CALIFORNIA - FS Releases Draft Evaluations of Potential Areas for Wilderness Recommendation for Inyo, Sierra and Sequoia National Forests

January 08, 2016 5:08 PM

The 2012 Forest Service Planning Rule requires the agency to identify and evaluate lands on the Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forest that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System. There are four steps in this process: inventory, evaluation, analysis and recommendation. The agency is purportedly following guidance outlined in the 2012 Planning Rule Directives, Forest Service Handbook 1909.12 Chapter 70, Forest Service Manual 1923.03, and the Wilderness Act of 1964.

CALIFORNIA - FS Releases Draft Evaluations of Potential Areas for Wilderness Recommendation for Inyo, Sierra and Sequoia National Forests
COMMENTS DUE - FEBRUARY 1, 2016

Dear BRC Action Alert Subscriber,

The 2012 Forest Service Planning Rule requires the agency to identify and evaluate lands on the Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forest that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System. There are four steps in this process: inventory, evaluation, analysis and recommendation. The agency is purportedly following guidance outlined in the 2012 Planning Rule Directives, Forest Service Handbook 1909.12 Chapter 70, Forest Service Manual 1923.03, and the Wilderness Act of 1964.

WILDERNESS EVALUATION DOCUMENTS

The agency is sharing their draft wilderness evaluation narratives and information about the areas it is considering for including in the draft EIS analysis as potential recommended wilderness.

Comments and feedback are most useful if received by February 1, 2016.

BRC has long monitored designation and management of designated Wilderness and "wilderness-like" designations including recommended wilderness, wilderness study areas, and primitive ROS settings. 

BRC attended the Adopter Forest's Forest Plan Revision's public meeting in Fresno and has reviewed related documents on the Wilderness evaluation.  It is essential that the agency carefully evaluate a full range of management options for all lands, and not foreclose reasonable alternatives for management through some preconceived assessment of the proper use of particular lands.  The agency is on particularly controversial ground when it attempts to foreshadow Congressional designation by imposing Wilderness management requirements on lands that have not been formally designated as Wilderness.

BRC believes the presence of a motorized trail should not be the defining factor that should drive the wilderness suitability determination, but rather whether motorized use (OHV/OSV) is a factor, among others, that reflects a low rating for wilderness character and potential for inclusion in the Wilderness Preservation System.  Rather than create a presumption that "nonconforming" uses should not occur in RWA, the agency's regulatory guidance directs that existing uses can continue in RWAs provided they do not compromise wilderness character.  It is not the existence or volume of motorized use that should determine the inventory outcome, but a broader assessment that includes historical use patterns, relation to other factors, and actual on-the-ground assessment of wilderness suitability.  Properly considered, there are areas that receive motorized use that might be candidates for Wilderness designation, and conversely there are areas containing important but perhaps infrequently traveled routes that provide critical connectivity and otherwise fail to meet Wilderness suitability criteria.

BRC is urging its members that live or recreate in the project area to review each of the proposed recommended Wilderness area to ascertain if the agency missed any OHV/OSV recreational roads and trails that are in, or adjacent, to the proposed recommended Wilderness area.

Thanks in advance for your review of this alert.

Don Amador
Western Representative
BlueRibbon Coalition
925.625.6287
 

The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) is a national non-profit organization that champions responsible recreation and encourages a strong conservation ethic and individual stewardship, while providing leadership in efforts to keep outdoor recreation alive and well -- all sports; all trails. With members in all 50 states, BRC is focused on building enthusiast involvement with organizational efforts through membership, outreach, education
and collaboration among recreationists.
1-208-237-1008 -
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