Trail and road barriers spark summer angst

Some angry Inyo-Mono people now privately say they see a “sage brush rebellion” about to erupt.  It’s all about back country road closures under what’s called the Inyo National Forest 2009 Motorized Travel Management decision. ( See Forest Service Implementation Plan below story.)

Callers to the newsroom told us some people are removing road barriers and said numerous roads have been closed around Mammoth Lakes as well as some in the Coyote area above Bishop, in addition to other places.

Forest officials say that in response to the “tremendous growth in off-highway vehicle recreation on public lands,” they began a planning process to develop a “sustainable system of routes” and protection for natural and cultural resources.  Marty Hornick, forest trails coordinator for the Inyo Forest, said that the 3,000 miles of roads on the Inyo were reduced by 700 miles after a series of public meetings and field trips.

A Forest Service hand-out says the 2009 decision added over 1,000 miles of new motorized trails and roads to the Forest and slated 700 miles for closure – 200 of those miles in Inyo and about 400 miles in Mono with the rest scattered in other counties.  Barriers, gates, signs and monitoring have gone into effect.  The Forest says signs and barriers have been placed at over 1100 intersections of “unauthorized routes.”  There are maps that show legal routes throughout the Eastern Sierra.

Asked about reports of removal of barriers, Hornick said that surveys show 60 to 80% of road barriers are still in place.  But the Coyote area shows 60 to 80% of the road barriers have been torn out.  He said some roads are blocked by rocks and brush but others are closed off with lumber barricades.  He admitted that “People have been pulling them out or crushing them.”  Hornick also said that a few closure are “being reconsidered.”

Some reports said that people have torn down and taken cameras placed on barricaded roads.  Hornick said he did not think cameras have been used so far this year, but he did say law enforcement would investigate evidence at vandalism scenes.

Asked if he had heard of the rebellion over the road closures and complaints about Friends of the Inyo working to put up road barriers, Hornick said he had heard rumors of  “Enemies of the Inyo”.  He said there are some “passionate voices trying to rally against the Forest Service.”

Hornick confirmed that the Travel Management Plan was mandated by the Chief of the Forest Service, and that this movement started in the Nixon administration.

To reports of vandalized road closures in the Mammoth area, Hornick said that he had no knowledge of that.  He did want to make it clear that the barriers are not meant to keep mountain bikers out, just motorcycles and ATVs.  Hornick also confirmed that the group, Friends of the Inyo did receive a $600,000 state grant to work under Forest Service direction to put up closures and to rehabilitate and restore damaged routes.

Hornick said, “If people think we are in violation of the 2009 road decision, they should tell us.”  A Forest Service hand-out says that road and trail maintenance continues on around 2200 miles of OHV-legal routes.  The implementation plan below spells out more details and gives phone numbers for comments and concerns.


Travel Management Implementation on the Inyo National Forest
~~ An Update for 2012 ~~
Over the last two years the Forest Service has been physically implementing a variety of actions that were directed in the Inyo National Forest 2009 Motorized Travel Management decision.  The intent of this handout is to update you on the status of the implementation and the plans for 2012.
Brief Background
The planning process for Motorized Travel Management began on national forests across the country about eight years ago, in response to the tremendous growth in off-highway vehicle recreation on public lands. The planning process and subsequent decisions carried out the direction contained in the 2005 National Travel Management Rule. The goal of motorized travel management is to develop and maintain a sustainable system of routes that provide an array of opportunities for access and recreation, as well as protection for natural and cultural resources.
The public was actively engaged every step of the way during Travel Management planning here on the Inyo NF, attending meetings and field trips and  providing valuable input into the process.  The 2009 decision added over 1,000 miles of new motorized trails and roads to the Forest’s system, while approximately 700 miles of unauthorized routes were slated for closure.  This resulted in a system of over 2,350 miles of designated roads and motorized trails on the Forest, with about 2,200 miles available to Off-Highway Vehicles.
Front-country areas of the Inyo NF offer great opportunity for high quality recreation experiences.  Through the development and maintenance of designated motorized routes there are a multitude of opportunities for motorized recreation as well as motorized access to a wide array of non-motorized recreational activities such as fishing, hunting, climbing, mountain biking  and hiking.
How is the Inyo NF Implementing the 2009 Travel Management Decision?
“Implementation” consists of many different types of actions.
The Motor Vehicle Use Map or “MVUM” – Implementation began early in 2010 with the publication of the MVUM.  The MVUM is the legal document that is published annually designating a system of roads and trails that are open to motor vehicles. A new version will be released for the 2012 summer season.
Mitigations – Several of the routes that were added to the national forest motorized system require some form of “mitigation”, or treatment, to reduce the adverse effects of roads and trails on natural and cultural resources.  Mitigations may include creek crossing stabilization, surface hardening, drainage, barricading, seasonal closures (gates), signage and monitoring.  Many of these mitigations, once performed, allow previously unauthorized routes to be added to the MVUM and be opened to motorized vehicles.
Maintenance and Identification of Roads & Trails – A desired outcome of implementation is to make the legal motorized system routes clearly identifiable and navigable by all motorized users. To achieve this, over the last two years and over the next two years, the Inyo NF is focusing on the maintenance of system roads and trails, the signing of open routes, and the blocking and/or disguising of routes that were not added to the system and therefore are now illegal for motor vehicle use. Making route information readily available to users is a high priority for us.

