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Author Topic: Judge suspends horse packing in national parks  (Read 2701 times)
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valleynative
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« on: April 05, 2012, 11:54:21 PM »

http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/04/04/2788652/national-parks-horse-packing-on.html#comment-488270538

I read the article, but do not fully understand what High Sierra Hikers Association is so up in arms about.  Maybe someone can explain.  What I DO understand, is that this suspension of pack animals in the wilderness is going to have some negative effects.  The comments are more interesting than the article and make more sense.  Here are a couple that are interesting.  Sounds like AmyBrown knows her stuff.



hiker99

There has been a massive inequity in the regulation of hikers and commercial stock users for decades in Sequoia and King Canyon national parks.  Hikers are getting squeezed more and more by trailhead quotas, while at the same time commercial operators have been allowed to expand their operations (trailhead quotas and other caps on use don't apply to them!), despite the fact that they do orders of magnitude more damage to trails, meadows, water quality, and the aesthetic quality of the backcountry.  They pay a tiny fee for the privilege of operating on and profiting from their use of OUR public lands, and we the taxpayers subsidize their activities by paying for ineffective monitoring programs and excessive trail maintenance projects that wouldn't otherwise be needed.  The Park Service has known for years that they were in violation of the law, but refused to do the right thing and establish reasonable limits.  It is about time someone called them on this.

amybr0wn

Out of curiousity, which trails have you tried to hike on that you felt you were squeezed out of? Were you denied because of the huge numbers of pack stock on the trail or because there were too many hikers? Did you eventually get a permit?  What exactly do you find ineffective about the monitoring program? Do you even know anything about it? Which backcountry trails do you feel are "excessively maintained"? The Park Service has had "reasonable limits" on both hikers and stock use for many years. Apparently your "reasonable limit" equates to zero limitation on hiking and no pack stock at all. Sorry, but that is completely unrealistic. Time for you to do some research.

amybr0wn

As an Ecologist who lives, works, and hikes in the High Sierra, I would like to know who is in the High Sierra Hikers Association? Do you actually live and hike the trails at SEKI? I hope you like hiking them every day, with enormous packs full of food, supplies, and trash for the backcountry trail crews, park rangers, and Bearpaw visitors! Thanks for volunteering to carry all the essential backcountry supplies on your backs, since the mules will no longer be allowed to do it!!

Without the hard work of the backcountry trail crews, you'll be hiking off-trail...which causes a hell of a lot more damage than pack stock on the trail!! Do you realize that the trail crews live in the backcountry all summer? How would you like their food to be supplied? The alternative is to use helicopters, which are expensive, loud, and much much worse for wilderness areas than mules.

I care about the wilderness, too...In fact, that's why I work in it. Meadows are monitored carefully in SEKI to ensure that stock use is not denuding their ecological integrity. It is rare to even see commercial packers in the parks that are not delivering needed supplies or removing garbage. I have seen some on USFS lands on the east side, but not many…definitely not enough to warrant a mule moratorium. These are not joyriding mules, they are doing a job that is essential for park operation. If you actually hike in the High Sierra, you should know that already.

It's ok to admit when you are wrong. Do the right thing and rescind this ridiculous lawsuit. Our parks are already struggling financially. If you value them, you shouldn't be adding more strain on them for such a poorly researched "cause". I'm sure you meant well, but I'm afraid your platform is misguided.

Please end this madness before it wastes any more of SEKI's time and precious resources. Thank you.









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Just_A_Fan
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« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2012, 06:55:40 AM »

Another know nothing Sierra Club type popping off....glad the person who actually works the back country chimed in with facts....the judge in this case deserves a "mule" whipping.  Getting really tired of this kind of stuff.  Have a friend who works for the forrestry department and he simply can't stand all the so called "environmentalists" as they are completely clueless and support policies that actually hurt the forrest and the department's management efforts.....
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OriginalCVFan
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« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2012, 08:00:17 AM »

I think if you trace HIKER99 back a few steps, you will find out that he/she also saved ONE DOG last year, and has also been chiming in supporting the Save the Dog groups fight against the SPCA. 

They wont say their real names because they are afraid daddy will stop sending th $2000/month in 'help' every month so they can survive.
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« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2012, 10:22:11 AM »

Friends of ours own the High Sierra Pack Station up above Huntington and I will bet they are absolutely fired up mad.
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« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2012, 10:33:01 AM »

Friends of ours own the High Sierra Pack Station up above Huntington and I will bet they are absolutely fired up mad.

