Inyo National Forest will be closing Aug 30

Dear Inyo Partners and Friends,

The Inyo National Forest, along with all National Forests in the Pacific Southwest Region, will be closing to most public use beginning tomorrow, August 30 until at least September 17.  The decision was just made at the regional level after lengthy discussion with all Forest Supervisors over the weekend.  This is not the news I wanted to share with you all ahead of Labor Day.  I made it clear to regional leadership the significant impacts that a forest closure has to our Eastern Sierra communities.  Unfortunately for us and many of our forest communities around the state, there are even more grave and emergent impacts from wildfires and the lack of firefighting resources.  We are quickly approaching, and in some areas in the region, have crossed below the threshold of being able to effectively support initial attack operations.

Onion Fire – USFS Inyo National Forest

The fires we are seeing are exhibiting truly unprecedented behavior.  I am currently in Northern California lending support to forests up here with significant fire activity.  We saw two new fire starts overnight, which quickly grew in size, even outside of the area of the red flag warning.  We are at the point in the region of having to prioritize which homes and communities to save because there are not enough fire resources to save them all. The decision is being made because it is the prudent thing to do for public safety.  It is clear that our tactics and strategies will need to change significantly in the future in order to stay ahead of these climate change driven impacts.  The risk management decisions that we are having to make are harrowing and the decision to close the forest is absolutely one of those decisions.  If closing the forest reduces risk enough for us to prioritize resources to save a community or save a life, I have to say that it is worth it.

I am asking the district rangers and the rest of the Forest Leadership Team to reach out to you all as well as other key partners and permittees to talk about needs and impacts to your operations.  We will do what we can to make sure you have access to the forest to take care of property and infrastructure.  We are working on other exemptions as well, including ongoing mission critical work, tribal access needs and business owners who provide vital services to our communities and other travelers on main highways, including stores and gas stations.  If you have questions about possible exemptions or your particular situation, please contact your permit administrator or district ranger directly.  (Note that Philip DeSenze is out of the office.  David Andersen is acting for him.)  A press release with this news will be coming out shortly, so please feel free to share this information with your constituencies.

Thank you for your continued partnership and understanding with this very difficult situation.  I will continue to communicate directly with you all via email as I have updates and information to share.  My ability to respond to specific questions will be limited while I’m on fire assignment, so I ask you all to contact your district rangers with questions that need a more immediate response.

Stay well and take care,

Lesley Yen

Forest Supervisor

Inyo National Forest

43 Comments
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gary
gary
11 months ago

Inyo Forest Supervisor Lesley Len said “It is clear that our tactics and strategies will need to change significantly in the future in order to stay ahead of these climate change driven impacts.” Lesley’s press release interestingly does not even mention excessive fuel load as the culprit. High intensity “mega”… Read more »

Where's Smokey the Bear??
Where's Smokey the Bear??
11 months ago

Smokey the Bear agrees with Sierra Wave Reader 100%. Well put. Of course everybody will bash these comments thinking that the front line people are being bad mouthed or doing anything at all that makes sense is not safe. Back in the old days there were more rangers to keep… Read more »

desco
desco
11 months ago

I believe the reason to close the forest is two fold. 1) to help prevent some reclass, careless, drunken camper from starting a fire. 2) What if you have a thousand people recreating in the forest and a fire does start. Either lighting or idiot caused. How do you get… Read more »

Leslie
Leslie
11 months ago

Were the Inyo County Supervisors, community leaders and local business leaders included in the discussions to abruptly close the forest? If not, why not? Whether you are ok with closing the forest or not, shouldn’t the communities that support the INF be included in this discussion? We are all concerned… Read more »

Dark Watcher
Dark Watcher
11 months ago

Now that America claims to be kicking the forever wars habit, perhaps America will have the money to fully fund sustainable management of our public lands, consistent with the reality of the changing climate. Maybe we’ll even have the money for habitat and watershed restoration to help improve public land… Read more »

SierraWaveReader
SierraWaveReader
11 months ago

Charles, imagine if everyone were as civil as you! I think everyone can agree on the basics: megafire, property loss, death, and the all the forms of stress related to modern megafires are bad. Most people are good and would agree on that. It’s what’s reasonable (or effective?) to do… Read more »

The Californian
The Californian
11 months ago

Well since I live in the inyo national Forrest they can’t stop me from shooting golf balls at my weedwacker, who weedwacks for recreation anyway. And copper/plastic dont cause sparks…

Sami
Sami
11 months ago

People like you are going to make sure that “as long as it’s there” won’t be much longer.

