Programmatic Categorical Exclusion for Commercial and Administrative Stock Use
This programmatic Categorical Exclusion (CE) serves as a programmatic record for routine commercial and administrative stock use in Yosemite National Park. This CE is in accordance with the NPS Management Policies (2006), Endangered Species Act (1973), Director's Order 77 (Natural Resources Protection), Code of Federal Regulations Title 36, and the Superintendent's Compendium.
The following activities are covered by this programmatic CE. Activities not listed, but similar in scope and scale, may be covered with Compliance Office approval.
• The use of horses, burros, mules, and llamas (packstock) for day and overnight trips into the Yosemite Wilderness
• The handling, holding, transit, and feeding/grazing of packstock in Yosemite wilderness.
• Administrative stock use to transport gear, food, or other materials to/from wilderness locations in support of NPS operations
• The issuance of annual Commercial Use Authorizations (CUAs).
Commercial pack stock use provides "for-hire" riding and packing services, as well as spot and dunnage trips. Like other businesses that operate within the park, commercial outfitters are required to have a CUA permit and obtain wilderness permits. Commercial outfitters must use formal trails and designated stock camping/ grazing sites approved by the NPS. CUA permits and requirements specified in the Superintendent's Compendium are issued annually and reviewed each year by park staff. Commercial use may also be authorized through a concession contract. The park concessioner offers stock for hire as part of organized, guided trips and provides supplies to the High Sierra Camps they manage. The NPS issues annual CUAs to commercial stock users to authorize commercial packing activities within the park for the summer season (start dates are dependent on weather and trail conditions); CUAs expire after October 31 annually. Commercial stock outfitters (holders) are required to obtain a CUA each year prior to bringing clients and pack stock into Yosemite National Park. The CUA allows holders to provide guided day rides, full service pack trips, and/or pack support trips for backpackers with the use of pack stock. In addition, holders are authorized to work under contract with the National Park Service to provide stock services for administrative purposes. Holders are required to originate and terminate pack trips outside of the park boundary, unless authorized by the Superintendent. Holders are required to use approved sites for commercial stock use when travelling overnight in the wilderness; each consists of an access route, fire ring, holding area, and often grazing area(s). Holders are regulated by the terms and conditions of the CUA which is administered and managed by the Yosemite National Park, Commercial Use Office in conjunction with the Yosemite Wilderness Office. Each permit holder is limited to a maximum number of annual visitor use nights and stock nights.
Administrative stock users are employed or contracted by the NPS. Stock is used in the administrative capacity to assist with park duties, including mounted wilderness patrol, trail construction and maintenance, backcountry utilities, search and rescue, fire management, and monitoring/ research project support. The locations and magnitude of administrative stock use vary based on the needs of park management.
The park is evaluating best management practices through a Pack Stock Use and Meadow Monitoring Framework to better inform management decisions. Required information and appendices are found in Title 36 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations), the Yosemite Pack Stock Use and Meadow Monitoring Framework and on-line at the park's website.
Administrative stock use performed under this CE must follow standard avoidance/minimization/mitigation measures and Standard Operating Procedures (Refer to the current SOP's for programmatic categorical exclusions found on Sharepoint at Project Management/Compliance Branch/Programmatic CEs).
This document will be reviewed annually to determine if any updates are needed. Any new activities, significant changes in the technology or scope of work, or amendments to this CE trigger consultation with the Compliance Office, Business and Revenue Management, Resources Management and Science and Visitor and Resource Protection.