Who is Doing the Implementing?
Work is being accomplished by a wide array of Forest Service personnel with substantial help from volunteers and local groups such as a local Youth Conservation Corps, Student Conservation Association, and others, assisting with implementation.  A local stewardship group, “Friends of the Inyo”, obtained a grant from the CA Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Division to assist with restoration work as directed in the Travel Management decision.  This group, as well as the Eastern Sierra Four-Wheel-Drive Club and others, have helped manage the route system by placing signs, repairing roads and trails and restoring roads under the direction and oversight of Forest Service staff.
Implementation Efforts to Date
Since 2010, several categories of activities have been conducted as part of implementing the Travel Management decision on the Inyo National Forest.
Mitigations – Over 60 specified prescribed “mitigation” treatments of roads, trails, or adjacent resources including:

15 barriers to confine use to travel ways to protect adjacent resources
3 gates for seasonal access
23 signs for resource protection
3 meadow stabilization/repairs
8 creek crossings/fords
new water bars/drainage on 10 roads and trails
hardened surfacing (aggregate) applied to 2 roads
Prescribed monitoring

Routes added post-mitigation – 31 roads and trails, totaling 20 miles, have been opened for motorized use and added to the Transportation System based on completion of “pre-designation” mitigations.  The 2009 decision designated these routes, contingent upon the completion of specific work.  Mitigations which can stabilize and open additional routes continue to be a high priority for the Forest.

Identification of the Designated System, and closure of unauthorized routes – Signs and barriers have been placed at over 1100 intersections of unauthorized routes to reduce confusion about which roads and trails are legal for motorized use.  Some unauthorized routes have been disguised through the placement of brush and rock, and loosening of compacted soils.
Nearly 1,000 route marker signs have been placed on system roads and trails, helping people navigate the designated system, and find their way to recreational destinations.  Publication of the 2010 and 2012 Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) which show legal travel routes have been printed and distributed from Forest offices and visitor centers.

Related work
User Information – Two high quality maps were developed in partnership with the California Trail Users Coalition (CTUC) and the Forest Service, through funding by the CA OHMVR division.  These show legal routes throughout the Eastern Sierra, as well as recreational sites, topographic and reference information, difficulty levels of some trails, and highlighted routes.  Text includes descriptions of key recreational opportunities, safety and Tread Lightly information, and contacts for emergencies and local agencies.  These maps are available at local Forest Service offices and visitor centers at no charge.
Ongoing Maintenance Efforts – Road and trail maintenance continues on approximately 2,200 miles of OHV-legal routes.  These are maintained for high-clearance and trail vehicles so management and maintenance are focused on keeping the routes stable, open to the designated use, and preventing resource damage.  Obstacles have been removed, waterbars and culverts cleared, signs replaced, and dense overgrowth cut back.
Monitoring and Reporting – Monitoring for route and resource conditions continues.  Each year, 20-30% of the motorized transportation system is being formally monitored for compliance with soil conservation plan standards.  Informal and random patrols and monitoring for vehicle trespass and compliance occur on the vast majority of the system every year.
Planning for intensive restoration of unauthorized routes – Various on-going planning efforts are focused on complete restoration of closed routes in locations where adverse resource effects will continue even with no motorized use.  Proposed activities are being analyzed under the National Environmental Planning Act (NEPA) and include public involvement.
Enforcement and Compliance – Illegal off-route travel is being documented, resource damage is being treated, and tracks are being obliterated.  Educational efforts, signage, and blocking of unauthorized routes continue in order to reduce the need for law enforcement action.  Vandalism of closures and signs has occurred, as well as illegal driving off of the designated system.  This damage is costly to restore or replace, needlessly wasting taxpayer funds and diverting efforts that could be made to improving OHV management.   Law enforcement efforts will be stepped up to address violations, especially in areas where vandalism is frequent.
Implementation Focus for 2012

