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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 Rosabella » Fri May 04, 2012 7:36 pm

Well, it looks like it... I've contacted Dee from Pine Creek Pack Station out of Bishop and have made arangements for a resupply to be brought in to Charlotte Lake. I didn't get the impression that it was contingent on anything changing in the near future. I hope not anyway... I've already paid! Seriously, I do feel really comfortable using them as re-suppliers, I've used them a couple times before, and they've been great to work with.

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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby atreehugger » Tue May 22, 2012 1:12 pm

Saddle 'em up:

Packers granted access to backcountry
May 21, 2012
Deb Murphy/Sports Editor

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks can now issue permits to commercial stock packers and guides thanks to the quick passage of legislation through the U.S. House and Senate. Photo courtesy National Park Service
Packers have reason to celebrate this Mule Days.
The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Backcountry Access Act Thursday afternoon.
Yesterday morning the House of Representatives approved the changes made by the Senate to its original H.R. 4849.
The bill requires the National Park Service to issue permits to commercial pack stock operations.
“We are very pleased that Rep. Devin Nunes, Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein were able to facilitate this legislation as rapidly as possible,” said Alan Hill of the Backcountry Horseman of America, one of the organizations that pushed hard for the bill.
Hill’s group worked with the Wilderness Society and the American Horse Council to move the legislation through the system.
The bill sped through the process in response to a court order to curtail commercial permits in the Park.
The order came as a result of a lawsuit filed by the High Sierra Hikers Association against the National Park Service. The U.S. District Court judge found that the NPS failed to define “the extent necessary” for commercial operations in the Park.
Arguments will be heard May 23. With the pack season just weeks away and no guarantee that a decision would be handed down on commercial permits, the legislative avenue was the best chance commercial operators had to gain access.
The changes to the bill all seem to be to the packers’ advantage. The Senate extended the provision’s sunset from two to four years and required that the NPS complete the Wilderness Stewardship Plan within three years. These changes guarantee that long-term solutions be arrived at while still allowing commercial operations in the Park.
The original House bill set limits for packer operations at 2011 levels, a shortened season due to heavy snowfall. This oversight was fixed in the Senate bill by eliminating the language, according to Sen. Boxer staffer Zachary Coile.
Other changes gave the NPS the discretion to manage stock use at levels deemed appropriate based on conditions in the Park, a compromise worked out with the Senate Energy an Natural Resource Committee
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby adam921 » Tue May 22, 2012 11:58 pm

A unanimous decision? Now THAT is suspicious.
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby atreehugger » Fri May 25, 2012 6:42 pm

Judge OKs pack animals in Sierra

The Fresno Bee
Thursday, May. 24, 2012

A federal judge approved Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks' request to let them continue to issue permits for commercial use of pack stock in the parks, the National Park Service said.
The oral authorization from U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg on Tuesday reversed a ruling in January stating that the National Park Service did not have the authority to issue permits for pack stock in the wilderness, park service spokeswoman Dana Dierkes said. The Seeborg ruling took effect immediately, she said.
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby dave54 » Mon May 28, 2012 8:48 pm

adam921 wrote:A unanimous decision? Now THAT is suspicious.

Not really. It was presented as a private bill. When both senators support a bill affecting only their state it normally passes quickly without controversy.
Log off and get outdoors!
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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby markskor » Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:29 pm

