Inyo Supes to vote on Adventure Trails Pilot Project

By Charles James

Tuesday’s regular Inyo County Board of Supervisors’ meeting in Independence will possibly decide the fate of the ATV Adventure Trails System of the Eastern Sierra, an effort led by Dick Noles of Bishop and supported by many businesses in the county. The agenda item is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

Inyo County Public Works Project Manager assigned to the Adventure Trails proposal, Courtney Smith

Inyo County Public Works Project Manager assigned to the Adventure Trails proposal, Courtney Smith

The Adventure Trails Pilot Project hopes to emulate the success of other similar programs in other states and communities which have reportedly proven successful in improving the local economies establishing similar routes accommodate ATV access to local businesses.

The Board of Supervisors’ vote comes as the Inyo County Planning Commissioners unanimously voted at their last special commission meeting on Nov. 5 to accept the Planning Department staff recommendations and forward the Final Environmental Impact Report to the Inyo County Board of Supervisors.

The history of the project can be found on the County’s Planning Department website which explains that, on October 7, 2011, the California State Legislature passed Assembly Bill 628, which allowed Inyo County to establish a pilot project to designate combined-use highway segments up to 10 miles long on unincorporated County roads to link existing off-highway-vehicle (OHV) trails and trailheads on federal Bureau of Land Management or United States Forest Service lands. Its stated purpose is to link OHV recreational-use areas with necessary service and lodging facilities, in order to provide a unified system of OHV trails in the Owens Valley.

Several of the designated multi-use roads are in the City of Bishop. Some homeowners, fearing a negative impact on their neighborhoods formed the citizens’ group, Save Our Streets, and are asking the Board of Supervisors for a delay in the program’s implementation. Similar requests were made from homeowners during the Nov. 5 Planning Commission meeting. The delay was considered impractical given the timeline under AB 628, which sets a deadline of no later than January 1, 2016, for the County, in consultation with the Department of the California, Highway Patrol, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Parks and Recreation, to “prepare and submit to the Legislature a report evaluating the pilot project as described in Section 38026.1 of the Vehicle Code.” With only a year to conduct the pilot project and evaluation, time is critical says Adventure Trails’ supporters.

While the project has generally enjoyed wide-spread support among the public and especially with local business owners who hope to see a positive economic impact on the County, such groups as the Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility have environmental concerns. Some local homeowners in residential neighborhoods with streets that are included in the plan’s designated routes express concern over the potential for harm to their property values from the effects from noise, air quality and safety concerns.

The Environmental Impact Report was created by principal consultant Joe Gibson and AATSES Project Manager Roland OK, of Meridian Consultants, LLC.

Currently the Adventure Trails Pilot Project Plan has been reduced from the original 38 combined-use routes to 36 by the California Highway Patrol Safety Determination. There are 242 miles of combined-use routes or 181 miles of actual Inyo County and City of Bishop roads, slightly over half of which are paved, and the rest unpaved or dirt roads). Some of the combined-use routes share the same roads. All of the routes must comply with the Vehicle Code as amended in AB 628.

Seventeen of the designated combined-use designated routes are in the Bishop Area (4 in the City); 3 in the Aberdeen Area, 2 in the Big Pine Area, 3 in the Northern Inyo Range, 4 in the Independence Area, and 7 in the Lone Pine Area.

Several recommendations for revisions in wording were recommended to the Board of Supervisors by the Planning Commission to address several concerns in the County’s Assembly Bill 628 Implementing Procedures. They are:

  1. “If a necessary service facility at the start of end point of a combined-use route closes, the applicants shall be required to submit a revised application within 90 days from the date the business is closed.”

2. “If the County’s monitoring determines that undesirable impacts are being create by a combined-use route, the County shall close the route by removal of all signage with 90 days from the date of the Board action.”

3. “The Mitigation and Monitoring Plan for the ESAT System EIR is included as part of the Implementing Procedures by reference.”

4. “The County shall monitor for creation of new OHV routes along the proposed combined-use routes and coordinate with the property owner/land management agency to determine if corrective action is required.”

For more detailed information on Adventure Trails, visit Inyo County Planning Department’s website at: http://www.inyocounty.us/ab628/. The Board of Supervisors meeting can also be viewed live on Channel 12 by Suddenlink Customers with cable TV.

 

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14 Responses to Inyo Supes to vote on Adventure Trails Pilot Project

  1. Trouble December 1, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    Personally I can’t wait for this law to go into effect. I think we are lucky as hell to have this Trail System.

