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Sierra Wilderness Creek will not be poisoned
of Silver King Creek
PO Box 54
Markleeville, CA 96120
stream in Alpine County’s high Sierra wilderness is permanently
protected from poisoning, thanks to the actions of federal judge
Frank Damrell in a decision issued September 6, 2011.
Silver King Creek, a major tributary of the east fork of the Carson
River, which flows through the Carson Iceberg Wilderness, will remain
unsullied among this wilderness gem of high peaks, and grassy valleys.
The California Department of Fish and Game proposed poisoning the
same section of creek in 2001, to restore a greater length of stream
habitat for the threatened Paiute Cutthroat Trout, ostensibly to
de-list the fish and allow it to be caught.
The opponents, including Friends of Silver King Creek, Californians
for Alternatives to Toxics and Wilderness Watch, contested the need
for the project since the Paiute Cutthroat Trout has already been
restored in the higher reaches of the stream. The trout was and
has been kept safe behind a good natural dam in the creek. Further,
the fish has been restored to sustainable populations in four other
streams in the Sierra.
In his decision, judge Damrell cited the competing values of preserving
wilderness character versus restoration the PCT using rotenone,
which would wipe out all life in a reach of Silver King Creek, and
ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.
In addition, the County of Alpine protested the poisoning of waters
in their county, as a threat to the county’s reputation for
famous wild trout wilderness fishing.
Rotenone is a piscicide (suffocates gill breathers) that has been
banned for use on land in the US, banned for use in US coastal waters
and lagoons, and banned entirely in Europe. But in the US, it is
allowed to be used in fresh water lakes and streams, baffling many
wilderness users and scientists.
The judge’s decision culminates a multi-year effort by the
plaintiffs begun in 2001.
HOPE VALLEY’S BASQUE OVEN
In the early
1900’s Fred Dangberg started a sheep camp in Hope Valley. Seven
bands of sheep (2,000 sheep per band) spent the summers there, each
tended by a sheepherder. Most sheepherders in the west at that time
were Basque, expert sheep tenders who were immigrating to the U.S.
from their homelands in northern Spain and southwestern France in
search of work.
The Dangberg sheep camp headquarters in Hope Valley, still visible
still along Highway 89 partway up the Luther Pass grade, included
a Basque tender man named Jesus. It was Jesus who in the 1930s was
chiefly responsible for the building of the large, authentic bread
oven we now hope to preserve.
this valued treasure the Friends of Hope Valley has been working with
the Alpine County Historical Society on a project to relocate the
oven to the Historical Society’s museum in Markleeville. This
historic oven is a valued part of the history of Alpine County and
the west. It reminds us of the role Basque sheepherders played in
the history of the Sierra Nevada; preserving it honors their memory.
is key to acceptability
Friends of Hope Valley believes that if all facets of the Proposed
Project were implemented that it would have a net benefit to the non-motorized
community. The following pairs of quiet use and snowmobile opportunities
are presented to show the balancing.
Quiet-use opportunity. The Forestdale Creek area
up to Forestdale Divide will be closed to snowmobiles when there is
sufficient snow at the Blue Lakes SnoPark for snowmobile use. This
typically is from early or mid-December through early or early or
mid-April. Therefore most of the winter season it will be closed.
Prior and after the closure period snowmobiles will still be restricted
to the road through the Forestdale Creek area.
Snowmobile opportunity. Improve accessibility of
the Monitor Pass area to snowmobiles and open portions of the area
that are currently closed to snowmobiles. This will include creating
a staging area at Loope Canyon, which is above the current road closure
point. This will also afford better access for non-motorized users
wanting to access the Heenan Lake area that will remain closed to
snowmobiles. The south side of Monitor Pass area will remain closed
to snowmobiles when deer are present.
Quiet-use opportunity. The north side (actually it
is west) of Highway 88 from Carson Pass to Picketts Junction will
be closed to snowmobile use with one exception. That means Crater
Lake, Scotts Lake,Red Lkae Peak and Stevens Peak will be off-limits
to snowmobiles. The exception is that there will be a route on a road
through the area that connects the Armstorng Pass area with the lands
in Hope Valley south of Highway 88. This is to allow snowmobilers
to ride from South Lake Tahoe to Blue Lakes. The route through the
area will get minimum grooming. The purpose of the grooming is to
define the route but not create a raceway.
Snowmobile opportunity. Improved snowmobile staging
at Centerville. Centerville is located at the eastern winter closure
of Highway 4. Snowmobiles currently park here but use is low because
there is a section of Highway 4 (called the Flintstones) that is avalanche
prone much of the winter. An old road that bypasses the Flintstones
would be repaired where it was washed out. Highway 4 from Centerville
to Ebbetts Pass may be groomed for snowmobile use.
Quiet-use opportunity. Create a parking area at Red
Corral on Highway 88 to increase access to quiet-use terrain north
and south of Highway 88. Improved parking at Picketts Junction (Burnside
Road). These two parking areas may become SnoParks. Shoulder-parking
on Highway 88 will be prohibited over a 4-mile stretch except for
several turnouts that allow additional access to the north and south
sides of Highway 88.
Snowmobile opportunity. Additional parking, including
overnight parking, at the Blue Lakes SnoPark.
Snowmobile opportunity. The pruning of trees and
installation of markers along the primitive road from Blue Lakes to
Highway 4. This divides the Mokelumne Wilderness into two pieces.
Snowmobilers occasionally use this route. These improvements are intended
to help motorists stay within the non-wilderness corridor. This snowmobile
route will not be groomed.
Action needs details
Friends of Hope Valley 's review of the NOPA revealed that the document
needs more details. Therefore it is extremely important that you take
the time to write the Forest Service to express the need for improvements
to the description of the Proposed Project.
