Travel Management Comments Due March 31

Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Inyo National Forest’s Travel Management Plan are due Tuesday, March 31. Friends of the Inyo has been very involved in the planning process, and as part of the Collaborative Alternative Team (made up of diverse community members and stakeholders) supports Alternative 6 in the DEIS.

View maps, learn more about the alternatives and the process at http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo/projects/ohvroute5.shtml.

Send comments to comments-pacificsouthwest-inyo@fs.fed.us.

We encourage you to support Alternative 6, the Collaborative Alternative that represents community input and team effort.

 

The following op-ed appeared in the March 19 edition of the Inyo Register:

The Public is Encouraged to Comment on
Draft Motorized Transportation System Alternative

As many of you may know, over the past several years the Forest Service has been engaged in a process to designate systems of roads and motorized trails on all national forests throughout the country.   The use of motor vehicles, particularly off-highway vehicles, is one of the fastest growing forms of outdoor recreation on national forest lands.  This project is focused on looking at a system of routes that provides recreational opportunities and access for public motorized use, while providing protection to national forest resources.

Here in the Eastern Sierra many of you have pitched in with your time, wisdom, and local knowledge to help out in this process on the Inyo National Forest.  I have been very impressed with the positive tone and cooperative spirit that you have brought to this effort.  I’m encouraged by the hard work of community members who have come together to help in the development of alternatives to address this issue. 

I have a great respect for the human history in this area and the long-standing traditions, activities and uses that give special meaning to so many of the unique and beautiful places on this national forest.

The goal of this process is to develop a sustainable, designated system of roads and motorized trails that protects natural resource values while maintaining the quality of the recreation experience for all users of this national forest.  Toward achieving this goal, we used your input to develop the alternatives that are analyzed in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Motorized Travel Management on the Inyo.  

The DEIS is now out for public review.  In the last couple of weeks remaining for you to comment on the alternatives, I want to stress how important it is to me that we hear from you.

The DEIS proposes six different transportation system alternatives.  I do not have a preferred alternative at this time; I have not yet made a decision.  The information that you provide to us during this comment period will help me in making a final decision.  

I am hearing that some of you are concerned that this process may affect access for mining, fuelwood collection, and other uses on the Inyo National Forest.  I want to make it really clear that this process is focused on designating a system of roads and trails for public recreational use.  Access for non-recreational uses such as mining will not be affected by this project because they are, and will continue to be, authorized through separate processes.  Similarly, access for non-motorized uses, such as hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian use will not be directly affected.

The challenge before us is to find a balance. While finding that balance will be difficult, I believe we can achieve the task.  I say this because – despite different opinions of those who live, work, and play here – we all value the Inyo for many of the same reasons.    We are fortunate to live in an area that has such exceptional scenery and unparalleled recreation opportunities.   Whether you are lucky enough to live here, or are one of the many visitors from around the world who return year after year, it is our common appreciation of these surroundings that brings us together.     

In making the final decision, I will be following all of the laws, policies, and regulations that guide the management of national forest lands and resources.  Within these parameters I will be considering the diverse interests and concerns of local communities and visitors to the national forest.

A variety of tools and avenues have been provided to help you to give us effective input and comments.  I encourage you to access the Inyo National Forest website at www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo/projectsohvroute5.shtml  to view the various documents and maps for this project.  Spend some time with the “User’s Guide,” which will help you to make the most meaningful comments regarding your specific interests and concerns. My staff is always available to answer your questions.  Call us at 760-873-2400.

The comment period for the DEIS ends on March 31st.  To provide another forum for answering last-minute questions and fine-tuning your comments, we will host one more “Drop-In” session at the Forest Supervisor’s office on Pacu Lane on March 24th.  Staff will be available from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.  If you cannot attend the Drop-In session in person, I invite you to participate in a conference call with me that afternoon from 1:00 to 2:30.  Call 1-866-717-8636, and use passcode 2067943# when prompted. 

With your help, I believe we can create a sustainable road and trail network that achieves the necessary balance between motorized recreation access and resource protection.  I look forward to receiving your comments and moving forward on the things that are important to all of us.

Jim Upchurch
Inyo National Forest Supervisor

Jim Upchurch has been the Forest Supervisor on the Inyo National Forest for the past 1 ½ years.   During his 34-year career with the Forest Service he has worked on many national forests in the western United States, as well as in Washington DC.