Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Parks Tweak Backcountry Wilderness Regulations

If you're heading into the backcountry of either Sequoia or Kings Canyon national parks this year, you'll need to brush up a bit on changes to the parks' backcountry regulations.

Following the annual assessment of the two parks' wilderness areas, officials came up with the following changes to backcountry regulations for the coming year:

* Specific meadows have grazing restrictions in place to assure that impacts on meadow vegetation and soils are minimized. Stock use is generally allowed in all areas, even those with grazing prohibitions, provided that stock are held and fed, or led to nearby open areas to graze. In 2008 a new restriction in the Kern River Canyon will be in place to prevent the spread of the invasive velvet-grass.

* Campfire restrictions are in place in several areas to allow for the continued recovery of park resources. These heavily used areas are closed to campfires due to a lack of dead and down-wood, and damage to standing and live trees resulting from firewood scavenging. In 2008 a new recommendation in the Kern River drainage requests that recreational campfires occur only below 10,000’ feet to protect the valuable foxtail pine. It is anticipated that this restriction will be mandatory in 2009.

* To preserve the natural behavior of bears and to protect visitor safety, portable, park-approved, bear-proof food storage containers (with the capacity to store all garbage, scent, and food items) are required for overnight parties traveling between May 23 and October 31, 2008 in three specific areas: Rae Lakes Loop & Vicinity, and Dusy Basin area of Kings Canyon National Park; and the Rock Creek area of Sequoia National Park. Proper food storage is required in all areas of the parks at all times. To protect public safety and assure bears remain wild, a new recommendation that all wilderness campers carry park approved bear-proof food storage canisters or panniers is also being enacted this summer with the anticipation that it will be mandatory in 2009.

* The annual camping limit restriction in the Pear Lake and Emerald Lake Basins will be in effect May 15 to September 30, 2008. To alleviate overcrowding, the number of overnight campers is limited to 25 people per night per lake-basin at these two popular lakes. Also, all wilderness permits for the Lakes Trail to Pear and Emerald Lakes will be issued by the Lodgepole Trailhead Office. Advance reservations for wilderness permits will not be taken for the Lakes Trail. Camping in the area will continue to be at designated sites only.

For additional information on these topics and other wilderness use recommendations, contact the Wilderness Office at 559-565-3766, or visit our the parks' wilderness website.