Skip to Main Content
Menu
Contact Us Search
OHV Title

Friends of the Inyo

 Please accept this comment in strong support for the Friends of the Inyo 2010 Restoration Grant to the California OHMVR Division of State Parks. 
 
The Friends of the Inyo's Restoration Grant presents a very logical, cost-effective, efficient and achievable program of work to begin implementation of the Inyo National Forest's 2009 Record of Decision for Travel Management.  The steps and projects outlined in the grant identify strategic actions that are critically important to invigorating the tourism-based economy of the Eastern Sierra and providing an enhanced experience for the users of the public lands.
 
The grant addresses the type of "triple bottom line" thinking we need to enact across California's public lands and recreation areas.  The work will sustain the health of our public lands which appeals to the visitors who come to the Eastern Sierra, foster community societal relations through collaborative volunteer project coordination and service our economy by creating public lands-based jobs and enhancing people's ability to access their public lands.
 
As a community dependent upon visitors to our public lands as its economic engine, I hope you will take thoughtful consideration of this significant and important grant request.  Thank you for your time. [Danna Stroud - 4/5/10]


 Please accept this letter as a strong note of support for Friends of the Inyo's 2010 OHV grant. This grant will provide needed resources to implement on the ground the route specific restoration and mitigation activities authorized by the 2009 Inyo National Forest Travel Management Record of Decision. The Inyo's travel management process was a hallmark of public involvement. I should know as I participated in the Collaborative Alternative Team that went route by route to come up with what we thought was a workable, compromise solution.

This grant presents a well-thought out, cost-effective and realistic approach to actually achieving on the ground results - i.e. a designated and more manageable system of roads and trails for motorized vehicle use across the Inyo National Forest. As a local business owner and long time explorer of the Eastern Sierra, I can assure you we need more on the ground projects like this one proposed by Friends of the Inyo if we are to sustain the health of and abundant access to our public lands. [James Wilson - 4/5/10]



 I write to support the thoughtful grant request for Restoration sought by Friends of the Inyo. This grant is needed to implement the work authorized by the Inyo National Forest Travel Management Decision of 2009. Without these funds, this work will not get done and unauthorized OHV use could continue on roads not designated legal system roads through Travel Management. [Bill Mitchel  - 4/5/10]



 FOI has helped formulate a road and trail network that is cognizant of public access and conservation needs; however there has not yet been any evaluation of other needs and legal uses of roads that must be taken into consideration in a complete route inventory prior to any physical alteration of routes.  Nor has there been any evaluation of the impacts on the existing, built-environment that the road alteration envisaged in the FOI application would cause.  Only Inyo County has a broad enough mandate to properly weigh all of the built-environment and land use plan considerations.  At this time the USDA and the FOI restoration grant applications are premature.  I hope FOI will begin working with the agencies of the County and that the Inyo National Forest will coordinate with them as well.
 
FOI’s Proposal To Physically Alter Existing Roads
Is In Violation Of State And Federal Environmental Laws.
 
FOI is in error in its belief that the Inyo National Forest Travel Management FEIS and ROD authorize this work.  The Travel Management Project was not to make existing roads unusable for all purposes.  “The purpose of the Travel Management Project is to implement provisions of the 2005 Travel Management Rule (36 CFR Part 212, Subpart B)” (Final Environmental Impact Statement, Record of Decision, Inyo National Forest Motorized Travel Management, p.1).  "I recognize the need to regulate unmanaged motor vehicle travel by the public" (ibid, emphasis added)  The purpose of the Travel Management Project did not include destroying existing roads, or making them unusable for non-public or managed motor vehicle travel.
 
The Travel Management Rule requires the designation of lands for public motor vehicle use, and states “motor vehicle use .. not in accordance with these designations is prohibited by 36 CFR 261.13”.  It does not prohibit motor vehicle use on non-system roads by agencies and emergency vehicles.  Below is the full text of 36 CFR 261.13 with emphasis, and comments in parentheses.
 
