Inyo National Forest Plan Revision, 2014-2015 (Updated April 2015)
Although official word of an extended 2015 planning schedule isn’t expected until late April, it appears the U.S. Forest Service won’t release the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Draft Inyo, Sierra, and Sequoia Forest Plans until September or thereabouts. Once released, the DEIS and Draft Forest Plans will be subject to a 90-day public comment period. In the meantime, the Forest Service also indicated it will hold public workshops for each of these national forests in late April or early to mid-May, 2015 to update and engage the public on at least three key topics: 1) Wilderness, 2) Wild and Scenic Rivers, and 3) forest monitoring.
Critical Public Meeting Happening on April 21
The Inyo National Forest will hold a key public meeting on April 21, 2015 to discuss the costs and benefits of the forest's extensive road system. This Travel Analysis Process meeting offers a critical opportunity for people who use and care about the Inyo National Forest to push for a forest road system that meets recreational access goals in a manner that is fiscally responsible, minimizes road-related environmental damage, and ensures clean water and healthy fisheries.
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Inyo National Forest Plan Revision (2014)
Scoping comments were submitted by our Bristlecone chapter and CNPS State. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)
is expected to be released in April, 2015. A public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 20, 2014, 6-8pm at the Tri-County Fairgrounds, Tallman Pavilion in Bishop. Try to attend and be prepared for a quick turnaround comment period. For more information go to www.fs.usda.gov/main/inyo/landmanagement/planning. Remember, this planning document will direct management of the Inyo (Sierra and Sequoia as well) for the next 20–30 years. Express your concerns and watch for the release of the DEIS very soon.
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Inyo, Sierra and Sequoia National Forest Plans - Notice of Intent (NOI) POSTED
Don’t miss the opportunity to provide comments and concerns
The Notice of Intent (NOI) for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the three forest plan revisions- Sierra, Sequoia, and Inyo - will be posted in the Federal Register on Friday (8/29). The comment period will be 30 days beginning 8/28/14. The NOI will inform the public of the Forest Service’s intent to prepare and develop an environmental impact statement (EIS) that will revise the forest plans. Our comments will be included and addressed in the NEPA process. The final resulting documents will be three individual Records of Decision for each respective forest’s management plan. Since management plans are typically in place for 15-20 years it is a very important step in the NEPA process – to voice our concerns.
The Inyo National Forest will hold a public scoping workshop on Thursday, September 18, 6-8pm at the Tri-County Fairgrounds, Sierra Street & Fair Drive, Bishop, CA.
For more information and to review the planning documents go to: www.fs.usda.gov/main/r5/landmanagement/planning
OR, see the individual documents linked below:
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Suggestions for Comments
Dear Bristlecone Members:
Because we all love the Inyo National Forest it is very important to submit scoping comments on the Forest Plan Revision. The Plan Revision will direct management on the Inyo National Forest for the next 15 – 20 years – that is a long time, especially considering increased visitor use and a warming climate. The suggestions below and talking points are meant to help folks who would like to write comments but have little time to get through the documents. We can thank the Sierra Club and Friends of the Inyo for providing Talking Points to consider in your comments.
Important: Folks who write comments should include 4 key topics:
- Say a little about yourself, where you live, how you use the Inyo National Forest.
- Say why you care about the Inyo National Forest.
- Describe what you want the agency to do. Be as specific as possible. For example: "Provide strong, science-based standards to protect for mountain meadows. Safeguard native plants and plant communities."
- Describe why it matters — why are you asking the agency to do this? For example:
- How will what you are asking for help protect your ability to use and enjoy the Forest?
- Give a specific example from your experience on the Inyo Forest if you can.
- How will what you are asking for benefit local communities?
- Why does protecting water and wildlife habitat help our local economies?
Please submit your comments on the agency's Proposed Action by Monday, September 29.
You can email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Or you can print and mail them to:
Mike Dietl, Land Management Plan Revision
U.S. Forest Service Ecosystem Planning Staff
1323 Club Drive
Vallejo, CA 94592
Contact Info if you have questions or concerns:
Julie Anne Hopkins, email@example.com, Bristlecone Chapter Conservation Chair
[The linked document is a 2-page PDF of the information below - a consolidated effort from Friends of the Inyo and the Range of Light Group of the Sierra Club, Friends of the River, the Forest Legacy Group, and CNPS State. These suggestions are made available for your consideration, and do not necessarily reflect any official stance of the Bristlecone Chapter or California Native Plant Society.]
The term “restoration” is used a lot in the Notice of Intent (NOI) and Proposed Action, but it is not clearly defined. We see that “restoration” (for example, salvage logging) is proposed that actually harms wildlife and important habitat. The forest plan needs to be clear on what restoration is and how loss in ecological value is justified by “restoration.”
