Inyo National Forest Route Inventory

IMG_6686Defining the Routes Less Graveled

On a cold February day in 1972, President Richard M. Nixon signed Executive Order 11644 - Use of Off-Road Vehciles on the Publc Lands "to establish policies and provide for procedures that will ensure that
the use of off-road vehicles on public lands will be controlled and
directed so as to protect the resources of those lands, to promote the
safety of all users of those lands, and to minimize conflicts among the
various uses of those lands." Above all, this Executive Order directed all federal land management agencies to designate "specific areas and trails on public lands on which
the use of off-road vehicles may be permitted, and areas in which the
use of off-road vehicles may not be permitted." The Order directed that these route designations:

  1. "Minimize damage to soil, watershed, vegetation, or other resources of the public lands;
  2. minimize harassment of wildlife or significant disruption of wildlife habitat; and
  3. minimize conflicts between off-road vehicle use and other existing or
    proposed recreational uses of the same or neighboring public lands, and
    to ensure the compatibility of such uses with existing conditions in
    populated areas, taking into account noise and other factors"

EO 11644 set a target date of August 1972 for these legal route designations to be in place.

A Chance for a workable travel system

Today, thirty five years and an additional 93 million Americans later, the United States Forest Service is finally embarking on a natiowide Travel Management process to desingate a legally-compliant, sustainable and manageable system of roads and trails for motorized use across our public Forest lands.

Locally the Inyo National Forest began thier Travel Management process (aka Route Designation) in early 2002 with a cadre of motrocycle, quad and truck based mappers criss-crossing the Forest to inventory every road, spur, rut, single-track and route out there. Maps and extensive background information are available through the Forest here.

This Inventory of over 3600 miles of routes was made available to the public in early 2005 with the goal of gathering as much public input as possible to ensure the final designated system provided continued motorized access to favorite desintations, such as campsites, trailheads, rockhounding outcrops, and fishing holes, as well as respected the health of the land, local wildlife and the Forest's ability to actively manage motorized recreation.

Getting out on the Ground

To play a useful role in this ongoing public process and provide meaningful comments on the Route Designation Plan as it is being developed, Friends of the Inyo has organized volunteers and paid staff to extensively ground truth the existing route network. Our goal has always been to ensure that the final designated system is a truely manageable system that gets us all where we want to go while protecting water quality, solitude, private property and wildlife habitat. Detailed maps and photos of our field work from 2005 can be found here.

Copies of our recently submitted comments containing overall and route specific recommendations and rational for over 200 routes is available here. To get a copy of the photo index for these comments click here. (caution - this is a 7mb file and therefore too large to place on this page).

If there are places you care about that need help, specific routes you want to see added to the system or restored, or to share any other specific input, email Paul McFarland at paulmc@friendsoftheinyo.org or call 760-873-6400. We are happy to make large scale maps from all stages of this process available to anyone by appointment at our Bishop or Lee Vining offices.

 UPDATE - The Collaborative Alternative Team 

Throughout the month of March 2008, a broad group of Eastern Sierra citizens met in open meetings to see if there could be some collaborative agreement on specific routes. Please click below to view the Collaborative Alternative Team's Statement of Findings (pdf file) signed by 19 folks who care about the future of our public lands. 

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