Devil Gulch-SF Merced S Evans

Learn More About the Sierra National Forest Management Proposals

The Forest Service is currently seeking public comment on three draft forest plans encompassing more than four million acres of public land in the eastern and southern Sierra Nevada. This alert focuses on the Sierra National Forest. You can also view and act on our previous alerts about the Inyo and Sequoia National Forests.

The Sierra National Forest encompasses the central and southern Sierra Nevada south of Yosemite National Park. This highly scenic and mostly wild region attracts visitors from all over world. The draft plan addresses many different land and resource management issues, including the identification of and potential agency recommendations to protect additional Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers. Protection of these wild places not only ensures that present and future generations may enjoy them, but they also provide refuge for fish, wildlife, and plants; preserve important sources of clean water and air; and help boost the local tourism-based economy.

Unfortunately, the Forest Service’s “preferred” Alternative B for the Sierra Forest recommends no new wilderness for protection. Even worse, the preferred alternative proposes to double the amount of logging. But the more conservation-oriented Alternative C recommends more than 220,641 acres of wilderness, while proposing a more modest level of logging.

Whitewater action in lower Dinkey Creek. Photo by Darin McQuoid.

Whitewater action in lower Dinkey Creek. Photo by Darin McQuoid.

Alternative C adds thousands of acres to the existing Ansel Adams, John Muir, and Dinkey Lakes Wilderness. In addition, it greatly expands representation in the Wilderness System of low elevation foothill ecosystems by adding more than 42,000 acres of the Kings River roadless area to the existing Monarch Wilderness, creating a protected area allowing wildlife and flora to migrate from 1,000 feet elevation to nearly 12,000 feet elevation in response to climate change.

Alternative C also proposes wilderness protection for several new “standalone” areas, including Devil Gulch-Ferguson Ridge, which straddles the South Fork Merced Wild & Scenic River. Two new wilderness areas would protect much of Dinkey Creek, including Bear Mountain (which includes the spectacular Dinkey Dome) and Sycamore Springs, which includes much of the wild and roadless canyon of lower Dinkey Creek.

Under all alternatives, the Forest Service identified an astounding 640 miles of eligible Wild & Scenic Rivers. This means that the free flowing character and outstanding natural and cultural values of these streams will be protected administratively regardless of which alternative is chosen in the final plan.

Eligible streams include all undammed segments of the San Joaquin River and many of its tributaries, the North Fork Kings River and several of its tributaries, and the unprotected segment of the Kings River, which offers world famous whitewater adventures.

Unfortunately, not all areas and streams deserving of protection are proposed for protection under Alternative C. This includes Cat’s Head Mountain and Soaproot, two areas representing low elevation Sierra foothill ecosystems, were not recommended as Wilderness in Alternative C. In addition, lower Dinkey Creek, which is renowned with expert kayakers for its outstanding whitewater opportunities, was inexplicably not found eligible for Wild & Scenic protection.

The Forest Service is soliciting public comments on the Sierra draft Forest Plan through August 25, 2016. Please send an email TODAY to the Forest Service urging the agency to adopt an improved Alternative C for the Sierra Forest that protects significant amounts of Wilderness and all streams identified as eligible for Wild & Scenic River protection.

If you have any questions about this alert or require more information, please contact Steve Evans at sevans@calwild.org.

To review the Forest Service’s draft Forest Plans, EIS, and supporting materials, as well as for the schedule of additional public meetings in August, please visit for Forest Service’s website.