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RE: [CDT-L] horses and packers


I'm sure you know that pack animals do not have any rights. You will find
very few people, possibly none on this list, with the attitude that people
on horseback with a reasonable amount of camping gear shouldn't be allowed
access to wilderness trails. The true debate is over what type of access and
use should be granted to commercial packers; people who operate private,
for-profit businesses primarily in wilderness areas. 

The debate is over the number of pack animals, the amount of equipment
loaded on each animal and how and when they are allowed to travel. The
debate is over the huge semi-permanent camps where trees are cleared, where
there are huge fire rings, benches and picnick tables. The debate is over
pack animals that are allowed to over graze high elevation meadows,  alter
the composition of plant species, tear up the ground and expose tree roots
in fragile lakeside riparian areas and spread non-native grasses and noxious
weeds.  The debate is over the churned mudholes that characterise the
gateway trails to the Bob Marshall Wilderness and the 18 parallel tracks
across the meadows south of Two Ocean Pass in the Teton Wilderness.
Ulimately, the debate is over the effect that a multitude of animals has on
a fragile resource funded and owned by the public, all of us. These are all
very specific things that all of us have seen with our own eyes.

Oh, by the way, glad to hear you've decided to stick with the list. As your
post emphasizes, the politics of land-use is intimately intertwined with
wilderness and trails.

Mark Dixon

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