Home » Things to Do » Biking » Scenic Byway Association Holds Status Meeting
Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association President Doug Waltner receives donation from Tony Inderbitzen of Fresno Cycling Club

Scenic Byway Association Holds Status Meeting

NORTH FORK—A near-record crowd filled the North Fork Scout Building the evening of Tuesday, February 13, 2024. They gathered for the annual general meeting of the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association (SVSBA). Perhaps even more, they came to hear reports from U. S. Forest Service (USFS) personnel on the status of the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway (SVSB).

The Byway consists of nearly 100 miles of high country roads through the Sierra National Forest. It features breathtaking panoramas, amazing vistas, unique rock formations and even a charming seasonal general store with mouthwatering hamburgers and freshly baked pie. This “hidden secret” of the Sierra Nevada currently remains largely closed of late due to damage from fires and storms.

The Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association features views to rival Yosemite’s—without the crowds. Photo courtesy of Visit Yosemite|Madera County.

Doug Waltner, president of the SVSBA, kicked off the meeting with a brief description of the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association’s mission, which serves primarily in an educational and advocacy function.

U S Forest Service Updates

U. S. Forest Service Bass Lake District Ranger Dan Tune, currently on detail (temporary assignment), hopes for permanent appointment to the position. He came to Sierra National Forest from Stanislaus National Forest in 2003. Up to now he has served primarily in fire but looks forward to serving in a broader role.

He is especially envisioning long-needed improvements in facilities across the district including Batterson, Jerseydale, and Trimmer, among others. Tune also cited the hiring of about 50 new employees across Sierra National Forest. The new hires work out of the supervisor’s office, High Sierra Ranger District and Bass Lake Ranger District (BLRD). He and BLRD staff, consisting of himself, Cori Hayth and Diane Martin, commit to responsive communication with visitors and the local community.

District Recreation Manager Cori Hayth presented an enthusiastic overview of 2024 Byway plans. These include new pavement, new signage and continued hazard tree removal. Cori shared the goal to pave the six-mile stretch of Beasore Road. This road has never been paved in the history of the byway.

She mentioned that most SVSB campgrounds remain closed in 2024 and 2025 due to planned rehabilitation work on them. Monies for this work come from disaster relief funds for the Creek Fire and 2023 flooding issues. The Great American Outdoors Act, (legislation passed in 2020) also supports these efforts. Despite significant progress achieved and planned, Cori shared a major disappointment when the Norris Creek Bridge project failed to pass inspection.

Cori anticipates that all Beasore Road work will be complete by the end of summer 2024.

NOMA Resort Opens in 2023

Nick and Ryen Leyva, partners in a new development along the SVSB, presented current offerings and future plans for NOMA Resort. The new venture sits on the grounds of the Apple Ranch, a byway fixture along Mammoth Pool Road. As much a mission as a business, Nick and Ryen name having to deal with family health issues as a catalyst for this ambitious project. As their website states:

“We all need times of renewal. At Noma, you can find opportunities to escape from the world and build meaningful connections with those you love most. Beautiful mountain views, bubbling streams, silent ponds, and towering pines combine to create the perfect environment for reconnection. Our stunning cabins, cozy homes, and luxury Geodomes will provide all the comfort you need to relax, enjoy the moment, and refocus on what matters most.”

Ryen (L) and Nick Leyva of NOMA Resort.

They have embarked on Phase 1 of 3 planned phases, entitled Adventyr Village, a Swedish word relating to their Swedish background. During their first year of business, NOMA enjoyed a 60 percent occupancy rate on weekdays with 100 percent on weekends. Watch for an upcoming Sierra News Online article on NOMA Resorts for more information on current activities and future plans.

New Signage Underway for the Byway

Steve Montalto, Creative Director at Visit Yosemite|Madera County and an SVSBA board member, revealed plans for replacing signage along the Byway. The project is already underway with the faded SVSB sign along Highway 41 pointing to the turnoff at Road 200 having been replaced.

The new Sierra Vista Scenic Byway sign on Highway 41 south of Road 200.

The Interpretive Sign Project, initiated in February, 2022, intends to create new content for all nine official stops along the Byway. Although not officially parts of SVSB, the project includes Nelder Grove, Sierra Mono Museum and the North Fork Mill Site. The new signs will be a very heavy laminate, which will be much more durable and resistant to the elements.

Nelder Grove Continues Restoration

Nelder Grove’s Bull Buck tree was not damaged during the fires.

Next to present was Brenda Negley, secretary of SVSBA and Nelder Grove’s chief advocate. She has been a driving force behind preserving and restoring that historic grove of Giant Sequoias. She gave a Nelder Grove status update and informed listeners that 40 percent of Nelder Grove’s giant sequoias have been lost due to fire and the elements.  Sixty mature giant sequoias remain of the historic 400.

She celebrated the implementation of the 2022 Emergency Order signed by USFS Forest Chief Randy Moore. This has allowed crews to go into Nelder Grove to do fuel treatments to 12 giant Sequoia Groves, including Nelder. As of 2022, 42 of the mature giant sequoias have been cleared with a 100 foot buffer with the Graveyard of the Giants trail cleared to the Clothespin Tree. In 2022 $900,000 was spent on remediation efforts. Brenda affirms that the work is creating a healthier environment to secure Nelder Grove’s future.

Athough Nelder Grove will be mostly closed in 2024, Brenda offers opportunities for select tours in June. Details on the hikes as well as signup information is forthcoming.

Donation from Fresno Cycling Club

Last on the agenda, and perhaps the most exciting, Tony Inderbitzen of Fresno Cycling Club presented Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association with a check for $10,710.58. After 25 years heading the Grizzly Century ride, founder Mike Nolen turned organization of the event over to Fresno Cycling Club three years ago, and this amount represents donations from local sponsors for the Grizzly Century and Gravel Ride. Doug Waltner says that this is the largest donation SVSBA has received from any one event.

Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association President Doug Waltner receives donation from Tony Inderbitzen of Fresno Cycling Club

In 2024 the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association will offer select summer tours to sites along the byway, with dates and destinations coming soon.

For further information, go to the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association website.

Photos courtesy of Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association, NOMA Resorts, Visit Yosemite|Madera County and Judi Hussain.

One comment

  1. The article, “Scenic Byway Association Holds Status Meeting” of February 16, 2024, is a very informative article about the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway Association. Judi Hussain wrote a very professional, journalistic article. Thanks for informing the community about the SVSB; the Forest Service efforts to restore roads, campgrounds, and other facilities; about efforts to create high quality interpretive signs for the public; and the great service that the Fresno Cycle Club provided for the community and the riders on the Grizzly Century. Keep up this quality of service! Thanks!

    A Citizen of North Fork

Leave a Reply

Sierra News Online

Sierra News Online