Tag Archives: Inyo National Forest

Officials Lifting Fire Restrictions

BLM and Forest Service Lifting Fire Restrictions

Inter-agency Press Release:

The Bishop Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management and the Inyo National Forest announce that fire restrictions put into place for the Eastern Sierra this summer will be rescinded today, Monday, October 26, at midnight.

Recent rain and snow, combined with increased humidity, shorter days, and cooler night time temperatures have prompted the land management agencies to lift the fire restrictions put into place earlier this summer. Mike Beasley, Interagency Fire Management Officer for the Bishop Field Office and Inyo National Forest, urges the public to keep fire safety in mind to avoid resource and property damage. “While we are comfortable lifting the fire restrictions at this time, we urge the public to use common sense and exercise caution when recreating outdoors in order to decrease the chance of human-caused fires,” said Beasley.

A campfire permit is still required for those camping outside of developed campgrounds and can be obtained at visitor centers or online at www.PreventWildfireCA.org.

Important fire safety reminders for outdoor activities on public lands include:

  1. Prevent vehicle related fires by maintaining proper tire pressure, ensuring adequate tire tread, and checking your brakes for overheating. Avoid traveling or parking on brush or grass. Ensure chains are not dragging while towing.

2. Use of exploding targets, including Binary Explosive Targets, while recreationally shooting is both a fire hazard and illegal. Use of tracer rounds while target shooting is also a fire hazard and illegal. The use of steel-core ammunition, although legal, can greatly increase the chance of a wildfire.

 3. Motorcycles, ATV’s and chainsaws require an approved spark arrestor.

 4. Get your California Campfire Permit online at www.PreventWildfireCA.org.

 Help prevent wildfires…..One Less Spark, One Less Wildfire

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Season Ending at Devils Postpile

Devils Postpile National Monument Announces Closure for the Season

Devils Postpile National Monument has announced that the monument will close for the winter on Monday, October 26th, 2015 at 3:00 pm. It is anticipated that the inter-agency prescribed fire (on Devils Postpile and Inyo National Forests lands) will occur Tuesday, October 27th. During the prescribed burn, the access road to the monument and all trails and access to the Devils Postpile formation will be closed and will remain closed for the season. The monument will open again at the start of the summer season in 2016.

According to the Inyo National Forest, the main Reds Meadow Road is anticipated to still be open, weather permitting, and the trail to Rainbow Falls will still be accessible during the prescribed burn. Traffic control will be in effect on the Reds Meadow Road during the time the prescribed burning occurs.

Prescribed fires reduce fuels for building protection by removing the amount of forest debris that can fuel an unplanned fire in hotter and drier conditions. Prescribed fires are dependent on the correct conditions for temperature, wind, relative humidity, and other factors. Under optimal conditions, fire crews conducting a prescribed fire are able to simulate a natural fire cycle. Fires can reduce forest competition and increase biodiversity of plant and animal life. In 2011, an unusual wind event resulted in the blowdown of thousands of trees, and this prescribed burn will reduce the risk of a catastrophic fire at the monument.

Deanna Dulen, park superintendent, would like to thank visitors for exploring and enjoying monument this season and invites everyone to join in the National Park Service’s Centennial celebration with Devils Postpile National Monument throughout the 2016 season.

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Forest planning Prescribed Fires

Inyo National Forest Plans Fall Prescribed Fires

The Mammoth and Mono Lake Ranger Districts of the Inyo National Forest are planning to implement several prescribed fire projects for habitat improvement and hazardous fuels reduction in the upcoming fall and winter months.

Prescribed fires will be conducted when weather and fuel moisture conditions are within prescription to safely accomplish the project objectives. By prescribing the fire under optimum weather conditions, managers simulate the natural role of fire. This reduces forest competition, opens gaps in the forest canopy for sunlight to shine through, and recycles nutrients to the soil for re-growth.

Smoke may be visible at times from Highways 395, 158, 167, 120 and 203, as well as the communities of Bridgeport, Mono City, Lee Vining, June Lake, Mammoth Lakes and Crowley Lake. All prescribed fire activities will be coordinated with Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District in accordance with air resource objectives.

