Court Rules That Sequoia National Park Officials Violated Wilderness Act By Allowing Horse Trips

A federal judge has found that the National Park Service failed to do requisite studies into the need for stock use in high country wilderness areas of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. NPS file photo.

Horse travel in backcountry areas of national parks long has been viewed as not only somewhat romantic, a throwback to the Old West, but also as a necessity for hauling in not only visitors but vast amounts of gear that otherwise would be problematic to carry in.

But for those not on a horse, walking in their wake can be a challenge in terms of avoiding not only at-times voluminous amounts of manure, fresh and old, but also hoof-pocked trails and trampled areas. During wet seasons, dozens of hooves can pretty much trash trails.

A federal court in California recently took up the case of the use of stock animals in wilderness areas of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, and agreed with a hikers' organization that the National Park Service violated The Wilderness Act by failing to study the necessity of pack trips in the parks.

Somewhat interestingly, the ruling comes more than 40 years after the Park Service decided it would phase-out the use of stock animals in the high country of the two parks, but never fulfilled that decision.

The ruling (attached below) brings to fore the question of how damaging pack trips are to wilderness areas in the National Park System.

The case, which has been making its way through the legal system since 2009, was brought by the High Sierra Hikers Association. In its initial filing in September 2009 the group pointed out that when Sequoia officials adopted a master plan for the two parks in 1971, they specifically announced their intent to both phase out stock use from higher elevation areas of the two parks that are particularly sensitive to impacts and to eliminate grazing in all areas of the parks.

In reaching that decision, park officials at the time cited "the damage resulting from livestock foraging for food and resultant trampling of soils, possible pollution of water, and conflict with foot travelers..." the association's filing noted.

When the Park Service adopted a General Management Plan for the two parks in 1997, it did not reiterate the desire to phase out stock use, but instead decided to allow stock use "up to current levels."

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg held that Sequoia and Kings Canyon officials failed to conduct the requisite studies into the commercial need for pack trips in the two parks. Specifically, the judge noted in his ruling late last month, the Park Service must examine how commercial backcountry uses impact the landscape and "balance ... their potential consequences with the effects of preexisting levels of commercial activity."

"The Park Service has ignored and evaded the requirements of the Wilderness Act for decades," said Peter Browning, president of the High Sierra Hikers Association. "We hope that this court decision will prompt the Park Service to follow the law by limiting stock use and commercial services in our national parks to those that are truly necessary and not harmful to park resources."

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Comments

George is correct that some routes at Point Reyes National Seashore are weekdays-only for horses:

http://www.nps.gov/pore/parkmgmt/upload/lawsandpolicies_compendium_horsemap.pdf

I understand the frustration of mountain bikers that Congressionally designated wilderness if off limits to their choice in mode of transportation. However, it is currently the interpretation regardless of the jurisdiction. As far as I can tell, the only thing that could change it now would be a law that specifically modifies the Wilderness Act to specifically exclude bicycles from the definition of mechanical transport in a wilderness area.

Besides all that, arguing that would also seem to be fruitless as far as the NPS goes. Even in areas without designated wilderness, bicycling isn't typically allowed off road. It's typically only allowed on pavement and specific fire roads or wide dirt roads. I don't recall any NPS units where bicycles are allowed on narrow trails. There was someone who tried riding on trails at Grand Canyon NP (with zero designate wilderness) and got a court appearance for his efforts.

If bicycles were open to wilderness areas, it might make a difference in Forest Service and BLM areas. I don't see NPS areas changing their policies.

YPW, I agree with you. I don't see the National Park Service changing its policy, and I don't see the Bureau of Land Management or the Forest Service changing theirs either. Probably, regarding Wilderness, someone will have to get a citation and challenge it in criminal court, because I don't see any mountain biking organization having the money to bring it as a plaintiff in civil court. Even then, that would not affect the NPS rule that forbids mountain bikes on most trails even outside Wilderness. Under the Organic Act (16 USC §§ 1, 1a-1), I suspect that NPS can administer the trails however it wants to.

I have heard, however, that NPS is modernizing to the extent of allowing mountain biking on narrow trails at Mammoth Caves National Park and, soon if not already, Big Bend National Park.

