HSHA Lawsuit

Posted by: Bob West

HSHA Lawsuit - 03/29/12 09:06 AM

The High Sierra Hikers Association is at it again. The HSHA seems to have a real problem with mules and horses in the backcountry. Here is the link to their current lawsuit:

http://www.highsierrahikers.org/resources_index.html

This morning's Inyo Register has a long article about this latest effort to ban our four-legged creatures from the mountains, and I will post the complete article as soon as it appears on the newspaper's website.

The HSHA wants the courts to further curtail permits (this was done a couple of years ago) for commercial stock operators in Sequoia-Kings National Park, alleging that the General Master Plan for Sequoia Kings Canyon violated the National Environmental Act by "not conducting the proper environmental assessment of the impact of stock use." The HSHA wants the courts to "throw out the illegal Master Plan and require the Park Service to consider a broader range of reasonable alternatives..."

The great irony in all this is that it is through the use of pack animals that the Sierra Nevada trail system is maintained, as it has been since the first trails were built by commercial pack operators.

Since the restrictions on commercial trips began a few years ago the pack station operators have adjusted their business operations to include so-called "spot trips," during which heavy packs and other camping equipment is carried into the mountains for those who do not wish to, or are unable to, hump heavy packs. Customers of this kind of service includes families with small children, the elderly...and (believe it or not) the Sierra Club, Yellow-Legged frog research groups, and various non-profit organizations (including the Pack Service and the Forest Service). The Sierra Club itself still offers wilderness trips using pack stock.

Craig London, the operator of the Rock Creek and Mt. Whitney Pack Trains is quoted in the Inyo Register as saying, "The Wilderness was established to allow people to go into the wilderness, to maintain the sense of wildness before civilization came West. These groups are trying to change the intent of the Wilderness Act. The people who realized the need to protect the wilderness got to that wilderness on pack trips."

I'v never understand the rational of people who hate to see pack stock in the mountains. Is it the smell of horse poop on the trails? The dust from a passing pack outfit? The supposed heavy environmental impact of pack animals? What about the impact of backpackers who drop their own human waste in otherwise nice campsites, leave broken glass, food wrappers and other artifacts of their visit on the ground, (messes which pack operators often clean up and carry out on their own)? Of course, I'm sure that members of the HSHA never dispoil the wilderness...

Come on HSHA's, tell us what exactly is it you want. Do you want the wilderness reserved for only a select few...like yourselves? Will your organization do all the trail work? Do you want the existing trail system to go back to nature? Speak up.
Posted by: RoguePhotonic

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/29/12 04:02 PM

I think most if not all of the people that want to remove stock from the trails have never done trail work. Let them haul a Pionjar 30 miles into the backcountry to use and see what they think then.
Posted by: George

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/29/12 05:14 PM

Quote:
The Wilderness was established to allow people to go into the wilderness, to maintain the sense of wildness before civilization came West. These groups are trying to change the intent of the Wilderness Act. The people who realized the need to protect the wilderness got to that wilderness on pack trips.


Bob: You've missed a lot of the discussion elsewhere on this topic. But it's hugely important to realize that HSHA is NOT (NOT, NOT, NOT) asking or implying that stock should be banned or eliminated. They did not argue that in any of their Complaints and none of the court decisions imply that has the potential of happening.

I hesitate to disagree with the esteemed Craig London, but he missed an important transition there as far as the Wilderness Act goes. The Act cover people going into wilderness. Stock are only allowed to the extent they support and are necessary to people visiting wilderness. The stock themselves have no intrinsic right to use wilderness.

There's a tendency to gloss over the environmental damage caused by stock. It's absolutely not just poop on the trail. It's removing tons of grasses each season; it's the pathogens, nitrates and nitrites in the manure and urine that wash into streams; it's the well documented changes in species composition as a result of grazing; it's the potential damage to riparian, small mammal and bird habitat as a result of loose grazing; and it's the well documented short and long term damage to meadows and stream banks from roll pits and erosion when horses go to drink.

While not perfect, carrying capacities for people are based on environmental and social criteria. As a result, only so many people per day are allowed to leave a given trailhead. Limits for stock are not based on environmental criteria but on how many horses are needed to carry people's gear. Again, HSHA and others are just saying that the environmental impacts of stock and the need for using them should be considered when determining how many should be allowed in wilderness. Also, the decisions have no effect on private use or Administrative use, so stock-supported trail maintenance will continue.

As part of the court record (both USFS and NPS) there were decades of HSHA trying to get the policy changed through negotiation, using evidence of the damage. They were blown off. The courts were a last resort and they've won in four separate federal court decisions.

George

Posted by: wagga

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/29/12 05:34 PM

Perhaps it's time for the clever people at JPL and other places to design some kind of electric horse. They've designed successful rovers for the Moon & Mars. And we have had horseless carriages for as long as I can remember. Lots of markedly better battery and motor technology has popped up in the last few years, too.

After all, the requirement is only to reliably carry a few hundred pounds a few dozen miles.

Then there is the Llama - which is far better adapted to altitude and easier on the environment.

Why is the horse the only solution?
Posted by: Ken

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/29/12 05:51 PM

Originally Posted By: wagga
Perhaps it's time for the clever people at JPL and other places to design some kind of electric horse. They've designed successful rovers for the Moon & Mars. And we have had horseless carriages for as long as I can remember. Lots of markedly better battery and motor technology has popped up in the last few years, too.

After all, the requirement is only to reliably carry a few hundred pounds a few dozen miles.

Then there is the Llama - which is far better adapted to altitude and easier on the environment.

Why is the horse the only solution?


The horse is not the only solution, as you mention with the llama, and there are those who use goats, as well.

However, the horse is indiginous to the region, and the others are not. Occasionally, a horse gets loose in the backcountry, and they sometimes take a month to get back, and survive ok. I don't think a llama or goat will fare so well. Neither do dogs, by the way.

BUT, the idea that you mention, was first actualized in 1958!

THE TOTE GOTE!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tote_Gote

The use of this was described in depth in Chuck Yeager's book "Press On", where he used them in the Whitney region backcountry!
Posted by: MooseTracks

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/29/12 06:03 PM

George Durkee 2012!! laugh

I'm only half kidding: George is so often the voice of reason!

I am trying to gather information and perspectives from both sides of the issue. I work with a nurse, who, with her husband, own the Rainbow Pack Station out of South Fork Bishop Creek. She really is the brains behind the business side of their outfit, and she's under a much different opinion than the one outlined by George above. Now, are the hoops through which she must jump now due to a lackadaisical effort on the part of the FS to "simplify" matters before? (which could conceivably come back and bite them now?)

I just want to make sure that mooses are still allowed in the backcountry... frown

-L
Posted by: wagga

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/29/12 06:38 PM

Moose, (being both singular and plural) are allowed in the back-country.
Posted by: RoguePhotonic

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/29/12 06:42 PM

I think a robot horse would violate the wilderness act.

Scary thought like this robot dog is:

Posted by: wagga

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/29/12 07:09 PM

The fossil-fueled internal combustion engine has, for the last century or so, been unbeatable in terms of convenience/energy density.

In time, just as the Sierra Club outing evolved from hundreds of participants on pack-supported trips carrying large stoves to a dozen or less leave no trace hikers, our expectation will be for silent, emissions free wilderness support vehicles.

So the "Pack Station" of the future might use a solar-charged electric vehicle specifically adapted for trail usage, without the noise/pollution of the internal combustion vehicle nor the environmental issues of the non-indigenous pack animal. Which includes horses.
Posted by: wagga

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/29/12 07:20 PM

Big Dog, interesting though it is, is for military usage of the trackless wilderness. The discussion here is how to provide the functionality of pack animals on existing trails without all the negative environmental effects.
Posted by: George

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/29/12 07:46 PM

I like the idea of an electric horse. We'd call it Laocoon (for all you Odyssey fans out there). And I've got no problem with a pack moose! Darned good idea, really. As long as they don't roll around in meadows but only randomly charge hikers, they could be pretty fun.

One of the Bishop stores used to have a t-shirt with a big moose on it and "Bishop, California" across it. A little out of range, but probably sold well.

g.
Posted by: MooseTracks

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/29/12 07:55 PM

George, if you need anything in at Charlotte this summer, you know where to find me! grin

I need to track down one of those tee-shirts! laugh
Posted by: MooseTracks

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/29/12 07:57 PM

Originally Posted By: wagga
Moose, (being both singular and plural) are allowed in the back-country.


Grammar patrol... mad

wink
Posted by: lucky

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/29/12 08:53 PM

Here is my two cents on this issue. Whether you like it or not horses are our heritage. All trails where started by livestock, horses and mules. For example highway 15 in Cajon Pass was only a horse trail at first. The same goes for all our trails in the Sierras. It is significant that John Muir the granddaddy of all protectors of wild lands rode to the mountains on horseback. The horse helped scout, open, build and maintain trails from the beginning and it would be a sad day when horses are banned from using the trails. It is already happening on the Mt Whitney trail. It is impossible to do trail work in the back country without horse and mule packing support. The anti-horse lobby is hurting all users with their stand. I would like to be more forceful but it is not appropriate for this forum. I hope the young generation will understand what it takes to keep the trails open. Trails do not grow open for the city folks to use. It has and does take a lot of work from a lot of people to keep them open. At present this back country volunteer effort is led by equestrians. It is an insidious start to ban horses. Because ultimately people will be banned by luck of access on neglected and disappearing trails. This neglect and closure is already happening. The individual forests publish maps every 10 years. If you look at the successive maps you will notice how old trails are omitted from the newer maps. On the ground time, weather and neglect have done their work and the trail is effectively closed. Example Cold Creek trail near Jordan Hot Springs. And the best example of this insidious process it the fabulous California Riding and Hiking Trail. It is possible that it has to get a lot worse before it gets better. Is it possible that some of the "excluding" groups have a hidden agenda of closing the back country to all users. Scary! My hope is that the noisy extremists will be marginalized by the common sense younger generation. How to educate users on these issues? The Wilderness Act is short please read it. It is a wonderful idea. Preserving "traditional/historic access" to wild lands is a uniquely American idea to which we all owe. That traditional includes horses. Please do not pick on the USFS. They do the best they can with what they have and it is not much. Some of the south land USFS districts used to have pack strings to support all summer long trail crews and now have only one employee dedicated to hundreds of miles of trails. Groups dedicated to excluding horses and mules from public lands are short sighted, divisive and misguided. I suggest that users synergize efforts to benefit user access at a time of limited public funding for our trails
Posted by: Bob West

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/29/12 10:31 PM

Here is the manifesto of the HSHA:

http://www.highsierrahikers.org/about.html

It looks like they are opposed to quite a lot of things.

