On February 3, 2020 (well before pandemic life) I gave a PowerPoint presentation at an INYO350 general meeting. A large group of us met at Upper Crust Pizza in Bishop. The topic was a proposed Inyo National Forest action titled “Road Maintenance and Motorized Mixed Use for Eight National Forest Road Segments in Inyo County.” The “motorized mixed use” portion of the proposal was of special concern because of the potential for significant expansion of the Adventure Trails OHV program. A group formed after that meeting, and we got to work.
With help from the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club Range of Light Group, we encouraged written comments in response to the initial proposal. I think it’s safe to say the Inyo National Forest and Inyo County were surprised by our passionate response. Forest Supervisor Yen reports that over 70 letters were received and almost all were opposed to the easements.
In April, Inyo County asked the Inyo National Forest to reduce the scope of the proposed action to include only four roads, and to remove motorized mixed use from the proposal. The County’s retreat was, in part, “a result of comments received during the recent open comment period.”
In late December, Supervisor Yen signed the Decision Memo for the Inyo County Road Easements Project. She decided after “much deliberation and careful consideration of the public input” to grant easements for Death Valley Road and County Road. The easements include an operations and maintenance agreement that requires Inyo County to “discourage and disguise any user-created routes that form off the roads, to prevent illegal incursions and rehabilitate damaged areas.”
Our actions this year reduced potential Adventure Trails combined use expansion by about 60%, but doesn’t quell their desire to make Inyo County a destination for OHV recreation. At best, we’ve slowed them down. This project was just one challenge in the long effort to honor this place we care for. Thank you to all who wrote letters and reported OHV trespass to our reporting site.
If you’re interested in helping with continued monitoring and action, please contact me at email@example.com for information, and thank you.