Final Stanislaus OSV Plan Anticipated “Spring 2021”
The draft Record of Decision (ROD) and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Stanislaus National Forest OSV Use Designation Project were published on March 22, 2019. Although we supported elements of the draft plan – establishing a minimum snow depth restriction of 12″ for cross-country OSV travel, setting a season of use at Sonora Pass consistent with the Bridgeport Winter Recreation Area, and not designating some popular quiet recreation areas for OSV use – there were many aspects of the draft plan that failed to minimize conflict between OSV use and other uses, and to protect sensitive wildlife species.
We remain particularly concerned about the proposal to amend the Stanislaus Forest Plan to allow motorized OSV use in roadless Near Natural Areas, some of which have been documented to contain the last remaining denning sites for the highly endangered Sierra Nevada Red Fox.
Airola Peak, Carson Iceberg Wilderness, Stanislaus National Forest. Photo by Alex Dodov.
Cross-country skiing on the Stanislaus in 1934
SCOPING: Based on a public scoping process that ended in August 2015, the Stanislaus National Forest has been working on developing and analyzing winter travel management alternatives. During the scoping period Winter Wildlands Alliance and Snowlands Network submitted a “Skiers Alternative” that would enforce existing protections of wild lands and unique natural features, set aside accessible areas for non-motorized winter recreation, and allow snowmobiling across a large network of trails and play areas. You can view a map of our scoping proposal HERE.
DEIS: The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Stanislaus National Forest‘s new winter travel plan was published on August 24, 2018. Alternative 5 was the forest’s “preferred alternative” — click here for a link to the high-res map (pdf) — and with some key exceptions (see below) we felt that it did a decent job of establishing a balanced baseline for winter management that accommodates appropriate existing snowmobile routes and play areas along Highways 4 and 108, and also provides some limited protections for important non-motorized recreation zones, wildlife, and natural resources.
HOWEVER: Several important nonmotorized areas were not protected in Alternative 5:
Pacific Valley and Eagle/Night Near Natural Areas
The Herring Creek area immediately adjacent to the Leland Snowplay Area on Highway 108
Osborne Hill and other Nordic touring terrain to the immediate east and west of Lake Alpine
Areas between Cabbage Patch and Black Springs and Mattley Ridge off Highway 4
Route 7N02 in the Big Meadow Area for non-motorized touring to the Stanislaus Canyon overlook
Full DEIS documents and map links below. Or visit the Forest Service project page HERE (click “Analysis” tab for DEIS and alternative maps).