Understory burning in the Jeffrey pine forest is expected to begin in late October or early November:

1. East of Highway 395 on National Forest lands near Bald Mountain.

2. West of the Oh Ridge Gun Range near June Lake.

Following the accumulation of snow from fall storms, pile burning will be conducted, and is expected to continue into early winter.

Pile burning is planned on National Forest lands in the Mammoth District in the Reds Meadow Valley, north of Panorama Dome, west of Mammoth Lakes, east and west of Highway 395 near Smokey Bear Flat, around Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit, west of the Crestview Rest Stop on Highway 395, west of Highway 395 along Deadman Creek Road north to Wilson Butte, southeast of the Town of Mammoth Lakes along Mammoth and Sherwin Creek Roads.

In the June Lake area pile burning is planned on National Forest Lands on Reversed Peak and in the Down Canyon and Peterson Tract areas, and east of Highway 395 at the June Lake Junction.

In the Lee Vining area, pile burning is planned on National Forest lands at the Lee Vining Ranger Station on Tioga Pass Road and on BLM lands west of Highway 395 at Green Creek Road (south of Bridgeport).

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Prescribed Burn Planned

Inyo National Forest and Devils Postpile National Monument Announce Plans for Inter-Agency Prescribed Burning

Inyo National Forest (INF) and Devils Postpile National Monument (DEPO) will begin preparations for an interagency prescribed fire on 158 acres in the Reds Meadow Valley, Madera County, CA. The project is located east of the Devils Postpile Ranger Station and west of the Sotcher Lake Day Use Site.

The project goal is to reduce hazardous fuels and thus create wildfire defensible space around the DEPO ranger station, administrative facilities and campground. This defensible space will promote public and firefighter safety should a wildfire occur here in the future.

INF and DEPO will work with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to fulfill smoke management objectives and Federal and State air quality standards. The prescribed fire project will occur when weather and fuel moisture conditions will allow for generally low to moderate intensity prescribed burning, likely in the latter half of October 2015. Existing roads and trails will be used as fire containment lines. Fire crews will use chainsaws to thin small trees on 31 acres adjacent to Reds Meadow Road and the DEPO access road. This thinning will moderate risk of fire torching into the tops of larger trees and thus minimize impacts to scenic quality in highly visible areas along the roads.

The access road to Devils Postpile National Monument will be closed along with all trails and access to the Devils Postpile formation during the prescribed burn implementation. Traffic control will be in effect on the Reds Meadow Road during the 2 to 3 days when prescribed burning occurs. Rainbow falls will still be accessible via the Rainbow falls trail during this time.

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Dr. Bourne Indicted

Mammoth Doctor Indicted for Removing Archeological Resources

Statement from the Department of Justice

FRESNO, Calif. — Jonathan Cornelius Bourne, 59, of Mammoth Lakes, was arraigned today before United States Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe after a federal grand jury returned a 21-count indictment against him, charging him with violations of the Archeological Resources Protection Act, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

According to counts one through eight of the indictment, in 2010 and 2011, Bourne transported archeological resources from Nevada into California that were found on public lands and were over 100 years old. Among the items removed were obsidian biface tools, Steatite pendants, and glass beads allegedly removed from a tribal cremation and burial site. Counts nine through 14 charge Bourne with unauthorized excavation and removal damage or defacement of archaeological resources in Death Valley National Park, Inyo National Forest, and Sierra National Forest. The Native American cultural artifacts taken in 2010, 2011, and 2014, such as dart points, stone tablets, and a juniper bow stave were over 100 years old.

According to counts 15 through 20 in the indictment, Bourne willfully injured property of the United States by excavating, removing damaging and defacing cultural artifacts on land administered by the United States Forest Service and the National Park Service in the Counties of Mono, Inyo, and Fresno.

“This indictment shows that the prohibited acts including the unauthorized damage, alteration, excavation, and removal of archaeological resources on federally managed public lands is a serious matter,” said U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Special Agent Mike Grate.  “We want to thank all the agencies involved for all the hard work in bringing this to closure.”

At the arraignment, Bourne pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on his own recognizance. His next court hearing is a status conference before United States Magistrate Judge Sheila K. Oberto on December 7, 2015.