Court sides with packers

By editor
Created 06/04/2012 - 5:29pm
By Deb Murphy/Sports Editor

Sierra commercial guides and packers, like this Rock Creek Pack Station group shown winding its way up a steep grade, received a favorable court decision this week, allowing high-meadow grazing and commercial permits in Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks. Photo courtesy Rock Creek Pack Station
With commercial permits almost assured by legislation, the final chapter on the High Sierra Hikers Association’s lawsuit against the National Park Service that threatened to shut down stock packers in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks may have been written.
Tuesday, just six days after the May 23 hearing in the United States District Court, Judge Richard Seeborg handed down a decision that leans heavily in favor of the NPS and stock packers, coming out for a less restrictive definition of appropriate activity in designated Wilderness and allowing grazing in high-elevation meadows. The only glitch is a 20 percent reduction in Stock Use Nights from 2007 levels, from a base of 3,200 to 2,650.
The Sequoia Access Act, H.R. 4849, passed by the House in mid-May, had set use limits at 2011 levels, a short season for packers and guides due to heavy winter snowfall. Any language regarding use parameters was eliminated in the version passed by the Senate, and approved by the House May 18. As of May 31, the bill was waiting for President Obama’s signature. In his decision, Seeborg asked that briefs be filed within 20 days of the statute’s enactment “directed to the effect, if any, of such law on the terms and conditions set forth in this order.”
Damon Nelson, Rep. Devon Nunes’ (R. Calif.) legislative aide, described the court ruling as “a knee-jerk reaction by the court” to the pending bill, co-sponsored by Nunes.
Craig London, owner of Rock Creek Pack Station and Mt. Whitney Pack Trains, wasn’t surprised by the decision. “I have faith in the federal judiciary,” he said. “I was never worried what the court would do. Judges rule on the evidence they see and the Park Service has done a great job at managing Sequoia.”
Apparently, the NPS attorneys also did a great job. In his Remedy Order, Seeborg stated that HSHA failed to provide evidence to support their claims and in some instances, failed to address pertinent issues of the case.
Robert Parker of Sierra Mountain Center, a hiking guide who often uses stock packers for spot trips or dunnage, attended the May 23 hearing in San Francisco and came away the picture of cautious optimism. According to Parker, Seeborg’s response to the HSHA’s demand for pristine wilderness was to interpret the definition as restrictive to any human presence in the backcountry. In regards to HSHA’s request that unnecessary items, like ice chests and chairs, not be allowed in designated Wilderness Areas, Parker, paraphrasing Seeborg, said, “from 17 floors above San Francisco, I shouldn’t tell anyone what they should do in the wilderness.”
In regards to “unnecessary items,” Parker said economics and current stock restrictions are already a limiting factor in what is brought into the wilderness.
In what had to be music to the packers’ ears, Seeborg wrote, “It is not appropriate for one group of park users to impose its vision of wilderness etiquette over others. While plaintiff is correct that the Wilderness Act’s purpose is to maintain the primitive nature of park areas, the Ninth Circuit has repeatedly explained that in complying with the Act, agencies must engage in a ‘delicate balancing’ because Congress ‘did not mandate that the Service preserve the wilderness in a museum diorama … Instead, Congress stated that the wilderness was to be preserved as wilderness and made accessible to people devoted to the public purposes of recreational, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation and historical uses.’”
HSHA’s request for injunctive relief asked that commercial grazing be banned in mountain meadows above 9,700 feet and in Evolution Valley. Seeborg’s decision had already laid the framework of “unintended ecological consequences” in denying a request to entirely set aside the NPS’s General Master Plan and applied the same concept to high-elevation grazing. In this case, the unintended consequence would be overuse of lower meadows on the Pacific Crest and John Muir trails. NPS also made the case that 16 additional pack stock would be required to carry the 2,400 pounds of food for an eight-day trip involving 12 animals, not to mention the numbers required to carry food for those 16. “This would ‘logarithmically increase the number of pack mules on the trail,’” London’s written testimony was quoted.
Seeborg found that NPS already had protection for sensitive meadows and rest-rotation remedies in place.
Seeborg also denied HSHA’s request that day use of stock be limited and that a punitive system of compliance monitoring be put in place to track commercial stock activity. The judge requested that NPS take into consideration limiting day use and to continue to develop stock day monitoring programs in its Wilderness Stewardship Plan, the detailed plan for managing Sequoia Kings Plan, setting a deadline of Jan. 31, 2015 for that plan.

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Re: National Park Service in Violation of Wilderness Act

Postby Nozmo King » Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:20 pm

Thanks for posting on this topic. I hiked thru Lost Canyon on my way out of Kern Canyon last year & was shocked & dismayed at the amount of damage done by livestock in that fragile meadow. I had to guess that it was from Park Service horses & mules used for hauling gear for trail maintenance. I e-mailed the NPS but never heard anything back.
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