A brief quote from them: "Are you fed up with wading through manure on churned-up trails? Disgusted by the trampled meadows and trashed campsites in the High Sierra? Sickened by the knowledge that livestock defecate and urinate in the streams and lakes from which we drink?"

I've been backpacking and day hiking the Sierra since 1971 and don't believe I've ever had to "wade through manure" on any trail; maybe side step a little. But I guess city folks do experience a shock at seeing a road apple for the first time. Oh, phew, how stinky!!!

All, all the trashed campsites I've seen had been occupied by backpackers.

Yep, the horses and mule don't seem to be house-broken, nor are the deer and coyotes. At least they don't leave used toilet paper on the ground... Not to mention domestic dogs doing their thing right in the middle of trails, as their owners stand blithly by.

Human hikers don't always have the best of toilet manners in the backcountry, such as the young lady I observed given herself a little crouch-wash in the middle of the creek at Sam Mack Meadow. We didn't drink any more water out of that creek for a couple of days.

They also object to the military overflights from NAS Lemoore and China Lake. I didn't know the jets flew that low over the mountains - I'll be sure to duck the next time I see one! Commercial jets also fly over the high-country every few minutes; want to stop them too?
Posted by: George

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/30/12 09:42 AM

It's not the lack of pack animals responsible for some trails being abandoned, it's lack of trail crew people. That's caused by budget cuts. I don't know of a single trail that's been abandoned as a result of a lack of stock support. Once again: these rulings apply only to commercial outfitters, not administrative or private. No effect on trails. None.

And, sure, HSHA lists poop as a concern but their primary concern are the environmental impacts of stock and the fact that there's little or no regulation of those impacts. Let's move on from horse manure and how it's a manly part of the west. Camping next to a sewage treatment plant or a corral is not high on my list of backcountry experiences. Nor is seeing a meadow eaten down to a putting green.

Craig London, quoted in the original article, is one of the best low-impact outfitters around. But even a packer doing everything in as environmentally sensitive way as possible can still bring 20 1,200 pound animals into the wilderness. On, say, a 5 day trip, those animals will produce 3,500 lbs of manure and 240 gallons of urine. Much of the phosphates and nitrates from that waste will go into streams and lakes where they will provide nutrients for algae. In addition, one study in Yosemite found that 3 - 6% of the stock in the study carried giardia and cryptosporidium. So there's the potential of tens of thousands of cysts being washed into rivers and streams.

After a day's ride, the horses are released to graze and they often roll in the meadow to get the sweat off. Those "roll pits" can persist for years. In alpine meadows (above, say, 9,500 feet or so in the Sierra) I've seen pits take 30+ years to recover. And those animals will consume over 2,000 lbs of meadow grasses during that trip.

Now, all those impact are the result of supporting, say, 5 people on a wilderness trip. Can that be justified? If a scout group of 15 camped in a meadow, cut down swaths of grass and dug pits, they'd be given a citation -- certainly a Darned Serious Talk. But ALL of the impacts listed above are allowed and accepted when stock does it. Two different sets of rules guide the allowable impacts of people with stock and people on trips without stock.

Your examples on people leaving trash, washing in streams etc. are good, but you miss the point that those are illegal. It is perfectly legal for stock to create all of those same impacts. Rhapsodic peans to the glory of the noble critter do not address the damage they do to fragile alpine terrain.

I don't understand why you're upset with the people-caused impacts and not those of stock? I'm upset by both and think there's a lot that can be done to mitigate the latter.

And what all this really comes down to is is to what extent visitors -- whether on stock or foot only -- have a right to expect seeing an absolutely pristine meadow when they're traveling in Wilderness? The unfortunate reality is that there are few meadows along the length of the John Muir Trail that a user can camp at and see a meadow where grazing is not allowed and where the grasses and beldings and ducks etc. are allowed to go through their life cycle without the possible impacts of horses eating their habitat. As Randy Morgenson once put it:

Quote:
All the meadows in Evolution Valley were grazed this summer, and they all looked it. Yet Franklin Meadow apparently was not, and in October it was a place of knee high grasses, ripe and open panicles drifting on the moving air, luminous-bronze in the backlight. It was a very different place and a very different emotional experience of a mountain meadow, and entirely consistent with what one might rightly expect of a national park backcountry. It was a garden. I sometimes wonder whether range management concepts are any more applicable to our business than timber management concepts. The difference between a grazed meadow and a logged forest may only be one of scale.
--Randy Morgenson, 1989 McClure Meadow end of season report


I think we all have a right to see such pristine meadows. That's the whole idea.


Posted by: Ken

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/30/12 10:46 AM

George, you've certainly captured the purpose of wilderness protection in my book. You are a mighty advocate....and you should be! It is good to see someone who embodies the best of understanding, who also can add in the practical side of things...and that they work for the gov't, tasked with the actual job of protection.jj

I take slight issue with one thing you mentioned, and it probably is a FS/PS difference that is embodied:

Quote:
It's not the lack of pack animals responsible for some trails being abandoned, it's lack of trail crew people. That's caused by budget cuts. I don't know of a single trail that's been abandoned as a result of a lack of stock support. Once again: these rulings apply only to commercial outfitters, not administrative or private. No effect on trails. None.


The packers on the forest DO some significant work on the trails, particularly in early season, particularly with trees and debris. They often are the first people through for the year, and they may be the only ones working on that trail.

Last year on the Golden Trout Wilderness, we went in on a project that had not had a crew in 15 years. The trail, which is a main feeder into Sequoia from the South, has only been kept open by the packer, as have a number of trails in the area. Of course, he does that so that he can use the trails, but nonetheless.......

.....but no treadwork, though.
Posted by: Mike Condron

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/30/12 11:37 AM

Originally Posted By: MooseTracks
Originally Posted By: wagga
Moose, (being both singular and plural) are allowed in the back-country.


Grammar patrol... mad

wink

Meese,
The real plural of moose. Many people, including the dictionary and English teachers, will attempt to tell you that "meese" is not correct. However, please consider the following:
One goose = goose
One moose = moose
Two+ goose = geese
Two+ moose = meese?
Yes, meese is grammatically correct. Don't let them fool you.
Look at that wild flock of meese!
Posted by: SierraNevada

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/30/12 01:25 PM

FYI:

According to the Court Order, the NPS published a Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS for a stock-related Wilderness Stewardship Plan (WSP) on April 26, 2011, characterizing the goal as "an implementation level plan, [that] will provide guidance on a variety of issues including ... stock use." 76 Fed. Reg. 23335.

In fairness to HSHA, I don't see them calling for a ban on all livestock in the wilderness. Everyone should recognize the need for limits on the amount of livestock and for best management practices to minimize impacts. It's just a matter of arriving at a reasonable compromise, and hopefully the EIS process will lead to a that.

Public input to the EIS for this Wilderness Stewardship Plan is the place to direct energy on this topic, whatever your feelings about it. If someone sees a call for comments on the EIS, please post it.
Posted by: Bob West

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/31/12 08:43 AM

How were the statistics on manure tonnage, etc., arrived at? Did N.P. rangers actually do a scientific study, or are those stats approximations based on guess work? I cannot imagine any ranger willing to carry scales around the mountains to measure poop! Unless the measurements were made closer to the pack stations, where the animals are more likely to take a dump in an uphill section of a trail.

Are there any statistics on the environmental impact of two-legged traffic in the backcountry? Tonnage of trash, human waste, trampled meadows, trail erosion, domestic dog messes, etc.? How about a fair comparison?

I agree that any kind of disfiguring of the wilderness by humans or animals can leave a less-than-delightful visual experience. But you seem to be more concerned, in your comments, with the impact of pack animals, rather than hiker impact.

Perhaps the ultimate solution would be to ban all access to the backcountry, by anyone, including researchers and rangers, and let the wilderness recover for a few decades.
Posted by: bobpickering

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/31/12 11:37 AM

Originally Posted By: Bob West
How were the statistics on manure tonnage, etc., arrived at? Did N.P. rangers actually do a scientific study, or are those stats approximations based on guess work? I cannot imagine any ranger willing to carry scales around the mountains to measure poop! Unless the measurements were made closer to the pack stations, where the animals are more likely to take a dump in an uphill section of a trail.

It's not hard to estimate the tonnage of horse and mule poop deposited in the wilderness. Any decent horseman knows how much hay and grain he feeds. My Anglo-Arab eats 17 pounds a day. My Thoroughbred eats 20+. Once it dries outs, the poop weighs the same as what the horse ate. Do the math. No scale required.

While humans and horses both damage the wilderness, it doesn't take a scientific study to figure out that a human on a horse with a guide and a pack mule cause more damage than a human on foot.

I love my horses, but the horseshit we step in on the trail didn't come from mine.
Posted by: Harvey Lankford

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/31/12 11:53 AM

Originally Posted By: bobpickering
Once it dries outs, the poop weighs the same as what the horse ate. Do the math.

Actually, even less! After all, the horse does get some caloric value out of what he eats, so it must have less dry weight or dry mass when it comes out the other end.

Sorry, the math is just a side track on the real issue, whatever that is here, whether it is manure, grazing, hoofing, or whatever. If it were manure alone, I suppose they could require horses to wear diapers. They do it in the city. For that matter, why not have both horses and politicians wear them?
Posted by: Ken

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 03/31/12 10:14 PM

Originally Posted By: Bob West

I agree that any kind of disfiguring of the wilderness by humans or animals can leave a less-than-delightful visual experience. But you seem to be more concerned, in your comments, with the impact of pack animals, rather than hiker impact.



Uhhhhh, Bob.....the lawsuit that is the subject of this thread is about pack animals. It sounds like you are unhappy that George did not address the issue of hang gliders and kayaks.....??????
Posted by: Bob West

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/01/12 07:00 AM

Groan. Kayaks and hang gliders, Ken? I don't believe you are serious! What kind of impact could they possibly have as long as they remain air-borne and/or in a river? (I'm not being serious.)
Posted by: Bob West

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/01/12 07:12 AM

Thank you, Lucky for your sensible input. Unfortunately, the enviro-nazis often scream and throw tantrums loud enough to be heard by the desk-sitters in D.C. Yes, the USFS and Park Service do an excellent job within the limited resources the various political administrations have allowed them; hats-off to them for coping in an often thank-less job!
Posted by: Bob West

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/01/12 07:22 AM

Thank you, George, you and your fellow rangers, for the hard work you do under very limited resources. We might disagree on a few points, but God bless you for hanging in there!

