buttermilk photo cars

A long line of cars, 110 in all (yes, we counted them!), line the road to the Buttermilk climbing area on Labor Day weekend, 2021. This kind of crowding has made managing the growing popularity of the climbing area west of Bishop a top priority for local residents working on the Eastern Sierra's ongoing 'Sustainable Recreation' initiative.

Better campgrounds, Buttermilk climbing rangers and more take center stage 

The Sustainable Recreation and Tourism Initiative, on behalf of the Eastern Sierra Sustainable Recreation Partnership, will be holding a final public meeting to review the accomplishments of the SRTI, including final deliverables and projects, plus an update on what comes next. 

The Sustainable Recreation and Tourism Initiative Virtual Wrap-Up is scheduled to run from 5 – 6:30 p.m. Dec. 8. This will include a presentation with a question-and-answer session to follow. 

The meeting will be held via Zoom. To register, go to essrp.org for the link. 

After gathering and evaluating dozens of ideas during the past several years about how to improve the Eastern Sierra’s recreational and tourism-related offerings, the Sustainable Recreation and Tourism Initiative has come up with an ambitious, final list of seven potential projects. 

The following are brief summaries of the final projects. 

Buttermilk Infrastructure and Recreation Planning Initiative: The popularity and expanded use of the Buttermilk Bouldering area northwest of Bishop would be addressed by creating an infrastructure and recreation plan to improve infrastructure and formalize trails and camping areas and parking. 

Eastern Sierra Campground Improvements: The Inyo National Forest has obtained Great American Outdoors Act funding to complete technical draw­ings and specifications to upgrade and improve the forest’s 22 campgrounds. Completing the actual improvements could take between $19 to $36 million. The ESCOG could be a critical partner to help secure additional private and public funding for the regional campground improvement project. 

Visitor Connection Program: This project’s goal is to communicate and connect with Eastern Sierra “visitors and resi­dents in-person, digitally, and with signage and kiosks.” It would build a regional website, create a regional handbook and training program for frontline employees, coordinate signage and create “a strategic mes­saging plan.” 

Eastern Sierra Connected Communities: Trails Plan. This project would inventory existing trails and trail amenities and seeks to produce a list of projects that would help create a regional trail program on public lands that links all three counties and communities. 

Dispersed Camping Mitigation: Camp Like a Pro. This program has been partially implemented with the development of informational and educational materials describing low-impact camping techniques for dispersed camping on public lands in the Eastern Sierra. Additional digital and analog educational materials and kiosks could be developed along with improving waste management (trash) on public lands. 

Regional Recreation Capacity: This effort essentially assigns the ESCOG as the government entity supporting any ongoing work. The ESCOG can “leverage its position as a regional entity to pursue funding opportunities that may not be accessible to other parties” with more limited reach and jurisdiction. 

Recreation Asset Inventory for Asset Management: The ESCOG would seek funding to implement a “GIS-based asset inventory” that will identify infrastructure that supports the region’s recreation economy. 

For more information, visit www.essrp.org or email srti@mltpa.org.

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