Forest Service considers new protections for California backcountry

 

 

We all know that quality habitat is the key to quality fishing and hunting. The best habitat is often found in large tracts of undeveloped country with low road densities.

Thus it's no surprise that many of our best sporting opportunities in this country are found on public lands.

Here's a good opportunity to better protect some of the best public lands fishing and hunting opportunities in California.

The U.S. Forest Service is seeking public feedback on the agency's preliminary Wilderness Evaluation and Wild & Scenic Rivers Inventory for three national forests -- the Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra -- covering much of the eastern and southern Sierra NevadaThe final evaluation and inventory will be included in updates to the "master" management plans (Forest Plans) for these forests later in 2016.

Fishing and hunting are allowed in all designated Wilderness and Wild and Scenic rivers. These designations are good for fishing and hunting because they strengthen protections for high value habitats (i.e., headwaters, alpine meadows, wildlife and fish migration corridors) while preserving access for traditional, low-impact activities such as fishing and hunting.

Over the past year the Forest Service has significantly improved its evaluation of potential Wilderness and inventory of potential Wild & Scenic Rivers for these three forests, based in part on input from Trout Unlimited.

Currently, the Forest Service identifies some 870 miles of rivers and streams on the Sierra, Sequoia and Inyo National Forests that may be eligible for Wild & Scenic designation. Some of our favorite fisheries that would be better protected by this designation are:

SIERRA: Bear Creek, Mono Creek, North Fork Kings River, San Joaquin River

SEQUOIA: Lower Kern, Little Kern, North Fork Tule

INYO: Hot Creek, Rush Creek, McGee Creek, Golden Trout Creek

*Wild and Scenic designation DOES NOT prohibit or reduce stocking for recreational fishing, or preclude recreational fishing.

In addition, the Forest Service says nearly 1.5 million acres of land in the Sierra, Sequoia and Inyo has Wilderness qualities and is now considering approximately 495,000 acres for potential Wilderness designation. Wilderness designation could help protect

  • Headwaters habitat for native California golden trout and Kern River rainbow trout through expansions to the existing Domeland, Golden Trout and South Sierra Wilderness areas on both the Sequoia and Inyo Forests.
     
  • Water quality and biotic integrity of the Wild & Scenic Kings River through additions to the existing Monarch Wilderness on the Sierra and Sequoia Forests.
     
  • Much of the Wild & Scenic South Fork Merced River on the Sierra National Forest through additions to the John Muir, Dinkey Lakes and Devil Gulch Wilderness areas.

*Areas being considered for new Wilderness designation are largely or entirely roadless -- this designation will not eliminate or reduce access to these lands. Any restrictions on motorized use in these areas have already been determined through the Travel Management process.

Here is the Action Alert for this process: TU Action Alert_CA national forests analyze potential Wilderness, Wild and Scenic rivers.pdf.

You can contribute to this process -- contact Jessica Strickland, California Field Coordinator (jstrickland@tu.org) to learn how.

To learn more:

USFS Forest Plan Revisions (Region 5): http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r5/landmanagement/planning/?cid=STELPRD3802842

Wild and Scenic Rivers Evaluation: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r5/landmanagement/planning/?cid=STELPRD3833668

Wilderness Inventory: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r5/landmanagement/planning/?cid=STELPRD3803608

 

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