It sounds to me like the biking community is contriving a not-convincing argument about "intent" involving bicycles. I read the linked article about "intent", and it had NO information about the intent. It's main point is that it was not particularly thought about, because the bikes of the time were not very trailworthy.
But that is not a cogent arguement! Clearly, Satphone controlled radio planes were not in the mind of the writers, because they did not exist. They did create a mechanism for dealing with such things: the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior. So when the point in time was reached where bikes WERE emerging as a problem, they were adjudicated. So were hang gliders, so were toy planes. And so will be kayaks, and flying saucers.....but probably not until they become issues, because the managers have enough to do without regulating problems that don't exist. But bikes did become a problem, and so, were dealth with, under the definitions of the Act.
Anyone who argues that running into a bicycle is a normally expected wilderness experience, and is typical wilderness character, has apparently not spent much time in wilderness. Horses, however, ARE normally expected wilderness experiences, and does not create a "non-wilderness" character or experience.
Saying that something is so, does not make it so, no matter how many times you repeat it.

Ken,
Your argument revolves all around bikes being a problem. Unfortunately, there is no proof of that. A very good example is that in newer wilderness, bikes are being kicked out of trails that we were able to ride them on for the last 30 + years. For all those years, they weren't a problem, but when the land (the very same exact dirt) becomes wilderness, bikes become illegal. That's completely irrational and incoherent.
Wilderness character has nothing to do with whether bikes are allowed or not, except in the mind of the wilderness fanatics who don't want to share their taxpayer funded public good.

Dear Dr. Murray:

I can't quite follow your reasoning. It seems to be circular.

You say: "Anyone who argues that running into a bicycle is a normally expected
wilderness experience, and is typical wilderness character, has
apparently not spent much time in wilderness. Horses, however, ARE
normally expected wilderness experiences, and [their presence] does not create a 'non-wilderness' character or experience."

I think what you're saying is that since bikes aren't allowed in Wilderness, therefore one should not expect to see them there, and that since horses are allowed to trample all over Wilderness, one should expect to see them. You're right, but what's the point?

Let's say, however, that your moral vision is widely shared and that the Wilderness purists should stick to their values: horses and other 19th century means of travel fine, bicycles not.

Here's the practical effect of such a vision:

The Wilderness Society recently acknowledged laying off 17% of its staff, and one report I heard put the figure at closer to 30%. See http://articles.latimes.com/2011/nov/19/nation/la-na-wilderness-society-20111120

The Continental Divide Trail Alliance, which was said to be as hostile to bicycles on trails as other dogmatically purist groups, recently went out of business. "The financial condition of the organization ha[d] been unstable and deteriorating for a number of years." See http://www.cdtrail.org/page.php. Perhaps if CDTA had been nicer to cyclists, it would still be around. The International Mountain Bicycling Association seems to add staff year in, year out. Meanwhile, mountain bikers managed to retain CDNST access by lobbying the Forest Service without the help of the now defunct CDTA.

It's hard to say if the similarly bicycle-hostile Pacific Crest Trail Association is facing the same risk to its existence as the CDTA did, but it sounds like the author of the definitive hiking and horseback guide to the PCT can no longer find a publisher for it. See http://mailman.backcountry.net/pipermail/pct-l/2010-November/042179.html

So yes, keep to your vision of Wilderness properly and justifiably clotted by hordes of trail-ripping, dust-generating, fly-attracting, stream-polluting, vegetation-trampling horses, llamas, yaks, mules, burros, water buffalo, and whatever other large nonnative mammals people like to infest it with, with quiet nonpolluting bicycles excluded because they weren't there in 1890. It'll be a great Pyrrhic victory, made all the more ironic by the likelihood (I'm guessing, although I don't know for certain) that cyclists are riding Wilderness trails all the time, secure in the knowledge that they aren't doing anything morally wrong even if they're violating an agency rule of dubious legal pedigree. In sum, dream on!

What is interesting is that just on the other side of The Sierra Madres is that local people are being ENCOURAGED to feed starving mustangs from over-grazed range which are a lot more fecund than some stock animals on the California side of the mountain.
The Federal government PROHIBITS the hunting of these starving mustangs but wants to BAN horses in a national park!
Also, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg who ruled on the case, until his appointment to the bench by Pres. Obama used to work for the law firm bringing the suit which is doing it pro bono.
However, in the event the suit is won, the law firm will collect big money of course, from the US taxpayer.

the uses of horses in the back country is a necessary need to maintain and service anyone that works or hikes the parks.
It would be better to ban cars from the park as they and their drivers kill more wild life than any horse has ever killed
You all heard of KONY 2012 will it is now time backcountry 2012
here is my email address
Time to stop this now before it spreads to the rest of the NP

Just a couple of quick points having just caught up on this conversation since I last commented nearly two months ago...

