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Long Overdue Management Plans for
Owens River Headwaters & Cottonwood Creek
Being Drafted With Public Input

Submit Your Comments by Friday, July 23!

What's happening?

Friends of the Inyo was actively involved in the designation of the Owens River Headwaters (ORHW) and Cottonwood Creek as Wild and Scenic Rivers (WSR) in 2009. We worked for years to Congressionally protect these free-flowing rivers and the water they supply to humans and wildlife. The development of river management plans is a fundamental provision of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act; such plans are intended to be completed within three years of designation. Now, after 12 years of inaction, and thanks to litigation, the U.S. Forest Service is finally completing this task. Last year, Resource Assessments were completed for each of the rivers and we submitted these comments. Now the USFS has released draft plans for these rivers based on the Resource Assessments.

These river management plans, or Comprehensive River Management Plans (CRMPs) are prepared in consultation with the public and state and local governments. Therefore, we are encouraging our members to submit written comments to the Inyo National Forest on the ORHW and Cottonwood draft plans. For the management plans to be effective they must consider and address lands and facilities, recreation, and current and future actions and uses that could impact the free-flowing condition of the rivers, water quality and their identified Outstanding Remarkable Values (ORVs).

What can I do?

Become acquainted with the issues pertaining to each Wild and Scenic River's management plan. We have outlined below what we believe each plan draft should include. Then, be sure to submit your comments by July 23. Please refer to the directions and links at the bottom of this e-mail when submitting your comments.

The Owens River Headwaters draft plan:

  • Must analyze current and projected groundwater extraction from the watersheds of Deadman, Glass and Dry Creeks. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area extracts water from Dry Creek for snowmaking, and a 1994 Environmental Assessment by the Inyo National Forest analyzed a proposal by the Mammoth Community Water District (MCWD) to drill four water supply wells in the Dry Creek watershed to annually extract up to 2,000 acre feet of groundwater. Other potential points of groundwater extraction include recreational housing tracts and campgrounds, as well as the state road maintenance yard at Crestview.
  • Should also include the realistic impacts of climate change and chronic drought in identifying potential flow impacts on the WSR.
  • Should provide more information on potential water pollution sources and propose actions to resolve the accompanying water quality problem. For example, it notes the presence of bacterial contamination in Glass Creek but does not present possible actions to identify the source of the bacteria pollution or mitigate or eliminate either. The Forest Service has a responsibility to proactively protect and enhance the water quality of the Owens River Headwaters Wild and Scenic River.
  • Should expand the Outstanding Remarkable Values for scenery, botany, hydrology (such as including Big Springs) and ecology due to the Owens River Headwater’s highly variable and diverse river systems.
  • Needs to be revised to incorporate recreational use data over multiple years. This will allow for collection of a complete picture of recreational capacity and help guide future management actions. 
  • Should also include management actions that protect the river corridor from water contamination, activities that contribute to erosion, sedimentation, and riparian vegetation loss.
  • Should incorporate an annual monitoring plan. Components of the monitoring plan include surveys for water quality, wildlife—including Yosemite Toad and spring snails—recreation use, and riparian health. 

The Cottonwood Creek draft plan:

  • Should add recreation as an Outstanding Remarkable Value for fishing, hiking, camping, hunting, and other possibilities for recreation that Cottonwood Creek provides.
  • Needs to add Geology as an Outstanding Remarkable Value due to the presence of many important and unique geological features. These include Lower Cambrian Trilobites, which are the subject of ongoing research at White Mountain Research Station.
  • Should recognize the eligible tributaries of Cottonwood, as they contribute to its Outstanding Remarkable Values. These include 3.7 miles of South Fork Cottonwood Creek and 3.4 miles of Poison Creek.
  • Should recommend the present options for permanently retiring the Cottonwood Creek grazing allotment to protect the Outstanding Remarkable Values of botany, fisheries, and wildlife.
  • Should incorporate an annual monitoring plan. Components of the monitoring plan include annual surveys for recreational use, water quality and quantity, wildlife such as spring snails, and historic and prehistoric sites.

Comments for both the
Owens River Headwaters and Cottonwood Creek
Wild and Scenic River CRMP's are due Friday, July 23.

Submit your comments today!

Directions: Review documents and maps here. Click on the “scoping” tab to read the draft plans. Click on the “comment/object on this project,” or go here to enter your comments or attach your comment letter. There is an "Español" link on the comments page that allows for comments to be submitted in Spanish as well.  

Thank you for providing feedback to the Inyo National Forest on their draft plans. Together we can make sure these plans protect these free-flowing Wild and Scenic Rivers for future generations of people and wildlife. 


Friends of the Inyo
621 W Line St Suite 201  | Bishop, California 93514
(760) 873-6500 | info@friendsoftheinyo.org

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