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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 23, 2012 6:50 pm

from the Yose park stock page at: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/stock.htm


Regulations

Maximum of 25 head of pack and saddle stock per party.
Cross-country or off-trail travel with stock is prohibited.
Stock users are prohibited from establishing new trails and from the short cutting of trails and switchbacks.
Only well broken, properly shod, gentle stock in good healthy condition should be used in the park.
Llamas are not allowed on the High Sierra Camp Loop, the Vernal/Nevada Falls corridor, or the river trail from Nevada Fall to Merced Lake. Exceptions may be made for Pacific Crest Trail and John Muir Trail users with written permission of the Superintendent (PO Box 577, Yosemite, CA 95389).
Wilderness stock users must carry and use a shovel and rake to naturalize camps and scatter manure.
Pets are prohibited in the Yosemite Wilderness.
Stock parties must travel in single file whenever possible.
Wilderness overnight stock parties using authorized non-maintained stock routes are limited to 12 head of stock and 8 people.
Grazing is permitted except within four miles of trailheads and paved roads or immediately surrounding any of the High Sierra Camps.
Tying to trees for periods longer than is needed to load and unload is prohibited.
When picketed on a line, stock must be tied so they cannot chew on tree bark or eat the leaves of woody vegetation.
Stock must be picketed at least 100 feet from any stream, lake, or spring.
Stock may be tied within a campsite only when unloading and loading.


What would you change here? Personally, I'd change the grazing item. Bring your own weed-free horse food.



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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby gdurkee » Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:27 pm

What would you change here? Personally, I'd change the grazing item. Bring your own weed-free horse food.


Very good question and at the heart of this whole thing. I'd reduce stock per party to a maximum of 15; allow absolutely no travel on cross country route (non- maintained trails)s; close grazing above about 8,500 feet (but, as you suggest, allow weed-free hay -- not a perfect environmental mitigation, but not bad); and establish stock sites with designated tie areas.

I'd also want to look at the actual science behind putting stock 100 feet from streams. How long does giarrdia and camplobactor persist on the ground? How often does it get washed into streams; what barriers or filters can take it out, if any? Then come up with a safe distance.

But definitely a good start for a real evaluation of what impacts stock have and how to mitigate those impacts to keep the packers in business and the wilderness relatively intact.

George
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby quentinc » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:55 pm

I have to say, I find the attacks on the rule of law, and the role of lawyers and the courts to be rather dismaying. As Sarah pointed out, the lawsuits obviously have not been frivolous, as the plaintiff has prevailed. That's the positive role of lawsuits and the courts -- to make sure that the law of the land is being followed. Why is that so troubling to some of us?

As for the lawyers, the only environmental lawyers who get rich are the ones defending large corporations, or bringing class action suits for money damages. None of that is involved here.
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby rlown » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:03 pm

just because a plaintiff prevails doesn't mean it's right.. could have just been the right judge or the right jury. wait, i don't think i attacked the judicial system.. hmm..

guess i'd rather fix the source of the problem and not deal with the courts.. permits are permits; but stock permits should be different. If you can't manage your stock, (Sarah said that for her stock), then maybe, it needs to be a tighter control.
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby Troutdog 59 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 8:46 am

gdurkee wrote: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


Well partly correct George. Fresno Bee reported today that all pack operations withn Yosemite and SeKi NPs are "temporarily" closed until they address the issue in court. I'm not against limiting pack trips in the wilderness, but am against "shutting down stock trips,' which this action will now do for the immediate future. Unless they get an injunction, it would seem this season will be lost to them.

I restate what others have already said, be careful what you wish for. Who is it that decides what is natural and what is wilderness? Trails doent seem very natural to me. Either do tents. Muir Hut is anything but natural, and its right in the middle of the wilderness. Should it be removed???? How about signs, bear lockers, summer Ranger Stations?

Heres a link to the article in the Fresno Bee
http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/04/04/278 ... ng-on.html
Last edited by Troutdog 59 on Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby gdurkee » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:40 am

Well. That is quite something and I never would have expected it. However, 'cause my predictions have been so good (note: subtle use of irony...), I'll say it's really unlikely packers will lose their season. I have absolutely no special knowledge here. But it sounds like the two sides (NPS and HSHA) are playing chicken. Presumably there was an attempt to come up with a compromise that agreed with the court's finding (that NPS was in violation) and that neither side blinked. The judge, then, will impose a compromise.

