UPDATE: Final OSV Plan Anticipated 2024
- The draft Record of Decision (draft ROD, or draft plan) and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Plumas National Forest OSV Use Designation Project were published on August 19, 2019. Objections were submitted in October 2019.
- After 17 hours of virtual “objection workshops” in May 2021, an official objection resolution meeting was held on June 3, 2021.
- On July 12, 2021, the regional Reviewing Officer issued a letter of review.
Of all the winter travel plans we have worked on in California, the Plumas still seems most on track to accomplish meaningful designations and a winter use map that will minimize impacts and conflict between uses — and will work well for all winter recreationists.
Thanks to the efforts of the backcountry ski community and our conservation partners, the draft plan designates areas and trails for OSV use while also enhancing non-motorized winter recreation opportunities on the Plumas National Forest and protecting high value conservation lands and natural resources. This is a significant improvement over the status quo on the Plumas. The draft plan:
- Enhances backcountry skiing opportunities adjacent to the Bucks Lake Wilderness, on Thompson Peak, adjacent to Plumas-Eureka State Park, the Triple Crown ski route, and along the Lost Sierra Traverse by not designating these areas for OSV use.
- Enhances cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the Lakes Basin by not designating the area surrounding the Lakes Basin and Gray Eagle ski trails for OSV use.
- Protects the conservation values within (most) Roadless Areas, designated and eligible Wild Rivers, Research Natural Areas, and designated and proposed Special Interest Areas by not designating these places for OSV use.
- Institutes a 12-inch minimum snow depth to protect natural resources.
- Generally does not designate low elevation areas for OSV use, which helps to protect wildlife winter range.
While we are excited about these elements of the draft plan, there are a few changes that we’d like to see enacted before the plan is finalized. These changes include:
- Do not designate OSV use within Florentine Canyon.
- Do not designate the Silver Lake Road for OSV use so that backcountry skiers have a non-motorized route for accessing the Bucks Lake Wilderness at Silver Lake.
- Do not authorize grooming on Forest Road 24N33, adjacent to the Bucks Lake Wilderness.
- Do not designate lands within or east of the Adams Peak Roadless Area or within the Middle Fork and Buzzards Roost Ridge Roadless Areas for OSV use
- Protect the nature and purpose of the Pacific Crest Trail by not designating OSV use adjacent to the trail.
Based on a public scoping process that ended in 2015, the Plumas National Forest has been working on developing a winter travel plan.
During the scoping period, Winter Wildlands Alliance and Snowlands Network submitted a “Skiers Alternative” that the Plumas analyzed alongside 4 other Alternatives. You can view a map of our initial proposal here.
The Forest Service released a draft EIS identifying Alternative 2 as their preferred alternative on October 24, 2019. With our partners at Friends of Plumas Wilderness and Snowlands Network, we supported Alternative 2 with specific modifications. We liked that Alternative 2 would protect:
- Backcountry skiing east of Bucks Lake Wilderness
- Cross-country skiing on the Bucks Creek Loop Trail
- The Historic Lost Sierra Ski Traverse Route
- Backcountry skiing on Thompson Peak by Susanville
But, to create a truly balanced plan we urged the Forest Service to also include these modifications to the preferred alternative from Alternative 5:
- Stop OSV grooming on 24N33 to prevent OSV trespass into the Bucks Lake Wilderness
- Do not designate for OSV travel on Lakes Basin Snowshoe and Ski Trails
- Do not designate for OSV travel in Little Jamison Basin
- Do not designate for OSV travel in Proposed Middle Feather, Bucks Creek, Chips, Grizzly, & Adams Peak Wilderness Areas
Click here to read our comments on the draft EIS.
For more information and an archive of relevant documents, visit the Forest Service’s Project Webpage.
Human-Powered on the Plumas National Forest
Photos by Darrel Jury, Friends of Plumas Wilderness; Powder Magazine cover by David Reddick
Winter Wildlands Alliance is a national nonprofit organization working to
inspire and empower people to protect America’s wild snowscapes.