National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
Post Reply
User avatar
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Sep 20, 2008 2:49 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Post by atreehugger » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:56 pm

As we now wait to see how this will play out...a brief intermission which I believe all will enjoy:" onclick=";return false;

User avatar
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 31
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:52 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Post by adam921 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:28 pm

19 year old backpacker (since 2004) here.

atreehugger's video I think points out something very different but interesting here. I'm not at all a fan of horses in the Wilderness; their droppings in the trail are an annoyance, I've read from multiple sources that their impact (from weight and sharp hooves) can be up to 25 that of a backpacker, and multiple studies done in the Sierras have consistently found that coliform bacteria in high Sierra water is correlated very strongly with where the packers go.
Despite all that, that video is somewhere where I think the balance needed is clear. The solution can't be just to get rid of ALL the packers; I'd prefer there not to be any but that's just an unreasonable request. The video is a prime example of the good horses/mules can do for us hikers. How long would it take to haul in restoration resources etc. without the mules? It seems like the solution is just to carefully monitor what we're doing permit-wise.


User avatar
Bad Man From Bodie
Topix Regular
Posts: 365
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 10:46 am
Experience: N/A
Location: Lee Vining/Reno

Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Post by Bad Man From Bodie » Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:53 pm

Well heck….apparently we are still bantering this around. Unfortunately, I feel I have to “slightly” defend myself after being called out on a few of my comments.
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.
Well…pardon my expressions but most people find it a bit entertaining to poke fun at lawyers “attorneys” considering they are at the end of A Lot of jokes. So, Im not the only one in the land to give lawyers a hard time! I cant say Im pleased to know that HSHA council are all volunteers working for the good of the public. That leads me to the assumption they are all independently wealthy and no longer have to work to make a living. They made money somewhere or somehow, maybe not off the Wilderness Act cases, but Im assuming cases similar, otherwise they wouldn’t be so savvy in environmental law.
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”
Well quentinc, its ok for you to have your opinion, it’s a free country and we have the First Amendment. I for one, believe in the Constitution of the United States of America which gives me an inherent right to question the rule of law and government. Maybe I need a refresher in civics, but I was under the impression that the founding fathers were really into questioning lawyers and the courts during the time period of the Revolution. Im not so sure Im out of line questioning that the law of the land is being followed. Who’s land and who’s laws?

I cant fully say I disagree with George. We may have a different approach or philosophy but that’s all tit for tat. The fundamentals are all there. We just have to agree to disagree. So no arrows to sling at gdurkee. Also, I want to be clear, I respect his opinions and participation on HST. I just have to wonder if someone is trying to sell me out…the tradition is that Big Brother doesn’t like the guy questioning the decisions of the courts of government. George, we may disagree, but I have your back on that one….

Also, just to be completely clear. I do not believe the HSHA is in anyway asking the pack outfitters to completely shut down. I have never even eluded to this. I have never called them environmental radicals, although I do believe there are radical people in every group. I do believe in general, there is a nationwide grassroots movement toward eliminating open range grazing, use of stock, logging, off road vehicle use, mining, and a few other uses of public lands.

I don’t believe there is mutual respect across user groups. I wish there was, but it often shows its face even on HST. I have always been an advocate toward respectful discussion. I may push some buttons (I thought lawyers were fair game), but I try to be respectful of other people’s opinions. I don’t feel others extend the same courtesy toward my opinions. I wish people would focus on scientific evidence and not manage resources based on emotion.

As far as the packers are concerned, I think the propaganda begins around the camp fire as discussion. Probably gets blown out of proportion (consider the company). In defense of the packers…its hard not to think someone is out to get you when your industry is consistently bombarded by lawsuits, change in regulations, change in faces and opinions within the regulatory agencies, and overall ill public opinion (which is unfounded based on the ignorance of the general public). Very few folks that visit the “wilderness” know anything about live stock or the role they play. They are more concerned that the horse poo on the trail smells bad or the streams are filled with bacteria making it unfit for human consumption. I hate it when someone uses that as a reason against livestock. Don’t you know they call it beaver fever for a reason? That said…..I know firsthand there is room for a lot of improvement amongst the pack outfits, and maybe even a piece of humble pie may be in order for some of these outfitting groups. A prime example of a good pack outfitter is the Leavitt Meadows Packer Station. I know for a fact that Craig hauls in his own feed, especially if you’re taking stock into the alpine ecosystems. There isn’t enough AUMs in those places for a horse to get an appetizer. Its more expensive that way…but if you have the money to ride in style, you have the money to get an extra mule or two to haul weed free pellets. Its soo much better that way. I think most people would rather enjoy fishing or recreating rather than chasing stock around trying to find where they escaped to “greener pastures”.

