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Hunter Thompson
Hunter Thompson

Hard Times At Sequoia State Park

Most people who travel to these parks come in summer. Temperatures in the sequoia groves are comfortable and offer a break from the heat in the foothills. Reservations are strongly recommended for summer camping and lodging.

Hard Times at Sequoia State Park

When it begins to snow, sequoia groves are snowy, peaceful, and cold, and rangers offer free outdoor activities. The timing of our snowfall varies widely and can be difficult to predict. Tire chains can be required along park roads at any time. In the foothills, temperatures are cool and ideal for hiking. Hillsides are green and decked with wildflowers starting as early as January. Solitude is abundant.

It really depends on their experience level. If they're brand new to it, maybe take it incrementally. If you're new to hiking, start on some trails at a local park and work your way up to longer trails at a state park. Make sure that the footwear you have works for you, and if it's not, try something else. From there, you might rent a cabin or a platform tent at an adventure resort for a few nights and incrementally going up from there. There are all sorts of different trail clubs and mountain clubs around the country who will teach you a lot of these skills.

Yeah, my first thought is you don't always have to go big. We have this incredible system of national parks. We've got Forest Service land, BLM land, and all the state parks. I often see people gravitate to the biggest one or what they think is the best one. This is why so many of our visitors go to a handful of national parks when there's all those other amazing parks out there. I think of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky as an incredible and entirely different experience. It's all cave based, of course. One of the great things about that park is you can go any time of the year because once you get underground, it's always 57 degrees. It could be 110 up top or it could be blowing sleet sideways, but then you get down below and you're a comfortable 57.

So yeah, keep an eye out for all those other places. There are numerous national parks that aren't getting that crazy visitation that Yosemite, Yellowstone, and all those big guys are. Consider the entire breadth of your options with state opportunities and city parks. A lot of cities have a fantastic trail or park system counties. Again, the Forest Service and BLM, there's so much out there to explore. Don't always just think of what's the biggest or so-called best, because they're all amazing.

Not long after logging started to become intense about 100 years ago, the first public efforts to preserve the redwoods began. The first state redwood park was established in 1902, and the Muir Woods National Monument was dedicated five years later.

Many Sierra Club members fondly recall William O. Douglas, the late Supreme Court Justice and member of the Club's Board of Directors, for his ringing argument that "trees should have standing," the right to be represented in court. Unfortunately, Douglas' argument was made in a dissent, not a majority opinion. Although the Club was ultimately successful in Sierra Club v. Morton in blocking the Disney Corporation's efforts to build a ski resort at Mineral King (now part of Sequoia National Park), it was allowed to intervene only because its members hiked in Mineral King. The valley itself--its trees, streams, and wildlife--was denied standing. Courts exist to resolve disputes among human beings, the majority ruled, not between humans and trees. To this day, environmental groups go to court on behalf of their members, not the wild places they seek to save. (The Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund did include an endangered Hawaiian bird, the palila, as a plaintiff in a lawsuit several years ago, but was careful to include humans as well.)Some nonhumans, however, are welcome in U.S. courts. In 1886, the Supreme Court declared corporations to be "legal persons" under the law. Corporations were granted not only standing to sue, but virtually the full range of rights granted to people. For example, corporations are allowed to spend unlimited sums to defeat environmental initiatives, because campaign spending limitations have been ruled to interfere with their right to free speech. Like people, corporations cannot be restricted in their ability to acquire other businesses (except within the increasingly ignored boundaries of the Sherman Antitrust Act). In an effort to preserve family farms, for instance, some states barred corporations from owning farms--only to have those prohibitions struck down by the courts. In another famous dissent, Justice Douglas argued that the decision to make corporations persons under the law was "without logic, history, or rationale." In early America, state legislatures could both grant charters to corporations and revoke or limit their rights. But by the end of the 19th century, an era in which federal courts consistently sided with powerful economic interests, corporations were given full constitutional rights--while their actual human owners and directors were absolved of liability for their debts and responsibility for their actions. Limiting liability is, after all, the primary purpose of the corporate form--hence the British shorthand for a corporation, "Ltd." There is little else that is limited about corporations, however. Since they exist to maximize profits (shareholders can sue them if they don't), they are compelled by their nature to grow and grow, consuming more natural resources and encouraging more consumption. This has made them major obstacles to the defense of clean air and water and the preservation of wildlife habitat. It's time for environmentalists to join the debate on the proper function of these economic machines in a democratic society. The destructive role of unchecked corporations is amply demonstrated in Russell Mokhiber's Sierra Club book, Corporate Crime and Violence (1988). And the people are ready to listen: a June poll for the Preamble Center for Public Policy revealed a striking increase in public anger at corporate behavior, with seven out of ten Americans blaming corporate greed for layoffs, declining wages, and the economic problems of the middle class. How can we make these gigantic economic engines accountable for their actions? Rejecting the concept that they deserve the same constitutional rights as individuals would be a powerful first step. Environmentalists should urge closer scrutiny and more effective regulation of corporations, in their overall behavior and governance as well as their environmental performance. Society should treat them as what they are--forms of business organization, not individuals.At the very least, we should remember William O. Douglas and treat the natural world as well as we treat fictitious entities. True, trees are not people--but neither are Exxon or DuPont. One can certainly argue whether grizzly bears ought to have particular rights--voting seems inappropriate--but it is hard to argue that corporations deserve the protections accorded to living, breathing individuals while entire ecosystems lack the legal standing to be represented in our courts. If we're going to grant standing to fictitious entities, we could make the law a more reliable protector of everyone's long-range interests by opening the courthouse doors to the salmon and the sequoia. By doing so, we might even see Justice Douglas' vision translated from the text of his dissents to the fabric of our society. Carl Pope is the executive director of the Sierra Club. He can be reached by e-mail at

