Meadow Alert – letters needed!

The Problem, the Links

On January 12, 2016, the Eldorado National Forest issued an Environmental Assessment (EA) and Draft Decision notice that will re-open three controversial off-road routes in the high country. The three trails are the historic Carson Emigrant Trail (17E24), Hungalelti Ridge Trail (16E26), and Long Valley Trail (17E28). Long Valley Trail is a motorcycle trail; the other two routes are only accessible by high clearance vehicles. Hungalelti borders the Mokelumne Wilderness.

Hungalelti Trail – road cuts through meadow, jeopardizing rare amphibian species.
Hungalelti Trail – road cuts through meadow, jeopardizing rare amphibian species.

These are among the routes closed by a Federal judge in 2012 due to impacts these badly eroded routes were having on meadows. Roads affect meadows by filling them with sediment, reducing the amount of water they can hold, or by intercepting the water flow and draining the meadow. Meadows are natural reservoirs, storing water, first as snow; and, as the snow melts, the meadows continue to hold the water, releasing it slowly through the summer.

Martell Flat Mudhole (Hungaleti Trail) in the dry season.

The Eldorado National Forest Land Management Plan prohibits roads in meadows. Rather than deciding to permanently close the routes, which would make great high country hiking trails, the Forest is proposing using “rolling dips” as band-aids, in order to quickly reopen the routes. Rolling dips need regular maintenance to be effective, and the EA makes no mention of ongoing maintenance.


Adverse Effects on Threatened and Endangered species

Already Threatened, the Sierra Nevada Yellow Legged Frog will likely be adversely affected by the reopening of these routes.
Already Endangered, the Sierra Nevada Yellow Legged Frog will likely be adversely affected by the reopening of these routes.

Two amphibian species, the Endangered Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged frog and the Threatened Yosemite toad, use these meadows and the many streams the roads traverse. The Biological Assessment for the project concluded reopening these routes “may affect and is likely to adversely affect” both species, which are facing extinction already.

The Threatened Yosemite Toad, facing extinction, occurs in the meadows and is likely to be adversely affected under the proposed plan.
The Threatened Yosemite Toad, also facing extinction, occurs in these meadows and is likely to be adversely affected under the proposed plan.

Protecting these meadows could make a big difference in their survival.

 


Who to Contact

The Forest Supervisor needs to hear from hikers, birders, fishermen and women, and nature lovers. Ask him to close these routes permanently and restore the meadows to protect these at-risk animals and safeguard our water supply.

Write a letter or print our sample letter and send it or email it to:
Forest Supervisor Laurence Crabtree
Eldorado National Forest
100 Forni Road
Placerville, CA 95667
Email: lcrabtree@fs.fed.us