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Forest road closures, updated status, focus of tonight's public meeting in Bishop

May 31, 2012

The controversial process of closing some of the roads in the Inyo National Forest in entering its second year this summer, and the forest will hold another meeting this week to answer questions and update the public about the plan.

The meeting is Thursday, May 31 in Bishop (see below for more details).

Although the federally mandated process on the Inyo was done collaboratively over the course of several year, beginning in the early 2000s, and included groups ranging from wilderness advocates to OHV users, the sight of some roads being closed last year triggered some controversy and forest service officials say the two meetings are a chance for the public to get updated on the process.

The process of planning for this mandated "Motorized Travel Management" decision began about eight years ago in response to tremendous growth in off-highway vehicle recreation on public lands across the country, according to Inyo National Forest officials. The goal of motorized travel management is to develop and maintain a sustainable system of routes that provide an array of motorized recreation opportunities and access to recreation destinations, as well as provide for protection for natural and cultural resources in the area. Through the development and maintenance of designated motorized routes, the Inyo National Forest provides over 2350 miles of motorized recreation trails and roads, and motorized access to premier non-motorized recreational activities such as hiking, biking, climbing and fishing. Approximately 2,200 miles are open to non-highway legal vehicles.

Over the last two years, the Forest Service has been physically implementing a variety of actions directed by the 2009 decision. Implementation includes signing system roads and trails, general maintenance and repairs, as well as the blocking, signing and/or disguising of unauthorized routes that were not added to the system. These efforts should reduce confusion and improve the experience for travelers on the Forest’s roads and trails. Additionally, many routes added to the motorized system require some kind of mitigation, such as stabilization, drainage work, and seasonal gates or reroutes intended to reduce the effects of motorized use on natural or cultural resources.

This work is being accomplished by many different crews including Forest Service engineering crews, trail crews, and resource specialists. There has also been substantial help from volunteers and local groups such as Friends of the Inyo and the Eastern Sierra Four-Wheel-Drive Club. Much of the work has been funded by grants from the California Off -Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division.

At the public meeting, forest service staff will describe and answer questions about the last two years of implementation, as well as the work that is planned for this upcoming summer season.

If you have a need for any special accommodations to be able to attend either of these meetings, or for more information, please contact Public Affairs Officer Nancy Upham at 760-873-2427.

IF YOU GO:

Thursday, May 31, Bishop, Inyo National Forest Supervisor’s Office Conference Rm.,
351 Pacu Lane (behind the DMV), 6:30-8:00 pm

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