You are here

Public Will Get Opportunity in October To Comment On Sequoia, Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness Plan


How best to manage wilderness areas in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks will be the topic for public conversation come October, when the parks seek input on preliminary draft alternatives for their Wilderness Stewardship Plan.

At a series of public meetings, the National Park Service will be seeking ideas and feedback about alternatives to address future wilderness management at the two parks.

Topics that may be addressed in the plan include: day and overnight use; permitting and quotas; party sizes; campfires; food storage; camping and campsites; human waste management; pack stock and grazing management; scientific research; natural and cultural resource management; maintenance of signs, trails, bridges, and other recreational infrastructure; administrative infrastructure; education and outreach; the extent to which commercial services are necessary to fulfill the recreational and other purposes of wilderness areas; and front-country support facilities.

Many of these topics were brought forward during the public scoping phase of the planning process that took place from April 11 to August 31 last year. The issue raised its head earlier this year when the lack of a wilderness management plan temporarily derailed the parks' ability to issue permits for pack trips this summer.

The problem was temporarily resolved when Congress intervened and sent legislation to President Obama that would allow the parks to issue permits for this summer's season.

To learn more about the process and how to comment on what the new plan should include, visit the National Park Service Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website and/or consider attending an upcoming workshop during the last two weeks of October to listen to a presentation by the National Park Service and meet with staff to discuss your ideas about alternatives or submit your comments.

The schedule for the meetings is:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

7 p.m.- 9 p.m.

Eastern Sierra Tri-county Fairgrounds

Patio Building

Sierra Street and Fair Street

Bishop, CA 93514

Friday, October 26, 2012

7 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Los Angeles River Center

California Building Atrium

570 West Avenue 26

Los Angeles, CA 90065

Monday, October 29, 2012

7 p.m. - 9 p.m.

East Bay Regional Parks

Redwood Regional Park

Richard C. Trudeau Training Center

Main Conference Room

11500 Skyline Blvd

Oakland, CA 94619

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

6 p.m. -- 8 p.m.

Visalia Marriott Hotel

Main Ballroom

300 South Court Street

Visalia, CA 93291


This is a bit off topic . . .

I just tried faxing SEKI my application for a backcountry permit from 12 am - 12:45 am PST and received a busy signal the entire time. (Had to give up since it's 3:45 here in CT.) I'm trying to get a permit for the Circle of Solitude, but if looks like I might be out of luck. Does anyone know the odds on snagging one first-come, first-served?


A reminder to folks that comments on the Sequoia Kings NP Wilderness Stewardship Plan draft alternatives need to be in by Monday, November 19th. Note that the documents released are only to comment on whether these Alternatives are the ones that should be adopted. The next phase is to write the Alternatives in final form, then release those for comment.

Alas, the Draft is kind of a mess. I had trouble understanding the tables as presented, though think I got the general idea. I also think the plan Alternatives are driven by an assumption of overuse, which is not in any way supported by current statistics or future projections. As written, the alternatives imply increasingly draconian restrictions in use which may not even be necessary given current and future use levels.

It's important, though, for wilderness users to read and comment on this. The last plan was written in 1986 (!!!) and not revised until now. [color=#cc0000] So, it's quite likely that this Plan will be the guiding document for the next 30 years.[/color] It will affect how you can visit the backcountry for all of that time. It's a pain, but please read it and comment on what you think is important. Comments have to be in by November 19th, so take a little time to read it and send in your thoughts.

I'm bothered by three things:

1) The zone system proposed is unworkable, both philosophically and practically.

2) No specific protection plan for iconic Sierran meadows (e.g. McClure, Colby, Grouse, Upper Basin, Castle Dome etc). The alternatives suggest a yet to be determined elevational limit to grazing though this does not protect meadows below whatever elevation is chosen. Nor are grazing impacts necessarily related to the elevation of the meadow being grazed.

The essential question when stock is regulated – whether for grazing or party size – is: Is the ecological, aesthetic and social impact of stock justified by the number of people they support on any given trip? This core question has never been addressed and the draft alternatives do not appear to do so.

