Local News

Avalanche at Mammoth Ski Area

March 4, 2018


MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN, CA — At approximately 10:15AM on Saturday, March 3rd, Mammoth Mountain Ski Patrol was performing routine avalanche mitigation work in a closed area when a large avalanche released on the Climax ski run. The avalanche traveled down Upper Dry Creek and terminated at the bottom lift terminal of High Five Express [Chair 5]. The powder cloud from the avalanche extended about 100 meters into an area open to the public, where two guests were partially caught. Both were able to immediately free themselves without serious injury. Additionally, six employees working at the bottom of the closed lift were partially caught, but freed themselves quickly, suffering only minor injuries.


Ski Patrol was on scene with initial rescue efforts within moments, and search operations began immediately. Ski Patrol led a 6-hour search, which included the use of transceivers, RECCO, avalanche rescue dogs, and a manual probe search, all with no results reported. Nearly 200 employees, first responders and guests contributed to the effort on-hill.


Within minutes of the call, Mammoth initiated its emergency response protocols, and multiple agencies and resources responded. Mammoth extends a sincere thank you to all the guests, employees, and other first responders who immediately responded to the scene, as well as to the Mono County Sheriff’s Office, Mammoth Lakes Police Department, Mammoth Lakes Fire Department, Mono County Search and Rescue, Mono County Paramedics, California Highway Patrol, Mammoth Lakes CERT and Inyo County Search and Rescue, all of whom assisted with an overwhelming response.

A full investigation is underway.

Pleasant Fire Grows to 2250 Acres 15% Contained-Evacuations Remain In Place

The Pleasant Fire began around 2pm on Sunday afternoon, in the Pleasant Valley Campground area.

The fire is considered a Wildland fire with the cause still under investigation. Total acreage of the Pleasant Fire is now listed at 2250. The fire acreage has been updated due to more accurate mapping.

According to the latest information from Cal-Fire, there are 500 structures threatened.

Resources on the fire include 50 Engines, 20 Hand Crews, 4 Dozers and 400 personnel.

According to Cal-Fire, the lead agency working the Fire, significant winds Sunday, and today, have hampered firefighting efforts.

A Unified Command remains in place with Cal-Fire and the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office.

As the fire began to grow in size, Sunday, evacuation orders were initially put in place for the Five Bridges/Fish Slough areas. However, the high winds combined with the dry fuel, caused mandatory evacuations to be put in place for Highlands, Glenwood, Rite Aid Complex, Bear Creek, Meadow Creek, Dixon Lane and Laws.

The Pleasant Fire, quickly, grew from 100 acres        to 900 acres by Sunday evening.

An evacuation center was established at the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fairgrounds. The number for the fairgrounds is 760-873-3588.

Per Inyo County Sheriff’s Office and Cal-Fire, the evacuation orders remain in place from Brockman lane to Highway 6 including Highlands, Glenwood, Chalkbluff, Meadowcreek areas, Pleasant Valley Campground and Pleasant Valley Reservoir. Officials will reevaluate at 4:00 pm today. 

Evacuees and displaced campers who require accessibility back to their homes or camp area to retrieve critical medications or essential supplies may connect with the Shelter Manager on duty at the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fairgrounds, and, if law enforcement personnel is available they will be escorted to and from.

Road closures still in effect include Five Bridges, Pleasant valley Road including Pleasant Valley Campground and Reservoir.

Cooperating agencies on the fire include: CAL FIRE, Inyo/US Forest Service, California Highway Patrol, California Department of Corrections, CAL TRANS, Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, Mono County Sheriff’s Office, Bishop, Big Pine Fire, Independence, Lone Pine, Mammoth Lakes, Long Valley, Wheeler Crest, White Mtn, and, Chalfant Fire Departments, the Red Cross, DWP and SCE.



ENVER, CO, February 7, 2018Alterra Mountain Company announced the appointment of Rusty Gregory as Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Gregory is an investor in the company and has been a member of the Board of Directors since the company’s inception in August 2017. Mr. Gregory is an experienced travel industry executive and proven mountain resort innovator. His career in the ski industry spans 40 years starting as a lift operator at Mammoth Mountain in California where he rose through the ranks to become an owner and the company’s Chairman and CEO for over 20 years.

Mr. Gregory will focus on establishing the newly-formed Alterra Mountain Company’s culture and developing the growth, operating and guest service strategies for its platform of mountain destinations across North America, while leading its more than 20,000 employees.

