Horse packing in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks is on hold because a San Francisco judge says the parks are violating the federal Wilderness Act.
The issue percolated for years before exploding last month, leaving packers one chance in May to forestall a ban that many say will cripple their industry.
Wednesday, Rep. Devin Nunes stoked the fire by blaming the Obama administration for caving to environmentalists and not pushing for a compromise.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon Superintendent Karen Taylor-Goodrich wrote in a March 12 letter to 16 pack stations that no permits would be issued until the matter is resolved in federal court.
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U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg, presiding over a 3-year-old lawsuit between the High Sierra Hikers Association and the National Park Service, has set a May 23 hearing to determine the next step.
On Jan. 24, Seeborg ruled the National Park Service violated the Wilderness Act because its 2007 general management plan for Sequoia & Kings Canyon does not specifically determine to what extent commercial stock are necessary in wilderness areas.
More than 97% of Sequoia & Kings Canyon's jointly managed 865,964 acres are designated wilderness and thus protected from development and overuse by the Wilderness Act of 1964.