Who is it that decides what is natural and what is wilderness? Trails doent seem very natural to me. Either do tents. Muir Hut is anything but natural, and its right in the middle of the wilderness. Should it be removed???? How about signs, bear lockers, summer Ranger Stations?


All excellent questions, of course. As Don Rumsfeld might have put it, you manage a wilderness area with the terrain you're given, not what you want. So everything inside whatever arbitrary boundary when the wilderness is designated is what the wilderness is. Ipso facto. Or something like that.

All that stuff you mention was already inside the boundaries of those places when the Wilderness Act was applied to, say, Sequoia Kings & Yosemite: trails (1860s +), ranger stations (most from 1950+; some back to 1890), Muir Hut (1930 or so).

Other stuff is found acceptable if it furthers wilderness values. A darned squishy concept. But bear boxes might be a good example. Bears get food from people. Is it more important to prevent that -- to preserve the wildness of bears -- or to allow a steel box in certain areas which is aesthetically objectionable but keeps bears wild?

Ranger Stations. Same thing. Does the presence of a ranger station and ranger contribute to preserving wilderness character? Rangers educate visitors on the importance of minimum impact, pick up garbage, take apart fire rings, monitor resource damage and work to mitigate it, take care of sick and injured etc. Is there likely to be more short & long-term impact to wilderness if the ranger can't be there as much or at all? So does that balance the intrusion of a ranger station?

The answers are not easy or obvious.

The Wilderness Act has forced agencies to think and act more critically when faced with different choices. As a result, it's unlikely any new trails will be built; or that another Muir Hut will be built. Incidentally, tearing that down has occasionally been mentioned -- though never really seriously. In that case, there's two opposing regulations: Wilderness Act, which might argue to tear it down (though not necessarily) and the National Historic Preservation Act, which would preserve it. Same with the hut on Whitney. When the boundary lines for Yosemite Wilderness were drawn, Ostrander Hut was specifically excluded (just a side note).

So this case was brought because HSHA did not think that NPS was thinking carefully or critically about how they regulated stock in Wilderness. A federal judge agreed (as have 3 other federal judges in similar cases over the last 10 years). So here, anyway, that's who decides. Kind of a dismal way to run a park or wilderness but, I have to say, compromise was possible decades ago and this whole thing could have been avoided.

g.
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby markskor » Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:16 am

Quite the development!

Hopefully George’s usually ‘spot-on” predictions come true – they can find a workable compromise in May, but if not, losing an entire stock season could affect a lot of livelihoods Sierra.
Unclear if this “ban” only applies to SeKi…Are others... Reds Meadow and/or Oakhurst packers also included?

Not discussed but I also found interesting the mention: “More than two dozen other businesses that operate within the park are also affected. These include back-country trips booked through REI, Outward Bound or any other commercial guide services.”
http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/04/04/278 ... ng-on.html

Unless mistaken, REI does not run Yosemite stock trips (as in our own Sierra Maclure); why then are their services also being curtailed?

Wilderness, attorneys, an election year, and politics...sigh.
This entire episode somehow saddens - Much like Al Bundy, the end will invariably result in smacking us backpackers in the ass...Don't know how. but it always does.
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby Troutdog 59 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 11:10 am

I should note that I am in no way an expert or even that informed on the topic, and I in no way was trying to indicate George was misleading any of us. I for one value his opinions greatly and take stock in his posts on all issues, but especially wilderness issues. In fact, it is the great diversity of backgrounds that are present here at HST that make me like this site as much as I do. I for one applaud those like Tahoe Sarah that opine eargerly for their causes. I was not offended by any of her comments, she has a right to her opinion in this debate just like any of the rest of us. I was just posting to make note of the article I saw in the paper and I felt compelled to post about it.

I have always figured pack stations didnt have to follow the quotas, but didnt know it for certain. I for one think commercial pack groups should be limted to set quotas as well, not just hikers and private stock users. That said, it is a fine line when one starts arguing these issues and I must concur with Marksor that it is typically those of us in the middle that end up bearing at least some of the end result (i.e., no pack trips avaialable). I hope somenting can be worked out to satisfy all involved. Set quotas for the packers as well; set some new regs for how the stock is tied off; where they can and ant graze; where you must bring in feed; etc. But closing them down? Im opposed to that even in the short term.
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby TahoeSarah » Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:11 pm

Hi all,

As several have pointed out, the key focus should be about what rules are needed to protect the high Sierra from harm, so all may continue to enjoy it. The truth of the matter seems to me, unless more stock users show a willingness to adapt (by leaving unnecessary stuff at home to reduce the number of animals, and carrying "feed" for nights spent in fragile places instead of grazing), or unless the agencies pro-actively adopt such rules to protect the sensitive high places, folks such as HSH are going to force the issue, and we'll all have to live with the sometimes unpredictable courts. I don't blame HSH for taking it on; most stock users and the agencies seem stuck in the past. HSH has been more than patient over the years (see the links in my earlier post.