Sec. 261.13  Motor vehicle use.
    After National Forest System roads, National Forest System trails, and areas on National Forest System lands have been designated pursuant to 36 CFR 212.51 on an administrative unit or a Ranger District of the National Forest System, and these designations have been identified on a motor vehicle use map, it is prohibited to possess or operate a motor vehicle on National Forest System lands in that administrative unit or Ranger District other than in accordance with those designations, provided that the following vehicles and uses are exempted from this prohibition:
    (a) Aircraft;
    (b) Watercraft;
    (c) Over-snow vehicles (The proposed projects could affect this use);
    (d) Limited administrative use by the Forest Service;
    (e) Use of any fire, military, emergency, or law enforcement vehicle for emergency purposes;  (The proposed projects would affect these uses)
    (f) Authorized use of any combat or combat support vehicle for national defense purposes;  (The proposed projects would affect these uses)
    (g) Law enforcement response to violations of law, including pursuit;  (The proposed projects would affect these uses)
    (h) Motor vehicle use that is specifically authorized under a written authorization issued under Federal law or regulations; and  (The proposed projects would affect future applications for these uses)
    (i) Use of a road or trail that is authorized by a legally
documented right-of-way held by a State, county, or other local public road authority.  (The proposed projects would affect these uses and future resolution of these right-of-ways)
 
 Below are the relevant sections from the TMP FEIS.
 
Once a decision is made, it is anticipated there will be a higher number of violations (i.e., travel off designated routes) the first few years before the number of violations declines as users understand and comply with the restrictions. Publication of the motor use vehicle map, combined with signage, user education programs, and enforcement, will reduce the number of violations.  (FEIS §3.1.1.2, bullet 2)  (No mention of barricading or converting existing roads)
 
Unauthorized routes not added to the NFTS are assumed to naturally decompact and revegetate at varying rates, which will depend upon the vegetation type and other site-specific conditions. Full restoration (e.g., decommissioning) or converting routes to other uses are not reasonably foreseeable at this time as site-specific proposals have not been developed and analyzed. (FEIS §3.1.1.2, bullet 8)
 
The only actions that may be accomplished at this time are signage, user education programs, and enforcement of the prohibition of non-authorized public motor vehicle operation.  As both NEPA and CEQA environmental standards must be met in order to use California funds for any other actions I suggest that Inyo National Forest and FOI should begin by coordinating and working with Inyo County to formulate site specific treatments for each road in question that provide for the uses exempted from the FEIS and ROD.  This should be the first phase of the funds request, as explained in the “Environmental Requirements” for these grants. 

The Evaluation Criteria Of The Grant Application Are In Error
 
In Section 2 of the Evaluation Criteria FOI erroneously states, “Failure to fully restore and camouflage non-designated routes will result in continued motorized use of nondesignated closed roads leading to habitat disturbance, disturbance to cultural resources, riparian areas and actively eroding sites.”  The result postulated is hypothetical, also, other methods besides “fully restoring and camouflaging” non-public routes are available that are more protective of the existing, built, environment; and that would have less impact on authorized uses of these routes.  Methods should be selected dependent upon specific site characteristics.
 
In Section 3 of the Evaluation Criteria FOI erroneously states that the purpose of the project is to “Restore natural resource system damaged by OHV activity”.  The actual purpose is to destroy usability of existing roads.  While some of these roads may have been created by OHV’s, “[m]any of these routes have existed on the ground and have been used by the public for a long time… Many were developed for purposes other than recreation access. Past mining operations, timber sale projects and other access needs led to the creation of many of these routes. Although some have been in use for decades, others were recently created as forest visitors pioneered new routes to access destinations.” (ROD p.1)  The FOI project does not meet any of the criteria in Section 3.
 
Section 4 is speculative in that it does not contain any site-specific implementation measures.
 
Section 5 erroneously states that “[a]ll activities proposed under this plan have been authorized by the Inyo National Forest Travel Management Record of Decision and Final EIS, August 2009”.  As explained above, none of the activities proposed have been authorized.
 
Section 7 erroneously states that “[t]his project has been long discussed by the Collaborative Alternative Team (especially the volunteer coordination component), as well as at Inyo OHV Leadership Team meetings facilitated by Ed Waldheim of CTUC”.  The project referenced is the Travel Management Project; this road destruction project was never discussed and has not yet had any public input.
 
Section 10 erroneously states that “[t]his project will implement [the Inyo National Forest's Travel Management decision] on the ground by restoring nondesignated routes to prevent motorized travel off legal, designated routes.”  As explained above the only actions that may be accomplished at this time are signage, user education programs, and enforcement of the prohibition of non-authorized public motor vehicle operation.  The existing roads that this project is to alter have other, legal, uses that have not yet been analyzed.
 
