Protect Mono Hot Springs from the Forests Plan that threatens your resort and campground recreation opportunities. Commenting is allowed until the final Forest Plan decision sometime after the first of the year.
Urgent Notice: Stop the Forest Service From Converting Mono Hot Springs Resort & Campground Into a Tribal Use & Activities Area
The 2016 Sierra National Forest Draft Revised Land Management Plan (Plan) potentially allows the closure of Mono Hot Springs Resort, Campground and Hot Springs and other recreation facilities for tribal interest use to protect resources (obsidian chips, contemporary Native American use areas, TCPs etc.) under the guise they are not adequately protected by present laws & policy.
Currently the NHPA or Historic Laws, Forest Service Regulations and Policies protect existing recreation facilities from cultural resource impact mitigation actions as verified in the Plans Final Assessment below, i.e. “impact free”:
A Similar concerted illegal effort for a Forest 2001 Wilderness Plan EIS Historic Process incorporated similar language that attempted to confiscate a Resort Cabin to protect obsidian chips next to it, and claimed campground use may be affected for having obsidian chips near it; this conflicted with Historic Law, therefore, the controlling agency, the ACHP put a stop to it.
We should all demand that any Plan language perceivably protecting resources
by compromising existing facilities be deleted from the Plan
New Notice: This is a Review of how the 2016 Sierra National Forest Draft Revised Land Management Plan (Plan) could potentially compromise your Existing Recreation Facility and the Public’s Recreation Opportunities.
(Assessments are for understanding conditions for a Need to Change) Page 20, states:
- “Historically, Region 5 and the SNF have viewed cultural resources through the framework of legal compliance with Section 106 of the NHPA”. Note: this is the law.
A condition for a need to change for: “Recreation USE”, page 22, in part states:
- “Cultural Resources are impacted by a variety of recreational activities; however, direct physical damage is generally the most destructive. “Many existing recreational facilities are currently located on or near cultural resources (obsidian chips, TCP’s and Contemporary Native American use), and their impact free management (in accordance with NHPA law & FS policy) is problematic”.
In support of the above Assessment, the Plan wrongfully compromises existing facilities for perceivably impacting resources that are mostly common obsidian chips that can easily be scattered around by anyone and Traditional Cultural Properties that by lawful definition cannot be affected by facilities. A new twist in defining resources that could affect facilities includes: Native American contemporary use areas. Any Forests action applying resource impact mitigation actions against existing facilities to allegedly protect resources is inconsistent with historic law (NHPA), Forest Service Policy and extremely unjust to facility owners and recreation users:
Here is how this irrational Plan language compromising existing facilities works: Any non-significant obsidian chip found even next to a resort cabin and analyzed as likely imported can be called a site or resource on a survey form. However, for new ground disturbing projects, sites are required to be Historic (meet strict National Register criteria of significance and integrity) to be protected. A historic site does not stop a new project but calls for negotiable fair mitigation measures that is usually data recovery. In accordance with historic law on Federal administered land, resources are evaluated for affects by existing facility developments: it does matter if it’s a highway, trail, power dam, resort, campground, multi-story building or Yosemite Village, if a facility impacts a site then the sites integrity is compromised and the site is not considered historic (not protected under the NHPA), thus, under historic law facilities are not subject to resource impact mitigation action. If an evaluation finds a facility does not affect a site, therefore, assessed a historic site (lawfully defined not affected by facilities) the facility can then just carry on operating as usual without ever affecting the historic site. Under historic law and FS Policy, it is a catch 22 to claim an existing facility impacts a historic site.
Also, guided by historic law, obsidian chips are protected in many ways by Forest Service Policy without affecting recreation facilities: obsidian chips can be buried or archived etc. The Forest never exercised these options to protect obsidian chips found on resort and campground property. But, illogically the Plan language protects common obsidian chips by leaving them in place, canceling existing facility use and limiting facility activities to what enhances the public understanding of the common non-historic obsidian chip resource, i.e. the confiscation of facilities. Obviously, the Plan does nothing to protect resources but instead benefits tribal interest by imposing extreme penalties on recreation facility owners and takes away valuable public recreation opportunities for tribal interest (possibly non-tribal groups). All the Plan language that compromises existing facilities to protect any kind of resource is unjustifiably wrong and should be deleted from the Plan. One wonders what kind of influences prompt the Forest to go along with such outrageous Plan components.
Under Desired conditions: Tribal relations and uses, page 43, states:
“The forest coordinates with tribes in managing traditional cultural properties, resources and sacred sites where historic preservation laws alone may not adequately protect the resources or values”.