I recall when nearly every major trail in the Sierra Nevada had full-time, paid, professional wilderness rangers during the hiking seasons. Both Republican and Democrat dominated administrations bear the responsibility for the budget cutbacks we've seen in the past several decades. Volunteer groups can only do so much; we need our ranger army back in full force!
Posted by: George

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/02/12 09:55 AM

Quote:
Volunteer groups can only do so much; we need our ranger army back in full force!


Well, that we can absolutely agree on! Thanks. And the same goes for you and everyone who volunteers to keep the trails clean and campers educated!

Quote:
How were the statistics on manure tonnage, etc., arrived at? Did N.P. rangers actually do a scientific study, or are those stats approximations based on guess work? I cannot imagine any ranger willing to carry scales around the mountains to measure poop! Unless the measurements were made closer to the pack stations, where the animals are more likely to take a dump in an uphill section of a trail.


Grad students! Who else? A good statistician could derive the amount of manure per unit distance per animal from this series of studies:

https://science.nature.nps.gov/research/ac/search/iars/Iar?reportId=25190

https://science.nature.nps.gov/research/ac/search/iars/Iar?reportId=25192

https://science.nature.nps.gov/research/ac/search/iars/Iar?reportId=26817

This was a multi year study looking at the potential of pathogens in horse manure in Tuolumne.

But I'm not up for figuring that out. For whatever it's worth, I used a simple calculation based on amount of hay an average horse ate per day (22 lbs). You guys are looping on an angels on-the-head-of-a-pin argument. To worry about this totally misses the point of that statistic (however derived and whatever result it gives). It's still a LOT of manure -- tons. But whatever the actual total, the critical problem is the runoff. Where do the pathogens, nitrates and nitrites go?

Also important is that horses and mules -- unlike people -- are not restricted where they poop. People are actually pretty good about taking a dump > 100 feet from water. There's exceptions, but not a lot. Not so with stock. Stock routinely urinate when stopping at a stream to drink. They graze in meadows all night which, by definition, are riparian habitat and close to running water; almost always less than 100 feet.

Quote:

Are there any statistics on the environmental impact of two-legged traffic in the backcountry? Tonnage of trash, human waste, trampled meadows, trail erosion, domestic dog messes, etc.? How about a fair comparison?


As Ken says, the discussion started on the HSHA lawsuit over stock use. This is not a zero sum game. That is, because hikers without stock support have (X) environmental impact, does not justify visitors with stock doing (X + 1). The question remains how much impact by both is acceptable? What is the carrying capacity of a wilderness area for the cumulative impact of both? My concern, and that of HSHA and, now, several federal courts is that neither USFS nor NPS have properly taken into account the impacts of visitors using stock.

Again: Stock impact is not held to the same standard that is used to limit foot-only impact.

There's also a social phenomenon going on here. When emphasis on minimum impact started in the early 70s, hikers quickly went along with the program: taking out their trash; making camps farther from streams; smaller or no fires; no soap in streams & etc. I went from taking out about 20+ burlap bags of trash per summer in the 80s to no more than one or two nowadays. I have to say that during this same period, with few exceptions, stock users were resistant and outright hostile to any suggestion that they look for ways to reduce their impact. It was like pulling teeth to get the simplest reductions in impact: don't tie to a single tree for more than the time it takes to load or unload; tie on hardened ground; small fires etc.

With all due respect to the arguments several of you are making, none seem to admit to a significantly greater impact of stock or ways to reduce that impact. It would be great if, instead of living in some romantic 'horses built the west' cowboy novel, stock users would recognize the much greater impacts their animals have on fragile ecosystems. Then, when they travel, make the same concerted effort that hikers have done to reduce those impacts as much as possible.

g.
Posted by: Bob West

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/02/12 03:37 PM

Thank's for all that input, George. Like you, I'm not up-to-speed on statistical analysis! But keeping talking, and you might convince me of your argument.

Do you believe that the current stock restrictions within Sequoia-Kings N.P. (I posted them in another thread) adequately address the stock impact?

I am assuming that you happen to be a ranger within that park. Do you agree or disagree with the current restrictons? If you disagree with them, what would you like to see changed?

I agree, that in the past, packers have not been agreeable to changing their habits, but in conversations I have had with local packers, they indicate that they are doing their best to comply with current regs. Regardless of past history, do you believe packers are complying with the current regs?

One more question. What would be the overall impact of N.P. backcountry trail work if pack stock (commercial contractors and government) were no longer used for that work? How would it get done?

For the packers it is not a romantic, Old West hobby, but a hard way of making a living that they happen to enjoy. Many are going to go out of business if the HSHA law-suit is successful - expecially on the West side of the range.

On a slightly more humorous note...horse and mule manure makes excellent fertilizer (it really make our garden grow well). Maybe it's all those nitrates...hmmm. But I'm not too sure that anyone outside of Southeast Asia would use human manure as fertilizer...LOL.
Posted by: KevinR

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/02/12 04:39 PM

I grew up around horses and enjoy their personalities, but dislike slogging thru horseshit on the trails. I've never met a hiker who told me how much they enjoy meeting horses on the trails, either. Certain groups just don't mix well - hikers and snowmobilers don't mix well. Neither do hikers and horses.

Horses aren't native to the Sierra, at least since about the Pleistecene era, if memory serves. They were introduced by Europeans. As for their work in support of backcountry trail maintenance - I can't speak to that. What I do know is that trails I sometimes hike, including parts of the PCT, get rather chewed up by horse traffic and free range cattle. Personally, I've never seen anyone on horseback doing trail maintenance on the PCT, but perhaps they do.

If horses are needed for essential services in the backcountry, then I'd like to see pack animals considered who have less impact on the environment. Llamas come immediately to mind. I've watched them pack in/pack out organic matter from the high elevation toilets near Longs Peak, and am amazed at their speed, agility, and minimal impact on the treadway. Plus, their droppings are dry, like goats, sheep and rabbits.

I'm not persuaded that there's a need to continue to use horses for purely recreational purposes in the backcountry, particularly in designated wilderness areas. We no longer allow motorized/mechanized vehicles in the backcountry, maybe it's time to phase out horses for recreational purposes. Not immediately, but overtime - perhaps 5-10 years.
Posted by: Steve C

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/02/12 05:44 PM

been watching this thread for a while. Maybe it's time to post...

I like the idea of low-impact pack animals. But people can't ride llamas. I would not like to see horses completely restricted from the back country. But I do like George's point that packers should do their best to minimize the impact of the pack animals.

My last summer adventure comes to mind, where we hired horses and mules to pack in my wife and daughter, kayaks and gear for a group of seven to Thousand Island Lake. There is no way I would have tried to hike the other two in my family in and out on that trip. Horses and mules add another dimension and open up possibilities for some who would not otherwise experience the back country.

But this statement is what I really want to comment on...
> I'm not persuaded that there's a need to continue to use horses for purely recreational purposes in the backcountry, particularly in designated wilderness areas. We no longer allow motorized/mechanized vehicles in the backcountry, maybe it's time to phase out horses for recreational purposes. Not immediately, but overtime - perhaps 5-10 years.

So many times over the years, we see specific groups or specific individuals say something similar. "Maybe we should close off this area to _______". or "Those machines have no place there." "It's ok that Yosemite closes the Half Dome cables to thousands without trying any other options."

There are groups trying to close access to snowmobiles even over roads in Yellowstone. CARS drive the same roads all summer. What is wrong with a different vehicle in winter??? I'd love to ride the Tioga Road on a snowmobile -- why not a well-patrolled single day each year?

We ALL enjoy access to the wilderness. It is NOT ok to cut it off to specific groups of people. This trend began with extremely tight trail quotas, where other options could have been tried. Bicycles are prohibited where they could be allowed, perhaps on specific trails on limited dates.

It is my opinion that ALL groups of people should be allowed access to the wilderness. It is not a happy solution to only allow a select few access. Doing this is like cutting off our own noses.

There are ways to allow more people to enjoy our wilderness. Advocating for fewer and fewer sets me on fire!
Posted by: Ken

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/03/12 11:42 AM

Steve, I see your point, although I am not in favor of accessing wilderness by way of something that fundamentally alters the character of wilderness. I don't think you meant to included that.

Dune buggies, for example.

But I agree with you that doing what is possible to increase access is not only desirable, but important. People only seem to value things that they experience. Even a single experience as a child can influence a person's value of wilderness for their entire lives. This is why I think that it is so important that there be places like HD and Whitney, where a large number of people who would not otherwise have the experience, get to do so.

We'll never see cables put up anywhere else. Wilderness managers are usually zealous in their protection, and such things as cables, wilderness toilets, etc....are viewed as a desecration, and only tolerated because they are "legacy", but to be removed if there is any way to do so. Often, I've found their views to be narrow on the subject.

Of course, allowing people in, but doing so in a manner that causes little or no damage to the wilderness is the critical thing.

It's finding the balance that is the thing.

Trails are the compromise. Constructed trails are NOT natural. They require a huge amount of work to maintain to standards that allow easy progress. There is a lot of effort expended to hide the work that is done, so you won't know it happened. Cutting off branches at the trunk, so that won't see a "bird perch"; Taking the cut branches and throwing them off the trail downhill (so they won't fall back on the trail), with the cut ends facing away from the trail so it won't be seen; rubbing the cut surface of a stump with dirt to disguise that it was recently cut; Cutting down a small tree within 3 feet of the trail, rather than cutting off all the branches on the trail side, creating a bizzare looking tree with branches on one side----that's a lot of work to create an "appearance" of no work.

But doing all this creates a corridor of impact. Very few people leave the trails to any degree, except at camp. So as a percentage, the trail is tiny, tiny. And that is where the impact is concentrated, to spare the surrounding areas.

But, I will admit that stock has always, and continues to, bother me. The impact is obvious, and their impact extends beyond the trails, as George notes.
Posted by: Ken

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/03/12 11:44 AM

There are also areas where stock does not go, some of the most beautiful places in the Sierra.

If I don't want to be around horses, there is no trouble finding places that they don't access.
Posted by: George

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/03/12 08:00 PM

Quote:
Do you believe that the current stock restrictions within Sequoia-Kings N.P. (I posted them in another thread) adequately address the stock impact?

I am assuming that you happen to be a ranger within that park. Do you agree or disagree with the current restrictions? If you disagree with them, what would you like to see changed?

I agree, that in the past, packers have not been agreeable to changing their habits, but in conversations I have had with local packers, they indicate that they are doing their best to comply with current regs. Regardless of past history, do you believe packers are complying with the current regs?

