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Community idea input to Inyo National Forest

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Community idea input to Inyo National Forest

Postby SSSdave » Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:00 am

While looking up Inyo NF maps for no camping and no campfire zones yesterday that are given out as info packets to wilderness permitees, I came across conflicting information on their website. On one page the pdf map shows the traditional 1/4 mile ie 1760 foot radius no camping zone around the Thousand Island Lake outlet bridge while on another page referenced on recreation.gov it states 300 feet for both that and Garnet Lake. I expected that was a webmaster mistake in transferring policy details and indeed received a response from an Inyo person thanking me for noticing that and that it would be changed.

For some time I've been procrastinating about making some inputs to Inyo on backcountry use. In the past my inputs have tended to be person to person at ranger stations and have gone well as some of those workers also have similar interests in improvements.That is one reason Inyo NF has been for years a leader in better policies. For example I mentioned several times that the no campfire elevations needed to be moved down to about 9000 feet in Ansel Adams because important lakes are just below 10k that had been the number. Generally since the Reagan years with James Watt, all national forests have been frustrated by lack of money and resource and that has effected their ability to do little more than cope.

So am going to make an email input this time and am interested in inputs/opinions from others on areas of backpacking concern. As the most prominent backpacking enthusiast community in the Sierra Nevada, HST potentially has some power to influence changes. In prior pre-Internet decades doing so was awkward and limited to organizations like the Sierra Club where peon members had little chance of making any inputs to those with any power or sending USPS letters with an impact like a mosquito. However now we as a group can offer our 2 cents at times to our government partners will likely be open to input if well presented.

David Senesac



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Re: Community idea input to Inyo National Forest

Postby ERIC » Wed Jul 06, 2016 10:43 am

While I like the idea in concept I do wonder how many things we'll be able to come to agreement on. A little uncomfortable lending the HST name to positions some of its members could be strongly opposed to. Still, keeping an open mind and am interested to see where this thread leads.
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Re: Community idea input to Inyo National Forest

Postby rayfound » Wed Jul 06, 2016 11:41 am

I agree with Eric - this is a great group, but a group with often conflicting opinions and values.
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Re: Community idea input to Inyo National Forest

Postby maverick » Wed Jul 06, 2016 11:58 am

Inyo is already dealing with the restriction issues at Donohue Pass with Yosemite.

This all comes down to we backpackers having to be responsible about informing ourselves on the rules and regulation before heading into a certain part of the wilderness, and that the NPS and NFS need to hire more backcountry rangers to enforce them, both go hand in hand and will not work without the other.

Otherwise just like CA passing the no texting while driving law, I still see dozens of people doing it every day on my drive to work, swerving in and out of their lanes but rarely see any CHP Officers around, so why pass the law if they do not have the manpower or willingness to enforce it. :\
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Re: Community idea input to Inyo National Forest

Postby dave54 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:19 pm

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Re: Community idea input to Inyo National Forest

Postby SSSdave » Tue Jul 12, 2016 1:32 pm

Excuse me for not following up on the thread as I have been preparing for my own week long trip later this week. I think we can come up with some things all or almost all of us will agree on though there are certainly some things there may be less agreement on. And other ideas like my below that are best sourced from individuals though we all might kick around the ideas.

Inyo National Forest has been regularly improving their trip planning information and the pdf document currently on their site is very well done. I would highly recommend members of our HST community actually read through the pdf even if they have many years of experience because it is yearly changing.

http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOC ... 003592.pdf

An example of a slight change is this:

Camping within 100 feet of a water source. If steep or rocky terrain does not permit camping 100 feet from water, camping is permitted from 50-100 feet away from the water source.

Just a few years ago it did not say 50-100 feet as an exception that opened the door to those that then twisted its intent by camping right beside water by siting in an area where steep terrain was close to a lake edge even when there might have been many other locations around the same lake where they could have camped further away than the 100 foot minimum. There are some visitors that have a hopelessly strong attraction to setting up their tent just a few feet from any lake edge.

One of the items I would like to recommend to Inyo addresses the long term general issue of too many visitors with actions and behaviors that are not per policy. The below is not something I would want HST to back but just this person as it is somewhat involved. There are visitors that are aware of correct policy but choose to disregard items then do whatever they want. A good example are most of those that make campfires above elevation limits. My input will not address those people below but rather the many that at best only have vague knowledge of policy and thus are easily swayed to the dark side.

In many groups a single person, the leader, acquires a wilderness permit but policy information provided to that leader is not communicated to others. There is a list of reasons why that tends to occur that is beyond this post. It is what it is. In past decades about all that could be counted on was to have a leader pick up a permit at a ranger station and have that leader listen to a face to face explanation of what is expected, hoping that person might then communicate information to others and keep watch out in the backcountry when others might diverge from policy.

In this Internet era there is a better way now easily available. The online California Campfire Permit process is an example of how it might work. That is to have all adults listed on a permit to be required to take and pass an online short simple test. To do so one change in the general permit process would be that members of a group would need to be listed and have email capability. Those who do not have Internet/Email access or had issue being part of a public data base would need to do so in person at a ranger station. Thus an incentive not to be resistive to such a program. Upon completing a test, the passing results would be emailed out to members of a group that included associated basic information of permit number, group leader's name, members name and email, and entry/exit trailhead that each adult would need to print out then keep on their person in the backcountry. Emailing to different addresses would tend to eliminate a single person taking everyone's test. That would also close the old excuse some give upon meeting a backcountry ranger that they are not the leader so do not have the permit. If members of a group changed from the time a permit request was granted, there would be an online method to easily modify a group list by allowing the leader to access their permit number.

