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
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
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.
To be clear, the HSHA does not oppose all stock use in High
Sierra wilderness, as some critics falsely
claim. In fact, many of our members are stock users themselves,
who agree with us that reasonable limits and controls are needed on
all users to protect the magnificent High Sierra wilderness from harm.
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
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
Are you fed up with wading through manure on churned-up trails?
Disgusted by the trampled meadows and trashed campsites in the
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.