Grand Canyon Trails Damaged by Mules, Says National Park Service

The major form of transportation within the Grand Canyon is causing major erosion problems on the trails, the National Park Service reported Sunday.

Mules carry approximately 26 tourists a day to the bottom of the canyon, but their weight and their hard hooves are damaging the trails, The Arizona Republic reported.

The Park Service is working on an environmental assessment of the mule operations.

Environmental Protection Specialist Rachel Stanton — who is studying budgets, public-opinion comments and erosion studies — told the newspaper the mules can be maintained, but at a price.

“Maintaining the trails uses a lot of our resources, meaning people and money and energy,” she said.

In addition, her report must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 which mandates federal agencies consider environmental values.

Stanton said people who walk the trails don’t do the damage mules do. She said foot traffic tends to compact the surface of the trails.

The National Park Service isn’t ready to pull mules off the trails, but it considering suspending tourist rides and using mules only to carry equipment to the maintenance crews, the newspaper said.

One Response to “Grand Canyon Trails Damaged by Mules, Says National Park Service”
  1. Casey says:

    Come on now. I have ridden those trails every day for twenty years. 15 years ago the trails were fine. Thats when the NPS pretty much quit working on them, and started squandering the money the were allocated for trail maintenance on river trips that last weeks (on the clock) and building bike trials to nowhere throuugh the junipers on the rim. You hardly ever see an NPS trail crew ever inside the canyon anymore… They dropped the ball and now they want to pass the hbuck and blame the mules.
    The trails in the canyon are basically washes, and when a rainstorm comes, it takes neither man nor beast to tear things up. Some of these trails are on a 20% grade. A linear absence of vegetation on a 20 % grade, do the math. Blame the mules-right!
    The NPS used to fix erosion on the trails right away, they dont anymore. The issue is neglect and mismanagement of funding.


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