At Point Reyes, the trails closed to equestrian use are the trails leading from the Visitor Center, with the largest parking access for the park. The Bear Valley Trail is the one from there to the beach; that and two side trails connecting to that are closed to horses on weekends because of the high traffic. But the huge majority of trails at Pt. Reyes are open to horses all the time.

Horses are accused of having huge impacts on wilderness--George cites a couple of studies. But they aren't the only studies. One study
http://www.aerc.org/ENMay07Research.pdf
concluded "that horse hay and manure does contain seeds of non-native plant species, but native and non-native plant species rarely become established on horse trails because of the harsh environmental conditions." Other studies have been done that show minimal impact on the environment from horse poop and urine, probably because, unlike, say, dogs and cats, their diet is basically grass.

One commenter asked where the compromiser horse advocate is. Actually there are quite a few equestrians who advocate for shared use of trails wherever practical and safe. I belong to a couple of organizations that do just that. Because of advocacy for that principle, for example, the 338 miles of the Bay Area Ridge Trail ar 85% open to both equestrians and bicyclists (though not always the same 85%). The Ridge Trail, and the equestrians who are involved, have at times delayed funding for and the opening of new trails that would not allow bikes until that was changed. The Trails Council I belong to organizes multi-use trail events, and there are equestrian advocates who bring out the horses to share the trails with hikers, bicyclists, and yes, the occasional trail unicyclist that shows up.
What has amazed me, however, coming from the equestrian community but becoming more and more of a hiker, is just how much opposition there is to mountain biking among hikers. I often have to advocate for the bikers against fellow hikers who have been run into, run off the trail and had their wilderness or park experience shattered by speeding bikes. Granted it is a small minority of cyclists who provoke that reaction, but everybody remembers them and easily forgets the ones who get along. Although equestrians can get tossed from their horses at such moments, the ill will spread by rogue cyclists extends much deeper. I know that mountain bike organizations do their part to educate cyclists to get along with other trail users: unfortunately their reach does not always extend to everyone pedaling on the trails. When it does, other trail users will stop feeling threatened by the presence of bikes on trails and a lot of the conflict will fade away.

Although it is possible, and I have seen this before, to conclude that envronmental and trail groups are withering on the vine because they do not support cycling access, I think that argument is truly delusional. Many non-profits of all stripes have laid off staff, and some have closed down, in the recessionary climate with contributions down all over. That someone is having trouble finding a publisher for their PCT guide does not reflect on the overall health of the Pacific Crest Trail Association which in the past 2 years has expanded greatly with new back-country offices, new staff, and greater volunteer involvement than ever before. And if there are fewer equestrians than there used to be, it is more a function of zoning restrictions and the economics of horse ownership than their attitudes towards bicyclists or anything else.

Or perhaps it has a lot to do with kids growing up with video games and virtual reality and getting less and less connected to nature--the last kid in the woods, the last horse in the woods--we need to be doing whatever we can to get the younger generation involved, because they will be needed to defend parks and wilderness when we are gone...

Morris: Excellent post! It is so good to see the benefits to kids and adults alike that make the effort to venture into wild places on stock. Putting their confidence in something other than their joy sticks or keyboards. I do a lot of both, backpacking and equine adventuring. It just might be a part of the increasingly adversarial atmosphere in the culture that push things like this issue. The conversation needs to be elevated and inclusive rather than the divisive bent that many seem to encourage, or else we ALL lose.

Those so moved to add their support to keeping the wilderness experience open for those that depend on stock use and/or those that find a special connection with their ride and the wild places they adventure into while respecting others on the trail please feel free to submit your name to the petition at:
http://www.change.org/petitions/us-senator-maintain-the-people-s-right-to-access-parks-by-horseback

The conclusion to the study Morris cited:

Despite the extremely low germination
and establishment rates of plants on the
horse trails, the presence of non-native seed
in the hay samples suggests horses pose a
threat for the introduction of non-native
plant species.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement for stock use. Nor has anyone weighed in to suggest ways to mitigate the potential -- and verified -- impacts of roll pits in fragile alpine meadows; stream bank erosion when animals go to drink; removing tons of grasses that might otherwise support wildlife or habitat or the aesthetic pleasure of a wilderness experiene; or the potential impact of pathogens in manure getting into streams; or the potential impact of nitrates, nitrites or other nutrients from manure and urine getting into streams.