“I’m thrilled to be leading the Alterra Mountain Company team in its formative years at such a pivotal time in the mountain destination industry. This is truly the opportunity of a lifetime: to work with so many highly respected industry leaders and some of the most iconic mountain destinations in North America,” said Rusty Gregory, Chief Executive Officer of Alterra Mountain Company. “Together we will create a highly performing enterprise by focusing on what’s important – our guests, our employees, and our mountain communities. We will build our business by enhancing and enriching the lives and experiences of each.”

“Since the formation of Alterra Mountain Company, Rusty has served as a Senior Strategic Advisor and has been instrumental in creating its vision and direction. He has played a crucial role in the creation and collaboration of the Ikon Pass,” said Eric Resnick, Chief Executive Officer of KSL Capital Partners. “He is a clear leader in the industry and a natural fit to lead Alterra Mountain Company into the future as well as execute on our promise to innovate while enhancing the unique nature of each of our destinations.”

 Last month, Alterra Mountain Company launched the Ikon Pass, a new pass product for the 2018-2019 winter season that combines the company’s 12 destinations with 11 partners from

six industry leaders – Aspen Skiing Company, Alta Ski Area, Boyne Resorts, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, POWDR, and Snowbird.

“With the Ikon Pass, we have created an unrivaled platform that offers one-of-a-kind mountain experiences under one pass, by combining our portfolio of 12 destinations with 11 iconic mountain destination partners across North America,” Gregory continued.

Mr. Gregory has experience in all facets of the ski industry and resort business, including time spent as a lift operator, equipment operator, lift maintenance and construction supervisor, ski instructor, heli-ski guide, Director of Human Resources and Chief Administrative Officer. He founded and operated Mammoth Heli-Ski in the 1980s, Mammoth Land and Development Company in the 1990s, and became an owner of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in 1996. He engineered three sales of the company, increasing his ownership stake with each transaction.  Sixty percent of Mammoth Mountain was sold to Intrawest in 1996, and the entire enterprise was sold to Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital Group LLC and co-investors David Bonderman of TPG and Jonathan Nelson of Providence Equity in 2005.

In September 2014, Mr. Gregory led the acquisition of Southern California’s largest and most popular ski and snowboard destination, Big Bear Mountain Resort, and created Mammoth Resorts, bringing Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Bear Mountain and Snow Summit under one umbrella.  He then led the July 2017 sale of Mammoth Resorts to Alterra Mountain Company.

Mr. Gregory is past Chairman of the National Ski Areas Association, Trustee of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation, and Trustee and past Vice Chairman of the Yosemite Conservancy. He was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as Commissioner of the California Travel and Tourism Commission where he served as CFO and Vice Chairman. He is also the Founder and Chairman of the University of California Santa Barbara’s Valentine Reserve Environmental Research Fund.

“We are happy to welcome Rusty to the helm of Alterra Mountain Company and look forward to our continued collaboration,” said Bill Crown, Alterra Mountain Company Board Member and Partner of Henry Crown and Company. “We thank Bryan Traficanti for his service and leadership as Interim Chief Executive Officer and are pleased to have his continued guidance as a Board Member.”

Gregory will be based out of Alterra Mountain Company’s headquarters in Denver, Co. Bryan Traficanti, interim CEO, will return to KSL Capital Partners, LLC as Head of Asset Management and remain a board member of Alterra Mountain Company.

Inyo / Mono Counties Hunter Education Course

Hunter Education programs have always taught beginning outdoor enthusiast the practice of firearm and hunting safety. Today, the Hunter Education program is more than just safety and is directed at more than just hunters. The program has been expanded to produce responsible, knowledgeable, and involved citizens – young men and women who understand the importance of complying with hunting laws and behaving ethically. The program teaches young outdoor enthusiast about the importance of wildlife management, and differences between preservation vs. conservation in wildlife management practices. Hunter Education strives to instill responsibility, improve skills, and knowledge. Responsible, ethical behavior and personal involvement are both essential to the survival of ethical hunting as well as wildlife conservation.

Inyo / Mono County Fish and Wildlife Officers will be offering a Home Study/Online Hunter Education course for the residents of Inyo / Mono Counties. The Home Study/Online course consists of two stages, the online study portion and a four hour follow-up class. The Home Study course allows you to study at your own pace.