User avatar
Founding Member
Posts: 764
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 8:20 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Post by gdurkee » Wed May 02, 2012 9:52 pm

Ha! Great film. Here my man Russ and I agree. Craig is a truly fine packer (though, like Old Man Willow, he hates anything that goes on two feet) as is Lee Roeser. If we had more like them, I suspect we'd have far fewer problems. Not to say that 20 1,200 lb critters doesn't cause some level of serious impact in sub-alpine and alpine wilderness, but the problems are not insurmountable, especially if those guys were to be involved in the solutions.


User avatar
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Sep 20, 2008 2:49 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Post by atreehugger » Thu May 03, 2012 12:05 pm

And now, back to the story....the following is a press release by the HSHA:

***For Immediate Release*** For more information, contact:
April 27, 2012 <>
or (510) 764-1413

Hikers’ Group Urges Compromise on Packer Permits at Sequoia and Kings
Canyon National Parks

Berkeley, CA — The High Sierra Hikers Association recently filed court papers detailing a
compromise that would allow permits to be issued to commercial outfits that provide pack and
saddle stock services in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (SEKI).
The National Park Service has for decades issued permits to numerous commercial enterprises,
known as “packers,” who provide saddle horses, pack mules, guides, chefs, and camping gear to
clients who take wilderness trips in SEKI. The Park Service suspended all such permits in
March, after a federal court ruled that the permits were unlawfully issued. Until the Park Service
lifts the suspension, the packers and their clients face uncertainty about the approaching summer
season. The hikers’ group had asked the court to allow commercial packing to continue.
The High Sierra Hikers Association filed a lawsuit in 2009 alleging that the Park Service has
violated the Wilderness Act of 1964 by allowing excessive and harmful levels of commercial
activity in the parks. The hikers’ group does not oppose horse use, and has never aimed to
eliminate commercial packing, as some have falsely claimed.
“The lawsuit we filed in 2009 makes crystal clear that we seek only reasonable limits and
controls to protect these magnificent national parks from harm,” said Peter Browning, president
of the hikers’ group. “And we repeatedly have told both the Park Service and the court that we
don’t want the packers to be shut down.”
In court papers filed on April 5, the hikers’ group asked the judge to allow the packers to
continue doing business at SEKI, along with a few modest limits and protections in place until
the Park Service complies with the Wilderness Act. For example, the hikers’ group requests that
commercial packstock not be allowed to graze in the parks’ most fragile high-elevation
meadows. Such rules are already in place at other national parks. But instead of accepting this
reasonable compromise, the Park Service filed a court brief on April 24 rejecting the hikers’
proposal. Meantime, the permits remain suspended, causing gridlock and uncertainty.

The U.S. House of Representatives reportedly passed a bill today that would overrule the Park
Service’s decision to suspend the permits, and require the Park Service to issue permits for the
coming summer season at levels that occurred in 2011. The hikers’ group has not yet seen the
final language of the House-passed bill, but Browning said: “We support what we understand to
be the main thrust of the bill—that until the court case is resolved, commercial stock use should
be allowed to resume at levels not to exceed those of last year.”
While Congress considers the issue, and the Park Service resists the hikers’ proposal, the court
has scheduled a hearing for May 23. But Browning hopes the issue can be settled sooner. “The
proposal we filed with the court on April 5 is a reasonable compromise. If the Park Service
would accept those few temporary limits, everyone could move forward.”
Browning points out that the Park Service has for many years known about the legal violations
and the damage caused by unlimited stock use, but has failed to take action. “The Park Service
has knowingly violated the law for years. It even admitted to the court that it has violated the
Wilderness Act. And now it’s the packers and their clients who suffer.”
The hikers’ group tried for decades to get the Park Service to obey laws related to commercial
packstock at SEKI. It sued in 2009 as a last resort, after the Park Service broke numerous
promises to address the issues.
“The Park Service’s own rangers and scientists have for decades documented the extensive harm
to these parks’ meadows, trails, wildlife, and scenery caused by stock use,” said Browning.
“Park meadows have been overgrazed, eroded, and invaded by non-native weeds because of
excessive and inappropriate stock use. And university researchers have documented pollution of
once-pristine mountain streams caused by pack animals.”
The Park Service has admitted in court filings that it has never limited commercial packstock
services as required by the Wilderness Act. Prior to the current suspension, packers operating in
SEKI simply needed to obtain a permit, and they could run as many trips as they wanted.
“It’s regrettable that the Park Service’s defiance of the law is now adversely affecting the
packers and their clients,” said Browning. “Our group has made every effort to resolve these
issues in a timely manner so that commercial packers could continue their operations without
interruption, and we hope that the permit suspension is lifted soon.”

