On Wednesday evening, May 29 Forest Service Planner Susan Joyce commended the members of the public who showed up to the Inyo National Forest’s Forest Plan Revision Open House.
“There are more people here than at the meeting in Bishop [held the week prior],”Joyce said. “Thank you for coming.”
Joyce explained that Forest Plans are required for all national forests/grasslands. The original plan for the Inyo was completed in 1988 and has been amended over time, but now the Forest Service is taking a step back and establishing its direction for the future, so it will be revising the plan.
“The Forest Service Plan is meant to provide a broad resource management direction,” Joyce explained. “All uses of the forest need to conform with the plan’s direction. It sets the sideboards for managing the two million acres of the Inyo National Forest.”
“I’m tasked with using the best scientific resources available to revise the plan,” explained Inyo National Forest Supervisor Ed Armenta, referring to the research and science being used in the draft topic papers that are meant to get the Forest Service and the public to the next phase of the process which will be “need for change.”
Oddly enough, Armenta pointed out that the Inyo was left out of a recent scientific synthesis done by the Forest Service, itself. “The synthesis was only done for the west side of the Sierra,” Armenta said. “The scope wasn’t broad enough to include the east.”
While not the end of the world, Armenta said it was a “missed opportunity,” as the data in the synthesis could have been used to supplement the information being used in the Forest Plan Revision. For example, if the Inyo had used a study done in 2010, the synthesis would have provided more recent information from 2012.
Armenta said that he is trying to get the Inyo added to this synthesis. In the meantime, however, the Forest Plan Revision process will continue with the information that the Inyo currently has.
According to Joyce, the process will have three phases that will be completed over the next three years: assessment, plan revision, and monitoring.
Currently, the Forest Service is working to complete the assessment report.
“The assessment phase is meant to provide a holistic view of current social, ecological and economic conditions — how they overlap and fit together,” Joyce explained.
She added that the revision is being conducted at two scales — locally at the Inyo Ranger District and at a higher level at the Sierra Nevada Bioregion.
“The intent [of the assessment phase] is to provide a source of information and context,” Joyce said. “We are pulling together what we have and looking to the public to help us fill any gaps.”
The public can become involved by reviewing the draft topic papers currently available and commenting by June 30.
The draft topic papers are meant to give the public an idea of what will be reviewed and potentially revised Some of the topic paper’s subjects included water resources, at-risk species, economics and social conditions, and sustaining recreation and designated areas.
One area that Joyce said the Forest Service would definitely be taking a hard look at and will most likely go on to the next, “need for change” level would be recreation management in the frontcountry.
“The ‘88 plan did not have a lot of substance regarding recreation management,” she said.
This is important to the Forest Service because it expects the amount of people going out onto the forest to recreate to continue to grow.
Another topic not in the ’88 plan at all is renewable energy.
“But it’s hard to say at this point what we will change,” Joyce said.
“It’s premature to say because we’re assessing the situation now,” added District Ranger for the Mammoth and Mono Lake Districts, Jon Regelbrugge.
“The Forest Service has 15 topic papers available for input as part of the assessment phase,” according to Wednesday night’s handout. “For each topic area, the Forest Service has described current conditions and expected trends. The topic papers will form the basis of the Inyo National Forest Assessment report, to be completed by December 2013.”
There are several ways for the public to provide feedback on the topic papers, including a new, interactive editing program called a wiki. The Living Assessment wiki allows the public to access the topic papers online and edit and change them directly. Go to http://livingassessment.wikispaces.com for this option.
You may also provide input with more traditional methods such as email and snail mail. Send electronic comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send written comments to Inyo National Forest, 351 Pacu Lane, Suite 200, Bishop, CA 93514, Attn. Susan Joyce.
In addition to the wiki, the topic papers may also be found at www.fs.usda.gov/land/inyo/landmanagement/planning.
Comments are due by June 30.