Mammoth’s Town Council to vote on first-ever shared Town, County position of Recreation Coordinator
Mammoth’s Town Council will decide at its upcoming meeting on February 7 whether to fund the position of Eastern Sierra Recreation Coordinator (ESRC). If approved, the position will be the first-ever employee shared between the Town of Mammoth Lakes and Mono County.
Mayor John Wentworth called the position a “harbinger of the future” for communities whose economies are based largely upon recreation.
The U.S. Forest Service’s “Framework for Sustainable Recreation,” published in 2010, calls for communities bordering public lands to step up in areas where the Forest Service is struggling—namely, in the arena of recreation facilities, trails and roads. An example of this is the Town of Mammoth Lakes’ potential adoption of care of the Reds Meadow Road (the 8.3-mile road has been selected for a $24 million Federal Lands Access Program grant to repair it, provided the Town takes over its maintenance in perpetuity).
“This is how we bring sustainable recreation to life,” said Wentworth of the Recreation Coordinator job.
Wentworth said that, if voters pass Senate Bill 5 (the “Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection and Outdoor for All Act of 2018”) in June, “millions of dollars [will be allocated] for the kinds of projects we need to do on federal lands.”
SB 5 would allocate funds for climate adaptation, wildlife conservation, and watersheds, to name a few of the beneficiaries of the bill. Mammoth Lakes and Mono County hope the ESRC position will help secure those funds locally.
“If we invest in this [Recreation Coordinator] position, this is going to leverage potentially millions from the federal government,” said Wentworth. “Climate change is the number one policy initiative in the state of California, and we need to do everything we can to leverage cap and trade,” he said.
Cap-and-trade is a program which seeks to hold California businesses to ever-more stringent emissions targets (the “cap”) while providing flexibility by allowing them to buy allowances (which allow them to emit a certain amount of pollution) or to swap existing allowances with one another (the “trade”).
Sierra communities benefit from cap-and-trade because the Sierra “is where all the carbon gets sequestered, where we have catastrophic wildfires, where the state’s drinking water comes from,” said Wentworth.
District 5 Supervisor Stacy Corless said that, because of the Eastern Sierra’s sometimes-confusing division of responsibilities (the Town of Mammoth Lakes, Mono County, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management), it’s traditionally been difficult for the agencies to get things done or to find out who is responsible for what with regard to public land management.
“People don’t want to hear us say, ‘Sorry, we couldn’t open that bathroom because it’s [managed by the] Forest Service,’” said Corless.
“This position could be a point of communication,” she said. “On public land [most people] don’t know where the Town’s administrative boundaries end and the County’s begin.”
Corless said that neither the Town nor the County could afford to fund the position by themselves, and that, though the position will “live” within the Town, meaning they will be on the Town’s payroll and report to the Town Manager, Mono County has already committed $50,000 to fund the position.