The Inyo National Forest has released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Travel Management Plan (route designations and closures) for public review and comment. The 60-day comment period ends March 31, 2009.
To introduce the proposed plan to the public, the Inyo NF will be holding a series of public meetings. Meetings in Mammoth Lakes, CA Hawthorne, NV Ridgecrest, CA and Bishop, CA have already taken place. However, three additional meetings will be held as follows:
All public meetings will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 pm.
Dyer, NV - Thursday February 19
Dyer Community Center
In addition to the public meetings, Inyo NF will have "Drop-In" sessions where individuals can talk one-on-one with Forest Service personnel. All drop-in session will be from 12 - 4 pm. as follows:
Mammoth Lakes - Tuesday February 17 at the Mammoth Welcome Center
Lone Pine - Wednesday February 18 at the Mt. Whitney Ranger Station
Bishop - Friday February 20 at the Inyo National Forest Supervisors Office
During the workshop portion of each public meeting, as well as the drop-in sessions, there will be an opportunity for people to learn how to best use the CD maps. Members of the public are encouraged to bring their own laptop computers along for instructions on downloading and using the DEIS maps but you must have Adobe Reader version 8 or higher installed on your laptop to view the multi-layer maps.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement and Decision by Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch are expected this summer and a Motor Vehicle Use Map is scheduled for release by the end of 2009.
The DEIS and maps on compact disc can be requested via e-mail at email@example.com
, (please include "Information Request" in the subject line); or by calling 760-873-2449
The DEIS and maps can also be downloaded from the Inyo NF website athttp://www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo/project...es/index.shtml
Paper Maps will be available (for onsite viewing only) at the Inyo National Forest Supervisors Office on Pacu Lane in Bishop, the Mammoth Public Library, the Mono Lake Committee Visitor Center in Lee Vining, the Mt. Whitney Ranger station in Lone Pine, and the BLM office in Ridgecrest. A USFS news release with instruction for submitting comments is available at http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo/news/20...vel-mgmt.shtml
For more information please call Nancy Upham at 760-873-2427.
COMMENTARY AND SUGGESTED INITIAL COMMENTS
The 60-day comment period ending on March 31, 2009 is far too short for the public to provide meaningful comments on site-specific routes.
The Forest Service has taken over four years to develop this DEIS and to now expect the public to review and comment on this extensive document in 60 days is unreasonable. In addition, the winter season and deep snow in the higher elevation areas of the forest prevents the public from on-the-ground inspection of the specific routes involved in this proposal. The 60-day comment period is arbitrary and capricious and there is no urgency or pressing issues that require such a short time for the public to review the document. Finally, the Sequoia National Forest has simultaneously released their Travel Management Plan with only a 60-day comment period and that increases the burden on the local public who recreate on both Forests in such close proximity. Therefore, it is important for the interested public to immediately make formal written requests that the Forest Service extend the public comment period to 180 days.
The explanation of the alternatives within the DEIS is extremely confusing and very misleading. The public reviewing this document must keep in mind that the so-called "No Action" alternative DOES NOT reflect the
existing conditions involving on-the-ground routes currently being legally used by the public. The "No Action" alternative in this case is based on an obscure and never implemented or enforced map/plan published in 1977. The map/plan, "The Interagency Motor Vehicle Use Map, October 1977" was once distributed by the Forest Service but it has not been printed or made available to the public for many years.
The problem with using the 1977 map/plan is that the Inyo NF asserts that if a road is not shown on this map
it DOESN'T EXIST as part of the existing forest travel system. However, when the 1977 map/plan was printed much of the Inyo NF was designated on the map as "Open Use" and defined in the map legend as, "MOTOR VEHICLE USE IS ALLOWED ANYWHERE." Therefore, the Inyo NF did not include many "system routes" within the open areas on the 1977 map/plan because the public could drive anywhere they wanted. By using this sleight-of-hand interpretation, the Inyo NF now states that those long-existing roads within the open areas are "Unauthorized Routes."
Even more amazing is that the Forest Service seems to ignore the fact that the 1977 map/plan was superseded by the Inyo National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan of 1989, which required that the Forest Service complete a route inventory and trail plan. Even though the Forest Service completed the inventories and debatably finished a plan which was acknowledged in a letter from Inyo Forest Supervisor Bailey that was provided to the public, they now claim that wasn't legitimate.
Unfortunately, the Forest Service is picking and choosing from both plans to skew the outcome to lessen motorized access to the forest. For example, it was pointed out to Forest Service personnel during the scoping phase that among the roads conveniently overlooked is the Birch Creek Road, clearly shown on the 1977 map/plan as a system road, the Forest Service now claims it never existed and, thus, it is not shown on ANY alternative in the DEIS.
The maps included with this DEIS are exceptionally well done. They are the best that any Forest has included with any travel management plan to date. The ability to view and toggle between any or all alternatives while
viewing a magnified area of any forest map is exceptionally easy. The Inyo NF is to be commended for using this quality feature in public documents. On the other hand, the maps do not include many of the place names so it can be very difficult to navigate if you aren't very familiar with the area. On the White Mountains map, well known place names such as Wyman Canyon, Westgard Pass, Deadhorse Meadow, and many others have been omitted.
Much of the wording in the DEIS is very misleading. For example, one map legend includes the notation "Unauthorized Routes: Available for Public Use, but not Added to System". What this really means is that the road isbeing legally used now, but it is intended to be closed by the Forest Service.This information is provided by Ron Schiller, Chairman of the High Desert Multiple Use Coalition. As usual, please feel free to pass this information on to any other interested parties. Anyone wishing to receive future
e-mails with information regarding issues related to the management of public lands in the California Desert should send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and request to be placed on the distribution list.
Please print "PLEASE ADD TO LIST" in the subject line and your name in the message area.