During this third year of travel management implementation on the Inyo NF the focus will be on completing mitigations, blocking unauthorized routes, maintaining roads to standards, signing system routes and planning for the restoration of unauthorized routes where resource conditions or issues warrant further action. In 2012, Forest Service staff will also be monitoring system roads, evaluating resource, road and trail conditions and making recommendations for future actions to improve the route system and mitigate resource concerns.
On the Mammoth and Mono Lake Ranger Districts, emphasis will be given to the signing of system roads, blocking and disguising of unauthorized routes and completion of mitigations in several areas east of Highway 395. The Glass Mountains, Sagehen Summit and Bald Mountain areas are primary focus areas. The Districts will also be re-visiting work areas on the west side of Highway 395 to complete implementation efforts, improve wayfinding and evaluate past implementation efforts. Maintenance is scheduled to occur on the Lookout and Crater Mountain loops, in addition to several other roads.
On the White Mountain and Mt. Whitney Ranger Districts, priority areas for signing, blocking and disguising unauthorized routes and completion of mitigations include Casa Diablo, Tom’s Place, Glass Mountain, and the Westgard Pass area. Mitigation implementation will focus on low complexity mitigations such as signs for resource protection that open routes to public use upon completion.  Maintenance of closures and signs will occur throughout the Districts with emphasis on past focus areas such as Coyote Flat and Mazourka.  Route maintenance and patrols will also occur throughout the Districts with increased efforts planned for the Monache and Coyote areas.
Ongoing Changes to the System and Emerging Issues
While the Forest does not intend to revise substantial elements of the 2009 decision, Travel Management is a dynamic and continuing process, allowing for changes in the Transportation System when necessary, and as appropriate planning efforts are completed.
In the process of implementing the 2009 decision, Forest Service crews, partners and the public have discovered that inadvertent errors were made in the Travel Management decision.  The most common errors stem from inadequate field information about the condition of the routes.  In cases where multiple routes accessed the same point, the best or most-used route may not have been designated.  Mapping and typographical errors have also resulted in some discontinuous routes or other confusing factors. These issues are being addressed and resolved on an ongoing basis and will be noted in errata to the Motorized Travel Management decision and in site-specific decision documents.  The changes will be reflected in the MVUM during updates.
During the initial 2002-2005 inventory process, certain smaller profile routes were missed, and were not analyzed for inclusion in the system.  The Forest Service is committed to determining the status, condition and need for these routes and has requested funding through grants from the CA OHMVR Division to conduct further analysis to improve the motorized travel network.
Physical closures of unauthorized routes have occasionally affected non-motorized travelers who can still legally use the routes.  While most closures are relatively simple barriers that can be stepped over or bypassed by hikers or mountain bikes, some restoration and disguising methods make travel difficult for short sections.  The Forest Service is addressing and correcting these on a site-by-site basis to allow for appropriate non-motorized use

Your Comments, Observations and Suggestions are Welcomed and Encouraged

Throughout the implementation process, the Forest Service, our partners and the public will continue to identify locations where inadvertent errors were made, places where non-motorized users may be impacted, and new opportunities to improve the motorized and non-motorized recreation opportunities. As a forest user, we encourage you to report your observations, provide feedback and comments and offer suggestions. Your input should be directed to:

Jon Kazmierski, Recreation Officer for the Mammoth and Mono Lake Ranger Districts, 760-924-5503,, PO Box 148, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
Nick Ettema, OHV Leader for White Mountain and Mt. Whitney Ranger Districts, 760-876-6211,, PO Box 8, Lone Pine, CA, 93545
Marty Hornick, Trails Program Manager for the Inyo National Forest Service, 760-873-2461,, 351 Pacu Lane, Suite 200, Bishop, CA 93514


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42 Responses to Trail and road barriers spark summer angst

  1. Martin P June 20, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    I am not a 4WD enthusiast, but enjoy exploring our amazing public lands. The amount of roads barricaded for no apparent reason is alarming. I went down one road that used to lead to a great campsite in the Inyos in my 2WD truck to find a barricade with no turnaround, forcing me to mash some vegetation to get out. These road closures are not about OHV abuse, when they legitimately are, like blocking a bootlegged, eroding, shortcut, I’m all for them. When they are designed to deny very benign vehicular access to our common lands on roads that have existed for generations, I’m ready for battle. Where do I enlist!