The Proposed Action Should be Revised to Address the Following Issues:
Conservation of At-Risk Species
This needs to be emphasized in the revised forest plans because so many species are negatively affected by forest management and human actions. Protecting the health and persistence of wildlife species is critical to safeguarding ecosystem health and ecological integrity. Each forest has a high number of species identified as at risk in the forest assessment (federally designated and potential species of conservation concern):
||# of Species
These species cover a variety of forest habitats and are threatened by numerous management activities. This is an emphasis area on its own. The Proposed Action fails to address most of these species. For the species that are addressed, the Proposed Action is likely to result in increased threats and further negative impacts to the wellbeing of these already imperiled species.
Salvage logging destroys important habitat. The Proposed Action fails to include measures to protect post-fire habitats important to woodpeckers and other fire-following wildlife. Direction is needed in the revised forest plans to protect this habitat.
Fire is an essential process that shapes the landscape. The current plans prevent us from using fire to manage the forest and other habitats for ecosystem benefits. The Proposed Action allows for the greater use of managed fire, but does not go far enough in promoting its use.
We need all types of fire – low, moderate and high severity. The Proposed Action limits achieving this mix of fire effects on much of the landscape, including in areas where such effects were part of the natural system.
Logging of trees can remove habitat for at risk species. The Proposed Action provides little direction on how the agency will safeguard imperiled wildlife by providing good quality habitat for their needs.
The use of herbicides removes important shrubs and understory plants from forested areas. The Proposed Action does not provide the necessary direction to ensure the conservation of these early seral conditions.
Meadows and Riparian Areas
Roads and trails have negative impacts on stream condition (e.g., erosion, changing drainage patterns). The Proposed Action eliminates important standards designed to prevent degradation of meadows. The Proposed Action needs to include the existing standard that requires the maintenance of hydrological function for meadow systems and needs to provide clearer direction to trigger effective agency action when the negative effects of roads must be eliminated. The Proposed Action should require that roads and trails be closed until negative conditions are fixed.
Livestock grazing has a negative impact on meadow systems by trampling meadows, springs, fens and seeps. The Proposed Action does not provide direction to reduce impacts to meadow systems and at risk wildlife. The Proposed Action should state that if grazing is not managed to avoid impacts, the livestock must be removed.
Livestock grazing damages woody shrubs in meadow systems. These shrubs are essential habitat for some birds (e.g., willow flycatcher). The Proposed Action should be changed to prevent livestock from damaging woody shrubs.
Great Gray Owls, a rare and at risk species, depend on trees in meadow margins for nesting and foraging habitat. Some approaches to meadow restoration focus on logging these trees. The Proposed Action should include clearer direction on how to protect these important habitat elements for Great Gray Owls in places where logging is proposed.
At-risk species associated with meadows (e.g., Yosemite toad, Willow Flycatcher, and Great Gray Owl) have significantly declined in the planning area, yet the Proposed Action does not change how the Forest Service manages meadow habitat for these species. The Proposed Action should be revised to include standards that will reverse the decline for meadow associated species.
Dispersed recreation areas near streams and meadows can have negative impacts on these resources (e.g., trampling, loss of vegetation, streambank damage). The Proposed Action needs to have clearer direction about limiting this damage and shifting recreational use to other areas so that no area is damaged by overuse.
Eastside Habitats on the Inyo National Forest
Essential habitat for Sage Grouse, an imperiled species, is being damaged by livestock grazing. Livestock grazing needs to be prohibited in these essential areas. The Proposed Action needs to limit grazing in areas where sagebrush restoration is undertaken. The Proposed Action also needs to direct the protection of habitat that provides nutrition for egg-laying hens and foraging chicks.
Protecting Roadless Areas
Areas that are undisturbed by roads or have few roads are important to protect for watershed health and other habitat values. The forest plans need to identify these areas and provide protection from road building and other actions that can harm their ecological values. Tell the Forest Service about specific roadless areas that you want to see protected.
Designations of new areas such as recommendations for wilderness, research natural areas, special interest areas and other special areas need to be made now in the forest planning process. The Planning Rule requires the Forest Service to assess the potential need and opportunity for additional designated areas, which then enables the Forest Service to designate additional areas as needed. The opportunity for establishing new designations is not addressed in the NOI or Proposed Action. If designations are not made now, management actions could degrade or destroy values. Tell the Forest Service about any areas you think should be recommended for wilderness or another special designation and encourage them to evaluate the need for additional designations.
Roads and Infrastructure
Roads fundamentally affect the ecological health and integrity of terrestrial and aquatic systems. The Planning Rule requires consideration of sustainable placement and management of roads and other infrastructure as well as requiring that sustainable access be provided within the forest. Plan revision will not achieve this if roads are not considered as a primary topic area in the NOI or Proposed Action. The Proposed Action should be revised to provide guidance on infrastructure (e.g., roads, facilities).
The Forest Service is required to complete a travel analysis of each national forest road system to identify those roads that are no longer needed and can be closed. This information should be incorporated into roadless inventory and wilderness evaluation. Tell the Forest Service to complete the travel analysis on the Sierra and Inyo National Forests for use in revising the forest plans.
Contact Info if you have questions or concerns: Julie Anne Hopkins, firstname.lastname@example.org, Bristlecone Chapter Conservation Chair
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