Planning Tomorrow's California
National Forests encompass about 20 million acres of California, or about a fifth of the state. The 18 National Forests in California are the source of more than half of the state’s water flowing from the Sierra Nevada, Coast Range, and southern California’s Transverse Ranges. National Forests are public lands managed by the Forest Service for multiple uses, including timber, minerals, range for grazing, water supply, recreation, and fish and wildlife habitat. Protected areas on our National Forest lands include wilderness, wild and scenic rivers (WSRs), National Monuments, National Recreation Areas, and other special designations.
CalWild and our allies are working to:
- Expand existing wilderness areas in the region to increase their ecological diversity, including additions to the Ansel Adams, White Mountains, Inyo Mountains, South Sierra, Domeland, Golden Trout, Monarch, Dinkey Lakes, Jenny Lakes, and John Muir Wilderness areas;
- Protect new wilderness areas such as Glass Mountain, Dexter Canyon, Cannell Peak, Stormy Canyon, Bear Mountain-Dinkey Dome, Sycamore Springs, and Devil Gulch-Ferguson Ridge;
- Protect key streams as wild and scenic rivers, including segments of Lee Vining Creek, Hot Creek, Lone Pine Creek, Salmon Creek, Trout Creek, lower Kern River, Kings River, Dinkey Creek, and the San Joaquin River; and
- Involve Native American Tribes, Latino groups, whitewater outfitters, kayakers and other non-traditional conservation partners in the public comments and planning processes through broad-based community organizing.
Federal law requires the Forest Service to update and revise National Forest management plans every 15-20 years. These management plans determine the overall level of logging, mining, and grazing on each forest, as well as consider additional areas for protective management. The Forest Service’s planning rule specifically requires a comprehensive inventory of roadless land for potential wilderness protection and a similar inventory of rivers and streams eligible for WSR protection.
Since 2005, revised plans have been adopted for five forests in California, including the Lake Tahoe Basin, Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino, and Cleveland National Forests. The Forest Service is currently in the process of finalizing plans for the Sequoia and Sierra, and is in the initial planning steps for Mendocino, Six Rivers, Shasta-Trinity, Klamath, and Rogue River-Siskiyou.
CalWild participates in the forest planning process to advocate for the protection of additional wilderness and roadless lands and eligible WSRs, as well as fish and wildlife habitat (particularly for at risk species) and sustainable recreation. The Forest Service is required to encourage public participation to identify issues addressed in the plans and to review and comment on draft plans. Much of CalWild’s forest planning work is focused on identifying and surveying areas and rivers for protection, educating the public, and mobilizing public comments on draft plans.
Updated July 2022
A final Inyo National Forest revised forest plan was released in September 2019. CalWild and its allies were able to increase wilderness eligibility acreage by 22,900 acres, or 61%, including Adobe Hills, Huntoon, and South Huntoon areas. We advocated for greater WSR miles, too, and succeeded in expanding those recommendations by 113 miles, or 88%. While some areas in Mono County like Glass Mountain were not included, we were overall quite happy with the results of this work.
The Sierra and Sequoia National Forests released their final plans in June 2022 with mixed results. We were disappointed to see wilderness acreage on the Sierra remain at literally zero acres, and only a paltry addition of 4,900 acres to the Monarch Wilderness in the Sequoia. This comes from a potential 841,700 acres in both forests that we found to be containing wilderness characteristics and values, so we will continue fighting for better protections here. WSR mileage, as a result of our advocacy for places like Dinkey Creek, was also mixed, with a 223% increase on the Sierra plan and a 7% increase in the Sequoia plan, but we were successful in getting all of Dinkey Creek proposed for protection.
Public comments for the Sierra and Sequoia plans will run through August 2022 and CalWild will advocate for and potentially litigate for better protections where we see fit.
Five National Forests in northwestern California are next up for plan revisions, which are slated to begin in 2023. CalWild is currently doing extensive surveying and aerial imagery analysis to ground-truth over 200 wilderness-eligible areas in the Mendocino, Six Rivers, Shasta-Trinity, Klamath, and Rogue Rivers-Siskiyou National Forests.