Photo courtesy of the Inyo National Forest.
Proposed Action for Over-Snow Vehicle Use scoping comment period now open through Oct. 20!
Comments received by Oct. 15 will be especially useful in the preparation of the planned environmental assessment, the Inyo National Forest says.
In a Sept. 6 News Release, the Inyo National Forest announced the beginning of a 45-day public scoping comment period (through October 20) for an Over Snow Vehicle (OSV) Use Designation Environmental Assessment.
The OSV Use Designation Process will designate areas for OSVs consistent with the Travel Management Rule, Subpart C. The INF is required by law to assess for the five following criteria before designating any area or trail for OSV use, ensuring that the designation be made to minimize:
- Impacts to natural resources;
- Harassment of wildlife;
- Conflicts between motorized over snow use and other uses (e.g., skiing, snowshoeing, dog walking, bird watching, ice skating);
- Conflicts between motorized over snow use and wheeled motorized uses; and
- Impacts to neighborhoods or populated areas, including noise.
However, as our friends and subject matter experts at the Winter Wildlands Alliance have pointed out in their call to action, the Forest’s alternative proposes designating motorized use “pretty much everywhere on the Forest outside of designated Wilderness.”
WWA advises that, ”In non-technical speak, what [INF is] proposing is to formally give snowmobiles, timber sleds, and other tracked vehicles free range across most of the northern half of the Inyo National Forest, with only our most crowded winter trailhead—at the Lake Mary winter road closure—set aside (until April) for skiing, snowshoeing and non-motorized snow play, despite the fact that these non-motorized activities comprise the vast majority of winter recreation in our area.”
There is hope, however. Friends of the Inyo echoes WWA’s strong belief that, “It will be up to us as a community to come together and craft a more reasonable alternative for the forest to consider for the future management of all forms of public access winter recreation for decades to come. The more we can come together and agree on practical solutions, the more likely they will be incorporated into the Forest Supervisor's final decision.”
What Can I Do?
First and foremost, GET INVOLVED!
- Familiarize yourself with OSV designation issues.
- Show up to one of the Forest Service's public meetings coming up as follows:
- Online Virtual Meeting: 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 20. Use this link to attend.
- In-Person Meeting: 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 21, at Mammoth Lakes Community Center, 1000 Forest Trail, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546.
- Submit your comments in a timely manner.
- For more information about how to provide comments by the Oct. 20 deadline, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (760) 920-3048.
- Although comments can be submitted any time, the INF media release said, those received by October 15 will be especially useful in the preparation of the planned environmental assessment.