    • JohnC June 22, 2012 at 12:22 am #

      Just one of many places to enlist, but local to the Inyo.

      MammothMC pres 2012

      PS. we share your sentiments

  2. chief noroad June 20, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

    you fools got ganked

    • AL Grande July 16, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

      You’re the one getting ganked chief, and don’t even know it.

  3. salblaster June 20, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    here we go again. it seems that if you ride dirt bikes,quads,or four wheelers to go exploring and sightseeing your somehow desroying the planet. i just dont see it. its a great way to get outdoors and go hunting or fishing or just to look at a cool spot. many just like the challenge of getting up a steep road. i first went into coyote valley around 1976 to go fishing and measure the length of the navy airstrip that used to be paved, my friends dad flew a 4 passenger cesna and wanted to fly in to deer hunt the area. since then, i’ve been up there twice, the last time was in 2008 and it looked just the same to me. the campsites on the west side of sugarloaf were clean it looked just like i remembered. why cant the atv haters just share, thats what it comes down to for me. its not like im out riding my quad and run into a group day hikers and say ” oh theres a bunch of bird watchers that just ruined my whole day” i have no problem sharing public land, and for the destroying the enviroment claim, wheres the evidence. its not like sage brush are going extinct. the last time i looked there was about a billion sage brush in inyo and mono county. so lets keep america free and not let big money from sierra club and friends of the inyo bully us around.

  4. Big AL June 20, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    “A Forest Service hand-out says the 2009 decision added over 1,000 miles of new motorized trails and roads to the Forest and slated 700 miles for closure – 200 of those miles in Inyo and about 400 miles in Mono with the rest scattered in other counties.”

    This is smoke and mirror talk here, they added 1,00 miles to inventory. there were existing roads, that were not inventoried previously. They were not made or added, other than being physically inventoried.

    Before this new Inyo National Forest 2009 Motorized Travel Management decision. the forest service had no complete inventory of existing roads. So they set out to inventory everything for this plan to close roads.

    The real truth in that statement after the part about adding roads is that they closed 700 miles of roads.

    And don’t you love the part, about cameras being stolen, oh wait Mr. Hornick claims there were no cameras set out that he knows of., yet the comment was made in the article, that cameras had been stolen. But Law enforcement would investigate evidence at vandalism scenes. We all know they are there, we see them all the time.

    Heck, they Fish and Game even use them, just watch Wild Justice on NATGEO, lol.

  5. Russ Monroe June 21, 2012 at 7:30 am #

    Our forests were hit so hard in the “catastrophic wind event” last year, that it will be years before the agencies involved can even quantify the damage. I walked a quarter mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail last week that had four downed trees blocking the trail. Two of those four trees were on such steep slopes, that circumventing them was dangerous. Faced with the largest natural disaster in it’s history, the forest circus is using up, the tiny amount of payroll that it has to spend on work outside of an office, on closing every access it can as fast as it can, knowing all the while that the angry mob is right behind undoing most of it.
    Like so many people that I have heard from about this assault on public access, I’m livid about being told over and over again for years, at every public meeting, that their would be no closures in my area, only to go walking one morning and find an intersection that I walk through several times a week has been closed. And not just closed, but closed in a very dangerous way, with no notice at all, and the immediate effect of the closure is to divert all traffic onto private land.
    The Forest Service and the Friends of the Inyo would better serve the public good by concentrating on recovery from the disaster at hand rather than causing more harm.

  6. Rob June 21, 2012 at 8:26 am #

    I support the illegal removal of barriers

    I’m overjoyed to know there are like minded people out there.

    Now if we can get the friends of the inyo to put bumper stickers on their vehicles so we know who these people are….

    • Steve June 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

      If you can’t get want you what through legislation or participation, try intimidation–typical Sagebrush rebel response.

      • Big AL June 21, 2012 at 6:38 pm #

        And a typical greenie response as well .. with some people .. Get real Steve can’t make a generalized statement like that. not all greenies are meanies, but there are some that try to intimidate .. and make such statements such as the above.

        Not all sage brush rebels are that way either. Most are just tired of getting the short end of the stick on these issues, so now .. we’ll see who wears the other shoe, and that is not a threat, just speculation.

        Greenies that have intimidated and lied and connived .. will be up against a more united sage brush front of citizens.

    • Big AL June 21, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

      Yes Rob, it is heartening to know there are more supporters of our rights .. and the injustice that is going on.

