The Coyote Flat area just up the mountains from Bishop is one of the most phenomenally magnificent areas that one can drive right up to. With excellent spring wildflower displays and striking fall colors against the sage and piñon pine, this has been a popular destination for both motorized and non-motorized recreation for decades.
Relictual mining sites and roads are somewhat noticeable, but overall the area is in relatively pristine condition. This past Saturday I went up with the Eastern Sierra 4-wheel Drive Club and the US Forest Service to place some carsonite signs; we put to bed some older unnecessary roads, and signed some new route numbers on several roads, as newly designated in the Inyo National Forest’s Travel Management Plan.
When reading through the Final EIS for the Travel Management Plan that the Inyo National Forest has put out, it becomes apparent that this is a fairly reasonable plan that was the product of a lot of collaboration and compromise. In fact, only 3% of total inventoried routes are being closed, or rather, “not added to the system”. Most of these roads are unnecessary, not being used any more, or have some negative impact to a sensitive ecosystem, makes sense to me. With this in mind, it seems crazy to me how controversial this plan has seemingly become, as well as some of the negative reactions and fiery statements that have been made by some members in our broader Eastern Sierra community. I think if someone sits down and looks at the actual plan put forth, it turns out to be a reasonable and rational plan that most people can support. I am glad to work with and be a part of the local 4wd club here, and am also happy that they have been, and continue to be, participants in the travel management process. They are helping to shape and move this process forward, instead of sitting around complaining about it, cheers to action!
This is the kind of collaboration that we hope to see a lot more of in the future, as various recreational user groups really do have a lot of common ground to stand on. We all have a right to, and a say in, our public lands, and I firmly believe in our responsibility to participate and advocate for our lands that make up over 90% of Inyo and Mono counties. So many of us enjoy the beauty of these lands, and enjoy recreating on and around them. Whether this is hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, 4-wheelin, hang gliding, birding, botanizing, running, or whatever your fancy! we all have a right to enjoy whatever it is we like to do (within reason of course). And we should respect and honor each other’s interests. Personally, as someone who enjoys a wide variety of outdoor activities, including 4-wheeling, backpacking, botanizing, history, ecology, and just plain being outside, I feel that there is room for all of us here. Many of us living here on the great eastern slope of the Sierra want to be outside and enjoy our tremendous backyard, and if we can cooperate with each other and realize this, we can enjoy it that much more.
Area Closed for Restoration, many of these roads are already restoring themselves
US Forest Service, Eastern Sierra 4-wd Club, and FOI, all working together