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Officials prepare to embark on 20-year planning process to update forest plan
The Inyo National Forest is embarking on a massive review of every aspect of how the two million acre forest that comprises much of the Eastern Sierra is managed.
Do the trailheads work? Are they over crowded?
Are the campgrounds in good shape, or do they need work?
What is the best way to manage the huge increase in demand for off road vehicle recreation in the forest? For example, much of the technology that allows ATV’s, snowmobiles and other cross country machines access to the rugged back roads of the forest is new since 1988, when the last forest plan was created.
It’s time to revise that plan and last week, residents attended a meeting in Mammoth and one in Bishop to add their input.
Residents had many questions and just as many suggestions.
John Frederickson, long time manager of Crowley Lake Fish Camp and many other similar Eastern Sierra facilities, was one of many who gave the forest planners an earful.
“The forest service doesn’t have its arms around the fish situation,” he said last week. “Fishing is our economy here in the summer. Fish and Game (now the state Department of Fish and Wildlife) is the one we have to follow when it comes to regulations, but I think it’s important that you know what’s going on with fish, too.”
He said he doesn’t know the impacts of the kind of stocking program Fish and Wildlife is doing now by stocking waters with only non-reproductive fish, meaning fish that cannot reproduce.
“It’s really changing and you don’t know it’s changing,” he said. “It’s in response to the bill that put wild-fish rearing a priority and ‘put and take’ fish down the priority list.”
“I’m wondering about Hot Creek,” said Chris Lizza, owner of Lee Vining’s Mono Market. “Maybe if you could allow access to some of Hot Creek again, it would decrease the impact to the rest of the hot tubs out there.”
Forest service officials told Lizza the forest would review the Hot Creek situation, but there were no promises made. The Hot Creek Geological Area has been closed to bathing for several years, after increased geological activity pushed the Inyo National Forest to limit public access due to fears of liability.
Access was another big issue that came up at the meeting—especially access via the roads that have been removed in the past few years after the forest embarked on its “travel management” plan.
New and emerging trends are other issues forest officials plan to review.
According to Marty Hornick, the acting public affairs officer with the forest, there has been a big shift in the number of people who use the backcountry for overnight trips compared to the number of day users, which has increased dramatically.
Other, less tangible things like social and economic issues, are also required to be updated and revised for the new plan.
For example, the economic and social impact of closing June Mountain Ski Area, leased under a permit from the Inyo, is just one example of how using federal lands—or closing off access to them—can seriously impact human communities and individuals.
The process is expected to take several years and will include many more public meetings and involve many opportunities to add input. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analysis will be done before it is over, with a final plan expected to be out in about two to three years.
The next meeting is scheduled on April 4 in Bishop. The public is invited to attend.
If you want to know more:
What: Technical workshop on new forest plan
Where: Bishop, Inyo National Forest Supervisors Office, 351 Pacu Lane
For more information: Contact Susan Joyce at 760-873-2516 or firstname.lastname@example.org.