Charles O. Jones
Charles O. Jones
11 months ago

Serious question to those criticizing these temporary restrictions: -Knowing that roughly 85% of vegetation/wildland fires are human caused. -Knowing that hundreds of lives have been lost in recent years due to these fires. -Knowing that billions of $$ in property losses have occurred in recent years due to these fires.… Read more »

BobK
BobK
11 months ago

Charles: I guess it wouldn’t bother me as much if two fire prone areas, 1 ,a national forest, partially in Ca, Toiyabe, and 1 a national park, Yosemite, were also shut down. Especially Yosemite, where major fires have occurred thru out both of our lifetimes. Kind of shoots your 6… Read more »

Charles O. Jones
Charles O. Jones
11 months ago
Reply to  BobK

BobK, I agree there is some glaring inconsistency with these restrictions. However our National Parks are managed by an entirely different department within our federal government. And the Toiyabe NF is under the direction of a another region within the Forest Service. So those making the judgments on this closure… Read more »

Tourbillon
Tourbillon
11 months ago

Let’s start by not punishing the responsible and the innocent. I know, tough concept for a bureaucrat to wrap his head around. But not tough for an American.

Charles O. Jones
Charles O. Jones
11 months ago
Reply to  Tourbillon

FWIW, I don’t work for a public agency.
That aside, are you implying that public employees are somehow less “American” than you are?

SierraWaveReader
SierraWaveReader
11 months ago

In all due respect Charles, some of your metrics are misleading. You’re a well-respected individual here (and I respect you), which compels me to respond with data that is more reflective of reality than the numbers you cite. Saying 85% of fires are human caused, and using that to support… Read more »

Charles O. Jones
Charles O. Jones
11 months ago

SWR,
Although I don’t completely agree with all of your conclusions, I thank you for your thoughtful, (and thought provoking) response.

E. Pi
E. Pi
11 months ago

Allot the $$ and resources to forest management and fire prevention from the “Governor” on down. Make forest management and upkeep a priority — over funding immigration – mostly illegal.

Charles O. Jones
Charles O. Jones
11 months ago
Reply to  E. Pi

Totally agree with the notion of funding to a level that will allow for better and more thorough management of our National Forests. And though our former pres liked to pass the buck to our “Governor” regarding the forests… it’s the federal government, not the state, that is ultimately responsible… Read more »

Colleen
Colleen
11 months ago

I hope the LA Times gets this information for the people that want to travel to the Eastern Sierra’s

Monophile
Monophile
11 months ago

Respectfully disagree as a “local.” There have been fires created by recreational use—hot tail pipes, weed wackers, chipping golf balls, bullets hitting the ground for target shooting, etc. etc.—and, at least for some, these have happened by people who live in the area that caught fire. The bigger issue is… Read more »

Where's Smokey the Bear??
Where's Smokey the Bear??
11 months ago

Same old sad song. ‘Let’s close down and keep people out!’ ‘But let’s not invest in any personnel to enforce this, way too much $$$ for ol’ Smokey, much more cost effective just to close the snow gates!’ Never mind that people with prepaid reservations will come up here anyway,… Read more »

John Smith
John Smith
11 months ago

I hear no mention of the economic hardship that local businesses will suffer or the local towns that will feel economic hardship as well loss of recreation opportunities for everyone. Did you discuss the closure of INF with the Inyo county board of supervisors and local business owners and the… Read more »

Po-jama people
Po-jama people
11 months ago

Spot on sugarmags.
How about it Forest Service?
Show us you can adapt and manage the forest and people for whom you’ve been created to manage.
We pay your salaries.

Bob Feld
Bob Feld
11 months ago

Just ignore and do as you please. They don’t get to control our lives.

Dickson Thearse
Dickson Thearse
11 months ago

Everyone should just ignore this and go about their day and do as they please in the lakes basin. That’s what you’re supposed to be able to do in a free society. That, or we follow clueless politicians and bureaucrats who tell us that we can’t even go boating on… Read more »

dpblue
dpblue
11 months ago

Dickson Thease I agree civil disobedience is needed… but not for this.
I know I know, the slippery slope of authoritarianism and all that but not over this issue.

