respect my Sierra when doing so - play by the same rules we all abide by...not restricted here only to those who "do not have the skills or ability to visit the wilderness on their own". The same freedoms apply to the wealthy, young, and able-bodied.

BTW, Every time one of these lawsuits arise, frivolous or not, the end result is us the backpackers always who suffer most. Quotas invariably get lowered and access, once easily obtained, becomes increasingly more restricted.
Sorry Sarah, I cannot agree with you here.
Mark
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby gdurkee » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:54 pm

Well, some random thoughts, in no particular order:

BTW, Every time one of these lawsuits arise, frivolous or not, the end result is us the backpackers always who suffer most. Quotas invariably get lowered and access, once easy obtained, becomes increasingly more restricted.


Never seen that happen -- not as a result of lawsuits anyway. Not in Yosemite, not in the Inyo, not in Sequoia Kings. Stock use on the Inyo got somewhat more restricted as a result of the HSHA lawsuit against them for not giving the same consideration to the Wilderness Act as they again challenged in the Sequoia Kings lawsuit. All of the same pack stations that were i business 20 years ago are still in business. I don't think quotas for people have changed in 20 years or even more.

The main thing is this: stock cause a LOT of environmental damage to fragile alpine (and subalpine) ecosystems. The Blackwell decision (against the Inyo) said that USFS did not prove there was a need for stock and ordered them to come up with a justification. The same is true in the Sequoia Kings case.

Further, the mere desire for wanting to do a trip by stock does not equate to a need. So just because people want to take a stock trip in Wilderness doesn't justify the agency's responsibility in limiting that use to prevent damage.

the Wilderness Act requires the Forest Service to limit public use of commercial services in the wilderness for recreational, scenic and other authorized purposes to the extent necessary and only as consistent with the overall imperative of preserving and protecting the wilderness character of the land. Defendants must reconcile the use of commercial services with what the land can tolerate while remaining wilderness, so as not to elevate recreation over longtime preservation of the wilderness character.


So however much people may say they've never seen any damage or that stock should be grandfathered in or that such lawsuits are frivolous, the 9th Circuit (and two federal courts below them) have said unambiguously: Wilderness, it's not just a good idea, it's the law.

So once again, no one is shutting down stock trips into the Sierra. But agencies are being required to consider more carefully the damage that stock (in this case) have and whether that's justified under the Wilderness Act. Essentially, the courts are leveling the playing field -- requiring the same standards for stock as are required for backpackers.

George
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby Bad Man From Bodie » Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:10 am

No, I wouldn’t say the courts are leveling the playing field, rather, it’s the random sympathetic judge that does the leveling. I figure if you are persistent enough with your “cause” through the years, eventually you will find said sympathetic judge. Either way, the lawyers love it, tax payers, not so much!

Mark brings an interesting point to the table. The back packers always suffer the most when a lawsuit happens, Id agree. It’s a bit ridiculous! I can’t imagine, but what would my great great grandfather say if I had to explain a wilderness quota to him. Nope, you can’t walk on God’s green earth without a permit now days. I guess my great great grandfather on my mother’s side (who was a great Chief of the plains Indians) would understand, considering the government eventually took his ancestral land from him. Eventually the lawsuits, new rules and regulations etc., forced him to move to Florida and try to make a living growing crops.

Can’t we just be tolerant with each other and respect mother nature? If all groups learn to respect the environment which we live, and tolerate what makes each user group boat float, these lawyers and activist wouldn’t be able to afford their mansion in Hawaii, Lake Tahoe, and So. Calf. Its a social issue not and environmental issue!
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby TahoeSarah » Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:22 pm

In response to Bad Man's repeated attacks on attorneys, i just want everyone to know that High Sierra Hikers' lawyers are all volunteers, working pro bono ("for the public good"). They work hundreds of hours, often for nothing, nights and weekends, just like our all-volunteer members, to bring our case forward. Bad Man keeps implying that our lawyers are somehow getting rich off of Wilderness Act cases. It's not true.

In re: rlown, yes, i've been on numerous pack trips (both private and commercial) in the Sierra: Yosemite, Emigrant, Hoover, Ansel Adams, John Muir, Kings Canyon, Sequoia NP. Some large trips (up to 25 head), some small, and did a lot of the packing myself. I paid attention and observed an awful amount of damage from our own animals, and learned first-hand that it's extremely difficult to handle stock to prevent harm to fragile high-country meadows and lake-shores. At night, the animals are going to go where the salad is tastiest, regardless of where you let them go or want them to go, and a lot of sensitive places get horribly trampled in the process. We were as careful as we could be, and still i saw fragile alpine gardens trampled into mud. I recommend that anyone who takes a pack trip in the high Sierra go look (carefully) at the areas grazed by your animals. No judgments, just see for yourself.

I may go on more pack trips in the future because i love to ride, but i am very concerned about the damage that the animals cause up there, so i mostly backpack now. Can't go as far as i used to, but i don't feel good about unnecessarily denigrating the high Sierra just for my own comfort, convenience, or pleasure. For those who need stock, i'm totally fine with it. But i don't need it, so i've kept to riding at lower elevations. It's the least i can do for the Sierra that has given me so much.
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