These are real impacts and it would be great if the equistrian community -- overall a terrific group of people -- would join in coming up with ways to reduce these impacts so they can continue to enjoy wilderness on stock supported trips. They're not doing it. All they're doing is going on about the "good old days."

In the late 60s and early 70s, hikers were presented with how their trips casued major impacts on the places they came by the thousands to enjoy. In my direct experience, when those impacts were explained, and they were shown how to reduce those impacts, they did so -- minimum impact or leave no trace camping was the result. It's been tremendously successful. Stock groups have resisted every step of the way by clinging to a past that is not sustainable, however much the service they provide is useful to some people.
And, sure, let's get rid of Wilderness designation. Let's get the government out of it. Let's allow ATVs, mining, condos, strip mining a free for all of anyone who wants to do anything. All of this was allowed at some point on public lands. Wilderness was created to protect these small islands as examples of a pristine (insofar as possible..) America. Come on people, think this stuff through.

Once again, though, it seems people aren't quite understanding this court decision only applies to Commercial stock permitees -- NOT private stock parties,who can continue to visit the park as before; and NOT administrative use, who can continue to maintain trails as before.

Hey Rick! Thanks for tha attaboy! Still having fun... .

George

Important Note: this has come up elsewhere. I do not, in any way, shape or form, represent the policies or thinking of the National Park Service. It's just me talking here... .

Hey George, a mixed message but one question: How do you mitigate all those challenged kids and adults and yes, healthgy individuals that will be excluded from the experience of discovering things about themselves through their rides and the great places that they enter into? Attention, mostly is put on the commercial aspect of those providing the service. Are you going to step up and pack another private citizen's gear and carry them into the wilds? Sounds pretty selfish to me. Always room for improvement, even for those that don't quite get what someone elses deal is about. Fills me up to see the transformation that happen with just about everyone that I've led. Better people they become, respectfully.

All these folks have good points, and as someone with significant physical disabilities, I would like to chime in.

If I did NOT use my mare for entry into the forest, I would NOT be able to photograph, enjoy the thrill of camping, and enjoy the fresh air. True I must go with someone to help me on and off the horse, and to help me with heavy lifting. I find some folks have made some statements that are just not true. Horse hoofs are not carrying seeds into wilderness areas, auto tires are a more likely source, as well as birds, manure, while it may be unsightly, is not a pollution hazard anymore than a deer, ( which does carry pathogens transmittable to humans). I refer you to the articles by the Back Country Horsemen, who with researchers, and a pathologist, found no hazard from horse manure, except the chance of a "green badge". In this day and age, there are so few horse trails available, and so few of us horse riders, that to object smacks of elitism! I have hiked in my youth from Horse Meadows near Lone Pine, to Tioga Pass, as a Boy Scout, and will remember that trip all my days. I am now 66 yrs old, and after a life of using my body too roughly, now am partially crippled. To enjoy the quiet, and serene trails, fish the high country, and photograph for my "Old Age" is my goal.

Now, you have a couple of my 2'C's

Thank You Sir for your remarks on the loss of trails, lands, and the rampant destruction of wilderness by motorized vehicles.

I do ride a horse to access the High Sierra, and a someone with significant disabilities, must have a companion to help me on and off, as well to do some of the lifting nessesary. Horse manure, hoof prints, ETC. are a normal part of the wilderness, and do not pollute anymore than the"bear who S##tsin the woods."

steve citron:
Thank You Sir for your remarks on the loss of trails, lands, and the rampant destruction of wilderness by motorized vehicles.

I do ride a horse to access the High Sierra, and a someone with significant disabilities, must have a companion to help me on and off, as well to do some of the lifting nessesary. Horse manure, hoof prints, ETC. are a normal part of the wilderness, and do not pollute anymore than the"bear who S##tsin the woods."

What does this have to do with the question at hand, which would be commercial packing trips into the wilderness? As it stands, motorized vehicles aren't allowed in wilderness areas with the exception of some maintenance vehicles where the use has been written into the enabling legislation. There are places that are potential wilderness areas that are serviced by helicopters, as well as some that allow limited powerboats.

As for bears - I thought they typically do their business off the trails.