3)Although the USE of stock is, unquestionably, allowed to further wilderness enjoyment by people, the stock supporting the people has absolutely no intrinsic right to graze Sierra meadows. That issue is a totally separate one and must be based on different criteria which the alterantives must clearly define. The alternatives propose regulating grazing and stock use primarily by zones rather than the ecological and aesthetic limits and needs of canyon ecosystems and specific meadows.

So, something fun to do over the weekend!


Roger: surely you're not complaining about how, at age 76, you can hike ONLY 20 miles a day?!?! Jeez.(or, maybe, why?!). I'm happy covering 3 (though with many stops by streams and meadows and an occasional snooze...).

I'm afraid that you have an overoptimistic view about their love for wilderness solitude. The OECD issued a report saying that 75% of Americans are going to be either overweight
or obese by 2020. That will include, unfortunately, many younger
people. By discouraging bicycling on trails, you're not doing anything
to help get younger people fit instead of fat.

Well, perhaps, but that still leaves a LOT of young hikers out there. I would estimate that John Muir Trail use has increased about 20% in the last 5 years -- most of that increase is from people in their late teens to late 20s. A lot more families with kids doing the trail and shorter trips. So while those sorts of stats are more than a bit depressing for the country as a whole, trail use in Yosemite and Sequoia Kings is at daily saturation in many places (that is, the number of people starting a hiker are close to or at the quota for a given trailhead).

For most of the 90s and early 2000s, I was concerned it was just a bunch of fellow-aging baby boomers out there. But it's not. A new cohort is taking up overnight backpacking and visiting National Park frontcountry areas. A great thing!


Roger, I hope you have pleasant experiences during your trip.

To imtnbke, I will be mountain biking and hiking in the Mammoth Mountain area in California, and in the Breckenridge Colorado area the next two weeks. I hope I don't offend anyone else on the trails. I will post some comments after I get home. Part of the problem for mountain bikers is they are their own worst enemy. Just look at the impressions they leave with many of their videos.

Roger, if I may quote you, you said (see several posts above this one): "I can . . . hike about 20 miles a day and a 30 mile overnight backpack . . . . Why deny younger generations the pleasures of the solitude on wilderness trails by adding mountain bikes?"

Now, I mean no offense, but what do you think you're doing when you're hiking 20 or 30 miles? Posing a risk of violating other people's solitude! With all respect, what makes you think they want to see you but not see someone on a bicycle?

An unkind person would ask you to stop hiking forthwith so that you don't run the risk of ruining others' solitude.

I won't go that far, but would politely suggest that if you reassess and modify your comment you'll be able to shield yourself from accusations of applying a double standard that favors you.

Now, about those younger generations . . . . I'm afraid that you have an overoptimistic view about their love for wilderness solitude. The OECD issued a report saying that 75% of Americans are going to be either overweight or obese by 2020. That will include, unfortunately, many younger people. By discouraging bicycling on trails, you're not doing anything to help get younger people fit instead of fat.

As an anonymous poster described on these pages recently, the kids he works with can't stand hiking: the slow pace, the insects, the boredom, etc. That, I fear, is the reality. You don't have to worry about kids worrying about loss of solitude in the middle of the High Uintas. They're not there in the first place—not except for an infinitesimal handful.

As Nicholas Kristof pointed out in a New York Times column this week, only a "tiny minority" of Americans is interested in rugged hiking. "[T]he number of backcountry campers in our national parks has fallen by nearly 30 percent since 1979." He wrote in a companion blog: "I find the declining use of back-country areas of national parks utterly depressing."

Please bear in mind that we're not paying taxes for those public lands simply for your private enjoyment of them. They're for the use of everyone willing to use them in a quiet and undamaging manner.

Anon @ 6:05,

You're blurring things. You can't compare the frontcountry services at Yosemite to the backcountry camps that are in designated wilderness at SEKI. Different criteria apply.

I'm not getting the feeling that they're "less instrusive". Their waste disposal is serviced by helicopters and their kitchen facilities are bigger than some snack bars in Yosemite Valley.

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide

Recent Forum Comments