One more question. What would be the overall impact of N.P. backcountry trail work if pack stock (commercial contractors and government) were no longer used for that work? How would it get done?


Bob:

Excellent on all counts and goes to the heart of the problem! For whatever it's worth, I've been a backcountry ranger in Sequoia Kings for over 35 years (and Yosemite before that). CYA message: nothing I say here represents nothin' official from NPS, my beloved superintendent (whose photo hangs before me even now, incense burning below it...) or President Obama.

Current stock regs. don't address the main problems because, on the whole, they don't address the ecological impacts of stock. Meadows can be closed to grazing but often only AFTER damage reaches a critical level.

All but a very few meadows along trails are open to grazing, leaving none as examples of what a pristine alpine ecosystem should look like. I believe this is central to the responsibility of wilderness policy to provide to visitors. Critically, the effects of grazing on nesting habitat of riparian birds, small mammals etc. is just not known or in any way monitored.

You've still got manure and mechanical impact (roll pits, runoff, stream bank erosion when animals go to drink) from all levels of stock use.

I think it's absolutely possible to significantly reduce impacts from stock and still keep all of the pack stations in business. I'm definitely in favor of these guys being able to bring people into the backcounty by stock. But they really have to go with the program as far as reducing their impact goes.

What I'd do (were I King!) is ban almost all grazing by stock above, say, 9,400 feet. I'd require outfitters to bring in feed if they want to camp with stock in meadows above that arbitrary altitude. It represents a very rough dividing line between extremely fragile alpine meadow and habitat and meadows that can better recover from some levels of grazing.

Some outfitters are already bringing in feed for most all of their trips. I think Craig London is among those who decided it's just easier. They don't have to go on a major hunt for their animals in the morning. They can just feed from grain or pellets; load up and be off the next morning. Others have spent two and even three days stuck because they can't find their stock when they let them loose for grazing.

I'd work with the packers to agree on certain meadow that were OK to camp at and establish hardened (bare ground) areas where they'd tie up their animals. They'd absolutely understand to rake the manure over a wide area before they leave. Some meadows, they might not be able to camp at all, to preserve the absolute pristine feel to them (horses still have to go to water, roll to get rid of the dust and sweat -- that's a potentially serious impact in some areas).

But (again, were I King) would have bins (e.g. bear boxes) where packers could cache feed between trips to reduce the need for more animals to carry feed per trip. Likely at a ranger station or some other already impacted area.

The current lawsuits have only been directed at commercial packers. However, in NPS, administrative stock use has a major number of use nights per season. (Watch the careful wording ahead...). It does not seem unreasonable or impractical that perhaps this could be significantly reduced as well with no effect on trail maintenance support (and where combined with helicopter support, as is currently the case).

g.
Posted by: lucky

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/04/12 01:55 AM

Great discussion guys. Here is another perspective different from our ranger. From the Yosemite official site: 4,047,880 total visitors/year, 1,416,758 or 35% of total self-describe themselves as hikers and included are 142,864 visitors registered as overnight stays in the back country. From the EPA: average human body waste is 4.4 lb./day and this includes urine: 1.5 L or about 1.5 KG or about 3 lbs. Now here is the math: 4,047,880 visitors produce 8,905.3 tons of human waste in the front country. Assuming the 1,416,758 hikers spend only one day hiking will produce 3,116.8 tons of human waste. The 142,864 back country visitors spending the night in the back country will produce 314.3 tons of human waste. I don't have any stats on the number of horses using the back country to figure out that body waste BUT is it possible that human body waste impact is a larger number than the horses' body waste?? I will say yes. Please prove me wrong! Also, the similar math for our ranger is this: 35 years in Sequoia-Kings/not including prior time in Yosemite as a back country ranger, spending say about 60 days/year in the back country adds up to 9,240 lbs. or 4.62 tons of human waste and that is a lot of s… unaccounted for. He used the ranger cabin that was built and maintained by using horses. The majority of his supplies were packed in by horses. In addition he produced an American average of 4 lbs./day of garbage amounting to 4.2 tons that was backpacked out or packed out by horses. Please correct me if the numbers don't add up. That is why when I talk about horse manure I know my s…. Next will comment on reducing/removing horses who are allowed by law and replacing them with helicopters and other mechanized equipment in the wilderness as defined by the wilderness act.
Posted by: SierraNevada

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/04/12 09:22 AM

Hold on there, Lucky. You're mixing up numbers all over the place. Backpackers and Rangers don't leave 4 lbs per day of trash in the wilderness just because the average American sends that much trash to a landfill every day from home. Yosemite wilderness would be a huge garbage dump and we don't see that.

You're also not including the backcountry solar composting toilets in Yosemite that handle a lot of the human waste. Ironically, the composted human waste is hauled out by horses and mules. You're also neglecting the difference between humans following rules for depositing their waste away from water while horses have no concept of this. Clearly, its not a simple matter to compare human impacts to horses in the wilderness.

There should be no doubt that impacts from one horse are much greater than from one human. People don't crap all over the trail, eat tons of grass, and roll around in fragile meadows. Cumulative impacts are more difficult to compare because there are many more humans than horses, but these simple assumptions you are tossing around are misleading. This is exactly why we need more study of this problem, as described in the lawsuit and ruling.

I don't see anyone trying to ban horses in the wilderness, except maybe the fringe groups. The lawsuit is specific to commercial outfitters focusing on quantifying impacts and establishing new rules with justifiable limits. So there's no need to mix helicopters or trail maintenance into this discussion. Nobody is going after trail maintenance and Ranger support using horses.

George brings up several simple best management practices (BMPs) that should not be a large burden for commercial outfitters. I vote for George to be King of the mountain on this one. I like the idea of stockpiling feed in bear boxes and keeping horses out of the meadows to the greatest extent possible. Seems like they should be doing these things already, but unfortunately it often takes a lot of pressure to get people (especially competitive businesses) to do the right thing if it takes extra time or money. Rules even the playing field. It took lawsuits just to get them to study the problem.

I wonder how practical it is for horses to use diapers or to scoop up their droppings and carry their waste out just like humans are forced to carry wag bags on Whitney. Who wouldn't love to see less horse crap on the trails? but it's probably not very practical.

Personally, I like seeing horses in the backcountry and I'm confident commercial outfitters can make significant changes to reduce the impact with a reasonable amount of effort.
Posted by: Bob West

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/04/12 10:51 AM

George, I'm curious, but you don't have to answer this question if you need to CYA - I understand.

How much input does N.P. get and accept(or want to get) from the "boots-on-ground" personnel (the backcountry rangers) before creating mitigation regs? I'd hate to believe that they aren't talking to you guys, and/or are listening hard to the fringe groups instead.

A couple of observations:

It seems obvious that bear boxes for stock and the feed would have to be brought in by mules. The logistics of that operation would have to be studied very carefully, so that excessive dunnage trips aren't defeating the purpose of the operation.

Are there many areas of just dirt that could be designated for the stock to sweat-roll? I know that stock couldn't care less where they do it. I know that on the Bishop Pass trail on north side, there are designated stock turn-around spots on dirt; perhaps there are areas like that could be used use sweat-roll spots. But I know that most packer camping areas don't have extensive dirt only areas; just wishful thinking on my part, I suppose.

I wouldn't like to see resupply drops made by helicopter, instead of by stock trains. Helos present other environmental problems. Does Yosemite still rebuild the High Sierra camps using helo support?

Thanks again, for all your input on this topic.
Posted by: Bob West

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/04/12 10:54 AM

Putting a diaper on a mule or horse would create one of the biggest rodeos you've ever seen! Even a hat flying off the head of a rider can send one of those critters into a panic.
Yee Haaww!
Posted by: George

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/04/12 03:48 PM

This is actually turning into a fact-based discussion. Good work in starting it Bob -- and everyone else for contributing.

Lucky: for the reasons Sierra Nevada outlined, your stats are too far off to be useful. One misunderstanding seems to be the reliance of ranger stations on stock and implying -- well, it's not clear what the point is.

Depending on needs and conditions, both ranger stations and trail crews can be resupplied either by stock or helicopter (or the ranger carrying stuff in). Most stations were built around 1970 and materials taken in by both horse and helicopter. Three ranger stations are now being built as replacement and both helicopter and stock are used (with feed brought in for the stock -- they're not grazing).

In Sequoia Kings, a helicopter is specifically recognized as a "minimum tool" -- along with stock -- that can be used to support trail crews, rangers or emergency operations. This recognizes that both methods have an impact and that circumstances may support the use of one over the other. For instance, use 10 head of stock and two packers for 3 days or two flights for a total of 45 minutes and two landings of less than 10 minutes? Which has less impact?

In actual practice, most ranger's gear is brought in by helicopter -- too much snow in June, usually. It's taken out by stock in October. There are no resupplies between going in and coming out -- it all comes in at once! For an approximately 100+ day season, my wife and I bring in about 1,300 lbs of food and gear. So there's garbage from the food containers and packaging, but not a whole lot. Much of it (knowing you want all the details!) is bulk -- like flour or rice. The occasional can of Confit du Conard and, OK. a darned good wine selection. Note to travelers: good wine weighs exactly the same as bad wine).

And once again, the critical difference in people feces vs. horse manure is where it goes -- close to or far away from water. Ranger stations have outhouses (the solar ones don't work well, though Yosemite still uses them, I think).

And as for my own, ummm, waste being "unaccounted for"! Well, good taste forbids -- but I know where it is, don't you worry your pretty little head 'bout that!

Lies, damn lies and statistics

An interesting statistic, though is:

Quote:
A 1,000 pound horse will defecate approximately four to thirteen times each day and produce approximately nine tons of manure per year. The 1,000 pound horse will produce, on the average, 37 pounds of feces and 2.4 gallons of urine daily, which totals about 50 pounds of raw waste per day in feces and urine combined.

http://www.extension.org/pages
/Stall_Waste_Production_and_Management
Typically a ton of horse manure will contain 11pounds of N, 2 pounds of P, and 8 pounds of potassium (K).


There's about 7,000 use nights by stock (in 2008 in all of Sequoia Kings). So based on the above, that's about 350,000 lbs. of urine and manure deposited. Where does it go? What impact does it have? I can say that most human waste is farther than 100 feet. And, as everyone knows, Wag Bags are now required for people in the Whitney corridor.

Diapers have been suggested for stock and they are used in city parks and even required on, for instance, some watershed lands (San Francisco near Crystal Springs -- I think). But obviously that's impossible with the above tonnage.

