Sierra red fox discovery delays plans for Sonora snowmobile crossing | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Sierra red fox discovery delays plans for Sonora snowmobile crossing

Keith Slausen/U.S. Forest ServiceA rare red fox sighting near Sonora Pass in Mono County.
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MINDEN, Nev. – The discovery of the Sierra red fox and a conflict with the National Forest Service plan has delayed the development of a snowmobile crossing near Sonora Pass.

Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest officials sought public comment last summer on a plan to establish a snowmobile route between the Bridgeport Winter Recreation Area and Highway 108 near Sonora Pass to create a loop opportunity on the Bridgeport Ranger District.

Then in August 2010, after the comment period closed, scientists discovered that Sierra Nevada red foxes were found in the area where the crossing trail was proposed.



The Sierra Nevada red fox was previously known only to inhabit areas near Lassen National Park, more than 150 miles north of the trail crossing area. Recent survey efforts by the California Department of Fish and Game in the Sierra Nevada had failed to detect red foxes south of the Lassen area, making the Sonora Pass discovery important.

Since the Sonora Pass foxes may be the last of their kind, the Forest Service designated them a sensitive species, removing the decision from the hands of the Bridgeport Ranger.



“Due to the fact that any action alternative will require an amendment to the Forest Plan, I will be making the final decision,” said Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Supervisor Jeanne Higgins.

There is also a conflict between the Omnibus Public Land Act of 2009, which directs the forest service to create a motorized crossing in accordance with the National Trails System Act and applicable environmental and public safety laws. The act states that the crossing will not interfere with the nature and purposes of the Pacific Crest Trail or harm the surrounding landscape.

New comments on the snowmobile access will be accepted by the forest service through April 11. Those comments received during the first period last summer, will also be considered in the development of the final environmental assessment. “We are committed to providing the public an opportunity to comment on the full scope of the proposal and its effects,” said Higgins.

The environmental assessment is being released for public review and a second comment period.

Copies of the Pacific Crest Trail Crossing Environmental Assessment can be found on the Humboldt – Toiyabe National Forest website at http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/htnf/projects

Public comments about the proposed action can be submitted to Bridgeport District Ranger, Attn: PCT Crossing, HC 62 Box 1000, Bridgeport, CA, 93517.

Written comments can be hand-delivered from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays: Attention PCT Crossing Analysis, at the Bridgeport Ranger District office, Highway 395, Bridgeport, CA.

Electronic comments must be submitted in a format such as an e-mail message, plain text (.txt), rich text format (.rtf), and Word (.doc) to comments-intermtn-humboldt-toiyabe-bridgeport@fs.fed.us

All public comments need to include a full name and a physical mailing address in the comment. Names and addresses of those commenting will become part of the public record. A scanned signature may serve as verification on electronic comments. The deadline for comments is April 11.


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