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#24125 - 05/18/12 11:27 AM Re: HSHA Lawsuit [Re: wagga]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7872
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: wagga
Senate passes Sierra horse-packing bill.

From the Fresno Bee.

WASHINGTON -- The Senate on Thursday approved a painstakingly negotiated bill that keeps commercial horse-and-mule packers operating in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.

Following some furious behind-the-scenes action, the Senate joined the House in directing the park service to renew the commercial packing permits for the next several years. The legislation was only introduced on Capitol Hill, in a different form, about three weeks ago.
And from the last paragraph:

The Senate's changed bill directs the park service to offer the packing permits for up to four years, instead of the two as the House had ordered. It presses the park service to complete the wilderness planning; and, in a move that caused Nunes some hesitation, the Senate version gives the park service some discretion in setting permit levels depending upon wilderness conditions.

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#24130 - 05/18/12 07:49 PM Re: HSHA Lawsuit [Re: Steve C]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1148
Loc: NorCal
This was going to get resolved at the scheduled court date next Wednesday on May 23rd. If they start issuing permits next Monday, they saved 2 whole days. Whoopie. The HSHA was never asking the judge to stop the packing season. This is going to get interesting next Wednesday.

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#24295 - 05/24/12 07:50 AM Re: HSHA Lawsuit [Re: SierraNevada]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1148
Loc: NorCal
No news yet on yesterday's court hearing. It will be interesting to see if the judge puts any new rules in place in light of the pressure from Congress. Any conditions will be temporary until completion of the Wilderness Stewardship Plan. At least this thread has moved past the dramatic claims about eliminating pack stock or eliminating trail maintenance.

I did more Googling about the HSHA. They have been trying to get SEKI's attention to this issue for many years through comments and long long letters. Most of their proposed rules seem reasonable to me, but I'm no expert in these issues. They quote SEKI's own studies about impacts and a history of broken promises about reducing the impacts. It also seems that most of their proposals are in effect in some other national parks so they can't be that far off track. I'm not saying SEKI should just adopt all the HSHA proposals, but they seem like reasonable negotiation points at the very least. This will all play out in the next few years in the Wilderness Stewardship Plan.

The HSHA also comment on issues in Yosemite. They are very much against all High Sierra Camps and want them removed. They don't propose any compromise solution on this issue. I disagree with them on this one. I think these camps serve a good purpose, and I commented to that effect on the Merced River Plan.

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#24340 - 05/25/12 06:30 PM Re: HSHA Lawsuit [Re: SierraNevada]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1148
Loc: NorCal
I finally found a tiny blurb wrapping up this issue in yesterday's Fresno Bee. This story just dropped out of the press after Congress passed their bill. The judge reversed himself in a verbal ruling, which is no surprise unless he wanted to start a battle with Congress and the President. The article doesn't say anything about any of the proposals that HSHA put forth, but since his ruling was verbal, it's safe to assume there are no new limits on commercial packers. Quiet ending until the Wilderness Stewardship Plan is completed.

http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/05/24/2849836/judge-oks-pack-animals-in-sierra.html

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#24474 - 05/29/12 07:50 PM Re: HSHA Lawsuit [Re: SierraNevada]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1148
Loc: NorCal
OK, I seem to be replying to myself on this thread and I hope this is it. Finally the facts have come out - a journalist actually did some professional reporting to follow up on this story. Got this from a Google alert and maybe there are other articles out there but this is all that came in from Google. One interesting twist I haven't read anywhere else - the judge's decision to allow commercial packing is only temporary and he cut back the maximum quota to 80% of 2007 levels.

I find it puzzling that the HSHA did not return calls to the reporter. No wonder they never got their side of the story out, they suck at PR. It's too bad these complex issues get boiled down to bumper sticker arguments. I suppose people think I'm anti-horse just because I'm in favor of taking a fresh look at the current regs based on science. Okay, his ruling called the whole business into question so maybe this wasn't the time to compromise. I'm not expert on this by any means, but the NPS should not be ignoring their own scientists. And for the record, I did my share of chores on a girlfriend's horse ranch in North San Diego County, did lots of backcountry rides and full moon rides with her, galloped on Mexican beaches and put my family on Native American horses to get out of Havasupi, Grand Canyon. I love horses, but I'm not so sure the rules are optimized for the fragile meadows of the High Sierra. Sorry, that didn't fit on a bumper sticker very well. I think I'm done beating this dead horse - hey I didn't make up that saying.

http://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/article/20120529/NEWS01/205290317

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#24487 - 05/30/12 09:13 AM Re: HSHA Lawsuit [Re: SierraNevada]
George Offline
Woodsy Guy

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 202
Loc: California
Sierra Nevada: many thanks for following up on that as well as your reasonable comments along the way. For me, deciding whether to comment or not is tied up with repetition; not wanting to get into a mud wrestling contest and, of course, having something new and useful to say (the latter not always the case).

