BISHOP, Calif. Dec. 16, 2011 - A wind storm that blew through California on November 30 caused widespread damage to several areas of the Inyo National Forest and adjacent public lands. From Mount Whitney to Tioga Pass, thousands of trees were affected by the storm. The full extent of the damage is still unknown and is currently under assessment by the Forest Service.
Assessments have been completed in most developed recreation sites hit hard by the storm. The Mammoth Lakes Basin, Reds Meadow Valley and Whitney Portal were all impacted and cleanup efforts have begun in these areas. Priority is being given to opening roads for access, clearing roads to facilitate spring plowing operations, removing trees from structures, making repairs to utility services, and removing hazards that could affect winter developed recreation operations. With the unusually dry weather pattern, crews are making steady progress at addressing these priorities. If the current weather pattern holds, the Forest Service will make efforts to remove trees and hazards from summer developed recreation sites, trails, and service roads in an effort to minimize delays in opening spring and summer operations.
If visiting any of these areas, please use caution and be on the lookout for crews working to clear downed and hazardous trees. If visitors encounter cleanup crews, the Forest Service asks that you make these crews aware of your presence by yelling and waving until the crews see and recognize you and your fellow travelers. Visitor safety is of concern during these cleanup efforts. Please use caution.
The Forest Service also wants to alert the public to the possible hazards throughout other areas of the Inyo National Forest. While many trees were blown to the ground, just as many trees were partially blown over, were blown over but are now hung up in other trees, or have damaged root systems that have weakened the tree and may lead to future falling. These hazards exist in developed recreation sites, campgrounds, along trails, in parking areas, and in other undeveloped parts of the Forest. Visitors are urged to be especially careful when traveling through forested areas during moderate or high wind events.
When traveling through the Inyo National Forest, please keep safety utmost in your mind. Look up, look around, and be aware of your surroundings searching for trees hung up in other trees or leaning and ready to fall. As visitors travel through the Forest and encounter obstructed trails, damaged facilities, or hazards, the Forest Service is asking that these observations be reported at ranger stations or visitor centers.
If you have questions regarding storm damage, cleanup efforts, or the potential hazards that exist throughout the Forest, please contact one of the Inyo National Forest visitor centers or ranger stations. The Forest Service will continue to provide updates on the Inyo National Forest web site www.fs.usda.gov/inyo.
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