PUBLIC SAYS NO MORE CLOSURES Updated
meeting room was filed to overflowing last night, more chairs
set up and another section opened up as over 200 people poured
into the Senior Center for the Forest Service meeting discussing
the future of access around Lake Isabella and the surrounding
Forest Supervisor Tina Terrel opened the meeting and asked if
the public had any questions. It was soon apparent the public
could spend the two and a half hours the Sequoia Forest had
allotted for the meeting just with questions and comments.
The audience were polite, but insistent the Sequoia Forest
Service stop limiting public access.
Sequoia Forest ID Team Leader Chris Sanders made a powerpoint
presentation during which many in the audience called out stop
closing our public lands.
Supervisor Terrel stated this is just the “starting point”
for their plan, but in reality this is the last opportunity the
public will have to make a comment and from those comments the
Forest Service will finalize their plan in just two months.
The public comment deadline is 3/31/09 leaving the public seven
days to read the 600 page DIES plan, unless the Forest Service
extends the deadline.
Hands flew up when the floor was again opened for questions
Many asked why are you closing our public lands? Another stated,
you have never done anything to improve the Lake Area but you
want to close it? Fish & Game Habitat Club pointed out if access
is reduced how will they be able to continue the fish habitat
improvement programs their volunteers have been performing for
The Sequoia staff responded by asking the public to tell them
where they want continued access and this was quickly greeting
with a resounding EVERYWHERE. The Forest Service showed maps
and aerial views around from around the Lake showing the routes
and areas the public currently use all around the Lake. Forest
Staff cautioned, some of these areas and routes are not included
in the current plan. Sequoia staff asked people to tell them
specific locations and routes they use so the Forest Service can
possibly add them to the plan. One attendee noted, it was clear
the Sequoia Forest Service already knows the public enjoys all
the areas around the lake as it can be seen from space, so why
does the public need to tell them?
When asked to go to the maps and put circles around the areas
the public uses many people called out put a circle around the
whole lake, triggering huge applause.
In an effort to help the Sequoia Forest Service be transparent
in showing the public want they propose to close, Chris Horgan
Executive Director of Stewards of the Sequoia showed Inventory
maps made by the Sequoia Forest Service for each of the four
areas Lake Isabella, Greenhorn, Breckenridge and Piutes included
in the Sequoia Forest plan. These particular maps showed all the
trails including hundreds of miles of trails proposed for
closure marked in red. Over 300 miles of roads proposed for
closure around the Lake were shown in red. These maps can be
A sea of hands answered Mr. Horgan when he asked if the
audience wanted the Sequoia Forest Service to keep all the
trails shown on the Forest Inventory maps open. He then held
up the Sequoia Forest No Action Alternative maps which are
supposed to show all the existing trails and asked if the
audience saw any difference compared to the Inventory maps still
being held up. The audience shouted most of the trails are
Supervisor Terrel noted several times she would only take two
more questions, but the questions kept coming and to her credit
she kept taking them.
Ron Benoit of Isabella Bodfish Homeowners group asked Supervisor
Terrel if it was true this new plan would trigger a new
regulation allowing dispersed camping only one car length from
the few roads the Forest Service now proposes to keep open. The
Supervisor said this was true. Mr. Benoit pointed out the water
level around the Lake changes, and the few roads would not
necessarily be at the water side and this would mean an end to
Members of the audience pointed out this plan would eliminate
the lakeside access many people live here to enjoy while
fishing, camping, boating or windsurfing and it would destroy
what is left of our economy.
The Forest Plan only goes down to the high water mark, yet the
water may not be at high level for at least ten years because of
the Corp of Engineers Dam Project, which means the public might
have no Lake Access for ten years.
Others pointed out they are willing to pay the new fees if
they can enjoy all access, but not if the Forest Service
eliminates any access.
Local resident and retired school teacher Nate Sciacqua pointed
out the trails in the Mountains and around the lake were made by
the public as they access important places over the decades. If
the public had waited for the Forest Service to build each road
or trail they would have been denied access to the places the
public wants to enjoy on their public lands. Each trail has a
purpose, these are not unauthorized trails as the Forest Service
calls them. They are trails the Forest Service just has not yet
Besides the current Forest Service Plan there are new fees, a
ban on trout stocking even though the species it is supposed to
protect is not endangered, as well as a proposal to add Lake
Isabella/Kern River to the list on Impaired Water bodies due to
ash from the fires. It is clear any one of these will be
extremely harmful to the local economy and way of life. Together
they spell total disaster for the community of Lake Isabella.
The public has been asked to
submit comments to the Forest Service on the Route Designation
Plan and they should.
An easy way to submit comments has been made available by Save
The Trails at
Letters submitted using the above link will also be delivered to
While it seems likely legislators agree with the need to keep
all existing access please call them so they will know how the
public feels about the proposed closures, restrictions and how
they will effect the community.
Please call an ask them to help stop the closure of the
trails in the Mountains and around the Lake:
Congressman McCarthy’s office 661 327-3611
Senator Roy Ashburn 661 323-0443,
Assemblymember Fuller 661 395-2995
Kern County Board of Supervisors 661 868-3650
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