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The discovery of geothermal energy literally right below the Shady Rest Park area has only complicated an already very complicated issue in Mammoth â€“ how best to utilize one of Mammothâ€™s favorite locations.
The Shady Rest area includes the park and surrounding forest service land. About two years ago, with the discovery of geothermal energy under the site, the area opened up via a plowed road as far back as the park itself, allowing access to the geothermal developments and adding yet another demand to the already highly used area.
The bottom line is that the Shady Rest area is literally in danger of being loved to death, with locals and visitors alike piling into the area to cross-country ski, snowmobile, walk dogs, hike, mountain bike, walk, snowshoe, skate ski.
As a consequence, some conflicts between users, especially motorized and non-motorized users, have occurred over time, making the area something of a flash point for Mammothâ€™s recreation plans.
So when the forest service (which manages the area) got a sizable grant this year to plan a long-term trail head for the site, with the goal of finding a long term solution for both winter and summer users and both motorized and non-motorized users, the timing could not have been better.
The effort kicked off this week, at a Thursday night meeting in Mammoth (right after the Mammoth Times went to press) and will continue for two more meetings in the next four weeks, both in Mammoth.
The planning process is designed to address year-round motorized use while considering the needs of non-motorized users and the potential impact of proposed geothermal development, according to the forest service.
The forest service hopes that the outcome of the planning process is to design, review, and approve the development of a new motorized staging area, according to the projectâ€™s lead, recreation officer John Kazmierski, Inyo National Forest.
The planning process will begin with a series of public meetings as noted below.
Information from the public meetings will be used to help develop a proposed action released to the public.
At a later date, the National Environmental Policy Act and the California Environmental Quality Act will trigger extensive environmental review and analysis and extensive public comment periods.