Increasingly what motivates me, frustrating as it is, is feeling a responsibility to weigh in against the Big Lie. All of us need to do this more, not just here but in all discussions. This has become an epidemic tactic as the result of talk radio. People take extreme positions and repeat them such that those then becomes the focus of the discussion. When the Big Lie (whatever it is) becomes the discussion, all hope of a mutual conversation and possible compromise is lost.

In this case it was "they're trying to ban horses from the park" and any attempt at a discussion about the actual impact those horses have and, critically, how to reduce that impact such that ALL users could enjoy different aspects of wilderness, never took hold as a serious discussion.

What I would really encourage people to do is go walk in a meadow. Just sit there. Let your feet dangle in the river; lie back in the grass and listen to it's sound in the breeze! Get a feel for what an iconic Sierra meadow feels and looks like. Forget about bare granite peaks for awhile and just enjoy a meadow. Become hopelessly and forever a meadoweer!

If there's been stock use there, note the subtle and not so subtle impacts they have. Look for stream banks caved off as stock goes to drink. Look for roll pits where they take a dust bath. Note the smell of urine or manure if stock use is recent. Hoof prints in wet areas, trampling and cropped grasses instead of long stalks with the seed heads waving in the breeze.

How would you react, say, if a scout troop had had a jamboree in a meadow for 3 days? Why is our reaction different when it's stock?

This is not to say that stock should be banned, only that there should be places where a pristine meadow can be enjoyed by everyone. At the moment, that's not the case, and that's all that HSHA was trying to accomplish.

George

PS: I can't do it now, but I have a vague hope of creating a live map of Sequoia Kings meadows where people can post photos of what they experience in a meadow; stock and human impacts as well as their beauty. I'm looking into ArcGIS Online and people could post their geotagged photos along with other data I might be able to gather. Many months away, but I'm starting to think about it... . Suggestions welcome!

_________________________
None of the views expressed here in any way represent those of the unidentified agency that I work for or, often, reality. It's just me, fired up by coffee and powerful prose.

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#27125 - 08/21/12 03:41 PM Re: HSHA Lawsuit [Re: George]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7872
Loc: Fresno, CA
It appears that the following "Wilderness Stewardship Plan Update" from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is related to the HSHA lawsuit and the subsequent actions.

Quote:
Dear Wilderness Enthusiast,

The next step in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness Stewardship Plan process is to identify a range of alternatives for achieving wilderness stewardship objectives, which include providing
appropriate types and levels of access for visitors and authorized users, preserving wilderness character, protecting cultural and natural resources, and adhering to legally mandated management and preservation requirements.

Preliminary draft alternatives will be shared with the public this fall, and your input is important. As part of this process, the NPS will host alternatives workshops in California in late October to provide information and accept public comment. You may also review and comment on the preliminary draft alternatives online starting in early October. We will send another email to you at that time announcing the start of the preliminary draft alternatives review period.

Meeting Locations and Dates:

Bishop, CA - Thursday, October 25
Tri County Fairgrounds - Patio Building
7 pm to 9 pm

Los Angeles, CA - Friday, October 26
LA River Center
7 pm to 9 pm

Oakland, CA - Monday, October 29
Redwood Regional Park
Richard Trudeau Training Center
7 pm to 9 pm

Visalia, CA - Tuesday, October 30
Visalia Marriott Hotel
6 pm to 8 pm

For more detailed information, please visit:
  http://parkplanning.nps.gov/sekiwild
or call 559-565-3102


Their "Wilderness Stewardship Plan" in the link is soliciting discussion about "providing appropriate types and levels of access for visitors and authorized users, preserving wilderness character."   Based on our discussions here, I'm going to try to attend one of their meetings.

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#27132 - 08/21/12 06:08 PM Re: HSHA Lawsuit [Re: Steve C]
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
Thanks for posting that, Steve. I'll be sure to be at the Bishop meeting.
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#28835 - 10/31/12 01:06 AM Re: HSHA Lawsuit [Re: MooseTracks]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7872
Loc: Fresno, CA
At the Visalia workshop, the Park Service staff spoke several times of the mandate that Congress passed as a result of this lawsuit.

If I understand the sequence of events, SEKI stalled and never addressed the use of stock, so they were sued by the HSHA, and lost. Then, when the ruling came out, rather than proceeding in a sensible manner, they declared that they would shut down all pack operations this summer. So then Congress stepped in, calling a shutdown a loss of jobs, and quickly passed the legislation, which required continuing the use of stock and also required a study and plan to be completed within three years.

So now the Park Service has a mandate to produce the plan within 3 years. Seems to me if they hadn't tried to shut down all use of livestock, which the court ruling did not require, they wouldn't have this mandatory deadline.

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#28838 - 10/31/12 07:55 AM Re: HSHA Lawsuit [Re: Steve C]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1148
Loc: NorCal
Yeah, Steve, all they had to do was come to a compromise with HSHA on stock rules instead of running to the media and Congress. If they actually tried working with HSHA I would understand, these groups can be impossible, but they didn't even try as far as I can tell. So yeah, SEKI needs to deal with the outcome they forced.

This planning effort will determine how the Eastern Sierra is managed and set a direction for years to come.

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