    • hisierragal June 22, 2012 at 9:32 am #

      And why do you want to “know who these people are”?

      • Rob June 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

        Maybe I’d install a barrier across your driveway

        • hisierragal June 25, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

          why my driveway, Rob?

          • hisierragal June 26, 2012 at 6:56 am #

            well ya’ see, it is really interesting that there have been two thumbs down so far just because I asked why I would be a target for rob’s mr badd azzz threat – especially since I do not belong to the organization he mentioned

  7. Rob June 21, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    “sage brush rebellion”

    Where can I donate money towards the cause?

  8. Rob June 21, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    Benett you can delete one of my similar post. I posted waited a few minutes and didn’t see my post as waiting moderation, so I posted again. Now I see both post so feel free to delete one of them, or both.

    Thanks for the great story, you really did your homework on this one. The “Sage brush rebellion” is actually happening all over the West.

  9. CarbonFootPrint June 21, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    Why don’t the greenies focus on what the real environmental problem is…

    There are too many people on our small planet.

    • Rob June 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

      The greenies should start walking everywhere they go. And every darn one of them had better be installing solar on their homes too. And I’ll think of plenty more they should be doing before they start telling me what I can or can’t do on public land.

      Friends of the Inyo
      The Center for biologicial diversity
      public employees for environmental responsibility

      ^all of the above are business stifling wack jobs. Think twice before you give them support.

      • JeanGenie June 25, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

        Yeah Rob,
        I’m in total agreement.
        Worried about the biological diversity of the sides of paved roads? What possible environmental effect can it have for offroad vehicles to be able to access town in some locations? That is only a DMV and law enforcement issue.Complete and utter grasping at straws with absolutely no real regard for the environment, just a bunch of obstructionists who don’t like motorized access and can’t mind their own business. Whatever happened to live and let live?

        Sometimes these kind of people try to tell me you can’t fish in the backcountry also. I tell em go back to SF and mind your own business. That’s where most of those “Friends of the Inyo” hail from. A lot of this BS started in Death Valley when these people thought you should be “backpacking” in areas that have been vehicle access forever, and have minimal water for hikers.

        These people aren’t real environmentalists, they are ignorant control freaks who want everything their way.

  10. Mammoth Motorcycle Club June 21, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    Here’s a copy of my email to Marty….

    Hello Marty,

    I have some issues with the article posted up on the sierra wave website entitled “Trail and road barriers spark summer angst.” Hopefully you can help clear things up for me.

    In the article it states, “He admitted that “People have been pulling them out or crushing them (closures). Hornick also said that a few closures are “being reconsidered.” What closures are being reconsidered, can you be specific? I was always under the impression that the “process” is over, and we have to “live” with its decision (or lack thereof). A line I often hear is, “It’s too bad we didn’t get more public participation, but the decision has been made.” Can we assume that the Forest Service is now revisiting the TMD, and will dirt bike riders be represented (input considered) this time around?

    Also, the article states, “Hornick confirmed that the Travel Management Plan was mandated by the Chief of the Forest Service, and that this movement started in the Nixon administration.” Amazing! You would think that a project, over 40 years in the making, would’ve been completed in much more accurate and thorough manner. As you know, user input was often ignored, and specific corrections were also ignored – in favor of more important NGO recommendations (Friends of the Inyo in this case). In the end, we shouldn’t be too surprised to hear about the “passionate voices trying to rally against the Forest Service.” Everyone who recreates in the forest, including non-motorized users (mtn. bikers as you put it), deserve better. I hate to say it, but sooner or later someone is going to get themselves hurt on one of your dangerous barricades. Is there anything being done or anything being discussed on the subject of possibly removing them from the forest entirely? Or should we expect this type of closure (log barricades) to continue?

    Finally, the article also states: “To reports of vandalized road closures in the Mammoth area, Hornick said that he had no knowledge of that” “…If people think we are in violation of the 2009 road decision, they should tell us.” Well Marty, “people” HAVE told you. MANY people, in fact, have voiced their concerns over the MANY violations that the FS and FOI are responsible for. The fact of the matter is that the FS has refused to go out into the field to validate ANY of these concerns/complaints – no wonder you’re unaware of what’s going on in the Mammoth area. Who exactly should we contact with concerns, complaints, or violations regarding the implementation process, and how can we know that they’ll be taken seriously? I understand that emails are easy to blow off, so is there a formal request one could fill out instead?


    Look forward to your response.

