Government Mules (real equines, not the band)

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Pat Holscher
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Steve Haupt
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There is this on the West Coast as of a few years ago.
https://www.fs.usda.gov/PackStockCOE
A number of strings pictured here including from the Inyo National Forest.
There is always an entry at the Bishop Mule Days. As well as from Yosemite National Park.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfsregio ... 0034690178

I knew a Packer at Yosemite who would travel into the back country with a string of seven mules and a forester for 7 -10 days maintaining trails.In the winter he would drive a snowplow around the Valley floor. :thumbup:
If I were only younger.
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Steve Haupt
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Pat Holscher
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One of the interesting things here is that the Forest Service relocated this string back to Wyoming. A few years ago, it was placed in Colorado for some reason, but now its back.
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Good to see!
Thank you :D
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Is the pack station just outside of Missoula still operating? I’ve never been there but have passed by the turnoff at Nine Mile many times- sometimes stopping at the tavern there for lunch- which if I recall correctly was once a stage stop.
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Forest Service pack strings used to be funded at local levels (ranger district and forest level), but when needs and funding changed years ago many strings disappeared, with the few remaining ones being funded at the "regional" level, covering multiple states. Today, local ranger districts sometimes have small herds and pack strings run by die-hards or new converts, but when larger projects are involved, the few remaining "specialty" regional pack strings are often called in. The one in Wyoming is what's left of the USFS Region 2 pack string that was disbanded several years ago in a tough change, was based in Lake George, Colorado, with the Shoshone National Forest seeing the value of pack strings and taking the remaining stock and equipment. There is a regional pack string at Trinity Alps in California, and the one you mention, Sandy, at Nine Mile Remount Station in Huson, Montana; I'm not sure there are any more in the country, may be, just don't know - maybe on the Gila NF. The biggest issue for Forest Service (and other land management agencies) use of equine in their work is the scarcity of employees with equine experience (or the desire to use or learn how to use equine) versus the plethora of employees who know how to ride a mountain bike or UTV. The value of horses and mules in FS work is sometimes realized for everyday field work, and is particularly noticeable for trail project work in Wilderness and back country work, and in fire fighting work. More and more so the latter as more large fires are seen each year. The relative lower cost of using pack strings to resupply firefighters in the back country versus helicopter use - and the optimal safety issue differences - has caused the FS to grudgingly keep the few remaining major strings going, and luckily places like Nine Mile still exist, where specialized stock use (and other back country skills) training is still conducted, culturing continued interest and skill for at least some stock use in the future.
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Good info. Thanks John.

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FtValleyPS wrote: Sun May 09, 2021 5:23 am The biggest issue for Forest Service (and other land management agencies) use of equine in their work is the scarcity of employees with equine experience (or the desire to use or learn how to use equine) versus the plethora of employees who know how to ride a mountain bike or UTV.
Not really directly related, but in a way it is, the other day I was in the Laramie Range at the 8,000 foot elevation. The road was closed due to snow, which I knew about, which is part of the reason that I was there. I hiked in to do what I had set out to do, which is what I had anticipated.

This put me at a pretty good elevation and high, high above a county road that leads into the area. While up there, I head the sound of UTVs/ATVs and looked out and saw them miles away. At that elevation, the sound really carries, and there were no other unnatural sounds for the most part. The three UTVs really belted out the noise so that anything where I was would have heard them long before they showed up.

To my surprise, while up there, I also heard a human voice and though there must be somebody on foot in the valley below. It turned out to be a mountain biker trying to come up the main county road, again at quite some distance. I only saw one, so he must have been talking to himself. He gave up and turned around.

Horse and foot are not the same, and if I'd had a horse or mule along, it would have been ideal, but I'd departed without a lot of time as it was.
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Apparently the Nine Mile facility offers packing classes, which I'm sure would be good ones.
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