NRC South Report for May 2019
Angeles NF – The USDA Forest Service has completed the Land Management Plan Amendment, Environmental Assessment (EA), and Decision Notice for the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. The Monument Plan provides guidance for the Angeles National Forest to manage the area’s unique ecological, social, and cultural resources for years to come.
The Monument, established in 2014, is part of the Angeles National Forest and encompasses more than 346,000 acres of high-use public land. More than 17 million people live within 90 minutes of the San Gabriel Mountains, which provide area residents roughly 30 percent of their water and 70 percent of their open space.
Federal Legislation - SOAR Act - This legislation will update the permitting system that guides and outfitters need to operate trips on public lands by simplifying processes, increasing flexibility in allowed activities, reducing unnecessary costs of permit administration and much more.
SOAR is written to make changes to the permitting processes and provides greater access to public lands in a way that increases economic benefits and continues environmental protections. SOAR simplifies permitting to allow outfitters across the United States to work with federal agencies, and more importantly, to get the American public outside to enjoy the wonders of nature.
Panamint Valley - The Australia-based firm Battery Mineral Resources Ltd. asked the federal government for permission to drill four exploratory wells to see if the hot, salty brine beneath the Panamint Valley floor which contains economically viable concentrations of lithium. The soft, silvery-white metal is a key component of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and is crucial to the production of electric and hybrid vehicles.
The drilling request is opposed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and the Defenders of Wildlife, who say the drilling project would be an initial step toward the creation of a full-scale lithium mining operation. They say lithium extraction would bring industrial sprawl, large and unsightly drying ponds and threaten a fragile ecosystem that supports Nelson's bighorn sheep, desert tortoises and the Panamint alligator lizard, among other species.
The only functioning lithium mine in North America is about 150 miles away in Clayton Valley, Nev. Most of the lithium used for batteries now comes from the so-called Lithium Triangle of South America, a region that includes the world's largest salt flats.
Inyo NF - I was in Bishop a couple months ago for a Forest Plan Revision meeting with Region 5 and Inyo NF. The meeting revolved around an object to the pending release of the Inyo Forest plan revision that I filed on behalf of Cal4Wheel. My objection was one of about a dozen that were addressed at the meeting.