Now this kind of crap does get my drawers in a wad!!! GGGGrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Just_A_Fan
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« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2012, 10:57:25 AM »

Friends of ours own the High Sierra Pack Station up above Huntington and I will bet they are absolutely fired up mad.

They should be.....they run a great station...have used their services a number of times over the years....
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valleynative
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« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2012, 11:03:13 AM »

They should be.....they run a great station...have used their services a number of times over the years....

I do not understand how a radical fringe group can take the livelyhood away from companies that provide of these pack stations.  And I STILL don't understand what High Sierra Hikers are complaining about???
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Just_A_Fan
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« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2012, 11:07:15 AM »

I do not understand how a radical fringe group can take the livelyhood away from companies that provide of these pack stations.  And I STILL don't understand what High Sierra Hikers are complaining about???

These are probably the same hollier-than-though folks that have a problem when you carry a side arm in the high back country.....have had to tell a few to take a hike, no pun intended, over the years.  These critens aren't the brightest bulbs on the planet let me tell you....
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valleynative
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« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2012, 10:21:33 PM »

http://www.dinnerwithdave.com/2012/04/holding-to-the-trail-of-reason-and-compromise/

The humble cook shack at High Sierra Pack Station, owned and operated by John and Jenice Cunningham, is a welcome spot to pop into for some hot coffee or a cold beer on a lazy Sierra afternoon. The kind company of the Cunninghams and crew is simply an amazing way to enjoy some quiet time in the mountains. I’ve slung grub a bit for them over the years, even gone along as camp cook on a few pack trips to the high country. It’s a wonderful manner in which to see some spots that might not be accessible except by the most fit and experienced of hikers. There are a lot of topics of conversation that have been batted back and forth over the crew table and campfires there, and one of the most often mentioned is the efforts by some environmental organizations to limit human and horse traffic to the back country. The latest salvo fired is holding off the permitting of pack stations in Kings Canyon and Sequoia, pending the decision of a San Francisco judge regarding the Park Service and The Wilderness Act. I love how they never try these cases in the jurisdiction they are trying to impose their views on. The pressure, however, has been building for years with misinformed judges ruling on the side of organizations like the High Sierra Hikers Association. These decisions have made operating more and more difficult each year.

Now don’t get me wrong, over grazing by sheep in the late 1800’s and the massive summer camping trips of the Sierra Club after that have taken their toll. The dry, sandy meadows in parts of the high country are a testament to this and overuse by stock (and humans) can damage trails. And don’t even get me started on the whole giardia debate; I’ll leave that one for posterity. However, human habitation there has been a fact for thousands of years, to one extent or another, and we have collectively made our mark for better or worse.

A fine example of this is in the work of German-born painter Albert Bierstadt, an artist of international renown who’s sweeping vistas of the American West captured the imagination of the world. He embodied the Hudson River school of thought, with luminism and large canvasses being his trademark. Most striking, to me, are his wondrous paintings of Yosemite before the arrival of European Americans and the valley’s use as a tourist destination. In these works you see verdant meadows with sparse trees and wide-open spaces, a stark contrast to the appearance of the valley today. This is due to the interruption of the natural cycle of the forest by fire suppression efforts over the past 150 years, including cessation of anthropogenic burnings by the native population. All of this is a byproduct of modern human habitation. The meadows have gradually been encroached on by trees and forest restoration efforts in the valley and south end of the park are attempting to return it to a more “natural” state.


Me on the trail, Second Recess Camp, 1997

My dear, departed friend and back country horseman, Stony O’Neill, would tell me stories of the old-time packers leaving in the fall, following the tradition of the local indigenous people and burning the dry grass of the high country meadows in order to preserve them. This has been going on for millennia. Prior to forest management, low intensity fires burned off dead underbrush, preventing more severe ones. So it begs the question, if humans have habitated the mountains for tens of thousands of years and changed their surroundings because of their presence, does that make them part of the natural cycle or not?

Our presence in, and (for what it is) stewardship of, the land, is natural. And even by making decisions to not affect it, we affect it. We cannot remove ourselves from the equation.

