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High temperatures combined with a light snowpack will allow for an early start to plowing area roads this spring, the Inyo National Forest announced in a news release on Tuesday, April 16.
The Town of Mammoth Lakes was to begin plowing roads in the Mammoth Lakes Basin on Wednesday, April 17, while Caltrans will begin plowing to the Minaret Vista at the end of April.
Town crews will begin plowing into Reds Meadow Valley soon after that, according to Marty Hornick, the Inyo’s acting pubic affairs officer.
The Forest Service is working with the Town to open Mammoth Lakes Basin before the fishing opener on April 27, Hornick said.
After the roads are plowed, warm weather is needed to melt icecaps from the road surface and to melt back parking areas and road intersections.
The opening dates of the roads for vehicles will depend on snow, ice and road conditions. The Lakes Basin will be open to pedestrians, but not vehicles while the roads are being plowed.
Visitors should avoid areas where equipment is operating. Keep as far away as possible and be sure that the operator can see you if you need to pass by. Visitors should stay aware of hazards in the area, such as wind damaged trees and soft lake ice that is particularly dangerous during this season.
Cross country ski operations at Tamarack Lodge ended on Tuesday, April 16. Plowing was scheduled to begin the following day.
Hornick warned that because “very limited snowpack and dangerous lake ice conditions,” snowmobiling opportunities in the Lakes Basin will be scarce this year.
He said the use of snowmobiles in the Lakes Basin after this week is not encouraged due to poor conditions and potential conflicts with plowing operations.
“Snowmobilers are reminded that it is their responsibility to know where snowmobiling is legal, and to keep away from developed recreation areas, campgrounds and buildings to avoid damage to these facilities,” Hornick said.
Meanwhile, the Forest Service will be working to prepare the Reds Meadow Valley for opening by Memorial Day Weekend.
Once the road is plowed, road repairs must be made and hazard trees removed. The Forest Service expects this work to take only a couple of weeks, barring any unforeseen circumstances, and intends to open the Reds Meadow area and facilities to public access by Saturday, May 25.
For more information, please call the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center at 760-924-5500 or visit the Welcome Center at 2510 S.R. 203 next to the Mammoth Ranger Station, or visit the Inyo National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/inyo.