    • Big AL June 21, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

      Good letter MMMC …

      You’re so right about ignored feed back from all parties. Feed back only seems to be taken from chosen sources. If it was received and reviewed and acted upon in an unbiased basis, then there would not be all of the closures happening, for in reality … the majority of parties commenting are for against such closures.

      Email isn’t readily blown off as some might think. The sender always has a copy on his or her machine with record of it being sent. The machine receiving the email, can be explored to find receipt of said email as well.

      Whether the individual chooses to blow it off … is a different story, I hear ya there.

    • Patrick Henry June 22, 2012 at 12:06 am #

      Complaints against Hornick, Ettema and Kazmierski should be directed to the Inspector General of the Department of Agriculture. Call Kazmierski every day for two weeks and he will never return the call no matter how many messages you leave. (There is an online complaint form for the IG) Anyone below that level is a joke.

      These unelected federal goons seek to govern us without our permission. They transfer in from other areas with the intent of putting their federal boot on the throats of local citizens and communities to show who is in charge. They want you to believe that resistence futile. In order for them to get more grant money, they have to spend more grant money and they must think of a way to spend it, like closing roads.

      Quislings and Judas Goats like Enemies Of the Inyo will do anything to anybody for their thirty pieces of silver. They are like bad weather and will always be with us like leeches.

      An IG complaint is what every federal goon worries about.

      Thanks Benett for telling the truth that no one else in the media will touch.

      • Big AL June 25, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

        Patrick, there is a lot of truth in what you say. The messages left unanswered, I have experienced that, I know what you mean, that is hwy it is hard to swallow the remarks made by the forest service, that they welcome comments of concern from people. If you are lucky to actually have someone answer the phone when you call, that is as far as it goes. Otherwise any message you leave falls to the delete button.

        The grant money is something most people understand either, how much money drains out through grants, such as money paid to the friends of the Inyos for carrying out forest service work.

        There are people out there making a living off of tax dollars, received in the form of grant money. And they get paid to promote their own agendas while spending and earning federal grant money dollars.

        I think there might be avenue of relief in letters of complaint to the Inspector General of the USDA. It is one avenue available, squeaky wheels get the grease.

        As I have said before, as well .. media is a big fog horn, it needs to be harnessed.

  11. upthecreek June 21, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    they will not be happy till they close the entire forest.
    Look at what happened in the Big Bear area.
    Tic Tic Tic

  12. Pete June 21, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    I feel compelled to relate my own personal barrier encounter. I consider myself an environmentalist and nature lover….BUT last year I was driving to one of my favorite bouldering areas (the Bachar boulders across from the June Lake Junction) and while negotiating a turn encountered a newly erected wood barrier in a road I had literally driven for decades. There was no warning, I nearly hit it, and I’m a reasonable and conservatively slow driver. I was surprised firstly that the barricade was in place, and secondly that they had blocked off such a benign, well-established road in this location. There was no turnaround area and I negotiated a clumsy retreat.
    The closures in general seem inappropriately determined and potentially dangerously done with little foresight to motorist flow upon reaching the closure. I’m not a motor sports enthusiast, but feel that they have a valid and compelling point about the lack of pubic input, poor signage and logistics of the physical closures, and catering to a single NGO without taking into account the full spectrum of users. Some closures are are appropriate in environmentally sensitive or overly trodden areas, but it would seem that this applys in minority of cases and overly restricts the access to public lands that has brought many of us to the fabulous Eastern Sierra.

    • Big AL June 21, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

      It is almost like they did stuff like this on purpose … putting these barriers in places such as your experience Pete. One can not help but feel this was done to trap some one to do harm to their vehicle, like a booby trap. just saying.

      • leatherbag June 22, 2012 at 8:47 am #

        I believe that they have done these things on purpose to the extent that some of the barricades are on commonly traveled winter roads by snowmobile enthusiasts. I’ve seen that some of these posts are barely (if even) 2 feet tall and are going to damage the machine. It may even injure or kill the rider in the fresh powder of a decent first storm if they’re clipping along at a decent rate and the barricade is barely covered.

        • Rob June 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

          You got that right Big Al, you get a ski to go under one of those barriers and your going to damage the machine and possibly get hurt.

          I’ve actually had this happen before out near Crater Flats. It’s extremly dangerous and one could probably sue someone if they were to get hurt.

    • JohnC June 22, 2012 at 12:53 am #

      Hey Pete, our club called the USFS on the closures leading to the bouldering area. Those roads had been in use since the 1960’s as evidenced by old topo maps and even earlier because of the lava gravel pits.