But you're again missing the point. As noted before, it's not zero sum. Impact by one user group (hikers, say) does NOT somehow justify equal impact by another (stock). The idea is to reduce impact by BOTH.

As another side note, your figure for backcountry visitors in Yosemite seems extremely high. Their site is down right now, but the literature up to about 2000 reports under 100,000 use nights (!) so the number of actual overnight users would be less. It might have gone up somewhat, but I don't believe by that much. I'll check back with their site. That's a lot of backcountry use. (By contrast, Sequoia Kings in 2003 had 22,000 backcountry users and a little over 100,000 use nights).

Hmmm. Too much information.

g.
Posted by: SierraNevada

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/05/12 07:47 AM

Originally Posted By: George
Ranger stations have outhouses (the solar ones don't work well, though Yosemite still uses them, I think).

Yes, Yosemite does use solar toilets very successfully on the high impact trail to Little Yosemite Valley. They work great and are serviced using mule trains to haul out the dried and composted waste on a weekly basis. They are much better than the typical outhouse toilet at a campground.

I agree with you there are old toilets at alpine elevations that have not worked very well, but that doesn't mean they can't. Rocky Mtn NP has been using solar toilets very successfully for 29yrs on Long's at Peak 12,000+ ft with about the same number of hikers as Mt Whitney. They refined the design and they made a commitment to maintenance - which is NOT done by Rangers.

Just wanted to make the point that solar toilets CAN work just fine. Interestingly, RMNP uses llamas to service them on Long's Pk. Now back to Trigger and Seabiscuit.
Posted by: George

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/05/12 09:52 AM

Interesting about the solar toilets. I'll have to check into that more. My impression in the past (and I looked into these pretty extensively some years ago for Ostrander Hut) was that whatever is being used, maintenance is really just taking out mostly raw effluent -- that there's very little composting.

Now that's OK. It's just that they're not truly composting and perhaps there's cheaper methods without all the surrounding composting tech. Ostrander essentially uses ammo cans (a more expensive version: Jonny Partners). They've got maybe 20 of them and they're just packed out at the end of the season.

When I worked at Little Yosemite in the 70s, we had chemical toilets which emptied into a big culvert with burlap over a grate. We'd let the, umm, effluent dry for maybe a week, then roll up the burlap and pack it out. Worked fine (well, except for the blue hands...).

But I don't keep up anymore and perhaps they do truly work as advertised... .

Thanks for the information!

g.
Posted by: George

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/05/12 09:55 AM

And, things may have gotten out of hand for Trigger & Seabiscuit:

www.fresnobee.com/2012/04/04/2788652/national-parks-horse-packing-on.html

Seems like it's one of those each side waiting for the other to blink, and neither did. So a judge will now have to impose a compromise.
Posted by: Bob West

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/05/12 01:15 PM

Well, San Francisco judges are well know for making unreasonable decisions. I suppose this will affect the N.P. packers too.

The Sierra Club might not be too happen about this. Here is one of their 2012 trips: http://www.sierraclub.org/outings/national/brochure/12261a.aspx
And REI: http://www.rei.com/adventures/trips/weekend/wst.html
And...the Park: http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/horseride.htm

Any members of the HSHA like to join in this discussion? No guts, no glory!
Posted by: wagga

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/05/12 02:13 PM

Even though I am not on the horsey side, I think it sucks that these business-people are put out of business by fiat.

If any body can post email addresses or phone numbers for packers, I, for one, will contact them & find out where to send letters. Maybe even a phone call, as I have unlimited long-distance. Judges? Congresscritters?

Suspension of the ruling for a year, if carried out in the next few days, might allow them to survive.
Posted by: wagga

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/05/12 02:39 PM

This appears to be the judge's order:

http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/files/Sequoia-Kings-Court-Order-2012-01-24-1.pdf

Courtesy of Kurt at nationalparkstraveller.
Posted by: lynn-a-roo

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/05/12 03:32 PM

well, if we didn't have political correctness rules on the wz i'm sure most of you would know what i have to say about this, i'll save my comments for november. what i would like to know is what type of person would belong to a group called the high sierra hikers association and not love horses, mules,donkeys and dogs. i think this group should change their name because they truly don't reflect anyone i know who love the sierra's nor the usa if they don' t believe in capitalism and the entreprenurial spiirit that built this great nation on the backs of these "beasts of burden" as Kurt Wedberg might describe them.
Posted by: George

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/05/12 03:36 PM

This just in from a person on High Sierra Topix who had talked to someone at HSHA:

Quote:

"...The Court has not yet issued any injunction against packing this summer at Sequoia-Kings. The NPS read the Court's preliminary (January) ruling on the merits of the case, and instead of waiting to see what the Court would order as remedy, NPS knee-jerked and sent letters to all the SEKI packers saying that their permits are invalid. FYI, we consistently have pushed for the earliest possible court date in hopes that the matter could be settled before the summer season - it is NPS that has repeatedly acted to delay the proceedings of this case. After numerous delays, the court has set a hearing date of May 23 (nearly three years after we filed our suit). Meantime, NPS has thrown more gasoline on the fire by sending vague and bureaucratic letters to packers (and to Rep. Nunes) saying that no commercial packing is authorized in SEKI until further notice - even though NPS knows full well that we have all along told the court that we don't want to shut down the packers; we simply want reasonable limits. (Prior to the recent letters, NPS had no limits at all on the number of commercial packers, no limits on the number of commercial pack trips, no limits on the total number of clients served, no limits on the total number of commercial stock used or grazed each year in the Sequoia-Kings Wilderness. All a packer needed to do was pay a $200 permit fee, and s/he could run as many trips at they wanted. They don't pay anything toward trail maintenance, they don't reimburse any NPS costs for meadow monitoring, and they are almost never fined when they break the rules. This free-for-all by commercial outfits has gone on for decades while wilderness permits for non-commercial visitors are tightly controlled and trailhead quotas for hikers are strictly enforced..."

So there is some current information, at least from one side, and you heard it first on Topix...

Sarah
Posted by: lynn-a-roo

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/06/12 08:35 AM

See: Steve C's post 4/4/12 CURRENT CONDITIONS ON MT WHITNEY


If it were not for these 'beasts of burden's ' he and his family would have had to haul all their gear to 1000 Lakes.
Posted by: wagga

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/08/12 03:04 PM

I've started a thread on Endless-Sphere, which is a community like us but focused on electric vehicles, battery and controller technology.

It's titled "The Electric Horse". Endless-Sphere is full of brilliant minds, full-on geeks and the aroma of burning insulation.
Posted by: lucky

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/08/12 04:32 PM

Stimulating exchange. It is apparent that we have a long way to go in order to bring our positions closer to a meaningful understanding. It is my hope to bring to you a different perspective. I do agree with your basic idea that horse versus human, one on one, the horse has a greater impact on the back country. This impact of one horse is estimated at four times that of one hiker. This statement is from "Wilderness Management" third edition by Hendee & Dawson. Recomended reading! To Sierra Nevada. My data on the number of visitors is from the Yosemite NP official site. The EPA is the sources for the 4LB of garbage per person/day. You say it is less! OK, lets be real here. I am going to stick to the data from Yosemite NP official site again. If it was your only 2 LB/visitor/day, the 4,047.088 Yosemite front country visitors would produce 4,047.88 tons of garbage/year. Also, again at the same your 2 LB of garbage per day the 1,416,758 hikers would produce 1,416.758 tons of garbage/year in the back country. This is simple math remedial with the hope you can grasp the scale of things. How ridiculous is to pick only on the horses! Now I don't know when you've been on the Whitney trail, or any other popular trail for that matter, but when you do, please pay attention as in some locations every movable rock/boulder has toilet paper or candy wrappers under it. It is apparent to me that not all the human garbage is taken out by hikers or packed out by horses. Now as to the human waste you are not implying that human daily waste is less in the back country?? It is still EPA/4LB/day. And using the beloved green solar potties does not make the waste evaporate. It decomposes just like horse waste only slower. To our ranger.
Not withstanding the jab about my pretty little head I respect our ranger's position even if it is wrong. Between the lines I see some awareness and guilt when acknowledging the work done by horses. It comes to mind that criticizing the horses is like biting the hand the feeds you. "There's about 7,000 use nights by stock (in 2008 in all of Sequoia Kings)". What is the source for this info?? For the sake of truth let's stay official on providing references. I believe it is grossly exaggerated. I got your number of 350,00LB/175tons of horse waste in SKNP. Compare the SKNP to the YNP data. For the sake of continuity I will stay with the official numbers from Yosemite NP. Here is more math. In Yosemite NP, 1,416,758 hikers @ 4LB of human waste/day/year would produce 5,667,032 LB of human waste/year in the back country. Per your reference horses produce 50LB of waste/day. Divide 5,667,032 LB by 50LB and get 113,340.64 horses. This means that you would need to have 113,340.64 horses in the back country to produce and equal the amount of human waste. It is funny and ridiculous but true. This never happened and will never happen. Are you getting the scale of things??? Here is a quote from our beloved Wilderness Act. "The following uses (nonconforming, but allowed uses) are expressly permitted in section 4(d): 6. Livestock grazing, were established prior to the act. & 8. Commercial enterprises necessary for activities that are appropriate in wilderness ( e.g. outfitting and guiding)". I know SKNP has a great and successful grazing management in place. I am all for smart management not the exclusion of horses. Please comment.
Sorry Harvey I had to change the wrong numbers. Lucky!
Posted by: Harvey Lankford

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/08/12 05:25 PM

Originally Posted By: lucky
Divide 1,416.758 tons by 50 and get 28,335.16 horses. This means that you would need to have 28,335.16 horses in the back country to produce an equal amount of human waste.

The figures from Yosemite probably reflects more of the larger humanoids. What about fat, er obese, people? Don't they eat more and produce more wastes?

Oops, I forgot that they do not eat more, they think they have a slow thyroid.

In the backcountry, the leaner ones would change the calculation to be even more than 28,335.16 horses.

Sorry, I couldn't help it.
Posted by: SierraNevada

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/09/12 02:47 PM

Originally Posted By: lucky
To Sierra Nevada. This is simple math remedial with the hope you can grasp the scale of things. How ridiculous is to pick only on the horses! And using the beloved green solar potties does not make the waste evaporate. It decomposes just like horse waste only slower.


Lucky, I've got a Masters in Engineering, I think I can follow your arithmetic and grasp the scale of this. I simply pointed out that you're mixing up garbage with human waste with liquid human waste. You're mixing up total visitors to Yosemite with backcountry visitors and then combining it all in a blender. I think you nailed it when you wrote a horse impact is 4 times more than a human impact. Even that is hard to compare because the impacts are different - people don't crap on the trail (but they do leave wag bags around), people don't eat alpine grass, and people don't roll around in fragile meadows.