Anyone can now read for themselves the motion filed by HSHA, asking the court to allow commercial packers at Sequoia-Kings Canyon to continue operations this summer, and to continue in future summers, under modest interim restrictions until NPS completes a new wilderness plan. HSHA has asked for but a few simple interim measures (e.g., no grazing by commercial packstock in particularly fragile & vulnerable meadows, 20% reduction in commercial stock numbers) until NPS completes a new wilderness plan. It says the court hearing is scheduled for May 23. In sum, the HSHA has not asked that the packers be completely shut down. Anyone suggesting such is either uninformed and/or deliberately fanning the flames of conflict and hysteria.

You can read more at: http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/20 ... ment-38524
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby atreehugger » Fri Apr 27, 2012 8:36 pm

Press Releases
Contact: Andrew House 202-225-2523


Backcountry Horsemen Get Relief From House
H.R. 4849 passed House by unanimous consent



Washington, Apr 27 - Congressmen Devin Nunes (CA-21), Kevin McCarthy (CA-22), Tom McClintock (CA-04) and Jeff Denham (CA-19) today announced that the House has passed a bill that would restore access to the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for backcountry horsemen.
Commercial permits necessary for the operation of the region’s pack stations have been suspended due to a lawsuit by a radical environmental group, the High Sierra Hikers Association, which opposes horse and mule access to the parks. The Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Backcountry Access Act will require the Parks Service to issue commercial permits for the next two years while changes are made to the permitting process to comply with a federal court ruling.

“I was highly disappointed by the Park Service’s refusal to work with the federal court on an agreement to issue permits in time for the current season. Officials opted to wait until a new process was established and approved by the court instead of seeking an interim solution,” said Rep. Devin Nunes. “This legislation will allow commercial pack operations to continue in the parks while changes are made to the permitting process to comply with the court’s decision. It is now up to California’s Senators to quickly act on the bill. There are hundreds of jobs at stake.”

“This Administration’s refusal to work towards a solution on this issue is the latest example of this Administration’s war on Western jobs. I commend the House for taking swift action today on legislation I cosponsored to help preserve hundreds of jobs in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Passage of this bill will ensure that the public can continue to access and enjoy public lands and national treasures. I call on the Senate to take this bill up immediately and join House Republicans in working to save jobs in our local communities and preserve access to public lands," said Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

“At a time when unemployment in California remains well above the national average, we are working to keep hundreds of hard-working families in business while adjustments are being made to comply with new wilderness requirements. It’s imperative that we take swift action to protect the jobs of our backcountry horsemen and preserve access to our public lands,” said Rep. Jeff Denham.

The Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Backcountry Access Act was introduced by Congressman Nunes last evening. Chairman Hastings and the bi-partisan House leadership agreed that the temporary measure was worthy of special treatment and swift action. It was expedited through a unanimous consent agreement for consideration by the full House in less than 24 hours and is currently being transmitted to the Senate.
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby LMBSGV » Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:50 am

From the Republican press release above:

a radical environmental group, the High Sierra Hikers Association, which opposes horse and mule access to the parks.


From Tahoe Sarah's post:

Anyone can now read for themselves the motion filed by HSHA, asking the court to allow commercial packers at Sequoia-Kings Canyon to continue operations this summer, and to continue in future summers, under modest interim restrictions until NPS completes a new wilderness plan.


I guess the Republicans still need to learn how to read.
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby oldranger » Sat Apr 28, 2012 10:40 am

Regardless of the "spin" the point of the legislation is to do something the NPS was unwilling to do, provide interim direction. The result may be 2 more years (or more) of business as usual. Given the political noise it seems unlikely that a change in the permitting process for Commercial Use thru change in regulations by the agency can be completed without an EIS. My guess is that a permanent change is unlikely in less than 5 years unless congress passes some legislation that either specifically require commercial use in Wilderness or it specifically modifies the Wilderness Act (kind of the same thing but the former need not specifically address the wilderness act even though it defacto changes it (would not be the first time that congress passes laws that contradict each other).

The war continues, stock interest counter attack!

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