Peppermint Area Campground and Road Closure Posted 9/10/19

 
 
On May 1 2019 the Sequoia National Forest staff once again closed the Peppermint Camps and other nearby dispersed camping areas without any outreach or notice to the public.
We want to be sure our members are aware of this so they can avoid driving hours up there only to be turned away with closed signs. Forest staff informed us that part of Camp 5 is open as well as Lower Peppermint pay campground. They say they have staff out clearing hazard trees in Camp 1 and Camp 2. See Closure Order HERE

Stewards of the Sequoia and Kern River Conservancy have been meeting with Forest staff to urge them to reopen the camps. We have offered volunteers if needed to help in any way as well as possibe grant funding.

At our site meeting of 6/20/19 Forest staff had done a considerable amount of clearing of standing dead hazard trees to make the camps safe. Forest staff indicated that the camps were near to being able to be reopened.That mostly what was needed was porta potties to be put in place. Months later the camps still remain closed.

Stewards of the Sequoia and Kern RIver Convservancy will be meeting again with Forest staff in late September to try to resolve and hlep with any issues so the camps will not be closed next year 2020.

However Forest staff continue to claim that campers are expanding the camp area and spreading trash. We found this to be untrue and are concerned that they may not reopen the area based apparently on false claims. We did not see any evidence of those problems last year after staff made those same claims. We are hard pressed to understand why they have renewed these closures when we and others informed them they are mistaken. All they needed to do was provide bear proof dumpster's so the bears would stop pulling the trash out and possibly clear dead trees in some of the camps..

If you want to see the Peppermint Camps reopened we suggest-
  • You call the District Ranger Eric LaPrice (559) 539-2607 Ext 2210# and tell him you support her efforts to get the Peppermint Camps reopened as soon as possible.
  • Also call Congressman McCarthy (661) 327-3611 and let his office know the Peppermint Camp areas are important to you, that they have been closed for two years based on problems that may not exist and that you are concerned that they will not be reopened. There also additional talking points at the bottom of this page.........

BACKGROUND FROM LAST YEAR

Last year the Sequoia National Forest closed the popular Peppermint Camp and other nearby dispersed camping areas and roads per their Forest Order closure 0513-18-07.
In talking with the District Ranger about this recently, he feels the main issue is lack of funding to enable the Forest Service to hire recreation (non fire) staff.

He also notes that over the years people are encroaching farther into vegetation, beyond the intended footprint, but the area is mostly steep and it appears there is no where the public would be able to expand to.

He pointed out that there is a trash problem. However when we camped there last year we found the area very clean and they are clean now. The Forest Service had dumpster's, but they were not bear proof and the bears had opened them and strewn garbage hundreds of feet from the dumpster's. The District Ranger stated that was the only kind of dumpster the local garbage company has, although the Forest Service had asked to get bear proof ones.

He mentioned in order for the Forest Service to rescind the closure order an Environmental Analysis would be needed to allow use of the roads to the dispersed camps. That those roads are not legal and were not considered in the Sequoia Monument Plan and are not on the Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM). However it turns out all the roads posted for closure are listed in Forest Service Motor Vehicle Use Map as well as the Forest INFRA database. They are even described as Camp roads and Kern River Access Roads giving credence to their use and the map even shows the Upper Peppermint Campground that has also just been closed.
The Forest Service has spent millions on planning, which recognized that Forest Lands must provide more places for the growing population to recreate. That closing campgrounds is harmful to local economies and the public.



Bears, not campers, strew garbage all over without bear proof dumpster's

Stewards of the Sequoia Executive Director was the top rated innovator by far under the Presidential Great Outdoors Initiative. The public overwhelmingly supported his ideas about more access for public lands to get people out in the great outdoors.

But now the Forest Service has closed the popular Peppermint dispersed camping, other areas and roads, harming tourism and hampering the public's ability to enjoy their public lands contrary to their own forest plans and the Great Outdoors program.

For decades we have been told we must protect our public lands so future generations can enjoy them. Well we are now into a new generation and they should not be prohibited from enjoying their public lands and special places like Peppermint camp.

Stewards of the Sequoia continue to try to work with the Forest Service to get the area reopened. However your help is needed.
 
Please call or email Congressman Kevin McCarthy
(661) 327-3611
Caseworkca23@mail.house.gov

To voice your concerns and urge your elected officials to get the Forest Service to rescind the Peppermint Forest Order closure 0513-18-07. Please be polite. Here are some points you may want to bring up-

  • The dispersed camping areas appear to be in pristine condition with grass growing in the sites and pine needles on the ground. They do not appear over used. There is no garbage. The roads are in good condition.
  • How can the government justify abandoning millions of dollars of roads, fire rings, picnic tables and pit toilet building?
  • Has our government come to the point that it will prohibit the public from recreating in popular areas?
  • Why can't our government afford to allow continued historic designated access to our public lands on even the most basic level?
  • Why not use bear proof dumpster's to prevent wildlife from strewing garbage?
  • The Forest Service should not be closing designated roads that have been identified and approved under the Sequoia Monument Plan or are shown on the Forest Motor Vehicle Use Map without full public process.
  • Saturday June 9th is National Get Outdoors Day. Why is the government restricting outdoor recreation at a time when it claims to want to encourage outdoor recreation?
  • Does Congress need to allocate more money for on the ground projects to keep existing areas like Peppermint Camp open to the public? Keep in mind these areas have no amenities to maintain. This is just open land where the public comes to recreate.


 
Some of the great places near the now closed camping areas, where the public is now prohibited from going