In 2013, the Inyo National Forest began a process to revise its 25 year old Land and Resource Management Plan, spurred by a new planning rule adopted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2012.
The Inyo is one of eight “early adopter” forests for this new rule, along with the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests. This process will set the precedent for how all other national forests will revise their management plans in future years. Friends of the Inyo is committed to engaging in this important and precedent-setting opportunity until the final plan is completed at the end of 2019.
The Inyo National Forest is home to the iconic Mt. Whitney, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness Areas, the headwaters of the Owens River, the second largest roadless land acreage in California, and unparalleled opportunities for recreation, scenic vistas, and solitude. This new management plan is the guiding document for the Inyo National Forest, and will determine the fate of these idyllic landscapes.
Beginning in 2013 Friends of the Inyo’s board and staff compiled and submitted extensive comments to the Forest’s Topic Papers – foundational documents covering everything from timber to meadow health to grazing and wilderness. Throughout 2013 and 2014 we commented on the Forest Assessment, the Need for Change, Desired Conditions and the Preliminary and Final Wilderness Evaluations, as required under the 2012 Planning Rule.
On October 1, 2014 Friends of the Inyo staff compiled and submitted extensive Scoping comments. Our comments addressed the Proposed Action, Notice of Intent and Wilderness Inventory & Evaluation. The documents were the first step in influencing changes in plan direction and content. Our comments covered everything from at-risk species to Wilderness (view a map of areas to be recommended as wilderness here) and Wild and Scenic River recommendations.
On May 27, 2016 The Forest Service released the Draft Forest Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement, opening a 90 day comment period which closed August 25th, 2016. Find our comments throughout the planning process and other pertinent attachments here.
In early 2017 the Regional office decided to split the Inyo National Forest from the Sierra and Sequoia and proceed with revisions for a final EIS, while the Sierra and Sequoia will undergo a supplemental EIS process.
In July of 2017 the USFS released a preview of changes made to the EIS that would be reflected in the FEIS and Final Land Management Plan. They cover resource issues regarding Sustainable Recreation, WSRs, Aquatic and Riparian and Species of Conservation Concern.
On August 3, 2018 the USFS released the Final Plan, Final EIS and draft Record of Decision. The Forest Service hosted a public meeting on August 7, 2018. On Oct 2, 2018, along with our partners we filed an objection on the final plan highlighting deficiencies in wilderness recommendation, wild and scenic river eligibility and species protection. We also filed interest party status on October 23, 2018. The USFS will consider our objections as part of a three day public meeting to be held in Bishop January 15-17, 2019.
If you don’t have time to read our comments you can check out this Sierra Nevada Forest Planning Coalition Fact Sheet for more information on specific topics and issues.
The long awaited Inyo National Forest Land Management Plan was released in late July. Since then, Friends of the Inyo has been reviewing the final plan and supporting documents to understand how the plan intends to care for 1.9 million acres of Forest service lands in the Eastern Sierra. The plan includes how to manage and plan for recreation, protect at risk species, and recommendations for Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers designations. We’re finding that the final plan is a mixed bag. We remain concerned about the level of protection the plan would provide for natural resources on the…
Desert Lands Focus of Washington Visit Last month, the Conservation Lands Foundation sent a coalition of public lands groups to Washington DC. I was fortunate to join, and meet with our congressional offices about public lands. Friends of the Inyo has a long history working to protect the California desert. With recent administrative attacks it was a perfect time to meet with congressional staff and touch on current threats and opportunities. From hearing rooms to hallways to cafeterias, our meetings took place just about everywhere. Our packed three-day agenda consisted of a visit to the Senate building to meet Feinstein…