Trail Talk


We have a soft spot in our hearts for the ineptly named, but highly effective, committee that has been put in charge of the Mammoth Lakes Trails System.

Against long odds, the so-called Mammoth Lakes Trails System Coordinating Committee (MLTSCC) has taken one central idea—all of us want great trails around here—and created a vision on behalf of at least 21 separate user groups.

Any attempt to circumvent this young committee’s work would be ill advised, particularly at a time when a resurgent Mammoth has embarked on its spring and summer recreation programming.

Yet there are rumblings, from both the Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation, and from at least one member of the Recreation Commission, to take a good thing and fiddle with it.

Their idea is to form a nonprofit, non-governmental organization, an NGO, to manage all our recreation in Mammoth, from the pool to the track, from the trails to the ballfields, and so on. (See Page 2 for more details about this proposal.)

Both the town staff and Mammoth District Forest Ranger Jon Regelbrugge had whipsaw reactions against such a notion, and rightly so.

First of all, there has never been a time when the Forest Service and the Town of Mammoth Lakes have been so joined at the hip. Many hours and effort have been logged, so to speak, by both Regelbrugge and the forest’s recreation specialist Jon Kazmierski.

By May 1, if everything goes right, the Town Council will sign off on a Memorandum of Understanding with the forest, cementing a deal that spells out precisely who is responsible for doing what, and where.

It is an unprecedented step forward, but then again, Mammoth has a history of making these kinds of cooperative agreements.

As put forward in a fascinating document by the MLTPA’s leader, John Wentworth, there have been 71 partnered efforts on behalf of our trails since 2006.

The partners have included such diverse groups as the Sherwin Area Recreation Plan Trails Technical Committee, the Chadmar Group, the Westin Monache Resort, the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association, the National Forest Foundation, the Plum Family and other assorted groups.

Once working independently toward the same overall goal, Mammoth’s trails vision was in a constant state of diffusion.

Finally, we have a single committee to handle the shared vision, and it starts from the top, i.e. the Inyo National Forest. Kazmierski sits on the committee, as do representatives from a number of different mega-groups. These would include the Town of Mammoth Lakes’ recreation department (Stuart Brown), its recreation commission (Sean Turner and Bill Sauser), along with longtime planning specialist Bill Taylor, and citizen activist Sandy Hogan.

To sit in on one of the committee’s meetings is a revelation in terms of how it attempts to combine long-range vision with short-term projects, and we’d recommend attending any of their meetings to any citizen who cares about our forest trails.

Maybe, in the long run, it won’t work out. But we have a hunch that it will, and we’d advise anybody and everybody to not stand in the doorway or block up the hall.

The times, they are a-changing.