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Sequoia NF Conceptional Alternatives Revealed

As noted from the Sierra NF meeting, the Recreation Concept is ill-defined as presented in the four conceptional alternatives.  The concepts are based of the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum that was defined in 1986; almost 30 years ago when recreation pressures and public demand for recreation were different than they are in 2014.  The concept includes “minor edits to resolve GIS conflicts” and is consistent through three of the concepts. 

This begs the question “If minor edits to resolve GIS conflicts are recognized, what additional changes would be revealed with a more comprehensive review of the outdated ROS?” Addressing “minor edits to resolve GIS conflicts” are not framework/programatic actions.  They are fundamental activities that are required within daily work activities to maintain accurate records.

These issues were again articulated to another cast of characters with the charge to present agency points and receive public feedback.

The agency did receive a message that “recreation” as defined in the conceptional alternatives was ill-defined and need a complete description that articulated the current status and aspirational goals to achieve a desired condition that addresses the needs of current and future recreation needs within the framework of the forest plan.

In other words, a few ill-defined sentences are not sufficient to provide a robust description of current recreation needs.  This description should include such issues as travel management and the Motor Vehicle Use Maps, National Visitors Use Monitoring, and other agency programs dealing with recreation management.

These need to be included as reference documents (and data points) to conceive management alternatives that provide a future management framework.

Understandably, this is a “conceptional” document.  However, with respect to recreation, the “concepts” are vague and lack a foundation to develop the aspirational “guidance framework” envisioned for the forest plan.

The Pacific Crest Trail is part of the National Trail System designated by Congress.  As such, it is a linear feature on a map.  Congressional intent did allow for developing “right-of-way” corridors to ensure the PCT (and other trails within the National Trail System) provided a contiguous 100 minimal experience.  The “right-of-way” corridors were to account for segments where private or state lands impeded a contiguous 100 mile experience on federal lands.

One concept proposed is that a “corridor” be established for the PCT within the area of forest plan coverage.  A briefing paper was provided that addressed this issue.  While there is a proposal floated to establish a one-mile corridor for the PCT, the briefing paper makes it clear that this pending forest plan revision does not make travel management decisions. 

A study of the briefing paper shows an attempt to define a “corridor” that does not change existing approved uses; however, it does create a situation where future multiple use could be subjected to restrictions in future management reviews.  While there is an implied intent for no restriction on other activities, there is no prohibition of such a restriction.

Overall, the concept of a corridor is a consideration that needs review to determine if it will enhance the recreation experience of the user and provide for protection of the resources.  Such a the trail corridor should be of sufficient width to address primary uses or users in keeping with the congressional intent is designating the trail.  In other instances, the agencies do define “corridors”; generally, 30 feet from center-line, as a means to protect resources while allowing opportunity for off-trail activities such as camping.

Overall, these are conceptional alternatives and will be adjusted based on feedback received from this round of listening sessions.  These goals are expected to be the foundations for a document that defines goals and objectives that can be translated into implementation activities that can be monitored.  Monitoring implies being able to determine success or failure in achieving goals and objectives.

With the Sierra and Sequoia meetings complete, the Inyo NFs is next in hosting their public outreach meeting.  Stay tuned, more information is coming out as to the direction these plans will take.

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