If you are interested, you just need to log on to http://www.huntercourse.com/usa/california/ and take the class. A one time course fee of $24.95 will be charged only when you pass. A voucher showing completion of the online portion of the Hunter Education course will need to be presented to one of the listed Hunter Education follow-up classes which can be found on The California Department of Fish and Wildlife web site, at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/huntered/classes-home-study.aspx.

The four hour follow-up class consists of two hours of review, one hour gun handling practical, and one hour to take the Hunter Education test. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED for the four hour follow-up portion, only upon completion of the Online portion of the class. Registration cut off will be one week prior to the class. The follow-up classes offered in Inyo and Mono Counties will be as follows:

Inyo County – Saturday, March 17, 2018 from 1000 AM to 2:00 PM, at the Bishop Fire Training Center 960 Poleta Rd, Bishop CA, contact Warden Shane Dishion at (760) 920-7593


The Owens Valley Mosquito Abatement Program has received an increase in reports from residents seeing mosquitoes this February due to the unseasonably warm weather we have been experiencing. The mosquitoes are probably of the Anopheles or Culiseta variety.

These mosquitoes are special because they overwinter as adult mosquitoes” said Rob Miller, Field Operations Supervisor for the Owens Valley Mosquito Abatement Program. “The warm weather has tricked them into coming out of their hibernation early.”

Both types of mosquitoes overwinter as adult mosquitoes that take shelter near our homes during winter months. They emerge on warm winter days and often appear sluggish, but could still try to bite you. They will return to hibernation if the weather turns cold again.

These mosquitoes are more of a nuisance biter than a health threat as they do not transmit diseases such as West Nile virus or Zika virus” explained Nate Reade, Agricultural Commissioner. The best protection is to be aware that they are out and protect yourself from being bitten by wearing insect repellant and avoiding outside activities at dusk.

No large scale treatments are planned at this time because the mosquitoes are few in number and cold temperatures will likely return. However, Owens Valley Mosquito Abatement Program staff is actively monitoring mosquito populations and are ready to implement control measures if numbers increase.

Please report mosquito problems to the Owens Valley Mosquito Abatement Program by calling: (760) 873-7853.

Visit us on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/OVMAP/ to get the latest information about mosquitoes in the Owens Valley.

Missing Person, Matthew Beyl, Located Deceased: Inyo County Sheriff’s Office

On February 8th at approximately 11:43am search crews located missing man, Matthew Beyl, deceased. The search was part of a multiagency search that began in a remote area approximately six miles off Hwy 190 on Saline Valley Road, below the Nelson Range.
Inyo County Sheriff’s Office received a “be on the lookout” (BOLO) from Orange County Sheriff’s Office for Beyl the evening of February 5th. The information on the BOLO stated that Beyl left his residence in Mission Viejo, CA at 3:15am the morning of February 1st.
On February 6th at approximately 10:00pm  Beyl’s vehicle was located unoccupied and was reported to Inyo County Sheriff’s Dispatch by an off duty law enforcement officer who recognized the vehicle description from the BOLO. Two officers were dispatched to the vehicle and after a search of the surrounding area Beyl was not located; however, a note was left on Beyl’s vehicle instructing him to contact Inyo Sheriff. The following day (February 7th) there was a more thorough ground search, and aerial reconnaissance was requested to assist. CHP H-82 out of Apple Valley responded.
On February 8th teams from Inyo Search and Rescue, Kern County Sheriff, Inyo County Sheriff, and China Lake Mountain Rescue, as well as aerial reconnaissance from CHP H-82, and Kern County Sheriff’s Air-5 scoured the remote and rugged terrain near where Beyl’s vehicle was located. After several hours of searching Matthew Beyl’s remains were located approximately half a mile west from his vehicle. There was no evidence of foul play; all evidence at the scene indicated that Mr. Beyl died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The Sheriff’s Office extends their gratitude to the men and women who assisted in this search, and we send thoughts of strength to Mr. Beyl’s family and friends during this very difficult time.

Weekend Embezzlement Arrest-Bishop PD

Last March, BPD was contacted by a local resident who accused a former Bishop resident, Leandra Wright, of embezzlement. The investigation revealed unauthorized use of funds on a number of different accounts, which Wright managed, along with Wright’s failure to maintain payables.  Wright had been handling the victim’s finances since 2008.  A forensic analysis on the accounts was completed which revealed significant losses over a long period of time.

Once suspect Leandra Wright learned of BPD’s arrest warrant, she returned to Inyo County, turned herself into the County Jail, and soon posted bail.  If you have any relevant information about this case or the suspect, please contact the Bishop Police Department at (760) 873-5866.

Search and Rescue Operation in Lee Vining Canyon

At 12:15 pm on Monday, January 1, 2018, the Mono County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue
(SAR) Team was called out for rescue of an injured ice climber. A 64-year old Mono County
man fell about 40 feet while climbing ice at Chouinard Falls in Lee Vining Canyon. Five SAR team members hiked down from the green bridge on the Highway 120 Tioga Pass road, while two more were lowered from California Highway Patrol (CHP) helicopter H40.

The subject was placed in a litter and carried to a location where a helicopter hoist was done by CHP helicopter H40. He was transferred to Care Flight at Lee Vining airport, and flown to Reno for treatment.

Mono County Sheriff, Ingrid Braun said, “Many thanks to the California Highway Patrol for their invaluable assistance in rescuing the injured climber. Also, thank you to Care Flight for safely transporting the patient to critical care
in Reno. Because this incident occurred beyond the closure of Tioga Pass, SAR required the assistance of CalTrans to access the best entry point. We appreciate the willingness of our partner agencies to assist whenever we call. Finally, the most recognition goes to our SAR Team, who voluntarily risk life and limb to rescue those who are injured in our back country and remote locations. The dedication and skill of our SAR Team is unmatched, and I am proud that they are a part of our organization.”




With improvement projects continuing to be completed and efforts to obtain necessary Federal certification ongoing, the Bishop Airport is closer than ever to being able to offer commercial air service for the Eastern Sierra.

Fresh off the heels of Phase II of its Passenger Traffic Study, which included both short- and long-term flight forecasts subsequently approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Inyo County Board of Supervisors earlier this month authorized the County’s longtime airport consultant to begin work on obtaining the certification needed to accept commercial aircraft at the Bishop facility.

According to Public Works Director Clint Quilter, Wadell Engineering Corporation will be developing a draft Part 139 Airport Certification Manual (ACM), which, after the promising results of the Phase II Passenger Traffic Study, felt like the next logical step for the County as it looks at commercial air travel from a regional perspective.
“Requirements for Part 139 operations are flexible with regard to scope and timing. The draft ACM will provide a starting point for discussions with both the FAA and the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) regarding these requirements,” Quilter said. “The County is enthusiastic about moving to this next step.”

Wadell has subcontracted with Ben Castellano and Art Kosatka, universally acknowledged experts in the field of airport compliance and security. Under Phase I of this effort, they will create the Airport Certification Manual, train airport personnel in Part 139 requirements, create an Airport Emergency Plan, and prepare an initial Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and security assessment. Phase II, which has yet to be approved, will entail finalizing certification and security plans and actions required for airline service.

In the meantime, the County will be wrapping up more improvements at the airport this fall. A $1.8 million project to rehabilitate the aircraft parking apron is about 50 percent complete, and comes on the heels of pavement crack repairs, pavement sealing and paint markings, and terminal area security fencing installation that were completed in March to the tune of $1.6 million.
Since 2013, when the County entered a Master Agreement for airport improvement project planning and engineering services with Wadell Engineering Corporation, $7.9 million worth of work has been done at the Bishop Airport.

Airports cannot accept commercial aircraft without Part 139 Certification, and the Bishop Airport has not had a Part 139 Certificate since the 1990s. Also required in order to accept commercial aircraft is a letter of interest from an airline, which Inyo County received from Allegiant Air earlier this year. In its February 2017 letter, the airline stated it has the resources to connect service with a 156-seat A319 two times a week, initially, from Metropolitan Oakland International Airport, LAX, and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, contingent on Bishop Airport meeting the airline’s needs as well as state and federal regulations.

The County is confident it can do both, and points to Allegiant Air’s initial interest as a good sign for the future of Bishop Airport and reliable commercial air service in the Eastern Sierra.
“Allegiant’s interest along with the results of the Phase II Passenger Traffic Study demonstrate that in addition to an ability to enhance reliability at Mammoth, there is an appetite for air service above and beyond that currently supplied,” Quilter said.

