Policy Update – November 2022

In this month’s policy update, we share about winter travel planning, the Sierra and Sequoia forest plan revision, and our participation in the pre-scoping collaborative focused on Inyo National Forest winter travel management.

Photo Credit: Luc Mehl (@lucmehl)

From Hilary Eisen, WWA Policy Director (11/28/2022)

I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving! I’m still working my way through Thanksgiving leftovers (mostly pie) and feeling grateful for all of the amazing people and organizations I get to work with in this job.

Over the past month, I was fortunate to have multiple opportunities to meet with partners and supporters, over zoom and in person, to talk about many of the exciting projects we’re working on.

RIMS App: Collecting Winter Rec Data

One such project is our partnership with Colorado Mountain Club, using their RIMS app to collect winter recreation data. If you missed the training this month, you can watch the recording and learn about RIMS here!

Winter Travel Planning Webinar

This week, I was honored to be part of Voices for the West, a monthly webinar hosted by Advocates for the West. Laurie Rule (Advocates’ attorney), Marla Fox (WildEarth Guardians’ attorney), and I discussed the evolution of winter recreation on western National Forests, motorized impacts to wildlife and natural resources, and the need to conserve land and soundscapes through hard-fought, science-based regulation. You can watch the full webinar on Advocates for the West’s YouTube channel here.

Sierra and Sequoia Forest Plan Revision

Earlier this month David, WWA Executive Director, traveled to California’s Central Valley – not exactly snow country – to participate in one of the final steps in Sierra and Sequoia forest plan revision, the objection resolution meeting. Winter Wildlands Alliance and Outdoor Alliance California have been deeply engaged in these plan revisions since the start and it’s gratifying to see the process coming to a close. The Forest Service published revised forest plans for the Sierra and Sequoia national forests this past summer.

At the meeting this past month, David teamed up with partners at American Whitewater, CalWild, Sierra Forest Legacy, Pacific Crest Trail Association, and others to make our case and push for improvements before the plans are finalized. We’ll have to wait a bit to see how the final plans land, but David returned from the meeting feeling optimistic that the Forest Service was open to our suggestions for thoughtfully drawn recommended wilderness area boundaries and backcountry management areas that, together, protect roadless areas and recreation opportunities across the two forests.

Inyo National Forest Winter Travel Management

Also in California, David has been representing Winter Wildlands Alliance (and all quiet recreation interests) in a pre-scoping collaborative focused on Inyo National Forest winter travel management. Through this collaborative we’ve come to understand what the priorities are for the Inyo snowmobile community, and found that there seems to be general consensus across all stakeholders that the status quo is a pretty good starting point for winter travel planning. People seem to agree that it’s important and necessary to separate uses to minimize conflict, and that there’s a need for enforcement and education if any future plan is to work. We’re looking forward to continuing to work on winter travel planning for the Eastern Sierra!

We’re in the thick of the Winter Wildlands Alliance busy season, with the Backcountry Film Festival and SnowSchool in full swing. While we work year-round to inspire and empower people to protect and connect with wild snowscapes, our work is especially gratifying in winter. I hope you have the opportunity soon to get out on the snow and experience why these places, and our work, is so important.

Thank you,