ABOUT THE PROJECT
The Lakes Basin and Sherwins Area Trail Enhancement Project proposes to construct approximately 15 miles of new, non-motorized, soft-surface trails connecting multiple user groups to existing infrastructure and scenic features within the Sherwins and Lake Basin areas. This project has undergone 12 years of focused trail studies, formal planning efforts, and brown-acted public meetings. It’s intent is to provide equitable public access that disperses users, provides additional opportunities for recreation, promotes environmental and economic sustainability, and mitigates existing user-created impacts to the area’s natural and cultural resources.
Proposed trail segments include “Solitude Canyon” which is accessed from the to-be-constructed Sherwins Trailhead (NEPA/CEQA complete). The proposed alignment will then intersect the existing Mammoth Rock Trail before ascending past the Mammoth Mountain motocross track and through Solitude Canyon before summiting Sherwin Ridge (Red Hill) and descending to either the Coldwater Creek Trailhead or the Lakes Basin Path. Other proposed alignments include connector trails between Lake Mary, Horseshoe Lake, Lake Mamie, and Upper Twin Lakes in areas of existing and concentrated use. The overarching intent of this project is to create a formal trail system that better manages existing use while promoting multi-modal and public transportation elements that benefit responsible recreation, disbursement of users, and protection of resources.
Inyo National Forest is lead agency in filing all appropriate and legally required NEPA (National Environmental Protection Act) documents, and resource specialists are currently conducting surveys as part of the environmental review process. Based on these findings, the construction and on-going maintenance of the proposed trails will be managed by the Town of Mammoth Lakes, (powered by Measure R), and will adhere to U.S. Forest Service Pack and Saddle, Trail Class III trail specifications and best-management-practices (BMPs).
The following efforts have played a key role in the development of this project:
SHERWINS AREA RECREATION PLAN
In 2011, the Sherwins Area Recreation Plan (SHARP), complete with programatic CEQA analysis, was adopted by the Town of Mammoth Lakes as part of the “Trail System Master Plan”. The first SHARP trail was completed in 2013 and the NEPA and CEQA analysis necessary to responsibly build an additional 20+ SHARP trails began, leading to the construction of two additional trails in 2017.
LAKES BASIN SPECIAL STUDY
The Lakes Basin Special Study, (LABSS), kicked off in the summer of 2010 with a variety of community-based outreach events, workshops, and field trips to complete planning in the much-loved and heavily visited Mammoth Lakes Basin. Funded by a grant from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC), the recreation and mobility information collected may be used by the Inyo NF to help draft a Lakes Basin Management Plan.
TRAIL SYSTEM MASTER PLAN
The Final Trail System Master Plan and Programmatic Environmental Impact Report were recommended for adoption by the Planning Commission on September 28, 2011, and adopted by the Town Council on October 11, 2011. This Trail System Master Plan updated the Town’s 1991 Trails Plan and is the result of the Concept and Master Planning (CAMP) process. The adopted final draft of the TSMP includes input from close to a thousand public comments from more than 60 individual respondents to drafts of the final plan.
WALK, BIKE, RIDE
The Town contracted with Alta Planning + Design to develop a Multi-Modal Bicycle, Pedestrian, Transit and Parking Action Plan to accelerate the Town’s action plan for bicycle, pedestrian, transit, and parking alternatives within the community. This Action Plan included a recommended implementation strategy including priority projects, “quick victory” early implementation projects, cost estimates and funding mechanisms.
“A first-rate trails system can only be created by people.”
“Trails have multiple values and their benefits reach far beyond recreation…trails are important for the nation’s health, economy, resource protection and education.”
“Splintering the outdoor user groups is playing into the hands of those interests that would exploit or destroy the resource we’re all preoccupied with saving.”
PLANNING AND DESIGN
The Town’s Trails Manager has been working closely with an interdisciplinary team of USFS Specialists to plan and design this project.