      The USFS reply based around upholding the closures because of sensitive plants.


      Our response countered with, “so now you have a perfectly good road closed for sensitive plants (which aren’t being harmed because the road is compact and well defined by sagebrush and sand) but you continue to allow sheep grazing — which eats up the vegetation like no other hungry climber or road user. How does that make any sense?”

      USFS: it doesn’t make sense, but in the context of route designation the flowers are spared from motorized use – even though the flowers aren’t growing on the roadway.

      My own disclaimer: the USFS wouldn’t give the name of the plant species, sheep grazing is part of the ES, and I appreciate flowers. Especially the natives.

  13. hisierragal June 22, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    There was public input in the form of open meetings and the ability to view and comment on the maps in the FS office, to state otherwise is (choose one or more) dishonest, ignorant and inflammatory.

    There were also certain criteria for choosing roads based on issues such as redundancy and potential for damage (such as a road through a wet meadow)

    Didn’t get involved? Want everybody else to listen to you now? At the very least you might want to get your facts straight.

    • MammothMC June 22, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

      I’ll bite. We might even know each other, you do sound like someone on the inside and that’s great to take the time to chime in. I personally know many a fine USFS and FOI people, haved worked side by side w/ them too.

      Our MC club was born out of the frustration of having our concerns ignored during route designation. You’re right, there was public input. However it went nowhere from a two wheeled perspective, which is now common knowledge. I personally showed up to so many travel management meetings and would give lessons on map accuracy and errors. Pages and pages of comments where generated to no avail. Then the ones who were being paid to comment the most (FOI) ended up being the ones contracted to do much of the closing. In one Jeffery Pine Journal a member bragged in print about his passion for signing roads/trails closed to motorized.

      The Inyo is huge. I’ve had the good fortune to see so much of it but was overwhelmed because it was impossible to comment on every last mile slated for the chopping block in the required timeline. Still have all the mega PDF map files too with all the various overlays – it was too much for everyone involved really, (CAT team and all) but deadlines come and go (like top managment) and this is what we are left with.

      When traveling the forest today I often feel disheartened. The signage, barricades, and blocked historical access to lost destinations and camping has gone way too far – you don’t have to belong to a club to care about the front country.

      The amount of facts to get straight is overwhelming, we do what we can and report to those that care. It does get old, but to eat an elephant one has to take one bite at a time.

      • Russ Monroe June 24, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

        MammothMC, you are so painfully correct. This management process is designed to fail under it’s own weight. A line from the (Forest) Circus was: “I can’t understand how anyone could say we didn’t provide them with the information”. After all; it was clearly stated on in volume 6, page 678, paragraph 6, map 237’s caption; that non-inventoried road were not addressed? (sarcasm folks!)
        The press release above is the perfect example. How many paragraphs does it take to not give out a single bit of information about even one actual occurrence on the ground? Each closure should require individual assessment, community consensus, or at least input, and most require at minimum of understanding of civil/traffic engineering. It can be done rationally.
        Over the last several years the Alabama Hills Stewardship working with the BLM has succeeded in closing several accesses that had been recently created. Those accesses had created dangerous situations or environmentally destructive conditions, but they were each debated by many different interest groups, the sites were actually visited by the people making the decisions and when decisions were made to act, the community and interested parties including; boulderers, hikers, four-wheelers, cyclists and others, volunteered their time to do the work. Those changes seem to be being respected by the populous.
        By contrast the Travel Management Implementation on the Inyo National Forest has insisted on dealing with thousands of issues as a block, burying the public in data and maps filled with words with inverted meanings, and running on for years with nothing getting done (Nixon administration?) only to make thousands of changes in a few months. What has backfired on them here is the fact that they made many of the most important decisions without even sending a person to look at the actual locations. In the case of the closure in Tuttle Creek Canyon, they thought that fifty feet of closure was going to stop all vehicle traffic to an area several hundred acres in size. Problem was; no one went to look at the site. Another Forest Service road went to the same area but the decision makers in their cubical had no idea the road existed because their maps said….
        This resulted in one, of apparently many, dangerous situations created by barriers placed at the bottoms of steep hills that still have access from the steep hill side. Dangerous conditions created by “managers” that are just too busy to go look before they order tax money spent, but magically have time now to go spend the money again to ‘fix’ the problem they just created.

        • Big AL June 24, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

          I feel Russ that it wasn’t really designed to fail. I think it all was designed very well to succeed .. in as you say … bog everyone down and limit them to a short period of time to review, evaluate and respond (comment).

