Project Update: Inyo National Forest Recommends Six Wilderness Areas

Grouse Mountain, CA Photo: Todd Vogel

Guest contributor Jora Fogg is the Preservation Coordinator for Friends of the Inyo, a Conservation Alliance grantee.  Jora is leading Friends of the Inyo through the Inyo forest planning revision process, commenting on public lands projects and leading exploration outings to special places in the Eastern Sierra.  
Over the past two years, Friends of the Inyo has worked toward permanent protections for the nearly half a million acres of Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRA) found on the Inyo National Forest, a landscape where Great Basin, Mojave and Sierra Nevada ecosystems merge. These lands provide wildlife corridors, support species’ resilience and adaptation to climate change, while simultaneously ensuring future generations can enjoy these wild places.
The Inyo National Forest management plan is currently being revised and is one of the first forests to use a new Planning Rule. This rule requires the Forest Service to identify and evaluate lands that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and determines whether to recommend any such lands for wilderness designation. Since December of 2014 the Inyo National Forest has been working on an evaluation of the wilderness characteristics and manageability of each area in their completed inventory.  Just last week the Forest released the results of their evaluation with potential recommendations of areas, along with maps and narratives.
The Inyo National Forest is recommending six wilderness areas, which include three potential new areas in the Glass Mountains and Deep Springs areas, and three additions to existing wilderness in the South Sierra and White Mountains.  Friends of the Inyo is pleased to see these recommendations are consistent with our recommendations presented to the USFS in October 2014. The report and its accompanying maps can be viewed here.
The identification and evaluation of areas for wilderness recommendation will be included as an appendix in the draft and final Environmental Impact Statements expected in September or October 2015.  The final wilderness recommendations by the Forest Supervisor are the next logical steps in achieving protective designations. Friends of the Inyo will work closely with grassroots advocates, local politicians and Forest Service staff to make sure these recommendations carry over to the final plan due out in late 2016.

Looking west towards the potential 17,440 acre Glass Mountain Wilderness   Photo Credit: Drew Foster