My Comment: it clearly stated in the Plan Assessment where the historic laws “may not adequately protect cultural resources (obsidian chips) or values (sacred sites)”: answer: existing recreation facilities: FS/tribes manage obsidian chips or sacred sites on facility property. This component should be deleted from the Plan.
Under Desired Conditions: Sustainable Recreation (existing recreation) (required to be explicit and non-ambiguous), chapter 2, page 44, states:
“Cultural resources, traditional cultural properties and sacred sites are protected through project design and consultation with Indian tribes, tribal cultural leader and consulting parties”.
My Comment: The above resource protections should be, as required, following NHPA law that exempts existing facilities from being subject to resource impact mitigation measures. This component should be deleted from the Plan.
Under Potential Management approaches, Sustainable Recreation, chapter 3, page 89 states:
“Use management strategies to mitigate recreation use and resource conflicts”… (Appendix D). Appendix D, page 149, states: Management strategies can be applied to existing (contrary to historic law) or new recreation sites and uses whenever a conflict between recreation uses or sensitive resources is detected. Sensitive resources include at risk species and habitats, riparian habitats, soil and watersheds, heritage resources and other resources”.
My comment: clearly this Plan component states that existing recreation sites are subject to resource impact mitigation action that may severely compromise existing facilities. Also, the above mixing in of non-cultural resources that are protected by a myriad of laws and regulations is also inappropriate: This component should be deleted from the Plan.
All the Management strategies for Appendix D: Perimeter Control, Presence and Direct Actions are worded to affect existing recreation facilities: for example: the direct action in part, page 149, states:
Locate new facilities and areas for redistributing human use away from sensitive resources; if monitoring and evaluation indicate that closure is ineffective, take steps to decommission facilities and permanently discontinue facilities and permanently discontinue visitor use.
My comment: the total of the Appendix D actions, on page 149-150, are somewhat ambiguous that may work to the advantage of cultural resource advocates. Regardless, clearly most of the language is targeted at existing recreation facilities that potentially compromises the very existence of a recreation facility and valuable recreation use; therefore, all these components should be deleted, or modified to not affect existing or new recreation facilities in any way.
Under Tribal Relations and Uses, page 90:
Manage Mono Hot Springs to maintain a near-natural setting for traditional Native American use.
My comment: this appears redundant; this statement is in the 1991 LMP that preserves the natural concrete lined hot springs for Native American use that does not exclude others.
Under Design Criteria, Guidelines, chapter 4, sustainable Recreation, page 103 states:
“recreation uses should managed adaptively to prevent impacts to other resources and recreation setting, while considering the recreation place inventory; and redesign, restore, or rehabilitate recreation sites where recreation activates have caused unacceptable natural resource and social resource impacts.” and Cultural Resources, page 104 states: “to protect the cultural setting of a site and visitor experiences, commercial use of heritage-based interpretive sites should be limited to activities that enhance the public understanding of the resource, protect and preserve the resource, and are consistent with tribal interest”.
My comment: Clearly, this Plan language limits existing recreation facilities to activities that enhance the understanding of the resource (obsidian chips etc.) to be protected, and supports the Plan Assessment for changes resolving the “problematic” existing recreation facilities; therefore, this Plan component should be deleted from the Plan.
Under Appendix B. Proposal and Possible Actions: Sustainable Recreation, page 138, states:
“Complete regular patrols at developed facilities to check for public safety and facility and resource protection”.
My comment: this language validates that there will be Forests efforts to compromise developed existing facilities to protect resources; therefore, this Plan component should be deleted. And why is public safety thrown in here? Public safety is part of a permittees regular inspection process; does this not confuse the issues?
My Conclusion comment:
The above review is all about the Plan language that potentially compromises existing recreation facilities for tribal interest benefits even though historic law and Forest Service policy protects existing facilities from being subject to resource impact mitigation measures, i.e., “impact free”. It is outrageous that facility owners can be potentially subject to huge punitive financial concessions to protect resources like common obsidian chips that can easily be scattered on a facility by anyone, TCP’s that by lawful definition are not affected by existing facilities; and an addition to the previous plan draft is a new very subjective twist in defining a cultural resource where any Native American contemporary use area qualifies as a Plan protective resource that may compromise existing facility owners and users.
Bottom Line: All the Plan language compromising existing facilities to protect any kind of “sensitive resource” (obsidian chips etc.) is unjustifiably outrageous and should be deleted from the Plan.
– Jeff Winslow