Section 11 is speculative in that there has not yet been any site-specific evaluation of which roads might qualify as sensitive habitat. [Doug Hicks - 4/2/10]


 This restoration grant for $716,000  is a very tall order.   We know that the Inyo National forest with 2362 miles of  route of travel and the listing of 2300 closure points is almost an impossible task.   My worry is that we are getting a little ahead of ourselves here.   Routes that you wish public to be on need to be signed, at least using the EPA Route System. (Encourage, Prohibit and Allow)  We know  travel management plans are out, but what I do not get from this grant is the Encourage routes signed?   Prohibit, I have to assume are the 2300 closure points.   You see what I mean.?   Also there should really be a system of deviding up the area by quadrants with numbers on them. You need to brake this down into manageable components, so you know when you have completed a  quadrant and ready to move to the next.    2300 closure is an impossible task without some organized system,  I don't care how good you are.
 
So I would like to see the quadrants, I would like to see a specific list of priorities where the 2300 closure points will be attached,  what is the priority to do this job and what the deliverables are by quadrant.
 
Now the grant gives you 3 years to complete the task, you will not accomplish the closure of 2300 closure points, I can assure you that.  So you better outline exactly what the deliverable will be with the money requested,  It you take one year or 3 years makes no difference, it is the deliverable that you are going to provide very specific areas or quadrants you will be able to accomplish this. If you do more, so much the better,
 
Expenses:
 
You outline 3 year budget, OK, so you need to outline the deliverable  in the form of Quadrants you will do, You cannot, again you cannot get 2300 closure points done in 3 years, that is impossible not with this staffing you are putting in there . It has to be more realistic.
 
Coordinator $50,000 per year sounds right.
 
FOI Stewardship should be broken down in hours per year i.e. 2080 per person per year, that is a full time person., times the wage you pay.  etc.  this cost brake down is confusing.
 
FOI executive director, that is DOI  , no way can we pay for this,  we are a non profit organization, so ED is not on the ground worker. 
 
Supplies: Barriers, that is totally unrealistic you cannot do a closure with log barriers  as you outlined.  It takes from 4 to 8 logs realistically to do a closure and each log cost 11.85 each at Home Depot, that is 8 foot peeler post  5 inches in dynamiter. . If there is a different log please outline exactly what it is.
 
Equipment:  Rental of 4 x 4 vehicles.  $300 rental per month each 4 x 4, what does that include? All the repairs, ?   Are these used vehicles that are being rented? 
 
The bottom line is that this work has to be done and  I commend FOI  in wanting to do this work, it is hard and very time consuming.  I hope we get a good handle on the deliverables and have the cost adjusted. [Ed Waldheim, "OHV activist for access to public lands for all" - 4/4/10]



 Post travel management restoration of routes seems to be the focus of intensive effort on the Inyo NF for 2010-2011.  Inyo NF is applying for OHV grant funding for this purpose as part of their GO grant, their own restoration grant utilizing Friends of Inyo volunteers, and also Travel Management implementation.
 
In addition we have the application by Friends of Inyo totaling  close to a million $ for restoration.  Although the Inyo Travel Management application states that there will be coordination between Inyo NF and the Friends of Inyo efforts the total being requested for restoration is staggering for one forest.
 
The grant total for just the National Forest is over $3 million, I have never seen such a large total. This would allocate over $ 4 million to just one Forest!
 
Inyo NF is only one of 19 Forests in the state and funding is limited.  Furthermore the total for restoration far exceeds what is being requested for trail maintenance. I sincerely hope grant staff will look very hard at the Inyo applications. [Bruce W - 4/4/10]


 My name is Brendan Hughes and I would like to write in support of Friends of the Inyo's grant application for Restoration.  This proposal represents an important step in the route designation process.  This restoration project will allow young people on the proposed crews to engage and work with Forest Service employees for the improvement of the ecosystem. [Brendan Hughes - 3/30/10]



 Application: Restoration- Inyo National Forest Roads

CEQA is the environmental standard mandated in order to use these California funds.  The applicants and the Parks Department have been proceeding under the assumption that the FEIS completed for the Inyo National Forest Motorized Travel Management Plan are sufficient for these road closure grants to comply with CEQA.  I do not think they are.  I believe these projects are premature and that each road needs to have site-specific treatment formulated, in coordination with Inyo County, and the added financial burden on Inyo County should be funded through the OHV program.
 
The Travel Management Project was not to close roads to all uses.  “The purpose of the Travel Management Project is to implement provisions of the 2005 Travel Management Rule (36 CFR Part 212, Subpart B)” (Final Environmental Impact Statement, Record of Decision, Inyo National Forest Motorized Travel Management, p.1).  "I recognize the need to regulate unmanaged motor vehicle travel by the public" (ibid, emphasis added)  The purpose of the Travel Management Project did not include destroying or converting existing roads, or making them unusable for non-public or managed motor vehicle travel.
 