Explore the magnificent Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park on this 6-day hiking tour. Expert guides will take you on some of the best hikes in the park, from the heights of Alta Peak to the giant sequoia forests.

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WHITE HOUSE: Lands Legacy Gains GroundThe Clinton-Gore years sprang to life with a flurry of inaugural balls, 11in all, and none was a more hopeful occasion for liberals than thefirst-ever Environmental Ball. There, in the Sequoia Restaurant, Bill andHillary Clinton mingled with some 2,000 committed Greens."Carbon emissions is going to become an issue again," Lester R.Brown of Worldwatch Institute predicted confidently. Newly sworn-in VicePresident Al Gore, Earth's most prominent critic of carbon emissions,seconded that sentiment, adding, "I need your help when the choicecomes between the hard right decision and the easy wrong decision for ourcountry." The rapture was especially sweet for those whose passion isprotecting the wilderness and conserving public lands in the vast AmericanWest.Was the environmentalists' faith in Clinton and Gore well-founded? On theissue of global warming, not much has happened that environmentalistspraise, but on the more emotional and, for millions of Americans, moreimmediate issue of Western lands, President Clinton is working feverishlyto protect tracts of federal lands so vast that his efforts will put himin the pantheon of the most ambitious conservation-minded Presidents-alist that includes Theodore Roosevelt and Jimmy Carter.On Feb. 17, 1993-less than a month after his inauguration-Clinton unveileda budget that proposed raising $1 billion over five years from royaltiesmade on Western land use. The grazing fee on federal lands, then $1.86 permonth per cow, would be tripled. The royalty on minerals such as gold andsilver would go from nothing to 12.5 percent, the figure for offshore oil.As for logging on federal land, the U.S. Forest Service announced that itwould no longer subsidize logging operations that cost the government morein road-building than it reaped in timber royalties-meaning some 58percent of logging. "I see us as the department of theenvironment," Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt explained in a speechin his home state of Arizona.Clinton urged Congress not to pick his economic proposal apart. But then,following the lead of Democratic Senators from the West who were guided byMontana's Max Baucus, the White House backed off the wholepackage.That was the wake-up call to the environmental community. "I don'tthink I've ever seen a white flag get put up so fast," said MichaelFrancis, the director of the Wilderness Society's forest program. A fewdays later, Clinton and Gore sought a middle ground on the spotted-owlissue. Their solution-Gore was the driving force behind it-gave thelogging companies some timber rights while preserving some of Oregon'sold-growth forests.Still reeling from the grazing and mining capitulation, environmentalleaders were suspicious. In hindsight, they told one another, we shouldhave paid more attention back in December, before the Administration tookoffice, when Gore vowed to block the opening of a polluting, $160 millionhazardous-waste incinerator in Ohio-but was overruled by Clinton. Or theyshould have listened to the grousing of some of their young staffers whowondered why they had to pay $125 a ticket to an inaugural"environmental" ball sponsored by such outfits as the AmericanMining Congress and Waste Management."We heard that one loud and clear," Robert Dewey, the Defendersof Wildlife's vice president for government relations, says of the grazingand mining retreat. The environmental community decided it would have tocajole and bolster this new Administration-or else be content with happymemories of the Environmental Ball.These days, environmentalists tend to think of Clinton's first twoyears-the only time he had a Democratic majority in Congress-as the wastedyears, when initiatives that required congressional action failed becausethe White House couldn't muster the support. "They had goodintentions, but failed to deliver," says Daniel J. Weiss, thepolitical director for the Sierra Club. "In the overall eight years,though, what they've managed to do is rather profound. And if you put itinto a political environment-they've been dealing with a hostileCongress-what they've managed to accomplish is a stunningachievement."That hostility only increased after the 1994 GOP takeover of Congress. Butthen came phase two of Clinton's record on Western lands.Instead of pushing for new initiatives, the Clinton White House beganplaying defense, primarily against unwelcome riders attached toappropriations bills. Here, too, it took Clinton a while to learn thegame. In the summer of 1995, he signed an appropriations bill thatcontained a rider inserted by Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash. The rider wasadvertised as allowing loggers to salvage trees already damaged by fire orbug infestations. In reality, the measure reopened old-growth forests toaggressive logging, even of healthy trees, in tracts