This case is the product of an investigation by the United States Forest Service, National Park Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. Assistant United States Attorney Laurel J. Montoya is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Bourne faces a maximum statutory penalty of 98 years in prison and a $2,030,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Event Honoring James Wilson

National Public Lands Day Event Honors James Wilson

Inyo National Forest Press Release:

Come join volunteers for a National Public Lands Day event on the Inyo National Forest. National Public Lands Day brings volunteers to improve and restore the lands and facilities that Americans use for recreation, education, exercise and relaxation.

The Inyo National Forest, Eastern Sierra Four Wheel Drive Club, Friends of the Inyo, and the Sierra Club have selected this project to honor the late James Wilson, who was an active steward of the Eastern Sierra and was passionately involved with collaboration efforts to help diverse users find consensus on land management issues.

The Horton Lakes Road and Trailhead Project starts at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 3, and is expected to last until around 1:00 p.m. Those who wish to may stay a little longer to get more work completed on the Horton Lakes Trail. Please meet at the Highway 168/ Buttermilk Road junction and be prepared to carpool. If you have a four wheel drive vehicle and are willing to have extra passengers, this will help prevent congestion on the narrow 4×4 road.

Volunteers will improve sections of the Horton Lakes Road (removing rocks, obstacles, and ruts, improving drainage, and adding directional signs), and perform basic trail maintenance (brushing, rock removal, improve drainage) along the Horton Lakes Trail.

If you plan to attend, please bring comfortable work gloves, wear sturdy boots, bring snacks, water, and sunblock and be ready to get dirty. Necessary tools will be provided.

If you plan on attending, please RSVP so that we can better plan the day’s activities. For more information or to RSVP, contact Casey@friendsoftheinyo.org or call 760-873-6500.

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Inyo Expands Fire Restrictions

Inyo National Forest Announces Further Fire Restriction

The Inyo National Forest is extending fire restrictions to include all Wilderness Areas of the Inyo National Forest.  Previously, campfires were allowed in the  Hoover, John Muir, Ansel Adams, Boundary Peak, White Mountains, Golden Trout, and South Sierra Wilderness Areas of the Inyo National Forest. These areas are no longer exempt from fire restrictions.

“Ongoing drought conditions and well below average rain and snowfall this past winter have led to very dry conditions for this time of year,” said Inyo National Forest Supervisor, Ed Armenta. “These conditions can and have created an active fire season here in the Eastern Sierra and throughout California.”

Beginning September 11, 2015 and until further notice, the following restrictions will be in effect:

NO CAMPFIRES, briquette barbeques, or stove fires are allowed outside of designated developed recreation sites and specifically posted campsites or areas. A list of designated campgrounds and recreation sites is available at local Ranger Stations and Visitor Centers, and on the Inyo National Forest website, www.fs.usda.gov/inyo.

Persons with a valid California Campfire Permit (available free of charge at any Ranger Station or Visitor Center) are not exempt from the prohibitions but are allowed to use portable stoves or lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum, or pressurized liquid fuel.

NO FIREWORKS. It is prohibited to possess or discharge any fireworks.

NO SMOKING, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.

NO WELDING or operating an acetylene torch with open flames, except by permit.

NO USE OF EXPLOSIVES, except by permit.

Resorts, pack stations, recreation residences and other sites operated under special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service  may be exempt from the special orders, as long as any fire activity is conducted in compliance with their permit. Special use permit holders should contact their permit administrator to make sure they are on the list of exempt sites, or check the information for special use permit exemptions on the Inyo National Forest Website, www.fs.usda.gov/inyo.

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Increase in Plague Activity

Inyo National Forest Advisory: Increase in Plague Activity in the Sierra Nevada

Based upon recent incidents of rodents with plague and a handful of cases where plague was contracted by people visiting nearby federal lands, the Inyo National Forest would like to advise recreationalists and residents to take the following steps as a matter of caution while visiting the Inyo National Forest.

  • Never feed squirrels, chipmunks or other rodents and never touch sick or dead rodents.
  • Avoid walking or camping near rodent burrows.
  • Wear long pants tucked into socks or boot tops to reduce exposure to fleas.
  • Spray insect repellent containing DEET on skin and clothing, especially socks and pant cuffs to reduce exposure to fleas.
  • Keep wild rodents out of homes, trailers, and outbuildings and away from pets.

