SACRAMENTO — The fate of commercial stock operations that run horse pack trips into Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park, and possibly other wilderness areas, is in the hands of the federal courts as a result of a lawsuit filed by High Sierra Hikers Association.
In ongoing attacks against what appears to be almost any use of public lands by anyone who isn't on foot, the move is another attempt to restrict the use of public lands by anyone who isn't physically able to undertake strenuous physical activity.
The federal court has already curtailed permits for commercial stock operators in Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park and that ruling may extend to all commercial uses of designated Wilderness areas within the Park.
Not only will the economic impact be devastating to pack stations and surrounding areas, but the elderly, young and physically impaired who need a mode of transportation other than by foot, will find themselves locked out of public lands that were intended for all to enjoy.
The HSHA filed a similar lawsuit against the Inyo National Forest Service in 2000 that resulted in new mandates and limits on stock operations. In response, Sierra packers have had to make adjustments in services offered to stay in business.
The original suit, filed against the Department of Interior and the National Park Service in late September 2009, alleged the General Master Plan for Sequoia Kings Canyon violated the National Environmental Policy Act by “not conducting the proper environmental assessment of the impact of stock use.”
Judge Richard Seeborg of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of
California, ruled in favor of the National Park Service on that aspect of the suit, stating that the Park Service “complied with (the National Environmental Policy Act) by fulfilling the Act’s procedural requirements.”