With a good deal of respect to Y_P_W and others that have posted on here what has bothered me from the beginning of my involvement with NPT is the absence of virtue. That might seem odd to many but that's where I'm at. Everything seems to be up for examining microscopically what is good and what is bad. Man himself is God, okay girls included covering the PC world, which means some of us are so inlightened as to presume they are the arbiters of what's good for the earth and people be damned. This shows up in untold examples. Since a very young age I've been connected to all the extremes of the "environment" pleasurable and the challenging. It is all one deal, friends. When some want to change the dynamics to fit their particular learning curve, it just makes a mockery of the natural world and is doomed. The defining greatness of what these wild places can contribute to us is to put ourselves in perspective which generally makes us more insignificant and the most connected. These are my thoughts with great respect to individual learning curves wherever they may be. My suggestion (humbly) is to not try and bring down the bar (that can only be) to your own comfort zone but to aim for that which lifts everyone. I do understand the challenges and am in for the long game. That's where I've chosen. Stock use belongs in wilderness areas.

Cheers

I have a certain degree of idealism. However, I'm also realistic that our wilderness system doesn't operate in a vacuum. It's a product of a political system and its very future is dependent on playing ball with the politicians who can control it. I also feel that there are varying opinions as to the best use in our wilderness areas.

As for pack trips, I certainly don't have any problem. However, I've run into horse poop. I would propose that there be some sort of leave no trace ethos for horses and mules. When I walked my dog in the park or on the street, I was required to pick up any feces. left by my dog So why wouldn't it be reasonable for horse packers to remove any solid waste - either hauling it away or burying it off-trail like I'd be required to do if I did my business in the backcountry.

Y_P_W: I am sorry you object to the mule or horse poop on the trail. What I find much more objectionable is what I found strewn around a water cache site I returned to in the back country two days ago were the multiple toilet paper (used) marked deposits of the the more (seemingly) enlighted ones. Horses and mules are much closer in relationship to the coyotes, deer, bears (they do poop on the trails and in some cases poop people remains), Mt. Lions (which also occasionally pick off the slow walkers) and any number of God's creatures. None of which leave toilet paper to mark their territory.

I've read with agreement many of your posts but have been dissapointed of late. Maybe it's just me:).

I have no problem with wild animals pooping on the trail. It's their home. I remember coming across the biggest turd I've ever seen - probably from a bison. It was nasty looking but frankly wasn't that bad. Now the time I saw a police horse take a leak on a city street was absolutely nasty.

However, when I see what's obviously horse or mule feces on the trail, what I think of is a person controlling the horse that knows the horse is leaving that behind. If my dog took a dump on a trail, I had to pick it up. There's another article on the SEKI horse packing issue, and one of the comments was from a horse enthusiast who proposes a minimum impact ethic that includes making an attempt to rake feces off the trail.

I pack out my stuff, so I can't be held responsible for what other people do irresponsibly.

You know - there is a requirement for law enforcement who are authorized to carry non-lethal weapons such as pepper spray or Tasers. They're required to experience the device being deployed on themselves to understand the consequences of using such devices. I personally think that those venturing into the backcountry with animals should perform acts to minimize the impacts, such as cleaning up feces regularly to understand the consequences of using that means of transportation.

Pure Berkeley, Pelosi sissification in my book! Watched "The Help" last night, an outstanding movie BTW. You and others are in the same book as the enlightened southern bell that wouldn have the help "pooping and peeing" in separate commodes. With all due respect, I couldn't stop laughing at the outrage over horse poop on the trail. You don't gain that outrage in the real "natural" world. Not completely dismissing you Y_P_W knowing the diversity of learning curves but really, it is pretty funny if it wasn't so serious:).

Keeper, I try to avoid these discussions out of self-preservation, but I must admit y_p_w has a point. I think I mentioned it previously, but I spent quite a few miles last September trying to dodge the output of just two horses on a backcountry trail in Yellowstone. The trail was deep and narrow, the vegetation high, and the horses obviously well-fed.

More so, you could obviously see the damage -- trampled wetlands, stream erosion -- to the trails caused by either pack strings or numerous riders. The most egregious was at a stream crossing where on the far side a trough at least four feet long, several across, and a couple deep was gouged by hooves perpendicular to the stream where the stock came out.

Frankly, I'm not sure what the answer is (although in the case of the stream crossing a bridge would suffice, I suppose). I've ridden horses into the backcountry and agree they serve a good role, but I can't imagine walking for miles and miles behind a group of horses, or seeing the stream damage, without wondering why it's permitted. It's not sissification at all, and it's not neo-environmentalism, as another commenter alleged.

At the same time, anonymous up above has a point about some hikers who don't deal with their toilet paper properly.