 If you notice dead rodents without obvious signs of injury while recreating, please contact your local health department (Mono County: 760-924-1830; Inyo County: 760-873-7868) or the California Department of Public Health’s Vector-Borne Disease Section at 916-552-9730. If possible, note the type of rodent (i.e. mouse, chipmunk, squirrel, etc.), location and date seen. If you are in a campground, please notify the campground host in addition to the health department.

 Early symptoms of plague may include high fever, chills, nausea, weakness and swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin. People who develop these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention and notify their health care provider that they have been camping or out in the wilderness and have been exposed to rodents and fleas.

Although the presence of plague has been confirmed in wild rodents over the past few weeks in nearby areas, the risk to human health remains low. In California, plague-infected animals are most likely to be found in the foothills and mountains.

 The California Department of Public Health has plague information, including precautions people can take to minimize their risk.

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Convict Lake Road Closures Coming

September Convict Lake Road Closures

from Deb Schweizer, Public Affairs officer, Inyo National Forest.

A four-hour closure for the Convict Lake Road project is scheduled to set the precast pedestrian bridge slabs. This closure will take place on September 1st from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. The following two days, September 2nd and September 3rd, have also been approved for four-hour closures. The closure would be during the same time period, and would occur only if still needed to complete the work.

The closure will begin just after the turn into the Convict Lake Marina parking area; people traveling to and from the campground will be most affected. During this time, the 30-minute delays will start on the rest of the road at 5:30 a.m. (instead of 7:00 a.m.) to insure proper staging in advance of the four-hour closure. The normal 30-minute delay schedule (7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) will resume once this necessary work is complete.

As always, your patience is appreciated while this necessary work is completed that will significantly improve the experience in upcoming years.

As a reminder, Mono County has requested the funding and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is the lead agency for this project.  The entire roadway will be reconstructed from the intersection with Highway 395 to the day-use parking area at the end of the road on the east side of the lake.  The roadway will be widened in some spots in order to provide a consistent pavement width and a paved shoulder. A bicycle lane will be provided on the uphill side.  The road will be repaved, striped, and new regulatory and warning signs will be installed at the completion of the project.

The paved path around the east side of the lake will also be reconstructed. This project will also be overseen by FHWA. The Inyo National Forest has arranged for this project to be completed with the same contractor during the same time period as the road project.  The result will be a fully accessible paved path with hardened access points down to the lake edge.

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Forest begins Thinning Projects

Thinning Projects Planned in Mammoth Lakes, June Lakes

The Inyo National Forest announces plans to complete numerous mechanical thinning projects for community protection and forest health through the summer and fall.

These projects are designed to reduce fuels within Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). Thinning reduces wildfire spread and intensity by removing surface and ladder fuels. Additionally, treatments will promote openness of crown fuels to reduce the likelihood of a sustained crown fire, thus decreasing the risk of stand-replacing wildfire. This also creates an environment where firefighters can more safely respond to fire events.

Thinning also promotes forest health by increasing resiliency to insects and disease by reducing competition for water, nutrients, and sunlight.  This is especially important during California’s extended drought where numerous trees are dying from insect infestations or water stress.  Where applicable, restoration work will be completed to enhance aspen habitat.

The Forest Service will construct shaded fuel breaks (thinning and piling fuels to be safely burned in the winter months) on approximately 270 acres within the Mammoth Lakes area. Locations include Sherwin Lakes Trailhead, Old Shady Rest Campground, Mammoth Knolls, the Minarets Road/ Scenic Loop Road, and the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area (MMSA), north of chair 7. The MMSA  project will be conducted after Labor Day to reduce impacts to recreational users. There will be delays or full closures on uptown/down town bike trails, shotgun bike trail, and the warming wall sport climbing area.

Approximately 240 acres of shaded fuel breaks are planned in the June Lake area near Silver Lake Tract, Clark Tract, Oh Ridge, and Gull Lake.

Six additional units totaling 700 acres are planned in other areas throughout the forest.  The forest will create public firewood for 2016 in units not adjacent to town limits or recreational resident tracts.

For specific questions about the projects, please call Andrew Weinhart at 760-924-5550.

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