I'm not picking on horses, I like them. It's too bad the NPS needs to lose a lawsuit to get them to establish reasonable rules and limits which sets an even playing field. The packers will comply, and when they are all subject to the same rules, nobody is at a competitive disadvantage for going the extra mile to protect the environment.

Yes, well designed and maintained solar-powered backcountry toilets do evaporate human waste, both solid and liquid. Hunt around this board for more information - try "Solar Toilets vs Carrying Wag Bags" for a start.
Posted by: George

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/09/12 03:18 PM

This just in. Having won the court case, HSHA is now asking for "injunctive relief":

www.nationalparkstraveler.com/files/SEKI-High%20Sierra%20Hikers%20Motion.pdf

Quote:
The interim relief that High Sierra requests includes:
(a) prohibiting the use of unnecessary items by commercial stock parties in SEKI's wilderness;
(b) requiring NPS to close particularly vulnerable portions of SEKI's wilderness to grazing by commercial stock; and
(c) reducing the level of commercial stock services in SEKI's wilderness areas by 20% from 2007 levels.


They very explicitly say they do not ask that stock be banned:

Quote:
While NPS has not made a finding that commercial stock services in wilderness portions of SEKI are necessary, High Sierra does not oppose the continuation of commercial stock services pending NPS's compliance with the Wilderness Actówithin limits and where consistent with preserving and restoring the character of SEKI's wilderness.


Essentially, they're asking that the court order that, until the Wilderness Stewardship Plan is written (with a very loose guess of 2015) that NPS not allow grazing above 9,700 feet in Sequoia Kings; that all the meadows in Evolution Basin be closed to grazing (McClure, Colby & Evolution); and reduce use by commercial stock by 20%.

Stock can still camp above 9,700 -- they just have to bring feed, as many do already.

This does not in any way affect how trails are maintained by stock-supported trail crews.

This does not in any way effect how private users can graze or visit the park on stock supported trips (within the constraints of existing grazing regulations for the stock and trail head quotas for the people).

There's a hearing May 23rd where arguments will be presented.
Posted by: SierraNevada

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/10/12 09:26 PM

These proposed changes seem like a reasonable starting point for a compromise resolution. The NPS should be able to negotiate a deal before the May 23rd court date. The quicker the better to save the 2012 season for the commercial packers.

But given their track record, the NPS will probably wait for the courts to tell them what to do and it will be June or July before they get an answer.
Posted by: George

Re: HSHA Lawsuit: Just the Coffee Talkin' - 04/11/12 09:42 AM

All hands: Note my new signature, just to emphasize that I don't represent no one but myself, no way, no how.
Posted by: Steve C

Re: HSHA Lawsuit: Just the Coffee Talkin' - 04/11/12 09:50 AM

Have another cup o' coffee, George! smile
Posted by: lucky

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/17/12 01:10 AM

I am still hoping to give you another perspective on this horse v human waste issue. I am going to make it short and soooo simple a Master in Engineering can understand it. Again, I am using public info from the Yosemite NP official site. Overnight stays in 2010: 142,864. Multiply this by 4lb of human waste per day per person and get 571,456lb of human waste in 2010 in the Yosemite backcountry. One horse/mule makes 50lb of waste per day. Now divide 571,456lb by 50lb and get 11,429.12 horses. This means it would take the waste of 11,429 horses to equal the waste from 142,864 humans. 11,429 horses in the backcountry of Yosemite in one year is an impossible ridiculous number just as some of your arguments. Please comment!
Posted by: SierraNevada

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/17/12 07:48 AM

Okay, Lucky. I think you've stated your point more clearly this time around. There are a lot of really smart people on this board who understood your main point all along - that humans leave a larger total amount of bodily waste in the wilderness because there are so many more hikers than horses. I doubt if anyone argues with that. However, to put that into some sort of tangible numerical "perspective" one needs to word it effectively.

If I may, another way to state your point is that a horse leaves 12.5 times more bodily waste behind than a human hiker. You don't actually know the total number of horses in Yosemite, but it seems obvious there are more than 12.5 hikers for every horse, therefore, humans generate more total bodily waste in the Yosemite wilderness than horses do. The total amount of human waste processed by backcountry toilets in Yosemite also needs to be considered, as does the human waste carried out by mules.

Your point about total waste is well taken, has been all along, but it's a bit more complicated when trying to quantify it with numbers. Boiling it down to total lbs of waste does not consider total impact to the wilderness. Waste dropped indiscriminately into a creek or on the trail has a lot more impact than waste buried in a cathole. People like me are probably a little overly sensitive after dealing with numbers every day to make complex decisions. But your point is correct about total amount of waste.
Posted by: George

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/17/12 12:22 PM

Quote:
"There's about 7,000 use nights by stock (in 2008 in all of Sequoia Kings)". What is the source for this info?? For the sake of truth let's stay official on providing references. I believe it is grossly exaggerated.


Nope. It's from the Sequoia Kings 2008 stock report and derived from the number of nights that pack stations, administrative (NPS) and private packers report from their trips. It's not number of animals. It's the number of animal nights. So, one animal for one night is one animal use night (actually, it's a little more complicated 'cause horses and mules are given different multipliers, but let's not make this too complicated). Twenty five animals for one night is, yep, 25 use nights.

But the critical thing, as SierraNevada notes, is all the time you're spending on comparing human waste vs. stock totally misses the point. Nothing anyone has said, nothing the HSHA lawsuit has said, nothing in the federal judge's decision, makes waste the central point of any argument. Time to move on.

It's about total environmental impact and a demonstrated need (under the Wilderness Act) for stock to further wilderness values. Once again: where does the waste go (both people and stock)? Why are tons of grasses and forbes allowed to be removed from meadows without some level of environmental review? Why are stream banks and riparian areas allowed to be trampled? Are there ways to reduce, mitigate or eliminate these impacts such that stock can continue to bring people into wilderness?

Why do these discussions never include the admission by stock people that, "yes, stock causes a disproportionate and perhaps unacceptable level of impact relative to the number of people they bring into the wilderness. Here's how we all can work to reduce that impact."

Backpackers did this with minimum impact starting 40 years ago. A similar enthusiasm from the stock community would be a welcome contribution to the discussion.

You can loop endlessly on, say, who leaves the most waste in the wilderness, but it's not hugely helpful to an understanding of the problem or a solution.

George
Posted by: Ken

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/18/12 11:23 AM

Originally Posted By: George
Why do these discussions never include the admission by stock people that, "yes, stock causes a disproportionate and perhaps unacceptable level of impact relative to the number of people they bring into the wilderness. Here's how we all can work to reduce that impact."

George


In my opinion, this is a political issue.

By not putting it to rest, it can be brought up in each discussion, and used to waste people's time and effort, make the entire official process more expensive to conduct, and generally help to wear people down until their attention moves to other things.

Effectively, it is a tool by which inaction is facilitated.


For example, in a totally different context, one could argue that the Park service cannot issue a legal order, because it is operating under the orders of a President that is not eligible for office, because he is not a citizen.

That sort of thing serves as a distraction from the topic, and is somewhat effective in derailing discussions that are to the point (after the eye-rolling is done)
Posted by: CMC2

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/27/12 01:24 PM

Congressman Nunes from Visalia introduced a bill that passed the House unanimously. It is now on to the Senate. The bill REQUIRES that packers be allowed to resume taking stock into the back country and basically ignores or over rules the pending Judges decision in May !! So the HSHA Lawsuit is over turned once this bill is passed into law.

Since I do not know how to post an e mail which advised me of this, I have asked Steve to help me out and post it. I told you guys I don't know how to do all this modern stuff. Just a map and compass guy. Once on the WZ you can read all the details.
Posted by: Steve C

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/27/12 01:45 PM

Originally Posted By: CMC2
Congressman Nunes from Visalia introduced a bill that passed the House unanimously. It is now on to the Senate. The bill REQUIRES that packers be allowed to resume taking stock into the back country and basically ignores or over rules the pending Judges decision in May !! So the HSHA Lawsuit is over turned once this bill is passed into law.

Since I do not know how to post an e mail which advised me of this, I have asked Steve to help me out and post it. I told you guys I don't know how to do all this modern stuff. Just a map and compass guy. Once on the WZ you can read all the details.

Here's the email sent out by Devin Nunes:
Originally Posted By: Devin Nunes
From: Rep Nunes
Date: April 27, 2012 12:24:12 PM PDT
To: "NEWSLETTER-CA21@ls1.house.gov"
Subject: House Bill Instructs National Park Service to Stop Horsing Around with Jobs - passed by unanimous consent
Reply-To: Rep Nunes

Dear Friends,

Earlier today, the House moved swiftly to pass a bill that would restore pack animal access to the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The bill, which I introduced late yesterday, was rushed to the House floor thanks to a bipartisan agreement by House leaders which specifically cited imminent job losses and park access issues (press release).

Earlier this month, I brought the case of our backcountry horsemen to the attention of the Obama Administration. I was seeking help in my efforts to protect park access to commercial pack operations. These hardworking men and women who offer a unique and time-honored service to mountain visitors were the target of a lawsuit. Radical environmentalists wanted horses and mules removed from the parks. And thanks to an activist federal judge, the backcountry horsemen lost on the basis of a technicality (see more here).

The court ruling against the backcountry horsemen sent the Park Service into full retreat, as demonstrated by their reaction to my request for assistance. The Park Service informed me that commercial pack operations were going to have to wait until a new plan for issuing permits was completed and endorsed by the court. This meant that for the 2012 calendar year, backcountry horsemen were out of luck. Hundreds of jobs are at risk.

The bill that passed the House today requires the Park Service to issue permits for the next two years, immediately restoring commercial pack operations. At the same time, the Administration will be able to work with the federal court to establish a permitting process that brings the Park Service into compliance with the court ruling. This common sense solution saves important jobs, preserves access to the wilderness, and respects the judicial process.

The Senate must now act. Given the unanimous consent agreement that enabled House passage today, there is no excuse for the Senate to fail to take up and pass the measure as soon as it is received.

Thanks for your interest in this important issue.

Sincerely,
Devin Nunes
MEMBER OF CONGRESS

If you would like to contact me, please visit my website at www.nunes.house.gov. If you would like to be removed from my mailing list, please send a message to LISTSERV@LS1.HOUSE.GOV with the text "SIGNOFF NEWSLETTER-CA21" in the body of the message. You can also opt out of all electronic communications by visiting www.nunes.house.gov and following the instructions.