          To succeed in their endeavor to push it through. This all was designed by certain individuals with agendas within the USFS, FOI’s and other environmental groups.

          And the final blow, as you say, there was no supervision from the USFS in regard to what FOI was doing.

          I would love to feel that they would review these locations and possibly re open routes in question, but from what I have seen, it is set in stone, no going back.

          As MMMC say’s, there are some good folks working in both organizations, and there are some who need sent packing.

      • Econ 202 June 24, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

        The FOI are willing, paid tools of the USFS and BLM. They remind me of the Vichy regime in France who worked for the invading Germans against their communities.

      • Big AL June 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

        Amen MMMC thank you for all of your work!

    • Big AL June 24, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

      A lot of people got involved, and voiced concerns, their concerns were not heeded.
      The closures were already determined and there was no heed of any concerns against the closures, it was just the customary comment period that was required.

      I think the facts are straight enough.

      • Econ 202 June 24, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

        Big Al, you got it dead on. The USFS and BLM has public comment meetings because it is a hoop they are required to jump through. They let everyone have their say and then totally ignore the community and do what they want. It is a big joke to make you think your opinion is actually considered,

        The fact the FOI AKA: EOI have turned their backs on their community for money is despicable. Do you see anything on their web site about their paid work on road closures? Of course not! They know it is wrong and thought they got away with it and they did get away with it until Benett investigated and ran the story.

    • Jerry C. June 25, 2012 at 11:18 am #

      I know it’s easy to troll, hisierragal, but your trolling doesn’t take away from the good observations on here. Maybe you showed up to a different meeting (who knows), or maybe you’re just defending your own “special interests.”

      Either way, it’s apparent that (some) local citizens aren’t going to let this thing dictate how they access roads in the forest. Some have chosen to take matters into their own hands, while some will fight it in different ways. In the end, The Forest Circus claims this is law, and we must obey. LOL!

      What the FS fails to understand (or do they?), is that WE possess the power to make our own decisions, and the only “wrong decision” would be to blindly follow their directive.

      This is what makes America GREAT!

      Reminds me of the quote from Mark Twain:
      “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”

      • hisierragal June 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

        ain’t “trolling” Mr C., just get real tired of the lies being told
        there were public meetings that no one was willing to even own up to until I said something, special interest? yeah – tired of watching meadows being torn up in a few minutes of “play” with a motor vehicle

        • Mammoth Motorcycle Club June 27, 2012 at 9:51 am #

          I think we all know that there were “public meetings,” that’s undeniable. We also know that the FS used public input to make some good decisions (also undeniable). It wasn’t all bad.

          Unfortunately, where the process failed was towards the end…. As more and more valuable (and equally important) information came in, it was altogether thrown out – In favor of meeting the all-important “deadline mandated by the president,” or something like that. At one of the later meetings, people were so pissed off about this, that they stormed out of the building, saying things like “I’m going to rip those barricades out!” along with other things. All that Mr. Bone Head (Upchurch) could do was sit there and listen… FAIL!

          Speaking of Upchurch, where is he now-a-days??? Came on in to our town, told us what he planned to do with our roads, and left….like the wind. Didn’t even bother to stay and see his marvelous plan through… huh.

          The fundamental problem with the whole “public input process” was that it was rushed – plain and simple. I don’t care how long it took, it should’ve taken LONGER! Twice as long if need be. The implementation process should have taken longer as well. FOI hired a bunch of kids to pound signs, etc. – with no care really in how it was done. I’m sure they were happy enough just to be getting a paycheck at the end of the week (not blaming them at all). I think FOII should’ve had was come critical thinking individuals (off-roaders perhaps?), out there with the working groups too. You know, people that might ask questions if something didn’t feel right, etc.

          The implementation process should’ve included more public participation as well (we were actually promised this)! It’s great that the FOI were under “direct supervision” from the FS, but they should’ve been under the watchful eye of us as well (users who are directly effected). Something as simple as posting up detailed pictures and locations of every closure on their website would be a start! Why hide it?

          Even though this all sounds bad (because it is), I’m happy to hear that the Marty and Paul from FOI, are willing to re-visit some of the mistakes and reverse them. This would be the responsible thing to do, and I look forward to working with them.

          It’s easy to get involved – or not.

  14. Rosy October 14, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    Closed roads? Great stuff if you’re a drug/poaching operative. No one around to interfere. Just follow the money?


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