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Adventure Trails impact analysis out for review

July 21, 2014

Members of the Eastern Sierra Adventure Trails Group, Randy Gillespie, Dick Noles and Steve Toomey, with ATV supporter Dave Patterson show off a new map of off-highway vehicle recreation opportunities in the Poleta area east of Bishop. A Draft Environmental Impact Report on the Adventure Trails program is now available for public comment. Photo by Rena Mlodecki

Inyo County has released a draft environmental report on the Eastern Sierra Adventure Trails project that proposes to designate some county-maintained streets and roads in each community as “dual use,” giving drivers of green sticker off-highway vehicles permission to use the roads.
The DEIR released this week discusses potential impacts the proposed Adventure Trails program may have on local communities and the environment, and includes a list of alternatives to the initial proposal that could exclude some routes, implement a seasonal closure of the trail system or move it forward with no changes.
The DEIR states the Adventure Trails project will not have a “significant” impact to aesthetics, agriculture and forestry, geology and soils, hydrology or land use planning.
The DEIR also says there is a concern that the Adventure Trails program could increase the chances of a hazardous waste spill on public land. “The potential for hazardous fuel spills could occur when OHV users attempt to refuel at non-designated refueling stations,” the DEIR states. “A potential for oil spills could also occur at staging and unloading areas. However, most OHV users would refuel their vehicles at existing fueling stations and not on the Project proposed routes. Additionally, most campgrounds and RV parks prohibit OHV maintenance.”
The DEIR also recognizes that the program may impact the local economy, but in a positive way: “Long-term growth would occur as the proposed Project may enhance the economic growth in Inyo County through increased recreational OHV activity on existing County- and City-maintained roads,” the DEIR states. “Increased recreational opportunities by both resident and transient OHV users may potentially benefit the economy in the region, which may indirectly result in increased economic growth.”
The Adventure Trails program was proposed on Oct. 12, 2012, following the passage of Assembly Bill 628, which allows for an Adventure Trails pilot project in Inyo County
If approved the pilot project will run until Jan. 1, 2017. If the program is successful, it can be implemented permanently.
The DEIR is available online at the county website, Hard copies of the document are available at the Inyo County Free Library and the Public Works office in Independence.
The DEIR is a review of the 38 combined-use routes that are proposed within County- and City-maintained roads, located within portions of Death Valley Road, outside and west of Death Valley National Park; routes in and around the unincorporated communities of Aberdeen, Big Pine, Independence, Lone Pine; and routes in and around the City of Bishop.
“Interested agencies, organizations, and individuals are encouraged to submit comments on the completeness and technical adequacy of the Draft EIR,” a press release from the Public Works Department states.
Comments will be accepted through Sept. 2, 2014.
A public hearing to gather input on the DEIR has also been scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6 during the Inyo County Planning Commission’s meeting in the County Administrative Center, 224 N. Edwards St. in Independence. A public workshop will be held at 5:30 p.m. that same evening in the Bishop City Council Chambers at 377 W. Line St. in Bishop.
Written comments can also be mailed to Inyo County Public Works Department, Attention Courtney Smith, P.O. Drawer Q, Independence, CA 93526
Following the close of the public comment period on a Final EIR will be prepared in accordance with California Environmental Quality Act requirements.
The Final EIR will include responses to comments received.

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