The Notice of Proposed Action is available online at
and maps are available online at
comments must be mailed (postal or email) by COB (close of business)
on June30, 2007.
Please don’t put it off. Write NOW!
Carson Ranger District
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
Attn: District Ranger Gary Schiff
1536 South Carson Street
Carson City, NV 89703
or email to email@example.com
What to write
We do not give you a sample letter because we want you to put your comments
in your own words. We have provided points that are critical and additional
points that are also important. Pick and choose depending on your feelings.
- State that you are commenting on the NOPA for the Alpine County
Winter Recreation Project.
- State that you are a skier (or snowshoer or hiker) and why you
enjoy the sport. For example, you may backcountry ski because you
enjoy the solitude of the mountains in winter and to get away from
the noise and pollution of the city.
- State that you find snowmobile use incompatible with your enjoyment
of you winter backcountry. For example, the noise of snowmobiles
destroys the solitude, the smell of snowmobile exhaust pollutes
the pristine environment that you come to enjoy, and that snowmobiles
tear-up the snowscape quickly leaving behind frozen ruts that are
dangerous for skiers and snowshoers. Maybe you feel unsafe when
you have to be in close proximity with snowmobiles (explain why).
- The lack of details such as to the location of the snowmobile
boundary in the Monitor Pass area, the lack of details regarding
how the various components of the Project will be implemented, and
no indication as to what alternatives may be considered in the Environmental
Analysis make it impossible to effectively comment on some aspects
of the NOPA. Therefore a comment period after the EA and before
a decision must be provided.
- The closure of the Forestdale Creek area to snowmobile use is
the most important part of the Proposed Project.
- The resource protection measures in the Proposed Project are
inadequate to deter snowmobile trespass into areas closed to their
use. The Project must include new, innovative techniques, such as
remote sensing and a fast response team, in order to provide enhanced
- The Proposed Project must provide for an annual review of snowmobile
compliance and there must be penalties for non-compliance.
- How the components of the Proposed Project are implemented is
critical. Implementation must be done in balanced pairs of motorized
and non-motorized benefits.-- Thank the Forest Service for working
with all recreation user groups to come up with an equitable plan.
The Winter Recreation Plan for Eastern Alpine County now is in the
hands of the Forest Service and is presently going through NEPA funding
procedures while input and coordination with other agencies is being
developed. This project would improve winter recreation experience
for both motorized and non-motorized users in eastern Alpine County.
Friends of Hope Valley, in conjunction with other user groups, individuals
and agencies, participated in the formulation of this plan, and indeed,
our Board President, Debbi Waldear, was instrumental in the genesis
of this plan. Essentially, this plan would delineate areas of use,
address parking and camping issues as it seeks to enhance the experience
for all winter users by presenting a good balance of opportunities.
During the recent comment period, Friends urged the Forest Service
to act with all possible speed on the implementation of this plan
as well as the need for enforcement once the plan is in place. This
winter’s light snowpack and motorized growth has resulted in
chaotic use of Hope Valley by snowmobiles. Wilderness incursions in
the Forestdale Creek headwaters have been frequent, and the concentration
of use by machines is resulting in environmental degradation as well
as unacceptable noise levels. Snowmobiles are now being seen in areas
where they’ve never been seen before.
Although the initial scoping comment period is over you can still
let the Forest Service know how you feel. Ask them to act quickly
and stress the need for designated areas for motorized and non motorized
users. Express outrage that motorized users are violating wilderness
What you can do: view
Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
or write to Marnie Bonesteel, Carson Ranger District, Humboldt-Toiyabe
National Forest, 1536 So. Carson St., Carson City, Nev., 89701.
Work Party Day
of Hope Valley Newsletter Fall06/Winter07 (PDF)
Of Friends: Updates
- Federal agencies have
proposed corridors for electricity transmission and gas lines across
the Sierra. One of these corridors may impact the Mokelumne Wilderness;
another may follow Hwy 88, a designated scenic highway. The Friends
participated in the public scoping process for the environmental
impact statement addressing the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and will
continue to monitor this situation. http://corridoreis.anl.gov/documents/index.cfm
- FOHV submitted comments
and questions in response to the DEIR for Mahalee Village, a proposed
project consisting of approximately 200,000 square feet of commercial
space, fractional ownership cabins, and a lodge to be built on 36
acres in Markleeville. The issues addressed were of water, wastewater,
aesthetics, and the sheer size of the project.
- The Sierra Nevada Alliance
called together its conservation allies in the Eastern Sierra subregion
to discuss the role of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy www.sierraconservancy.org
and the services it could provide. The FOHV, with other conservation
groups, land trusts and watershed groups, including the Alpine County
Watershed Group, created a document discussing the unique context
of the Eastern Sierra subregion and the services they would like
the Conservancy to bring to bear on priority issues: water resources,
recreation and tourism, community development, and land use.
- The Friends and Snowlands
Network have collaborated on a proposal designating areas for motorized
and non-motorized winter use in eastern Alpine County. This document
was recently submitted to the Forest Service. The process has involved
many meetings with all parties, in an attempt to reach an amiable
- FOHV donated $2,300
to the Alpine County Watershed Group. The money is to be used for
clerical support, enabling its director Laura Leuders to proceed
more efficiently with the watershed group╣s projects.
Valley needs your Help! |
of public officials threaten the scenic beauty of Alpine County.
The winter repose of the Sierra, free from the gas driven mechanized
vehicle, is vanishing.
an Activist of the Friends of Hope Valley. We need a battalion
of interested individuals to attend critical meetings and write
letters. Be willing to attend meetings held during the week in
Alpine County. Give us your email
address. We will alert you to important meetings and provide
background information for issues of interest to you that will
be discussed. Alpine County's policy makers must hear our voice.
We must be proactive, rather than just