Pack station owners serving Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks are breathing easier this week after a federal judge allowed the parks to issue permits for commercial stock use effective immediately.
"We're going full-speed ahead," said Tim Loverin, owner of the Cedar Grove Pack Station. "It's going to be an early season because of the low snowpack, so now that we've got the permits we can finally get going."
Presiding over a 3-year-old lawsuit between the High Sierra Hikers Association and the National Park Service, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg issued a temporary authorization May 23 that set permits for commercial horse packers at 80% of use levels from 2007.
A final written ruling will follow as Sequoia & Kings Canyon officials prepare a wilderness stewardship plan that will establish the extent to which commercial services such as pack stock belong in wilderness areas, which make up 97% of the jointly managed parks.