Now, I’m sure they have their reasoning, but the misguided efforts by these groups are environmental elitism to the extreme.  The potential end game here could be a scary vision where the human use of wilderness areas is restricted to such an extent they become basically off limits. Contrary to the misconception, the interests of packers are not represented by hordes of pricey lawyers, nor are they as organized as they should be. Their resources are limited and their role in the high country wholly misunderstood. And the “Garden of Eden” vision of the High Sierra is scary at the very least and, at worst, approaching eco-fascism.

The notion of backcountry common sense being dictated by people so detached from the day to day realities there is more than silly, it’s, well, almost insulting. But both hikers and packers are up there for the same reason, a love of the land and the chance to experience “the new morning of God’s creation”. Perhaps all should meet over coffee at the break of dawn in the simple courtroom of the cookhouse, and there, clear minds on both sides would hopefully prevail.
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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2012, 08:00:52 AM »

I hiked the Sierra extensivly back in the 60s & 70s the do gooders (trouble makers) were activly trying to stop everything but foot traffic back then...VOILA 2012 they find a sympathetic judge and so the story goes!!!
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valleynative
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2012, 09:25:57 AM »

I hiked the Sierra extensivly back in the 60s & 70s the do gooders (trouble makers) were activly trying to stop everything but foot traffic back then...VOILA 2012 they find a sympathetic judge and so the story goes!!!

I say the trouble makers shouldn't get the services of those on horseback when they get lost...they can find their own way out  Wink
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Just_A_Fan
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« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2012, 09:32:52 AM »

I say the trouble makers shouldn't get the services of those on horseback when they get lost...they can find their own way out  Wink

Naw, they would rather have the tax payers pay for a helicopter to come get them....those are soooo much less destructive to the environment than the horses and mules..... Huh?
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« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2012, 10:13:55 AM »

I used to trail ride in the mountains.  I had a very sure footed horse that rarely balked at anything.  But my father in law (who was with the Madera Co Sheriff's Office and did Search and Rescue) had a horse that was riot trained.  We put her out front and she'd put her head down and plow hikers off the trail like snow. 

I don't know how many of you have ever had a horse put his forehead in your chest and give you a nudge, but it's not a fair fight. 
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valleynative
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« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2012, 10:30:30 AM »

I used to trail ride in the mountains.  I had a very sure footed horse that rarely balked at anything.  But my father in law (who was with the Madera Co Sheriff's Office and did Search and Rescue) had a horse that was riot trained.  We put her out front and she'd put her head down and plow hikers off the trail like snow. 

I don't know how many of you have ever had a horse put his forehead in your chest and give you a nudge, but it's not a fair fight. 

You are right...not a fair fight, but one that would be fun to watch  Smile
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« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2012, 10:36:39 AM »

Anyone in your party keep a straight face? That would have been hilarious.
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Just_A_Fan
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« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2012, 11:03:17 AM »

I used to trail ride in the mountains.  I had a very sure footed horse that rarely balked at anything.  But my father in law (who was with the Madera Co Sheriff's Office and did Search and Rescue) had a horse that was riot trained.  We put her out front and she'd put her head down and plow hikers off the trail like snow. 

I don't know how many of you have ever had a horse put his forehead in your chest and give you a nudge, but it's not a fair fight. 

The first time I rode in the mountains, was put on a horse that liked the mud....guess where I ended up at the first watering spot?  Shocked
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izne1home
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« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2012, 11:11:01 AM »

Anyone in your party keep a straight face? That would have been hilarious.

The guys I used to ride with never had a straight face.  Most of them were hardcore cowboys who were born 100 years too late.  I was the only quasi civilized guy in the bunch.  
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Just_A_Fan
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« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2012, 11:32:49 AM »

The guys I used to ride with never had a straight face.  Most of them were hardcore cowboys who were born 100 years too late.  I was the only quasi civilized guy in the bunch.  

Now that is a scary scenario.... Wink
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bksflddan
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« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2012, 06:19:57 PM »

Now that is a scary scenario.... Wink

What about this: http://www.westernslopenofee.org/pdfuploads/2012_02_10_9th_Circuit_Holds_Some_Fees_Illegal.pdf

Make a copy and flash it when they try to charge you at Sequoia and Yosemite!! and any campground!!!
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« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2012, 10:18:31 AM »

I wonder if this would be acceptable to the court...

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