From 1982 to 2000 the number of people driving off-highway motor vehicles in the US more than doubled. According to Inyo National Forest studies the same rate of growth has been experienced here as well. In 2005 the Travel Management Rule was developed to respond to this, recognizing the fact that a clearly defined and designated system of roads and trails did not exist at the time.
The existing National Forest Transportation System (NFTS or system) on the Inyo National Forest is comprised of approximately 1,360 miles of roads, which were incorporated into the NFTS through previous management decision. In addition to the NFTS roads, there are 1,699 miles of unauthorized routes. Many of these routes have existed on the ground and have been used by the public for a long time; however, they were never added to the National Forest Transportation System (NFTS) through a documented decision process. Many were developed for purposes other than recreation access. Past mining operations, timber sale projects and other access needs led to the creation of many of these routes. Although some have been in use for decades, others were recently created as forest visitors pioneered new routes to access destinations. These unauthorized routes were not necessarily designed to best meet public recreation or access needs and in some cases may adversely affect important forest resources.
Friends of the Inyo has been involved with the travel management process from the beginning, including attending the majority of public meetings before the final decision was released. Now (spring of 2012) Travel Management is well in the implementation process and Friends of the Inyo is one of the Inyo National Forests partners in this process, along with the American Conservation Experience (ACE), Student Conservation Association (SCA), and many others.
Friends of the Inyo is currently in our second year of a three year grant which funds a full time (seasonal) crew to work in close partnership with the Forest helping implement the Decision. Together with these other partners, implementation of Travel Management takes many forms, including opening routes previously closed while need mitigation work was done, such as hardening stream crossings, as well as restoring (removing) routes that the decision declared redundant or too impact full.