I'm not religious, but I kind of like that saying about who should cast the first stone...and the other one about judging others;-)

Kurt, Y_P_W, Keeper and Anon:

"I'm not religious, but I kind of like that saying about who should cast the first stone...and the other one about judging others;-)"

My history is one of an "extensive" stock care,use, ranch background with nearly as much history backpacking in very remote wilderness. I admit it's not a common condition but it's allowed me to see into the different mindsets that I myself have experienced. I have great respect for most everyone on the trails and routinely reach out to other trail users engaging a bit to connect, encourage and evaluate. I have been blessed by many friendships born in the back country whether they be stock users or not. That's why the divisivness expressed in actions and comments is troubling to me and reduces the greater good of the backcountry experience. The divisivness does not seem to be exclusive to Park issues. While it saddens me to see, I do not allow it to dissuade me from experiencing rewarding breakthroughs on a daily basis with fellow trail companions.

Thanks, Kurt, for having a forum where these things can be discussed in a very open and revealing way. While it does make buerocrats (and others) cringe at times your site brings a greater conversation and exposure to the underlying motivations. Thank you!

Stick In Our Eyes, here at the Traveler we've long encouraged discussion, and even debate, of diverging viewpoints. It's the only way one side might come to understand the other side's point. That's not to say they'll adopt or accept that point of view, but hopefully understand it nonetheless. All we really ask is that folks remain civil and respectful in their comments.

Very good point. The number of pack horse groups is very small - and I feel that the "elitist" High Sierra Hikers are not interested in sharing the trails. Some people are not able to do the hikes, and packing in on horseback is a way for those to enjoy the park. I ride coastal trails that are shared by hikers, bikes and horses, daily. No one complains - everyone enjoys ...


Stick In Our Eyes, here at the Traveler we've long encouraged discussion, and even debate, of diverging viewpoints.


And your failure to post my dissent to that comment just shows how false that statement is. you should be ashamed.

Anonymous, we do indeed encourage diverse opinions and discussion of those opinions and always have.

Just look down through the years at the various at-times heated debates over guns in the parks, whether the Park Service is a good steward, mountain biking in parks, snowmobiling, the debate over oysters at Point Reyes or piping plovers at Cape Hatteras. And those are just a few of the contentious issues that we've heard from all sides.

However, we do not endorse, encourage, or allow browbeating, trolls, and browbeating trolls who hide behind anonymity. As long as the comment is constructive and doesn't rummage around in the muck of insults or ad hominems, or stray off topic and try to pull something entirely unrelated into the topic at hand, we'll go with it.

At the same time, there comes a time when a debate has spun its course and the repetitiveness of comments grows weary. We reserve the right to end the debate.


YPW -You know - there is a requirement for law enforcement who are authorized to carry non-lethal weapons such as pepper spray or Tasers. They're required to experience the device being deployed on themselves to understand the consequences of using such devices


Untrue. Many agencies ask their membership to be subjected to the non-lethal weapon, but none make it a requirement, at least in NJ.


The number of pack horse groups is very small - and I feel that the "elitist" High Sierra Hikers are not interested in sharing the trails.


It's not the the absolute numbers of stock used that's important, it's the impact of the horses and mules on the meadows and streams. The critical number is Stock Use Nights. You may have 10 animals supporting 3 people on a 5 day trip. So that's 50 SUNs. A huge mulitplier of the impact of those three people, especialy since one horse has (conservatively) at least 10 times the impact per day as one person on foot.

In this case and previous ones, the court has agreed. That impact is far, far greater than might be considered justified by the very small number of people those horses take into the wildereness. So if meaningless terms like 'elitist' are going to be thrown around, then I'm not sure how it applies to the folks who offer a compromise on how people travelling with stock use wilderness. It apparently does no good to point out, but this oft-repeated Big Lie really bothers me. HSHA is not asking or even imp[lying that stock be banned. They make it very clear they're willing to share the trails and wilderness with stock supported people. It's the stock folk who appear uncompromising.

If you travel, say, the John Muir Trail from Paiute entrance in the north of Kings Canyon to the Crabtree area, there is only one major and classic Sierra meadow -- Vidette -- where grazing is not allowed. Every other meadow -- every single one -- is subject to grazing. As such, all visitors are denied the incredible experience of a pristine (ungrazed) Sierra meadow by a very, very small number of stock users totally unwilling to compromise their sacred right to use meadows and streams for their personal pastures.

So instead of stock users coming forward and saying, OK, we can work with backcountry users who want this pristine experience, they're saying "no, it's all ours." Sounds kind of elitist to me... .