Hikers! Backpackers! URGENT Call to Action!

Your participation is crucial in the planning process for the magnificent backcountry of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

This is the heart of John Muir's Range of Light : the Mt. Whitney crest; the headwaters of the Kings, Kern, and Kaweah rivers; thousands of high country lakes and meadows; pristine giant sequoia groves all together over 700,000 acres of unspoiled wilderness. But this priceless area is currently threatened by commercial interests that would exploit it for private gain. Your involvement is critical!
Please read on.

We are at a milestone. The National Park Service has begun preparation of a plan that will guide the management of the Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness for many decades to come. Commercial mule packing outfits want to expand their operations, and they are well organized. Private stock users have also organized to fight all plans to adopt even the most reasonable restrictions on horse/mule use.

A series of public meetings is currently being held throughout California. It is imperative that hikers and backpackers attend these meetings to show the Park Service that stock users aren't the only ones who care how the backcountry is managed.

Consider this brief history: The 1970 Master Plan for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (SEKI) states that stock use will be phased out in sensitive alpine areas to protect fragile lakeshores, meadows, streambanks, and wildlife. But during the Reagan presidency, when James Watt was Secretary of Interior, stock users convinced the Park Service to retreat from that goal. In 1986, SEKI bowed to political pressure and adopted a Stock Use and Meadow Management Plan that labels stock use a historically and culturally significant use that must be allowed to continue, even where park wildlife, water, and scenery become damaged. Most recently, in the early 1990s, park managers at SEKI tried to adopt a new wilderness management plan that would have allowed increased stock use in the most fragile areas, increased the limit on number of animals per party from 20 to 25, and allowed increased stock use in the habitat of the severely threatened Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep even though scientists advised against these actions. The Park Service attempted to adopt that plan without even preparing an environmental assessment as required by federal law.
Only after the nonprofit High Sierra Hikers Association threatened to file a lawsuit did the Park Service back down. Fortunately, that bad plan was never adopted.
SEKI now has a new superintendent and staff, and the planning process is beginning anew. Public workshops are being sponsored by the Park Service in Three Rivers (June 18), San Francisco (July 9), Los Angeles (July 16), Bishop (July 25), and possibly in Sacramento (TBA). Your attendance is important because responses gathered at the workshops will become the basis for issues to be addressed in the plan. Unless the voice of hikers is heard at these meetings, the stock interests will again dominate the Park Service's decision-making process.

All meetings are currently scheduled from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. (Directions appear below.) These will not be typical public hearings where everyone gets a few minutes in front of the microphone. The format of the workshops will instead allow everyone to participate throughout the entire meeting in a non-confrontational setting. Please make every effort to attend one of these workshops!

Schedule of meetings
San Francisco, Tuesday, July 9, 7-9 p.m., first floor conference room, Building 201, Fort Mason. From the Bay Bridge: Take Embarcadero exit from I-80 (first exit left lane), turn right at Harrison, continue 3 blocks to Embarcadero, turn left at Embarcadero, left on Bay St., right on Franklin and thru the Franklin St. gate of Fort Mason, left at stop sign, Bldg. 201 is the three story white building, parking is available in front. From the Golden Gate Bridge: Take Marina Blvd., left onto Bay St., left at Franklin, left at stop sign, Bldg. 201 is the 3-story white building, parking is available in front. From San Francisco: Take Van Ness north to Bay St., turn left onto Bay St., turn right on Franklin and thru the Franklin St. gate of Fort Mason, left at stop sign, Bldg. 201 is the 3-story white building, parking is available in front. Via BART: Fort Mason is several miles from the nearest BART station. You'll need to take a taxi, cable car, or bus from BART to Fort Mason. Exit at the Powell Street BART station for taxi or cable car connections. The Hyde Street Cable Car leaves every 15 minutes from Powell & Market near the BART station. Take the cable car to the end of the line at Beach & Hyde. It is then a 4-block walk to Fort Mason. (For cable car/bus info, call MUNI at 415-673-6864; for BART info, call 415-992-2278.)

Los Angeles, Tuesday, July 16, 7-9 p.m., Griffith Park Visitor Center Auditorium, near the junction of the Ventura Freeway and I-5.

Bishop, Thursday, July 25, 7-9 p.m., Catholic Church Hall, 849 Home Street.

Sacramento, to be announced.

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