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The relatively recent discovery of geothermal energy literally right below the Shady Rest Park area has only complicated an already very complicated issue in Mammoth â€“ how best to utilize one of the town's visitors and locals favorite locations that is already highly popular with snowmobilers, cross country skiers, dog-walkers and more.
The bottom line is that the Shady Rest area is literally in danger of being loved to death, with locals and visitors alike piling into the area to cross-country ski, snowmobile, walk dogs, hike, mountain bike, walk, snowshoe, skate ski.
As a consequence, some conflicts between users, especially motorized and non-motorized users, have occurred over time, making the area something of a flash point for Mammothâ€™s recreation plans.
So when the Inyo National Forest Service (which manages the area) got a sizable grant this year to plan a long-term trail head for the site with the goal of finding a long term solution for both winter and summer and motorized and non-motorized users, the timing could not have been better.
The effort kicks off this week, at a Thursday night meeting in Mammoth and will continue for two more meetings in the next four weeks, both in Mammoth.
The planning process is designed to address year-round motorized use while considering the needs of non-motorized users and the potential impact of proposed geothermal development, according to the forest service.
The desired outcome of the planning process is to "design, review, and approve the development of a new motorized staging area," according to recreation officer John Kazmierski with the Inyo National Forest.
Information from the public meetings will be used to help develop a proposed action released to the public.
At a later date, the National Environmental Policy Act and the California Environmental Quality Act will trigger extensive environmental review and analysis and extensive public comment periods as well.
WHAT: Three meetings in Mammoth
WHERE: Auditorium, Mammoth Lakes Ranger Station east of town about .25 miles, off of S.R. 203
WHEN: 5:30-7 p.m. (approximately)
â€¢ Feb. 10: Existing condition, current uses and needs assessment
â€¢ Feb. 17: Multiple uses, recreation development options
â€¢ March 3: Presentation and review of recreation alternatives