Winter Travel Management
Inyo National Forest
Inyo National Forest (INF) announced the begining of a process to manage over snow vehicle (OSV) use in February, 2016, and held a pre-scoping meeting in Mammoth Lakes on February 23. They have now cancelled that process until the Forest Plan Revision process, currently underway, has been completed. They still have their project page active on the Forest Service website, however.
The Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forest have published a joint Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for a Land Management Plan Revision process, and each forest has published a Draft Revised Forest Plan. The project web page may be found here. Comments on these plans are due Aug 25.
Snowlands has submitted comments that reject all four alternatives presented in the DEIS. None of the alternatives or draft plans adequately address winter recreation, and none offer a reasonable attempt at recommending new wilderness areas.
Part of each plan is a map of Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) areas, which shows the recreational environment forest visitors can expect, and also indicates where motorized recreation should be allowed and where it should be prohibited. While not an enforceable document, subsequent Travel Planning decisions are supposed to be consistent with the final ROS map.
The ROS maps published with the DEIS reflect summer usage and development patterns (roads, facilities, etc.), which are not applicable in winter. Snowlands recommends that the Forest Service develop a separate Winter ROS map upon which Winter Travel Management may be based.
The preferred alternative (Alternative B) only recommends 37,029 acres of wilderness in Inyo NF and none at all for Sequoia and Sierra. Alternative C recommends 743,076 acres of new wilderness in all three forests, but includes some areas important to some recreationists such as mountain biking and rock climbing. Snowlands would like to see an alternative that takes a middle ground between these two alternatives with regard to recommending new wilderness areas.
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