The Travel Management Rule requires the designation of lands for public motor vehicle use, and states “motor vehicle use .. not in accordance with these designations is prohibited by 36 CFR 261.13”.  It was my understanding that the TMR did not prohibit motor vehicle use on non-system roads by agencies and emergency vehicles.  When I asked this question at the open house on Tuesday the representative for Friends of the Inyo told me (incorrectly) that all motorized vehicle traffic was prohibited.  Below is the full text of 36 CFR 261.13 with my emphasis and comments.
 
Sec. 261.13  Motor vehicle use.
    After National Forest System roads, National Forest System trails, and areas on National Forest System lands have been designated pursuant to 36 CFR 212.51 on an administrative unit or a Ranger District of the National Forest System, and these designations have been identified on a motor vehicle use map, it is prohibited to possess or operate a motor vehicle on National Forest System lands in that administrative unit or Ranger District other than in accordance with those designations, provided that the following vehicles and uses are exempted from this
prohibition:
    (a) Aircraft;
    (b) Watercraft;
    (c) Over-snow vehicles;
    (d) Limited administrative use by the Forest Service;
    (e) Use of any fire, military, emergency, or law enforcement vehicle for emergency purposes;  (The proposed projects would affect these uses)
    (f) Authorized use of any combat or combat support vehicle for national defense purposes;  (The proposed projects would affect these uses)
    (g) Law enforcement response to violations of law, including pursuit;  (The proposed projects would affect these uses)
    (h) Motor vehicle use that is specifically authorized under a written authorization issued under Federal law or regulations; and  (The proposed projects would affect future applications for these uses)
    (i) Use of a road or trail that is authorized by a legally
documented right-of-way held by a State, county, or other local public road authority.  (The proposed projects would affect these uses and future resolution of these right-of-ways)
 
 
Below are some relevant sections from the TMP FEIS. This is the ruling document!!!!!!!!!
 
Once a decision is made, it is anticipated there will be a higher number of violations (i.e.,
travel off designated routes) the first few years before the number of violations declines as users understand and comply with the restrictions. Publication of the motor use vehicle map, combined with signage, user education programs, and enforcement, will reduce the number of violations.  (FEIS §3.1.1.2, bullet 2)  (No mention of barricading or converting existing roads)
 
Unauthorized routes not added to the NFTS are assumed to naturally decompact and revegetate at varying rates, which will depend upon the vegetation type and other site-specific conditions. Full restoration (e.g., decommissioning) or converting routes to other uses are not reasonably foreseeable at this time as site-specific proposals have not been developed and analyzed. (FEIS §3.1.1.2, bullet 8)

It is reasonable to assume that the only thing that may be accomplished is the signage, user education programs, and enforcement, for closures without completing CEQA on every road closure in question. [David Tanksley - 3/29/10]


 Comments to Friends of the Inyo Restoration Application G09-04-16-R01

The 950 projects you “predict” treatment for have no site specific locations so the public or the Division has no chance to visit the sites and make reasonable comment on the treatments/evaluation.  Are any of these sites in the so called “Roadless” areas that are under litigation?

You have never had a grant with OHMVRD, so how can you say you have completed 100% of deliverables in the past? (#5 general Application Requirements).

Furthermore, in the evaluation criteria number 2, you state that domestic water supply, archaeological and historic places, stream of other watercourses, soils, sensitive areas, threatened and endangered species, and other special status species ( for a total of 18 points) would be adversely impacted if the project  was not funded. Does that mean failure to fund any one of the 950 sites would have this impact? Can you state that each of the 950 projects can individually stand of the merits of the evaluation in number 2? For example, you state the “donuts in pumices meadows would be raked out as part of this restoration project” How does that relate to domestic water supplies and streams or other watercourses you said would be impacted?

In closing, while your efforts for this project may be laudable, it seems your setting up a government funded bureaucracy (you call it a three year program), not performing site specific projects. You stated that “FOI has conducted maintenance and restoration activities in partnership with the Inyo National Forest for over five years with both volunteers and paid crews”. Why not continue that partnership instead of asking for money for full time staff at $550,000?  The Inyo National Forest already has a full time staff and has demonstrated they can accomplish the project for far less cost to the OHV trust fund. Additionally, you have not engaged the OHV community in this project which could possibly further reduce the project cost drastically. You have not discussed your project with the Bureau of Land Management or Los Angeles City Department of Water and Power. Both these agencies will be affected by the project due to the fact that the some of the routes scheduled for restoration cross onto the other agencies land. This project needs to be rethought, scaled back and include the OHV community as well as other agencies to be a viable project. [Lanny Lehigh - 3/15/10]