The High Sierra Hikers Association is a registered nonprofit public benefit organization that represents
thousands of citizens from 28 states. The HSHA seeks to educate its members, public officials, and the
public-at-large about issues affecting hikers and the High Sierra, and seeks to improve management
practices on federal lands in the Sierra Nevada for the public benefit.

User avatar
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Sep 20, 2008 2:49 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Post by atreehugger » Thu May 03, 2012 12:35 pm

And the following is a press release from SEKI:

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks News Release
For Immediate Release: May 2, 2012
Contact: Dana M. Dierkes
Phone Number: (559) 679-2866 (cell)

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Requests Court to Allow Commercial Pack Stock Use in Wilderness Immediately

The National Park Service (NPS) has requested permission from the U.S. District Court to allow Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (Parks) to issue commercial use authorizations for pack stock operations in the Parks’ wilderness immediately. This is part of ongoing actions by the NPS to resolve litigation over commercial pack stock use in the Parks, while minimizing potential impacts to the Parks’ visitors, pack stock outfitters, and local communities.

 The High Sierra Hikers Association (HSHA) filed a lawsuit against the NPS in September 2009 alleging that the Parks 2007 General Management Plan violated the NPS Organic Act, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Wilderness Act regarding continued to commercial pack stock use in the Parks.
 On January 24, 2012, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg ruled that the NPS violated a procedure in the Wilderness Act, but did not violate the NPS Organic Act or NEPA.
 Judge Seeborg‘s ruling directed that the NPS does not have the authority to issue commercial use authorizations (permits) for pack stock operations in the Parks’ wilderness, pending completion of a separate ruling on remedy for the violation. As a result, the NPS is obligated to respect the court’s January 24, 2012, ruling. Therefore, the NPS has not issued permits for pack stock operations in the Parks’ wilderness this year and cannot do so until further determination by the court.
 The NPS has followed the judicial process and schedule as required by the court in resolving this matter and did not refuse to take, or otherwise delay, any action towards asking the court for immediate relief to issue permits to commercial pack stock operators as soon as possible.

 The court’s ruling is specific to commercial pack stock and does not involve administrative or private pack stock operations in the Parks.
 A court hearing to determine remedy for the violation, including consideration of the NPS’ request to issue commercial pack stock operator permits immediately, is scheduled for May 23, 2012.
 While there is no guarantee that the court will allow continued commercial pack stock use in the Parks, the NPS has notified commercial pack stock outfitters that applications for the annual permits for 2012 are being accepted in advance of the court’s ruling. This will help expedite issuance of the permits, if allowed, pending the court’s upcoming determination.

User avatar
Founding Member
Posts: 372
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 7:58 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Washington State

Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Post by Rosabella » Fri May 04, 2012 10:48 am

...totally off-topic here, but.... hey George, I heard a rumor that you may be stationed at LeConte Canyon this summer instead of Charlotte Lake. Is there any truth to that? (you know how rumors are ) I was just curious where I should be looking for my favorite Ranger :)

User avatar
Topix Addict
Posts: 2759
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 9:18 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Bend, Oregon

Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Post by oldranger » Fri May 04, 2012 4:46 pm


Does page know about the other woman? :D


Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!

User avatar
Founding Member
Posts: 372
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 7:58 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Washington State

Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Post by Rosabella » Fri May 04, 2012 6:15 pm

LOL!! ... see what I mean about RUMORS?! :lol:

User avatar
Topix Docent
Posts: 7699
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Wilton, CA

Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Post by rlown » Fri May 04, 2012 6:41 pm

back on topic.. will packers pack or not this season?

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests