Community News

Death Valley SAR and Recovery/Inyo County Sheriff’s Office

On July 16th, shortly after 4:30pm, Sheriff’s Dispatch received a call from Death Valley National Park (DVNP) reporting that a Law Enforcement Ranger had located a rental vehicle associated with a missing solo hiker at the Panamint Dunes parking area.  The hiker’s fiancé reported him overdue to DVNP earlier that morning and indicated that he may be day-hiking in that area.  A hasty ground search around the vehicle was conducted by the Ranger; however the hiker was not located.

On July 17th around 9:00am an Inyo Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Coordinator and CHP Inland Air Operations helicopter H-82 out of Apple Valley began aerial search reconnaissance.  DVNP personnel were on scene near the vehicle providing ground search assistance and ground communications.

At approximately 9:45am, the aerial search team located personal items including a backpack, empty water bottles and printed information referencing hiking Panamint Butte, which is about one mile east of the vehicle on the slopes of Panamint Butte.  Shortly after noon, the aerial search team located more personal items about 2000 feet southwest of the backpack.  While circling those items, they also located the missing hiker’s body in a wash about 500 feet southeast of the items.

The hiker was found deceased and transported by helicopter to Lone Pine, where he was transferred to the custody of the Inyo County Coroner’s Office. The hiker was identified as Peter Rhoad, a 57-year old man from Huntington Beach, CA.  The autopsy conducted on July 19th by the Inyo County Deputy Coroner, determined that Mr. Rhoad’s cause of death was due to a fall causing a skull fracture, which resulted in a subdural hematoma, prior to succumbing to elements.

Sinkholes Close Roads in the Bald Mountain Area

The Inyo National Forest has temporarily closed roads in the Bald Mountain area due to sinkholes that have made travel dangerous. This area is popular for off highway vehicle (OHV) recreation.

The Bald Mountain Road (01S05) remains open. However, Roads 01S131, 01S131a and 01S131b are closed between the intersections of 01S70 and 01S05. Road 01S131 has a sinkhole in the middle of the road that is estimated to be 20 ft. deep. A vehicle got stuck in this sinkhole and driver reports that the ground gave way underneath the vehicle as they drove the road.

There is at least one other sinkhole and numerous depressions (more than 30) forming in the vicinity. Some of the sinkholes and depressions that are developing are narrow and deep and have the potential to be dangerous because they are covered in needles and leaves, making them hard to see. Bald Mountain is in a beautiful Jeffrey pine forest.

The forest is working with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to assess and monitor the area to determine what geologic phenomena are at work in the area. The location contains organic material on the surface. The subsurface geology contains highly permeable pyroclastic ash flows, Bishop Tuff, and basalt bedrock, which may contribute to the instability in the area. Based upon this assessment, the forest will determine a long-term strategy.

The forest has put up signs for this closure area. If travelling in the nearby vicinity, please use extreme caution since the extent and nature of the sinkholes and depressions is not yet mapped or understood.


BISHOP — The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) would like to inform the traveling public that State Route 168E (Westgard Pass) is temporarily closed at post mile 20 (Death Valley Road) to post mile 43 (Deep Springs College) due to rockfall and emergency roadway repairs. This road will remain closed today and tomorrow. Flooding has also been reported at the intersection of State Route 127 and State Route 190, but the roadway has not been closed.

The traveling public is advised to use alternate routes, keep a close eye on the weather, and proceed cautiously when driving through the area. The safety of Caltrans and other agency’s crews, and that of other responders, is very important. Inattentiveness on the road can have tragic consequences.

Sandbags/Inyo County Sheriff’s Office

If you live in a flood-prone area, be prepared with sandbags. Sandbags for flood preparedness are available from many Inyo County merchants. Residents and businesses in known flood areas are urged to prepare ahead of time; utilizing the sand stockpiles listed below and sandbags purchased from local businesses.
Site 1: Back of the Bishop City Park near the Senior Center
Site 2: Bishop Fire Station 2, West Line Street (west of Manor Market)
Site 3: Bishop Fire Station 3, SeeVee and U.S. Highway 395
Site 4: Starlite Community Park
Site 5: Mustang Mesa, Mill Creek Road
Big Pine Fire Station
Inyo County Sheriff’s Facility, Clay Street
Inyo County Road Department, Mazourka Road
Sand trap on Whitney Portal Road (west of the LA Aqueduct)
Olancha Fire Department
In the event of emergency flooding, sandbags are available from the following fire stations: Bishop Fire Station 1, Big Pine Fire Station, Independence Fire Station, Lone Pine Fire Station, and Olancha Fire Station. Emergency sandbags will be distributed at the discretion of each local Fire Chief, and may be limited based on weather conditions, need and demand.
Fight Flooding at Home by preparing ahead of time.

Illegal Marijuana Grow Site Raided-Death Valley National Park

DEATH VALLEY, CA – National Park Service rangers recently raided an illegal marijuana growing operation in Death Valley National Park.

Hikers encountered three men installing irrigation hose near a spring in Hanaupah Canyon. The hikers initially thought the men were working on a National Park Service (NPS) project, so they asked them what they were doing. One of the men responded, “Growing marijuana. You won’t tell the cops, will you?”

National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management rangers raided the site on July 3. The rangers found over 4,000 marijuana plants in four garden plots. No workers were on location at the time of the raid.

Superintendent Mike Reynolds said, “Even though California and Nevada have passed laws legalizing marijuana sale, it remains illegal at the federal level. Our biggest concerns in Death Valley are that grow sites decimate vegetation around springs, poison wildlife, and are dangerous for the public.”

Native plants in lush areas near desert springs provide critical habitat and food for bighorn sheep, birds, and other wildlife. The workers had cleared away vegetation to make room for their crops. Each marijuana plant can use up to 6 gallons of water per day, which was delivered by a network of irrigation tubing from the springs. The rangers’ greatest concern was finding carbofuran, a pesticide which is highly toxic to humans and wildlife.

People hiking to infrequently-visited regions of Death Valley National Park should be aware of the risk of finding a marijuana grow site, which could be defended by the growers. Hikers should be on the alert for irrigation hose, fertilizer, signs of digging, unusual litter, and anything or anyone that seems out of place. If a hiker finds a grow site, he or she should leave the site as quickly as possible and notify the NPS at 760-786-2330.

Hiking to popular destinations remains safe, such as Golden Canyon, Mosaic Canyon, and Telescope Peak.

Mammoth Lakes Enhances Partnership with United Airlines by Adding Los Angeles Flight Route

Mammoth Lakes, Calif. (July 5, 2018) — In less than five weeks Mammoth Lakes Tourism and Mammoth Resorts have secured a new airline carrier for the Mammoth Lakes to Los Angeles flight route.

United Airlines will add new service to Mammoth Lakes, California from its Los Angeles hub at LAX this winter. The airline will offer service beginning Dec. 1, 2018 using a 70-seat Bombardier CRJ700. Flights will run once daily, year round.

As the third largest carrier in the world, United brings a remarkably large hub and spoke system to the table, making Mammoth Lakes more accessible to visitors across the country and around the globe.

“United Airlines has been a strong partner with us for nearly a decade and adding their worldwide connectivity in Los Angeles for year round daily flights to Mammoth Yosemite Airport adds another major level to that partnership,” said John Urdi, Executive Director, Mammoth Lakes Tourism.

Mammoth Lakes Tourism and Mammoth Resorts have worked with United Airlines over the years on the flight route from San Francisco (SFO) to Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH).

“One of our key strategies is to improve access in and around the Eastern Sierra in order to solidify Mammoth Mountain as a world-class, year-round destination resort,” added Mark Brownlie, President and COO, Mammoth Resorts. “By partnering with United Airlines on the strategic development of air service into the region, we will continue to expand year-round access to Mammoth, Yosemite and the surrounding area.”

Round-trip flights from LAX to MMH via United are now bookable at

Georges Fire Update-JULY 13, 2018

Lone Pine, CA, July 13, 2018 – The Georges Fire (lightning-caused) is currently at 2,883 acres and is 42% contained. The incident transitioned out of Unified Command. The fire is being managed by SoCal Team 3, a Type 2 incident management team (assigned to the Inyo National Forest). The complexity of the fire has diminished due to increased containment, favorable weather, and precipitation over the fire. Tomorrow, management of the fire will transition to a local Type 4 team, comprised of your local firefighters from the Inyo National Forest.
Much of the fireline of the Georges Fire is in steep, inaccessible terrain. Firefighters cannot safely gauge if these areas are contained or if pockets of heat still remain. However, the monsoonal moisture has substantially diminished the fire activity.
Crews will continue suppression repair, mop up, and collecting remaining backhaul. Firefighters will continue to patrol in the fire area. No structures have been destroyed, and no reportable injuries occurred.
Precipitation is likely today with some potential for erratic downdraft winds likely. Thunderstorms remain in the forecast and will decrease over the weekend.
The area burned is 82% U. S. Forest Service (2,364 acres), 12% Bureau of Land Management (345 acres), and 5% Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (154 acres).
At this time, 564 personnel remain assigned to the incident, including 20 crews, 22 engines, 3 dozers, 7 helicopters, and 4 water tenders. Fixed wing aircraft is available upon request.
While firefighters make the final push towards containment of the fire, they must fulfill another extremely important task called backhaul. Firefighters must recover equipment in the field that is no longer needed by the crews. The Georges Fire is no exception. These items include hose, chainsaw kits, generators, and smaller items like nozzles. Equipment must then cleaned, repaired, and organized to be ready for the next incident.

Multiple Arrests For Drug Sales-Bishop Police Department

Early Monday morning, July 2nd, two search warrants were served and two probation searches were conducted in the county following a roughly three-month long narcotics investigation initiated and led by the Bishop Police Department.
Four people were arrested, transported to the police department, later booked into the Inyo County Jail, and an additional person on-scene received a citation. By noon, an additional search warrant was served, but in the city, resulting in one arrest and two more arrests were made in the county.
Cocaine, methamphetamine, and drug paraphernalia was seized. Personnel from the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, Inyo County Probation, CHP, and Tribal Police assisted the Bishop Police Department personnel with the multi-location sweep. The following suspects were arrested:
Location 1 – 400 block of Pa Ha Ln
Stephanie Nelson: Possession of a controlled substance for sale, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, violation of probation
John Hernandez: Possession of a controlled substance for sale, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia
Location 2 – 600 block of Pa Ha Ln
Dillon Armitage: Possession of a controlled substance for sale, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, willful cruelty to child
Location 3 – 200 block of Juniper St
Marie Limon: Warrant arrest, drug paraphernalia, violation of probation
Jamie Moore: Possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and violation of probation.
John Sconce: Possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, DUI (drugs)
Location 4 – 900 block of Tu Su Ln
Tanya Barnes: Cite and release on drug paraphernalia and violation of probation
Location 5 – 200 block of S. Warren St
Jessica Hess: Possession of a controlled substance for sale.

CAL FIRE Suspends Burn Permits in Inyo and Mono Counties

June 28, 2018
BISHOP – The increasing fire danger posed by the high volume of dead grass and hotter, drier conditions in the region is prompting CAL FIRE to suspend all burn permits for outdoor residential burning within the State Responsibility Area of Inyo and Mono Counties.
This suspension takes effect June 29, 2018 and bans all residential outdoor burning of landscape debris such as branches and leaves.
CAL FIRE’s Unit Chief for San Bernardino-Inyo-Mono, Glenn Barley said that “last year’s devastating fire season is a stark reminder to all Californians to be prepared for wildfires.”
Since January 1, 2018 CAL FIRE and firefighters across the state have already responded to over 2,700 wildfires. While outdoor burning of landscape debris by homeowners is no longer allowed, CAL FIRE is asking residents to ensure that they are prepared for wildfires by maintaining a minimum of 100 feet of Defensible Space around every home and building on their property.
Here are some tips to help prepare homes and property:
*Clear all dead and or dying vegetation within 100 feet of all structures.
*Landscape with fire resistant/drought tolerant plants
*Find alternative ways to dispose of landscape debris like chipping or hauling it to a biomass energy or green waste facility
The Department may issue restricted temporary burning permits if there is an essential reason due to public health and safety. Agriculture, land management, fire training, and other industrial-type burning may proceed if a CAL FIRE official inspects the burn site and issues a special permit.
The suspension of burn permits for residential landscape debris does not apply to campfires within organized campgrounds or on private property. Campfires may be permitted if the campfire is maintained in such a manner as to prevent its spread to the wildland.
A campfire permit can be obtained at local fire stations or online at
For additional information on how to create Defensible Space, as well as tips to prevent wildfires, visit

BLM Announces Seasonal Fire Restrictions-Inyo & Mono Counties

June 28, 2018
BISHOP, Calif. –The Bureau of Land Management will implement fire restrictions for public lands managed by the Bishop Field Office in Inyo and Mono counties beginning Monday, July 2. The restrictions will remain in effect until further notice.
“These seasonal restrictions are needed to help protect public lands and nearby communities from wildfire,” said BLM Bishop Field Manager Steve Nelson. “Dry fuels and high temperatures have significantly increased fire danger and we need to minimize the potential for fire starts.”
The fire restrictions prohibit all campfires and barbecues, except in fire rings or pits within the Tuttle Creek, Goodale, Horton Creek, Crowley Lake and Pleasant Valley Pit campgrounds. Portable stoves and lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel are allowed outside of these posted campgrounds, with a valid California campfire permit. Visitors should be extremely careful with their use. Wildland visitors should carry shovels and water.
Campfire permits are available free at any BLM, Forest Service or CAL FIRE office or by visiting
Other restrictions include:
No smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, at a campground listed above, or while stopped in an area cleared of flammable vegetation for at least three feet.
No possession or use of fireworks, including “safe and sane” devices.
No welding or using open-flame torches.
Target shooters may not use incendiary, tracer, steel core or armor-piercing ammunition or targets made of material that could explode or emit sparks. Shooters must have shovels or fire extinguishers on hand.
BLM officials noted that violations of fire restrictions are be punishable by a fine up to $1,000, 12 months in jail, or both.