New Final Inyo Forest Plan Boosts Recommended Wilderness & Wild Rivers
The Forest Service has just released its final revised Inyo National Forest Plan. The plan was revised in response to objections filed by Mono County, CalWild, and a coalition of conservation groups. In the newly revised final plan, the Forest Service is proposing additional areas for wilderness, boosting total recommended wilderness acreage from 37,029 to 59,929 acres.
The additional wilderness recommendations include the Adobe Hills (10,354 acres), Huntoon (8,875 acres), and South Huntoon (5,898 acres). All three areas are adjacent to each other, separated by a narrow road corridor. Part of a long time wilderness proposal called Excelsior, these areas are located near the California/Nevada border east of Mono Lake. The areas consist of low rolling hills covered in sagebrush, pinyon, and juniper. Huntoon Creek is located in one of the areas. According to the Forest Service, these areas possess high ecological integrity and offer opportunities for primitive and unconfined recreation.
Conservationists are disappointed that the revised final plan does not recommend other areas in Mono County, including Glass Mountain and the Ansel Adams East addition, that enjoy the strong support of the Board of Supervisors and local residents. In addition, the newly recommended wilderness comes with a modest reduction in the 37,000 acres of areas originally recommended, including additions to the South Sierra, Piper Mountain, and the White Mountains Wilderness areas.
Another positive resolution in the objection process is the extension of wild and scenic river eligibility to lower segments of Lee Vining, Rush, Walker, Parker, and Mill Creeks, all of which flow into Mono Lake. This means that the historic Mono Lake decision that ended diversions by Los Angeles that threatened to dry up the lake, is now official Forest Service policy as reflected by the newly eligible wild and scenic rivers. The Forest Service will be required to administratively protect these eligible wild and scenic rivers from potential future water diversions and development.
To review the final revised Inyo Plan, go to: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd664404.pdf