Another benefit of such a program would be a database might be started that kept track of backpacking enthusiasts. From such information, in the future the need for a face to face lecture at a ranger station might be relaxed for national park entry if some person had previously taken say 5 trips and passed the online test each time without issues and without any backcountry infractions. And then would be able to use the night box permit pickup. Thus an incentive for people to know policy and do the right thing. In any case it is predictable that those that play loose with policy doing their own thing will have a strong reaction to any changes in the above direction to the current inept status quo that maintains their invisibility.

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Re: Community idea input to Inyo National Forest

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Jul 12, 2016 5:22 pm

Wilderness "rules" are not going to change people's behavior. I think it is better to emphasize the genearal concept of "leave no trace" and "minimum impact". In other words, wilderness ethics. I really hate blanket "rules" as each campsite is unique and I use my judgement, not follow "rules" per se. Do I pace off 100 feet from water when selecting a site? No. How you handle your impact is more important then distance. You can camp 200 feet from a lake and then go take a soapy bath in the lake, and do more damage than someone who camps right on the lake but carefully does his personal hygiene 200 feet away. For those who do not have a clue as to how to reduce impact, some education would be in order. But education is only as good as the person being "educated" is open to learning how to reduce their impact. Rules that defy common sense are never going to be followed. You have to, however, sometimes change what people think of as common sense because the wilderness is not the same as the city. There is no regular garbage collection; WE are the garbage collectors!

The exact elevation limit no fire "rule" is pretty stupid in my opinion. For example: In many conditions in ALL of the Sierra building a fire is simply not safe, regarless of elevation. And the availability of dead wood veries from place to place. If a site has an existing fire ring, properly placed away from overhead branches and safe, and there is sufficient dead wood, I see no damage caused by building a small cooking fire. Bonfires, no. And REALLY put it out and clean it up! This takes about 1/2 hour or more. So if not willing to do the clean up work, do not build the fire. Some of these historical campsites do not meet the exact elevation rule. Fires ARE allowed in Little Yosemite Valley and THAT is exactly a place that fires should NOT be allowed. Trees have broken branches, smoke settles in an ruins everyones air, and this area has historically been prone to forest fires.

The Sierra Club used to be an organization primaily focused on outings; it now is primarly focused on politics. I quit the Sierra club because of that. I would hate to see our forum become too political. Fine for each of us, as individuals, do as much as we want for enviornmental advocacy, but I would like it to stay an individual thing. Fine if a member wants to put out a petition and have othre members sign it. Just my 2 pennies worth.
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Re: Community idea input to Inyo National Forest

Postby SSSdave » Tue Jul 12, 2016 11:37 pm

Thankyou for voicing your opinion WD although I would disagree with some of your points.

You seem to be more in the camp of letting experienced, knowledgeable visitors decide for themselves what is and what is not LNT valid. Thus you seem to be relating that if one with good LNT practices sees a camp spot only 20 feet from a lake edge and will confidently leave the spot without issues, they ought be able to camp there by there own choice? And that if one with good understanding of the intent of wilderness timberline fire policy and practices LNT fire principles and is in a timberline zone that has say a 9600 foot no campfire elevation limit but then just happen to be in a remote location at 10,500 feet with an abundance of firewood etc that they ought to be able to make a small modest fire if they so decide it is practical and reasonable?

Of course there are apparently fair numbers of visitors that must agree with you because I and backcountry rangers are continually breaking up such fire pits. But unfortunately many do not also practice LNT and instead just don't see why their little fire will make a difference. The only way rules can be applied so that most of the public actually practices them is by making what is ok, ok for everyone and what is not ok, not ok for everyone. Especially if there is a lack of enforcement as is very much the case in wilderness. As soon as a novice sees a very experienced person site their tent 10 feet from a lake edge it plants the idea that such is maybe ok. Especially if they also would enjoy doing so and are of a personality that is easily swayed by their own desires. The better behavior for the experience, for the knowledgeable, for the experts is to follow policies, rules, and laws being an example to the less experienced, less knowledgeable, novices. To avoid a slippery slope where individuals make their own decisions requires policy makers to draw a line in the sand somewhere that considerate citizens will follow regardless of their own circumstances.

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Re: Community idea input to Inyo National Forest

Postby sambieni » Wed Jul 13, 2016 9:20 am

If I can agree w one point of WD's post - it is with regards to wilderness ethics / LNT education. I take issue w some of hte liberties he expresses as far as individual decision making, but wholly agree that sometimes rules or emphasis of them - as far as education goes - may be overemphasized compared to simple LNT education. I would venture to say the majority of those in outdoors do think their actions are of limited consequence and that they are more ethical/environmentally friendly than most. However, as we know ,this is not always the case. I don't believe everyone is eager to ignore/shirk the rules, but might just not know. Sometimes that is willful ignorance, which is unfortunate. But at end of the day, sites like reserve america/recreation.gov or similar where permits are requested to forest service site, to permit issuance - could collaborate and do a better job educating / encourage LNT principles. Just a matter of marketing gloss to do it. Not much more. Companies like REI, etc could collaborate. All have a stake - would be nice if there were cross purpose/collaborative efforts since we all know each is strapped financially in one way or another. I guess just saying many may hear/see LNT seal or have some clue as to its existence, but what does it really mean? A simple flashy PSA and some forced reading prior to clicking through and reserving your wilderness permit may really help a lot more than any new rules.
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