As crews from the Inyo National Forest implement the controversial Travel Management Decision, they are asking residents to check and double-check their work.
As part of the Travel Management ruling, Forest Service personnel have been at work this summer closing routes that were not included in the Inyo National Forests’s system of roads, and rehabilitating the roads that were.
“Forest Service crews and partners have now spent a few months this summer maintaining and repairing roads and motorized trails, placing signs and blocking unauthorized routes to implement the 2009 Inyo National Forest Travel Management Decision,” a press release from the Forest Service states. “After more than five years of planning that led to the 2009 Decision, the plan is being implemented on the ground.”
Forest Service Trails Program Manager Marty Hornick said implementation of the Travel Management Plan is about two-thirds to three-quarters complete, and should wrap up sometime in the next two years.
The Forest Service said that, as it works to implement the decision, residents and visitors to the area are seeing the program take shape and have been diligent about commenting on the work.
“I really appreciate those who’ve taken the time to provide thoughtful and detailed suggestions for improving the motorized system on the Inyo National Forest, and welcome more specific observations from those who are interested,” said Forest Supervisor Ed Armenta. “General statements or non-specific comments in blogs are not as helpful in leading to meaningful assessments of each issue,” he added.
The Forest Service said it has received a broad range of comments, some in support of the infrastructure and resource improvements, and others concerned with loss of access or the methods used to implement the decision.
“In many cases this information has been helpful, and will be used to change and improve the motorized transportation system,” the press release states.
The Forest Service is tracking observations from the public and from its own staff about inadvertent errors, or decisions that may be creating “unnecessary impacts” to Forest visitors or resources.
Hornick said the Forest Service has received reports that, due to “typos” on Travel Management maps, some routes that were supposed to be included in the Forest’s route system have been closed.
“Because of the vast array and intensity of work during the summer season, the Forest Service plans to assess these after the field season, with the hope of responding to or prioritizing proposed modifications during the winter season,” the press release states.
Hornick said responses to observations the Forest Service receives may range from simple corrections to the Record of Decision if errors were based on incorrect data (for instance if there were typographical, mapping or other minor errors that would not affect assumptions about effects in the decision) to entering into new planning efforts for specific routes to add or remove them from the system.
“The vast majority of decisions made in the analysis were based on good information and valid rationale, so just because we evaluate concerns does not automatically mean that we will change something … it may already be a very solid determination,” said Armenta. “However, if it makes good sense do something different, we will.”
Observation Forms that can help focus comments and help the Forest Service to organize and assess them are available on the Inyo National Forest Website at www.fs.usda.gov/activity/inyo/recreation/ohv  (see “quick links”).
The public should feel free to contact Forest Service staff. Specific contacts for Travel Management include:
• Hornick, (760) 873-2461, firstname.lastname@example.org , 351 Pacu Ln., Suite 200, Bishop, CA 93514
• Jon Kazmierski, recreation officer for the Mammoth and Mono Lake ranger districts, (760) 924-5503, email@example.com , PO Box 148, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
• Nick Ettema, OHV leader for White Mountain and Mt. Whitney ranger districts, (760) 876-6211, firstname.lastname@example.org , P.O. Box 8, Lone Pine, CA 93545
Residents may also reach the Forest Service by going to the “contact us” link at the Inyo National Forest website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/inyo/ .