Law would revive horse packing in Sequoia, Kings Canyon parks
By Michael Doyle - Bee Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- In a rare show of bipartisanship, lawmakers on Friday joined forces to keep commercial pack operations open in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks for at least the next two years.

Acting with unusual dispatch, House Democrats and Republicans agreed on legislation moving the National Park Service to issue the permits for 2012 and 2013. The legislation approved by voice vote will let some 16 pack operators continue taking vacationers into the parks' designated wilderness areas.

"Time is very crucial here," noted Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., the chair of the House Natural Resources Committee. "We must act now if there is any hope for preserving the season."

The legislation initially authored by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, essentially overrides a park service decision issued as a result of a lawsuit filed by the High Sierra Hikers Association. The organization sued the park service three years ago over wilderness management.

In January, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled the park service violated the Wilderness Act because its 2007 general management plan for the neighboring national parks did not adequately deal with the issue of commercial stock. In response, the park service said it would not issue the stock permits until the question was resolved in court.

"I was highly disappointed by the park service's refusal to work with the federal court on an agreement to issue permits in time for the current season," Nunes declared Friday morning. "This legislation will allow commercial pack operations to continue in the parks while permitting changes are made to comply with the court's decision. There are hundreds of jobs at stake."

The legislation still needs approval by the Senate, which could happen quickly.
Posted by: SierraNevada

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 04/27/12 02:39 PM

"I was highly disappointed by the park service's refusal to work with the federal court on an agreement to issue permits in time for the current season," Nunes declared Friday morning.

You can lead a SEKI to the negotiating table, but you can't make it think.
Posted by: Steve C

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/02/12 11:32 PM

Sequoia & Kings Canyon N.P. has posted a news release here:

May 2, 2012   Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Requests Court
                to Allow Commercial Pack Stock Use in Wilderness Immediately
                (PDF,   JPEG pg 1,   JPEG pg 2)

Part of the release:
Quote:
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks News Release
For Immediate Release: May 2, 2012
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.
...
• 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.
...


Posted by: Harvey Lankford

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/03/12 03:33 AM

That Judge probably drives a SUV rather than a Prius.
Posted by: SierraNevada

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/03/12 06:42 AM

And here's the other side of the story from HSHA to provide a more complete picture of the situation:
Hikers' Group Urges Compromise on Packer Permits at Sequoia and Kings
Canyon National Parks


To summarize, all NPS has to do is come to a compromise with the HSHA on how to remedy the situation for the next couple seasons or so until the Wilderness Stewartship Plan is completed. HSHA has put a set of proposals on the negotiating table to resolve this and get the packers moving again. If the NPS does not negotiate, the judge might simply convert the HSHA proposal to an order on May 23rd anyway.

At least the NPS is starting to take commercial permit requests to expedite things when it gets resolved.

Edited title of link
Posted by: lucky

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/05/12 05:21 PM

I am representing the horses because they can't speak for themselves. It is soo funny to see how you now understand human waste is soo much larger but continue to maintain that the human waste is less disagreeable than horse waste because there are a few beloved solar port a potties in the front country. It boils down to human sh.. stinks less. Maybe some of yours smells like roses. Smile! The sad truth is that a lot of misinformed and misguided are making noise because they don't get it. I agree that most if not all the decisions made for the wilderness are driven by political issues. Using law suits to make policy is as extreme as it gets in my opinion. It was intended to be the scientists and congress and not the courts making these decisions. Thank you Sierra Club!
"I attached a copy of Attached is a declaration by Seth Hufstedler who is a senior counsel with the law firm Morrison Foerster (the law firm for High Sierra Hikers Assn.) who is 89 years old and regularly hikes the sierras. Seth strongly supports the commercial packers and has stated as much in this declaration to the court. Seth regularly uses commercial packers to bring his gear to him at high altitudes after he has hiked there, and the gear includes those luxury items that HSHA thinks need to be banned in the wilderness. I think it is so nice to see a lawyer for the firm that is suing SEKI supporting the commercial packers. Sweet justice."

MELTNDA L. HAAG (CSBN t32612)
United States Attorney
JOANN M. SWANSON (CSBN 88143)
Chief, Civil Division
MTCHAEL T. PYLE (CSBN 1729s4)
Assistant U. S. Attorney
Northern District of Califomia
150 Almaden Blvd., Suite 900
San Jose, CA 951 13
Telephone: (408) 535-5087
Facsimile: (408) 535-5081
Email: michael.t.pyle@usdoj . gov
IGNACIA S. MORENO
Assistant Attorney General
Environment and Natural Resources Division
CHARLES R. SHOCKEY (D.C. Bar No. 914879)
Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice
Environment and Natural Resources Division
Natural Resources Section
501 "I" Street, Suite 9-700
Sacramento, CA 958 1 4 -2322
Telephone: 916-930-2203
Facsimile: 916-930-2210
Email: charles. shockey@usdoj . gov
Attorneys for Defendants
I.]NITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTzuCT OF CALIFORNIA
SAN FRANCISCO DIVISION
HIGH SIERRA HIKERS ASS'N,
Plaintiff
DECLARATION OF SETH M. HUFSTEDLER
Case No. 3 :09-cv-04621 -RS
V.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, et al.,
Defendants.
DECLARATION OF SETH M.
HUFSTEDLER REGARDING
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
INJUNCTION
Date: May 23,2012
RESPONSE TO PLAINTIFF'S
MOTION RE: REMEDY
Case3:09-cv-04621-RS Document103-19 Filed04/24/12
Page 1 of 4

I, Seth M. Hufstedler submit this declaration pursuant to 28 U.S.C . 1746 and declare as
follows:
1 . I live in La Canada - Flintridge and have been a resident of the state of California
since 1928.
2. I graduated from the University of Southem California and Stanford Law school. I
have practiced law in California since 1950, and now am a senior of counsel at the firm of
Morrison & Foerster, in the Los Angeles office.
3. I have spent a good share of my life in the outdoors, and especially in the Sierras.
My family and I have a cabin at Lake Huntington, which my mother acquired in about 1946 and
has been in my name for many years. I have spent many happy years walking and camping in the
surrounding mountains, and on many occasions have used packers to carry the equipment. I have
walked the entire Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada, and about one-third of the trail
south, from Canada to Mexico. In addition my wife and I have made 13 trips to Nepal, where we
have trekked more than 1500 miles in the Himalayas. (There the "packers" are Sherpas, many of
whom have become good friends.) In walking on the Pacific Crest Trail, our group has used
packers on the John Muir trail both north to south and south to north. We have also used packers
on several other stretches, including in the Cascades. However, we were walking and they
carried the equipment.
4. Some years ago I started climbing Mt. Whitney on my birthday. On walking the
Pacific Crest Trail, the second time on Mt. Whitney, it turned out to be my birthday. (The time
before was a couple of days after my birthday.) So I later climbed it some more. On my 80th
birthday, a group of friends and I climbed it from the'West side, and were on top on my birthday.
That seemed good, so on my 85th birthday, several of us went up again, also on the West side.
However, we ran into a "rogue" storm which was not anticipated, and above Guitar Lake the
temperature was 20 and the wind 50 mph. We had only light summer equipment and at about
13,000 my hands began to freeze. After restoring circulation three times, by rubbing them, it only
made sense to come down, so we did and did not climb to the top. So on my 87th birthday we
went up again, from the West. It was easy and we had a relaxing sunny lunch on top.
DECLARATION OF SETH M. HUFSTEDLER
Case No. 3 :09-cv-04621-RS
Case3:09-cv-04621-RS Document103-19 Filed04/24/12
Page 2 of 4

5. The point of this is that on each of those trips to the top, we had excellent packers.
They were careful to respect all of the rules. On the last trip, the animals could not be kept above
10,000 feet, so the packers had to take them back down when the walkers were camping above
that. On many of the trips where we have had packers, the packers often were cleaning up debris
that backpackers had left.
6. The Rangers at Rock Creek and Crabtree, who were excellent, reached the
conclusion that I was the oldest male to climb Whitney. Not the oldest person - a woman of 91
climbed it about 15 years ago.
7. My 90th birthday comes up in September, and I plan to walk up to the top again, if
that works out. The permits for September are already gone, and packers are not permitted on the
Portal Trail to the top. At my age, climbing with a backpack is a lifile too strenuous, and making
the trip in one day would be too much.
8. Naturally, therefore, I would like to take the Vy'estern trall again, and have packers
carry the gear up to the "last water" which is a pool at almost exactly 12,000 feet. They still have
to return the horses below 10,000, as before, at night.
9. If the new severe limitations are imposed, this cannot really occur. We could
camp four nights, or so, going in, and need the camping equipment and food. Particularly, ice
chests to keep some fresh food are necessary, and they do not cause litter or damage the
"wilderness experience." A folding camp chair and a table for the cook are not going to damage
the wilderness. What these proposed limitations will do is greatly limit the ability of more elderly
people to enjoy the experience.
10. I recognize it is not great loss to the world if I do not climb Mt. Whitney at 90, or
at92, if I am around that long. But depriving everyone of advanced age to have the ability to use
pack services to carry equipment and suitable food is a tragedy. I confess I have had my share of
fun and appreciation of the wilderness, but denying the elderly the right to have adequate use of
the packers help would be unforgivable.
DECLARATION OF SETH M. HUFSTEDLER
Case No. 3:09-cv-04621-RS
Case3:09-cv-04621-RS Document103-19 Filed04/24/12
Page 3 of 4

I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States that the foregoing
statement is true and correct.
Executed this 23th day of April,2012, at Los Angeles, California.
DECLARATION OF SETH M. HUFSTEDLER
Case No. 3 :09-cv-0462 1-RS
Seth M. Hufstedler
Case3:09-cv-04621-RS Document103-19 Filed04/24/12
Page 4 of 4
Posted by: amg

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/05/12 05:42 PM

HSHA is represented by MoFo? I wonder who's bankrolling the legal fees.

This is veering off topic, but I had to laugh when he said that ice chests for fresh food are particularly necessary. I understand not being able to carry a pack with all your gear when you are 90, and I understand maybe needing a little table to cook on if you can't crouch over a stove. However, "needing" an ice chest full of food doesn't really help his case. Sorry, but that's pretty much the definition of a luxury. If he said he needed a little one for medication that would be different.
Posted by: Steve C

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/05/12 09:43 PM

> I wonder who's bankrolling the legal fees.

When they win a case, I think they can often collect from the losing side.