John
John
11 months ago

I don’t agree with closing the forest down early again. This will hurt local businesses that are trying to survive over a year and a half of turmoil. Not to mention locals won’t be able to recreate and get out of the heat in the valley. Why not allow day… Read more »

BobK
BobK
11 months ago

….AMEN….Last year they closed it at the same general time, worried about the fires in southern Inyo/Kern. Opened it closing weekend of Deer season. Any bets that will be when they consider opening this year? Toiyabe [sp] remained open the whole time.

Sometimes it’s not about us
Sometimes it’s not about us
11 months ago

It’s an inconvenience for sure. I was just wondering where I will be able to walk my dogs; and, myself. And, I do not have the sources you are asking for, however, figure, with a quick Google search, you can find the fires that started by parked cars and their… Read more »

Tourbillon
Tourbillon
11 months ago

The more government restrictions, the more defiance. The more defiance, the more disrespect of government. The more disrespect of government, the more our political system that has lasted 250 years is at risk. This is precisely the pattern that doomed the USSR. I saw this first hand serving in the… Read more »

just saying
just saying
11 months ago

It is extremely difficult for N.I.H. right now to find a hospital with an available bed for transfer. They tell us the hospitals have too many covid patients–a virus that could be mitigated still if we be smarter. The Inyo National Forest is closed. South Lake Tahoe very existence is… Read more »

Michael Chung
Michael Chung
11 months ago
Reply to  just saying

Will Lake Crowley and it’s basin be included in the closures?

BP Local
BP Local
11 months ago
Reply to  Michael Chung

Lake Crowley??? Where in the world in Lake Crowley? LOL you must mean Crowley Lake, and you must not be local… SMH

Katie
Katie
11 months ago

Is there a way to find out what will be open in the Eastern Sierra, as we all know people will still come up to Bike Fish Hike etc..? The fear are those that may be forced to disperse camp. Curious if any of the chambers visitors centers have this… Read more »

eastside local
eastside local
11 months ago
Reply to  Katie

This website has information on the different land jurisdictions and dispersed camping info: https://www.essrp.org/camping

Tinner
Tinner
11 months ago
Reply to  Katie

Katie, all the less healthy stuff will remain open such as liquor stores, bars and dispensaries.
Healthy outdoor activities on INFS land will not be permitted.

ericmcornelius
ericmcornelius
11 months ago

Where’s the evidence that closing to *all day use* is in any way reducing fire risk in Inyo NF? If someone can point me towards any fires caused by standard day use – I’d love to know. Because otherwise this really looks on its face like a pure political move… Read more »

sugarmags
sugarmags
11 months ago
Reply to  ericmcornelius

They need to exempt locals. We all know why they’re doing this, because fire resources are spread too thin and this discourages tourists from coming up here and stops high risk activities like camping, both in campgrounds and dispersed. While locals want to see the forests protected, we are left… Read more »

Eric Cornelius
Eric Cornelius
11 months ago
Reply to  sugarmags

Far as I’m concerned “stretched fire resources” isn’t a justifiable reason while Yosemite and SEKI remain open to an order of magnitude more visitation in a significantly more fire prone forest setting. But closing those would obviously be too limiting to the more populous western slope population, let alone the… Read more »

Sami
Sami
11 months ago
Reply to  Eric Cornelius

I remember the fear of fire creeping close to my home. Having the pet carriers out and the bags packed in the car in case the evacuation order came through. I remember watching the fire on the hills to the southwest get closer, and the fear that it wouldn’t be… Read more »

Pine
Pine
11 months ago
Reply to  Eric Cornelius

Guess what the National Park System does that the Forest Service doesn’t? They charge a gate fee, and hand you a paper with regulations. Of course, whether or not anyone reads said regulations is up for debate. NPS needs those gate fees (some of the only revenue they receive), while… Read more »

BP Local
BP Local
11 months ago
Reply to  sugarmags

I’m with you on an exemption for locals. Too many tourists up here for my liking.

Hans
Hans
11 months ago
Reply to  ericmcornelius

Lower Rock Creek fire was attributed by investigation to spark from a mountain bike pedal hitting a rock on the trail. Sherwin Lakes fire attributed to day hikers burning trash. FS had to extinguish hundreds of illegal camp fires at dispersed car camping sites around Mammoth last summer. Numerous fires… Read more »

Tourbillon
Tourbillon
11 months ago
Reply to  Hans

Dude you should keep your head down, shelter in place at home, order groceries in. Life is full of lions and tigers and bears. And rabbits. You’re a rabbit