The High Sierra Hikers Association (HSHA) is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization formed in 1991 by a handful of concerned hikers. The HSHA now represents thousands of hikers from throughout the United States.
We are concerned that the management agencies in the High Sierra are heavily biased in favor of commercial interests such as horse & mule packers, cattle & sheep grazers, and mining companies. These interests exploit, debase, and pollute our cherished national lands for private gain—to the detriment of those of us on foot, and at great cost to the public.
While the Sierra Club and other conservation groups have moved on to national and global issues, the wilderness of the Sierra Nevada continues to suffer at the hands of commercial interests and under the hooves of too many horses, mules, cattle, and sheep. Commercial mule packers, livestock grazers, and mining companies are well organized, have high-priced legal help, and essentially have had things their own way for decades. We don't aim to ban these activities; we seek only reasonable limits and controls to protect meadows, wildlife, water quality, and the experience of wilderness visitors.
We are also very concerned about other threats affecting hikers, such as the unfairness of current wilderness quotas and permit systems, the disruption of the natural quiet caused by increasingly common military training overflights, and inadequate funding for trail repair and maintenance.
What We Do
To influence the policies of the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, we urge hikers to write to decision-makers regarding current management issues. Our members have a wide range of views about these issues, and we always encourage them to express their own true opinions. Our role is to educate and inform our members (and the public-at-large) about current issues, and let them know when it's time to be heard.
Since it was formed in 1991, the HSHA has had many successes. We have many times mobilized our members to protect High Sierra wilderness and the interests of hikers. During the 1990s, we stopped plans by the Inyo National Forest to upgrade primitive east-side trails (such as Taboose and Sawmill passes) to full-blown "stock standards." In 1994, we sued the National Park Service for increasing the stock animal limit at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (SEKI) from 20 to 25 animals per group. We won that suit, and the court threw out the increase. In 2000, (only as a last resort, after years of unsuccessful negotiations with the Forest Service and commercial packers) we sued the Inyo and Sierra national forests to stop their plans to more than double commercial packstock enterprises throughout the John Muir and Ansel Adams wildernesses. And in 2009—after the Park Service broke numerous promises to address issues related to unlimited commercial uses at SEKI—we sued the Park Service for failing to impose any upper limits on commercial packstock operations.
Today, we continue to review government plans and policies, and to challenge decisions that compromise the quality and integrity of the High Sierra for the benefit of special interests. And we continue to seek reasonable limits and controls to protect the High Sierra so it may be enjoyed by all users, present and future.
Give yourself a voice by joining the HSHA. But please note that the HSHA is an all-volunteer organization. There is no paid staff and no office. We are often too busy addressing current issues to respond to detailed inquiries. If you want to stay informed and make a difference by writing letters to the right people at the right times, the HSHA is for you. If you want to be pampered by the kinds of services provided by the large, national conservation organizations, we're probably not for you.
Our mailing list is confidential. We will not sell, loan, trade, or otherwise provide your name or address to anyone. We do not put your money in our pockets. All donations are used exclusively for expenses such as paper, printing, and postage, and occasionally for research and legal expenses when lawsuits or other legal action become necessary.
Are you fed up with wading through manure on churned-up trails? Disgusted by the trampled meadows and trashed campsites in the High Sierra? Sickened by the knowledge that livestock defecate and urinate in the streams and lakes from which we drink? Angry that this pollution and destruction is caused by entrenched self-interests that profit from their use of public land? If so, join the many hundreds of concerned hikers who make up the HSHA.