     
    • Karen December 2, 2014 at 8:42 am #

      After driving through the desert over Thanksgiving and seeing all the hordes of motorheads tearing it up, I think this project is a huge mistake for Inyo County. Do the majority of residents really want to live around that kind of noise, dust, along with potential accidents and liability? For it to really benefit the economy, it would take huge numbers of off-roaders and that would be a big change to our quality of life. Bad idea!

       
      • George December 2, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

        I assume that “driving through the desert” does not qualify you as a “motorhead”. BTW motorhead is not actually a word.

         
  2. p ite December 2, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    sorry im late to this dance, but i just read ab 628 and the state is turning over all responsibility for these roadways over to inyo including all litagations, questio what is this going to cost inyo county , and are we now responsible for the maintaining of these roads on what iwould consider a daily or weekly basis

     
    • Wayne December 6, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

      True, AB 628 states that the County must not implement anything that is unsafe and also must indemnify the State against liability. However AB628 then says the CHP shall determine and certify the safety of combined use public road routes. In the the EIR the CHP checked a box certifying these routes safe, with no documentation of actual onsite inspections or analysis. That lack of documentation means the determination of “safe” is likely arbitrary and capricious, in which case the indemnity would not hold up to a challenge. That loss of indemnity happens often, such as in the the lawsuit involving the snowmobile accident in Mammoth last year. These routes are not just city streets in Bishop, they include steep mountain roads around other towns. I guess the good news in this is that the State may well be on the hook for liability as well as the County.

       
  3. George December 2, 2014 at 8:05 pm #

    Today I drove to Ind. for the Board meeting. Waste of gas and time. I was surprised by the turnout.

     
    • Russ Monroe December 3, 2014 at 7:57 am #

      George, what was the turn out? What was the outcome?

       
      • George December 5, 2014 at 10:02 am #

        Russ:
        Sorry I didn’t see your question until today. I would guess about half the people there opposed the project. I spoke to a number of people who I assume were opposed and no one that I spoke with understood the project. Sad. People thought because of the signs the project was already approved. Amazing how people will jump on a bandwagon with no idea where it is headed.

         
  4. Wayne December 3, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    I had family stuff and missed everything the lat few days, does anyone have any info on what actually happened?

     
  5. Horse Guy December 3, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    Adventure Trails is one huge half baked loaf of personal favor and poor planning and should be put back in the oven.

    This “cure all” economic stimulus package, being promoted by a single user group, ignores the social, cultural, and recreational needs of every other user group.

    The County didn’t even bother to bring the affected together to hear concerns and work them out. Around the table should have been property owners, equestrians, bicyclists, business owners, ranchers, dirt bikers, enviro types, and maybe even a County Planning Commissioner (since they can’t seem to make heads or tails out of the proposal).

    By not including the above, Inyo County alienates a whole pile of vocal users, and as a result will end up with a plan that pisses off all of the above and kills AT in its pilot stage. That’s too bad because they could have brought us all along and made something that works for all of us here in Inyo County.

     
    • Mark December 3, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

      We need some regulation that will make you pick up after your horse on the trails. I’m tired of having to attempt to step over it.

       
      • Wayne Deja December 4, 2014 at 9:38 am #

        Mark…”Stepping over “horse poop is a lot different than mountain bikers and hikers having to work their way through their trails that have been destroyed by ORV’ers,or having their dogs that happen to be with them needing vet care after stepping on shards of broken glass and bottles deposited by the off roaders,or worse yet,getting hit or run over because of their careless behavior on the trails.Anyone who knows anything about the “sport” of off roading knows if this trail-system moves forward,what it will do is just be opening the door to just about every neighborhood street,as well as every hiking trail and bike path in Inyo County having to deal with these bands of dirt riders coming up from L.A. thinking they can do as they please when they get up here…maybe getting tired of tearing up the desert terrain down south in Cal City and Redrock,now wanting to move on to the desert and forest landscapes of the Owens Valley….But for some,I guess that behavior is O.K.,as long as they bring their wallets when they head up here…

         
        • George December 5, 2014 at 10:26 am #

          I am a mountain biker and hiker. I have never seen a trail destroyed by ORV’s nor have any of my dogs ever cut their paws on broken glass. I think people who oppose this project should realize that ORV’s are already here. The project won’t attract hoards of new users. It will just make their use a little easier. Whenever I see an ORV they are always very polite, give me lots of room etc. I think there are very conscience of their impact and want to leave a positive image. BTW this is not so with cars.

          As for “horse poop” the equestrian people do more for trails than any other NGO group. I am amazed by how much work they accomplish.

          BTW “every neighborhood street,as well as every hiking trail and bike path in Inyo County” is complete nonsence.

           
  6. Badfinger99 December 4, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

    Wayne I forgive your Ignorance, you just can’t help it that’s the way you are, you are one of God’s greatures

     

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