The FAA itself has supported the County’s efforts to improve the Bishop Airport with approximately $7.1 million in grant funding thus far to help cover the costs of the improvement projects. An informal review of the Bishop Airport by a regional FAA representative also informed the list of projects developed by the County’s consultant.
And while lighting fixes and runway repairs were found to be necessary, the facility overall has many attributes working in its favor, including significant acreage (895), lack of airspace constraints, minimal crosswinds/wind issues, wide runways (150 feet), long runways (7,500 feet), two federal NAVAIDS on site, three separate runways, unlimited runway lateral clearance and night use, no limit to runway directional use, and the ability to host aircraft as large as 757s, 737s, and 319s. The runways are also incredibly strong – stronger than even the County had previously thought.

According to Quilter, recent testing revealed runway strengths to be much stronger than the previously estimated strength of 240,000 pounds allowable for dual tandem aircraft (two sets of two wheels).
“In conjunction with design of the apron project, non-destructive testing was done on all of the airport pavement,” he said. “While these are substantial engineering documents, a key take away are the strengths of Runways 17/35 and 12/30. Runway 17/35 has a dual tandem allowable load of 408,000 pounds and Runway 12/30 has a dual tandem allowable load of 600,000 pounds. What this means is that Bishop Airport can easily accommodate some very big commercial aircraft.”

Residents of Inyo County have been vocal for many years about the Bishop Airport being developed for the purpose of economic development. The County and Board of Supervisors are committed to exploring the option of commercial air service at Bishop Airport – and working with neighboring jurisdictions to provide the best commercial air service possible, in terms of number of flights and reliability, on a regional level.

The Board believes great things will be coming to the Bishop Airport and is hopeful the entire Eastern Sierra will benefit as a result.

First West Nile Virus Illness Confirmed in Inyo County

Inyo County Health Officer, Dr. James Richardson, announced on September 6, 2017 that a human case of West Nile virus (WNV) acquired in Inyo County has been confirmed by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and a second report of possible WNV is under investigation. This marks the first ever confirmed human case of WNV in Inyo County.

The individual, who very likely acquired the illness in the Bishop area, has recovered fully.

A majority of people who are bit by a WNV-infected mosquito will not experience any symptoms. However, about 20% will experience flu-like symptoms that last a few days and resolve on their own. A very small number- about 1 out of every 150 people who contract WNV- will develop a more serious neurologic illness that may lead to lasting neurological damage or death. Three WNV-related deaths have been reported statewide so far this year, according to the California West Nile virus website.

People 50 years of age and older, and individuals with diabetes or hypertension, have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop complications. If you develop symptoms of severe WNV illness, such as unusually severe headaches or confusion, seek medical attention immediately.

A record seven WNV positive mosquito samples have been collected in Inyo County so far this year. According to Rob Miller of the Owens Valley Mosquito Abatement Program (OVMAP), “West Nile virus was last detected in 2011, and in that year only one positive sample was found”. Extraordinary runoff conditions and associated water spreading activities by the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) this summer have led to an enormous increase in mosquito breeding habitat throughout the Owens Valley.

OVMAP appealed to the LADWP for their help in providing resources to conduct aerial mosquito control operations in order to manage mosquito sources that are inaccessible from the ground. LADWP agreed to provide these resources to help protect the residents and visitors to the Owens Valley, with aerial operations commencing on August 31 and ending September 1.

Nate Reade, Agricultural Commissioner for Inyo County, said he “praised LADWP’s offer to assist” and that resources provided by LADWP will “most certainly reduce the threat that mosquitoes pose to our towns in the Owens Valley”.

“While residents and visitors may begin to see a significant reduction in mosquito activity following aggressive mosquito control operations, it is still very important for individuals to continue to protect themselves from mosquito bites in order to avoid West Nile virus infection,” says Dr. Richardson. “We strongly recommend that you follow these steps to avoid mosquito bites:”

Use mosquito repellent. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends using insect repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, or IR3535. Some oil of Lemon eucalyptus and Para-Menthane-Diol products provide similar protection.

Avoid outdoor activities if possible during dawn and dusk. This is especially important during the first two hours following sunset, when species that spread West Nile Virus are actively biting. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
Wear long sleeves and pants. This provides additional protection when used in conjunction with insect repellent.

California’s West Nile virus website, http://www.westnile.ca.gov includes the latest information on WNV activity in the state.