Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (SEKI) vs. HSHA

Post date: Apr 20, 2012 11:57:45 PM

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17 May 2012

Senate passes Sierra horse-packing bill


Backcountry Horsemen of California

On Friday, May 18th, Congress passed the Sequoia Kings Canyon National Parks Backcountry Access Act, which allows the parks to continue issuing permits for commercial packers. This legislation was initiated by the Backcountry Horsemen of California (BCHC) to ensure visitors to the parks would be able to make their plans for this summer and also insure the commercial packers would not be put out of business.

Earlier this year, the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (SEKI) decided that it was necessary for them to discontinue permits for the commercial packers due to a lawsuit that an elitist conservation organization (High Sierra Hikers Association) filed against the parks in an attempt to disrupt commercial activities in the wilderness areas of the parks. When the SEKI notified the packers they would not be able to receive permits, BCHC decided it was necessary to attempt to resolve the issue by getting a law passed that would extend for a period of time the parks could issue permits to the packers.

BCHC contacted Congressman Devin Nunes’ office (whose district covers the parks) and worked with them to develop wording for the legislation, which was completed in a few days and then passed in the House of Representatives by unanimous consent. The bill then went to the Senate, where it was reviewed by the Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee; and it was determined that the wording of the bill needed a couple of small changes to improve its success for passage in the Senate. The changes were made, and the bill passed in the Senate by unanimous consent. Since it was modified slightly, the bill needed to go back to the House, where the bill again was passed by unanimous consent. Thus a law was established to allow the commercial packers to continue with their work for the next three to four years without interruption.

As this bill passed through these houses of Congress, an unusual amount of bipartisan support was developed; and many varied organizations and individuals spoke out in favor of continuing the work of these commercial packers. This massive bipartisan support is highly unusual in these times of conflict in government. This proves that when the public recognizes an injustice and need for levelheadedness, they can overcome issues that are caused by a small number of people who intend to regularly disrupt our lives with unnecessary lawsuits.

27 Apr 2012

Sequoia, Kings Canyon to keep pack animals

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House Democrats and Republicans agreed on legislation directing the National Park Service to issue permits for 2012 and 2013 to keep commercial equine packing operations open in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for at least the next two years while a wilderness plan is completed. [Read full article...]

Read more here:

24 Apr 2012

National Parks Traveler full article: House Democrats Urge GOP Leadership To Solve Horse-Packing Stalemate At Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Parks

California Democrats propose that Republicans on the Natural Resources Committee support legislation that would give the Park Service authority to issue permits for commercial horse pack trips in designated wilderness in the parks. The proposed legislation would allow "the small businesses who manage the pack and saddle stock to continue to operate this season [at historical levels]. The court’s ruling did not determine that the horses and mules had caused any harm to the park, only that the National Park Service had not conducted a legally required study. The legislation...would allow the Park Service to continue issuing permits for the next year while the agency finalizes the necessary studies."

17 Apr 2012

This is an update on the current crisis for the SEKI commercial packers and a request for help.

Please contact both California senators (contact info below) and ask for their help in this matter.

A few talking points could be:

    • Your own experience in the backcountry with saddle and/or pack stock.
    • Commercial packers bring revenue to the state by providing a unique experience.
    • Current use in wilderness areas has not damaged the area.
    • Agencies such as the US Forest Service, California Conservation Corps, BLM, and other private groups depend on commercial, private, and recreational packers to support trail work in the wilderness and other backcountry areas. The packers haul in tools, equipment, food, and water; AND they pack out the trash from the groups.
    • If packing is scaled down or banned, all trails will suffer from lack of maintenance, as it will be impossible to supply crews or individuals. Also, by riding the trails, they are kept open.
    • The banning of all stock will severely limit the public's use of their public lands. Very few individuals and families are physically able to wear a heavy backpack and hike long distances. No one with any disability would be able to venture into the wilderness.

Senators' contact information:

Attached are two other documents to provide background information.

Thank you to everyone for your help.

Terry Jorgensen, Public Lands Chair

BCHC—San Diego Unit

09 Apr 2012

Last week BCHC sent an individually addressed letter to all of the commercial packers that we believe work in the Sequoia Kings Canyon National Parks [attached BCHC letter to SEKI packers]. In that letter BCHC advises that they will support the packers in their struggle with the decision by and action by the parks to shut down their operation in the National Parks.

Please help these packers. This situation is the initiation of a major offensive to the elimination of our use of public lands. Please send a letter to the Supervisor of the parks and tell her that shutting down the operations of these packers will affect the general public as a whole, and it has enormous consequences to the use of these parks by the public and is not the right thing to do.

Send this information to everyone you know who should help. And then send a letter to the parks and tell all of your horse and mule friends to send a letter. We need your help, now.

Mail to:

Karen Taylor-Goodrich, Superintendent

Attn: Wilderness Stewardship Plan

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

47050 Generals Highway

Three Rivers, California 93271

Fax: (559) 565-4202

Thanks for your help.

Bob Magee

Vice President - Public Lands

Backcountry Horsemen of California

05 Apr 2012

Attached is a copy of the High Sierra Hikers Association (HSHA) Webpage describing some of the things they are advocating regarding stock use in the SEKI (Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks).

28 Mar 2012

There was a lawsuit filed by the High Sierra Hikers Association (HSHA) against the National Park Service (NPS) attempting to stop packing in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (SEKI). In January 2012, the Judge ruled that the NPS did violate the Wlderness Act, and there is a hearing scheduled for late May to determine what action should be taken. In the meantime, the Supervisor of the SEKI has notified all of the commercial packers that they are not authorized to operate in the SEKI. [See attached letter.]

In the response by the NPS to the lawsuit, the NPS has suggested that they might in the future set aside "stock free" areas within the parks as a part of the development of their Wilderness Stewardship Plan. This would be a move that would have negative effects on recreational stock use in the parks.

The High Sierra Hikers has made a motion to the court that the judgement for the NPS violation of the Wilderness Act should be to shut down all stock use in the parks.

Either of these actions could set a precedent for wider restrictions of stock use in all public lands. This lawsuit has potentially huge consequences for stock use into the future.

Bob Magee

Vice President - Public Lands

Backcountry Horsemen of California