that theAdministration itself had set aside for protection. Clinton knew what themeasure would lead to, but apparently hoped it would help him politicallyin economically depressed towns. Instead, liberals in pro-Clinton areaswere incensed. When he visited Seattle, Clinton was met by more than athousand protesters infuriated over the clear-cutting of 1 million acresof public lands.It was a mistake Clinton never made again. In 1995, he shut down thegovernment rather than accept a spending bill that would have opened upthe Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. "He found hisstride opposing some of these environmental riders," Deweysays.As he did so, it became evident to White House pollsters and operativesthat Clinton's defense of the environment was a winner politically. In his1996 campaign, Clinton made it a signature tactic. Bringing out ofmothballs a 1906 law called the Antiquities Act, the President stood onthe spectacular South Rim of the Grand Canyon and, with a stroke of a pen,designated some 1.7 million acres of Utah land a nationalmonument.The Utah land, now known as the Grand Staircase-Escalante NationalMonument, is home to American Indian art carved into canyon walls, cliffdwellings, and other artifacts. But the real prize, some cynics pointedout, would be the electoral votes in Arizona.If this was Clinton's strategy, it succeeded. In 1992, Clinton andGore-both Southerners-broke the Republicans' so-called Electoral Collegelock by carrying the Western states of California, Oregon, and Washingtonand by stealing Colorado, Montana, Nevada and the bellwether state of NewMexico as well. In 1996, they held the West Coast but lost Colorado andMontana, in part over mining and grazing. They offset that loss by addingArizona to their side. Something else happened that day at the GrandCanyon, according to well-placed sources in the environmental community:Clinton loved the feeling of setting aside that land, and relished thefact that he didn't need to talk to any Republicans or members of Congressto do it."He was using his own tools of authority instead of working throughthe frustrating congressional process," says Rindy O'Brien, the vicepresident for policy at the Wilderness Society. "It really geared himto use his legacy powers."This tactic defined phase three: legislating essentially by executiveorder. Clinton has used the Antiquities Act to set aside 328,000 acres ofsensitive land in Sequoia National Forest in California. Last week,Babbitt sent Clinton information on four more sites, in Arizona, Colorado,Oregon, and Washington, totaling some 550,000 acres. If Clinton goes aheadwith the preservation-and no one doubts he will-he will have used the lawto set aside nearly 4 million acres of Western land at 10 sites, includinga 1 million-acre expansion of Grand Canyon National Park itself.Other Clinton actions praised by preservationists include:* His support and 1994 signing of the California Desert Bill, whichdesignated about one-third of California's 25 million-acre Mojave Desertas wilderness.* A land swap in 1996 that precluded a Canadian mining conglomerate fromopening a controversial gold mine upstream from Yellowstone NationalPark.* The reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone in 1994.* His support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which Clintoncalls his Lands Legacy. It designates $900 million a year from offshoreoil royalties for environmental cleanup and protection.* An ongoing review by the Forest Service to see which national forestareas can be designated roadless. A draft recently recommended banningroad construction on some 43 million acres currently without roads. The 16million-acre Tongass National Forest in Alaska was not included, however.Gore said two weeks later that he wants the Tongass included, along with aban on logging there. Texas Gov. George W. Bush suggested the Clinton planwent too far; his criticism put Clinton in the middle and highlighted thefact that Clinton has managed to ensure his relevance right up untilElection Day-or maybe beyond."There's a lot of mischief they can do before they shut out thelights and close the doors," says Melinda Pierce, a Sierra Clublobbyist. She laughs as she says it. She believes she knows what iscoming: The President plans to designate the Arctic National WildlifeRefuge as a national monument under the Antiquities Act. That just mightsolidify his reputation. Four years ago, when the President went to theGrand Canyon, Robert Redford was there to watch him. Redford had mentionedGrand Staircase to Clinton three years earlier and then never heard a wordabout it until a few days before the event at the South Rim.A reporter at the event asked Redford if he considered Clinton a goodenvironmentalist. The famous actor smiled and replied, "He istoday."Carl M. CannonNational Journal 2 of 3 results Previous Story Next Story Back to Results List var axel = Math.random() + "";var ord = axel * 1000000000000000000;jump=" ;sz=468x60;tile=1;ord="+ord;src= " ;sz=468x60;tile=1;ord="+ord;document.writeln('');document.writeln(''); 041b061a72

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