We encourage you to voice your support for protecting Wilderness in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park (SEKI). The National Park Service (NPS) is developing a Wilderness Stewardship Plan for the park’s 800,000 acres of Wilderness, the crown jewel of the High Sierra with “giant Sequoia groves, sublime alpine lake basins, and the highest peaks in John Muir’s ‘Range of Light.’” The deadline for official "scoping" comments ends on 8/31, but comments can be sent at any time.
We encourage you to include the following points in your comments and describe how your wilderness experience has been affected:
• Urge the Park Service to remove the dozens of large bear-proof food lockers it airlifted into its Wilderness in the 1980s. Now that portable canisters are widely available, SEKI should cease installing these permanent improvements and remove the existing ones.
• Urge the Park Service to stop its extensive and unnecessary use of helicopters for routine management activities such as research, fire monitoring, bighorn sheep surveys/collars, supplying trail crews, etc. Helicopters are landing almost daily in the Wilderness during summer months, and the noise from aircraft overflights is ubiquitous.
• Urge the Park Service to restore the wild character of SEKI Wilderness by reducing the large numbers of commercial pack stock that are damaging the area. Research shows that groups of more than 8-10 stock cause extensive damage to trails and campsites. SEKI should choose a maximum stock limit in this range. Moreover, the NPS has long ignored the Wilderness Act’s legal mandate to limit commercial services to the "extent necessary." NPS should limit the number of stock allowed on each trip to those needed to carry necessary supplies and equipment. Courts have ruled that items such as large camp furniture, boats, radios, and other “luxury” items are unnecessary for the enjoyment of a wilderness experience (and damaging to the experience of other visitors), yet SEKI places no limits on commercial services, allowing commercial outfits to cater to anyone and haul anything.
• Urge that all visitors compete for wilderness permits on a level playing field via a single permitting system. Where the general public is limited by trailhead quotas or other restrictions, SEKI should strictly limit commercial use. Clients of high-impact commercial stock outfits should not be guaranteed access while private (non-outfitted) citizens are turned away by trailhead quotas or other limits. .
• Urge the Park Service to require strict prevention measures to minimize the introduction and spread of invasive weeds. SEKI has for many years been quietly using chemical herbicides to control weed outbreaks—even deep in the backcountry—while giving little more than lip service to prevention measures. At a minimum the NPS should prohibit open grazing on park lands, require stock users to use weed-free feed while in the Park, and require that all animals be provided weed-free feed for a long enough period before entering the parks to allow time for the animals to excrete weed seeds.
Submit your comments and/or request to be added to the mailing list to receive the Draft EIS:
Superintendent Karen F. Taylor-Goodrich
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Attn: Wilderness Stewardship Plan
47050 Generals Highway, Three Rivers, CA 93271
Fax: (559) 565 4202
Photo: George Weurthner