After what was described as community support at a packed public meeting in Lee Vinning, Inyo County has scheduled two public meetings to discuss the Eastern Sierra San Gabriel Wild Heritage act that proposes 430,000 of wilderness in Inyo and Mono County.
Of those Eastern Sierra acres in this wilderness bill, 369,889 are in Mono County, while far less, 60,782 are in Inyo County. The Inyo Supervisors, the Bishop City Council, and motorized access groups have all voiced opposition to additional wilderness areas in Inyo County, and it shows.
223,516 acres in the White Mountains have been proposed as wilderness, but on the map that wilderness ends at the Inyo/Mono County line.
The Inyo County Supervisors have been vocal in their opposition of the proposed bill. The Bishop City council also voiced their opposition to an earlier form of this wilderness bill.
Bob Hauter with Congressman Buck McKeons office explained that the straight line came about not just because of the Inyo Supervisors but other folks in the area, also had concerns.
One reason for the line, according to Hauter was that Senator Barbara Boxer had originally wanted 800,000 acres of new wilderness. The Inyo/Mono split was a way to get the numbers down, he said.
In the Mono County portion of the proposed wilderness many roads, including the road that researchers use to access the summit of White Mountain, have the wilderness boundary drawn around them, leaving the roads cherry stemmed.
Despite the intricate cartography in this bill, Hauter says that the Inyo/Mono split in the White Mountains reflects the quality of that area. Hauter says that there are a lot of good roads in the Inyo County portion of the whites that people like to use, including the paved road to the Schulman Bristlecone Pine Grove.
Paul McFarland with the Friends of the Inyo says he doesnt like the wilderness line that ends at Inyo County. He calls the Inyo/Mono split a big embarrassment, but adds that, compromise is compromise.
Hauter says that there has been a lot of speculation that the straight line boundary in the White Mountains was intended to appease the Inyo Supervisors, but he says that McKeons office worked with both Inyo and Mono Counties along with the Sierra Club and others to come up with this proposal.
The Inyo Supervisors have scheduled two public meetings on this wilderness bill. Representatives from Buck McKeons Office, along with staff from Senators Boxer and Feinstein are expected to attend.
The first meeting is slated for Tuesday at 4:00 in the Legion Hall in Independence. The second meeting is scheduled for Wednesday in the Charles Brown Auditorium at the Fairgrounds in Bishop.