Inyo County Supervisors update

Deb Murphy

Forest Plan

It’s going to be a few more weeks before the County Planning Department makes its formal presentation to the Board of Supervisors on the Draft EIS and Forest Plan, but Forest Service Public Information Officer Debra Schweizer provided a brief overview at Tuesday’s meeting and solicited comments from the audience and the board.

Schweizer described the plan as more nimble, focusing on desired forest conditions and how to achieve them. She acknowledged that the USFS listened closely to input over the past three years. “Your voice is all over this plan,” she told the Supervisors.

The draft Plan is just that, a draft. In response to Supervisor Matt Kingsley question about the possibility of the Forest Supervisor Ed Armenta combining elements from the four alternatives for the final Plan, Schweizer said , “yes, but that’s a good thing. We need to look at everything.”

The draft identified Alternative B, with a few new recommended Wilderness Areas all adjacent to existing Wilderness, as the preferred alternative. Fran Hunt and Sydney Quinn both preferred more extensive Wilderness Area designations from Alternative C.

The primary focus was on increased funding for forest management. Kingsley urged support of the Wildlife and forest Management Act that would cap USFS funds used on wildfire suppression. Once that limit is hit, funds would come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Public comment on the draft EIS and Forest Plan is open until August 25.

Fish v Frogs

Inyo Planning’s Michael Draper laid out the details of the final Environmental Impact Study for the High Elevation Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Plan for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. In a nutshell, restoring yellow-legged amphibian species requires killing off non-native fish in some lakes between 6,000 and 12,000 elevation.

The plan involves removal of the non-natives by a combination of mechanical (netting) and chemical means (the use of piscicides). None of the lakes involved are in Inyo County, but the Supervisors noted the potential impact on anglers who access those lakes from the east side. Plan details indicate little impact on visitors from the west with removal occurring on only 15-percent of the water bodies.

According to Draper, the plan took out high-value destination sites.

Back in 2013, the Supervisors expressed their concerns, specifying lakes in the Dusy adjacent to the Bishop Pass Trail, the Kearsage Pass Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. Both basins include treated water bodies as do lakes near the PCT.

The EIS applied only to the national parks; additional, but yet spelled out, frog restoration measures will be taken by the Forest Service. Chair Jeff Griffiths and Kingsley noted the potential cumulative effects on recreational traffic in Inyo County.

The Supervisors will be sending a letter outlining their concerns to the National Park Service.

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