Mule Operations and Stock Use
The National Park Service (NPS) approved a stock use plan January 5, 2011, that allows commercial mule rides to continue at historically high levels in Grand Canyon National Park, but limits rides on some inner canyon trails that have been damaged by mule use. Private stock use remains unchanged from current use levels.
The stock use plan was formally adopted by the NPS with the signing of a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) by Intermountain Regional Director John Wessels. The plan adopted by the NPS was among five alternatives analyzed in an Environmental Assessment issued by Grand Canyon National Park for public review and comment in May 2010. The purpose of the EA was to examine environmental impacts associated with commercial, private and administrative stock use – guided by the following objectives:
• Provide opportunities for mule and stock use within Grand Canyon National Park to as large a cross section of visitors as practicable.
• Establish appropriate levels and types of stock use (i.e. number of stock per day, group size) on park trails that will allow for improved maintenance and reduced resource impacts and costs associated with trail maintenance.
• Through improved maintenance and operations, reduce conflicts between stock users and hikers on park trails.
• Identify optimal stock facility locations, including associated infrastructure size and locations for improving health, safety and overall visitor experience.
The stock use plan will help Grand Canyon address the impact of heavy, continuous use and limited trail maintenance funds on the park's 42 miles of corridor trails – the three main routes into the inner canyon.
For more information, refer to the press release and FONSI by selecting "Document List" on the left side of this page.
Rachel Bennett, Environmental Protection Specialist, 928-638-7326