Sequoia and Sierra NF planning enters final phase

| Rose Winn, Cal4Wheel Natural Resources Consultant | Access Issues

SEQUOIA AND SIERRA NATIONAL FOREST LAND MANAGEMENT PLAN REVISIONS – THE FINAL PHASE

The Sequoia and Sierra National Forests (NF) are in the process of revising their forest land management plans. The revised drafts were released in 2019, however, revisions have been revisited since, resulting in a multi-year delay of typical progress. The planning team is currently finalizing the revised Forest Plans. Updates include incorporation of the wilderness recommendation process, efforts towards sustainable recreation, and management of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. The plans are currently within the pre-decisional administrative review process (the objection process) for the final environmental impact statement (FEIS), revised forest plans, draft records of decision, and the species of conservation concern lists.

Cal4 has been involved in the planning process since it began seven years ago. It is critical to advocate for OHV recreation within each phase of planning to ensure that the final plan document includes preservation of motorized recreation opportunities. The final plan will direct forest management for the next 15 to 25 years.

There are multiple areas of concern with the revised Forest Plans due to evidence of violation of law, policy, and regulations. Concerns include:

  • Misuse of the Forest Plan to implement trail-specific plans throughout Sierra and Sequoia NF. The purpose of a Forest Plan is to function as a 30,000-foot general plan. It is not intended to be trail specific or project specific. Yet the Forest Plans in current form would create a one-mile wide Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Corridor that would further restrict recreation for a full one-mile span along the PCT. This is clearly trail specific and should not be part of any Forest Plan.
  • Restriction of OHV access to lands within the corridor of newly designated Wild and Scenic River segments.
  • Given the scope of impact of multiple catastrophic wildfires in 2020 and 2021, potential loss of OHV access within areas designated for restoration of habitat connectivity for native plant and animal species.
  • Neglect within the Sequoia Forest Plan to rebalance the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum due to the loss of 40,000 acres of motorized semi primitive recreation when Congress designated the Kiavah Wilderness on motorized lands in the Sequoia NF.

Cal4 is reviewing the final Sequoia and Sierra NF Plans and will once again submit objections on behalf of Cal4 members to hold the forest service accountable for where the plans violate law, policy and regulations. The deadline to comment is August 15, 2022. Only those who “have standing” – those who have submitted prior comments during preceding phases of the planning process - are allowed to submit objections now. Cal4 has maintained standing to warrant objection.

Two virtual meetings will be held to provide information on the status of plan revision, including the objection process. There will be time for attendees to ask questions; staff will be available to address the various resource areas covered under the plans. Both meetings are open to the public.

While members of the public may not have participated in the prior formal public comment period and thus may not have standing to object, the meetings are valuable to attend to actively demonstrate support for the OHV community, and gain insight on upcoming changes in forest management in Sequoia and Sierra NF. Click here for more information on the Sequoia and Sierra Forest Plan Revision.

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