I hope Seth Hufstedler DOES make it to Mt Whitney when he is 90!!!
Posted by: amg

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/06/12 01:31 AM

Originally Posted By: Steve C
> I wonder who's bankrolling the legal fees.

When they win a case, I think they can often collect from the losing side.


Yes, but that's never a given, and unless the lawyers are working on a contingency basis they're still going to have to pay upfront.

Quote:
I hope Seth Hufstedler DOES make it to Mt Whitney when he is 90!!!


I do too. However, I'm still curious as to whether it's some magical side-effect of being almost 90 that renders him unable to subsist on backpacker chow for a few days, or if he has had this problem his whole life. wink
Posted by: KevinR

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/06/12 09:33 AM

In Mr. Hufstedler's 'declaration' his description of hiking the PCT and Mt Whitney illustrate differences which I (and I suspect others) define hiking the PCT, Whitney. For example - if I take the train to within a 1/4 mile of the summit of Pike's Peak, and then walk the rest of the way, have I walked Pike's Peak?

After reading his 'declaration' I was left scratching my head - who/what exactly was the the declaration meant to support? The HSHA? The stock operators? Ostensibly, I have to assume the stock/pack operators. But, if I were the HSHA I might secretly be thanking the good Mr. Hufstedler for making some of their points.
Posted by: Ken

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/06/12 10:08 AM

On the PCT-L, from "Dr Bob":

Quote:
So here I was recently, near the middle of my 2 week stroll north from the
border, when I paused for a break just beyond where the former Lucky 5 water
cache used to be. I was actually right at the bottom of the short,
quasi-steep side trail which comes down from the highway at the Lucky 5
Ranch. Suddenly there was noise descending that side trail. I jumped up and
here's a pleasant gentleman coming down that side trail on horseback.
followed by another. and another. I asked which way they were headed on the
PCT and moved my pack and myself accordingly. He expressed appreciation for
my minimizing any scare to the horses and informed me that there were 52
(fifty-two) horses coming.



How many of you have witnessed a 52 horse caravan on the PCT? In my
previous 5 times over this particular section, I'd never seen a horse.
Farther north, I've been passed by groups of 4-5 or an occasional short pack
train. but 52 ??? Down that side trail they came, the horses already sweaty
from an earlier segment of their trail ride. As I stood there watching, and
counting, and talking to the horses, the PCT ahead to that shoulder just
north of the Lucky 5 side trail was completely filled with nose-to-tail
horses and riders, as far as one could see. It was a truly amazing sight.
It turned out that on up ahead they just went to the Sunrise turnoff and
departed the PCT.



As I started on after them, I thought, OK, *HERE* was a great opportunity to
see the trail damage 52 horses can do to the PCT. Conditions were dry at
the time and I was quite surprised that the treadway was churned up only
modestly and that on rockier sections I could not even tell that a horse had
just passed, much less 52 of them. In my mind, I compared that to the
now-dried trail south of Mt Laguna (between Long Creek crossing and the
trees up top) where I had dealt with hundreds of 2-inch-deep dried boot
tracks from hikers who got caught in that big rain/snow event a week before.
Forgive me, but the many foot-long sliding prints of the person in those new
5-toed shoes - five sliding/skidding toes now etched in the dry mud - were
funny looking. Not to him/her at the time, of course. Ok, wet then for the
hikers and dry now for the horses. If the horses had been there under wet
conditions. different story.



Ah, and for us horse poop complainers, only 4-5 deposits from 52 horses in
the few miles ahead. They must have lightened their load, so to speak,
earlier in their ride.



I will long remember that probably once-in-a-hiking-lifetime, slow-motion,
"civilian cavalry" attack on the PCT.



Dr. Bob
Posted by: SierraNevada

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/06/12 07:58 PM

These horse stories are charming, but unfortunately this thread seems to have turned into a big red herring. The debate is about specific rules governing commercial packers.

Did someone call for banning horses or commercial packers in the wilderness? I don't recall reading one person in this thread who thinks horses should be banned from the wilderness.

The HSHA has not called for banning horses or commercial packers from the wilderness. They've repeated over and over again they are not trying to ban horses or commercial packers in the wilderness.

The HSHA lawsuit and their proposed compromise is entirely about establishing new rules or modifying existing rules governing permits for commercial packers. Some of these rules are in place in other National Parks but not in Sequoia-Kings Canyon. How are those rules working in other parks? This discussion should be about the specific rules that are being proposed - are they reasonable or not? Again, the HSHA is NOT trying to ban horses from the wilderness.

It's unfortunate that sometimes it has to come to a lawsuit to get any action from an agency. If all other reasonable efforts have been exhausted with that agency, then a lawsuit is perfectly appropriate as a last alternative.
Posted by: SierraNevada

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/06/12 11:39 PM

So, moving past the red herring arguments about banning horses or commercial packers from the wilderness, which nobody seems to be proposing - what are "reasonable" rules for commercial packers to adhere to? I have no horse in this derby whatsoever, but I'm interested in what others think.

Should there be no rules - no permits, unlimited horses anywhere they choose to go?

Are the current rules protecting the meadows and other sensitive habitats?

Are the current rules burdening commercial packers unnecessarily?

Should commercial packers take people to the summit of Mt Whitney with ice coolers and picnic tables?

Should the rules allow a train of 52 horses, but allow only 15 backpackers in a group? Or should groups of 52 hikers be allowed?

Should we have a completely different set of rules for each National Park and Wilderness area?
Posted by: Bob West

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/07/12 04:58 AM

I'm not sure that I would trust the HSHA or any other similar groups assurances that they don't want pack stock banned from the Sierras. Slowly, year after year, pack stock restrictions are becoming tighter, while restrictions on backpacking have been static for years.

No, horses (I assume you include mules in this category) should not be allowed to go wherever they want. That is not the current situation at all.

The restrictions seem to be working on the east side of the Sierras. I have discussed this with several local packers and, while it makes their work more difficult, they are living with it.

Yes, in some cases it does put an unnessary burden on packers. For example, the requirment that pack trains only be allowed to turn around at a few designated spots along the trail.

Have packers (commercial or government) ever taken pack stock to the summit? This might be a "red-herring" question. No, don't allow pack stock on the summit.

Each area ought to be considered individually.





Posted by: SierraNevada

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/07/12 08:07 AM

Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Bob. I don't know much about this HSHA group or their ultimate motives, but let's look at their actions. After they won in court, they put a set of rules out there for compromise instead of trying to get the court to stop commercial packing.
Posted by: amg

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/07/12 10:57 AM

Quote:
After reading his 'declaration' I was left scratching my head - who/what exactly was the the declaration meant to support? The HSHA? The stock operators? Ostensibly, I have to assume the stock/pack operators. But, if I were the HSHA I might secretly be thanking the good Mr. Hufstedler for making some of their points.

It sounds he's actually planning on hiking (or "walking") to Whitney from whatever trailhead, he just needs the packers to schlep his stuff from campsite to campsite, so slightly different from riding the cog railway up Pikes Peak. I think the point he is attempting to make is that banning stock permits would reduce wilderness access for the elderly (and presumably the disabled, but he doesn't mention that) who are physically incapable of unsupported backpacking trips. However, he does a lousy job making his case and I doubt the judge is going to view his brief as anything other than a charming anecdote.

Originally Posted By: SierraNevada
So, moving past the red herring arguments about banning horses or commercial packers from the wilderness, which nobody seems to be proposing - what are "reasonable" rules for commercial packers to adhere to? I have no horse in this derby whatsoever, but I'm interested in what others think.

Should there be no rules - no permits, unlimited horses anywhere they choose to go?

Are the current rules protecting the meadows and other sensitive habitats?

Are the current rules burdening commercial packers unnecessarily?

Should commercial packers take people to the summit of Mt Whitney with ice coolers and picnic tables?

Should the rules allow a train of 52 horses, but allow only 15 backpackers in a group? Or should groups of 52 hikers be allowed?

Should we have a completely different set of rules for each National Park and Wilderness area?

I don't have a horse in the race either, but I'm curious about what the data says about the impact of stock (and I don't mean tangental discussions of the relative volume of crap produced in yosemite). Someone said the HSHA is asking for increased grazing restrictions and a 20% reduction in commercial stock use. Do they have evidence to show these specific measures are likely to be effective, or is it just an arbitrary point to start negotiations from?
Posted by: Bob West

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/07/12 04:04 PM

Yes, it might be an opening gambit in their proposeds negotiations. Sometimes, showing a little flexibility by party A will cause party B to be open to increasing demands by party A. Sounds a little like something from The Art of War, by Sun Tzu!
Posted by: SierraNevada

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/07/12 06:54 PM

Originally Posted By: Bob West
Yes, it might be an opening gambit in their proposeds negotiations. Sometimes, showing a little flexibility by party A will cause party B to be open to increasing demands by party A. Sounds a little like something from The Art of War, by Sun Tzu!

That's a bit cynical, Bob. Negotiations usually end up somewhere in the middle as long as people act like adults.

As for the science behind how effective these regs are, that's actually one of the points HSHA has been complaining about. They should get more data during the process to draft the Wilderness Stewardship Plan.
Posted by: Bob West

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/15/12 07:14 AM

A bill (H.R. 4849)that would allow commercial packing permits before a ruling on the HSHA lawsuit, passed the House of Representatives on April 27th, and is awaiting passage by the Senate. California Senators Feinstein and Boxer are working to support passage of the bill in the Senate. Supporters of commercial packing are hopeful the bill will pass in the Senate in time for packing to resume as soon as possible.

Last year, because of the heavy snow pack, the packing and hiking season started late, impacting commerical guiding services. They need a good season to help recover from their losses last year. The rapid melting of this year's light snow pack will ensure an early start to hiking and packing.
Posted by: wagga

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/18/12 11:16 AM

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.
Posted by: Steve C

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/18/12 11:27 AM

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.
Posted by: SierraNevada

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/18/12 07:49 PM

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.
Posted by: SierraNevada

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/24/12 07:50 AM

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.
Posted by: SierraNevada

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/25/12 06:30 PM

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
Posted by: SierraNevada

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/29/12 07:50 PM

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
Posted by: George

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 05/30/12 09:13 AM

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!

Posted by: Steve C

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 08/21/12 03:41 PM

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.
Posted by: MooseTracks

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 08/21/12 06:08 PM

Thanks for posting that, Steve. I'll be sure to be at the Bishop meeting.
Posted by: Steve C

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 10/31/12 01:06 AM

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.
Posted by: SierraNevada

Re: HSHA Lawsuit - 10/31/12 07:55 AM

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.