Community News

OHV GRANT APPLICATIONS

USFS and BLM 2017 OHV Grant Applications are now available for public comment.

Posted by Seth Conners

According to Deb Schweizer, The Inyo National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management Bishop Field Office (BLM) have submitted to the California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) preliminary applications for grant funds to enhance and manage motorized recreation. The agencies invite public comments on the preliminary grant applications.
These and all other applicants’ grant requests, as well as detailed instructions about the process and how to comment, can be viewed on the OHMVR website at www.ohv.parks.ca.gov/. Comments should be submitted directly through the division website and sent to the responsible agency anytime from March 7 to April 3, 2017.
The agencies also invite the public to come out to an informal open house happening from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 16, at the U.S. Forest Service/BLM office, located behind the Department of Motor Vehicles, at 351 Pacu Lane in Bishop. Copies of the preliminary applications will be available at the open house. The public can come by at any time during the open house to review and discuss the grant applications.
Representatives from the two agencies, the Inyo County Public Works Department and others who are submitting grants for activities on USFS and BLM lands, will be on site to answer questions and receive or facilitate comments on changes, concerns and support for final grant applications, which will be submitted before May 1, 2017.

YOSEMITE ROADS

Yosemite National Park working to repair Big Oak Flat Road.

Posted by Seth Conners

According to Jamie Richards from Yosemite, Yosemite National Park is moving forward with repairs to the damaged Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120 West) leading to Yosemite Valley. Severe storms have impacted the road and it continues to be unsafe for vehicular travel, and has been closed since late February. The Federal Highways Administration has selected a contractor to repair the road. Work is expected to begin next week.

Significant rain and snow this winter has saturated the soils, resulting in movement under the road bed. This soil movement has caused a large fissure to form in the roadway that has resulted in both lanes of traffic being unsafe for vehicles. Soils under the road continue to move, causing further damage. Over 100 feet of road, near the Big Meadow Overlook, has been impacted by this fissure. There is no estimated date for the road to reopen.

“We fully understand that this is a major impact to park visitors and businesses along the highway corridor,” stated Yosemite National Park Acting Superintendent Woody Smeck. “We are working as quickly as we can to get the road reopened safely.”

Visitors are still able to visit Yosemite National Park via the Big Oak Flat entrance. Crane Flat and the Merced and Tuolumne Groves of Giant Sequoias are accessible and open. The park has waived the entrance fee for visitors entering the park via Highway 120.     

The Wawona Road (Highway 41) is currently open within Yosemite National Park. However, visitors traveling to the park from the south will not be able to access Yosemite National Park, on Highway 41, due to road damage on the highway in Fish Camp, just south of the park’s entrance. Caltrans is working on road repairs. Please check with Caltrans for current road conditions. http://www.dot.ca. gov/

Highway 140 (El Portal Road) remains open and clear for all vehicular traffic and is the only access to Yosemite Valley, the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area, and Wawona. Visitors traveling on this road are urged to drive slowly and be aware of rocks and debris on the road.

For updated 24-hour road and weather conditions for Yosemite National Park, please call 209-372-0200 and press 1.

TOWN HALL MEETING

Bishop’s second annual Town Hall Meeting is coming up this month.

Posted by Seth Conners

According to a press release from Elaine Kabala The Bishop City Council will host the Second Annual Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 starting at 5:30p.m. in the Tallman Pavilion located on the grounds of the Tri-County Fair.

The Second Annual Town Hall meeting is intended to follow-up on last year’s inaugural Town Hall meeting, which focused on expanding the dialog between the local business community and City Hall regarding the challenges of operating a small business in the Bishop area.

Over 100 interested business owners and residents attended the 2016 Town Hall meeting to voice concerns, provide input, and offer suggestions on strategies City Hall can pursue to improve the business climate in Bishop for entrepreneurs and local businesses.  Suggestions voiced by participants included making Bishop a year round destination, parking issues, expansion of Digital 395, downtown improvements, and investments in tourism infrastructure, such as trailhead shuttles.

This year’s Town Hall meeting is themed Your City: Working to Support Bishop Businesses.  Similar to the 2016 Town Hall meeting, all business owners and concerned residents are invited to come meet with local officials and provide input on strategies the City can undertake to support local businesses.  This year will also feature presentations from a panel of local agency leaders to provide updates on the progress that has been made to address the public’s suggestions from 2016 and upcoming projects.

The panel will include Tawni Thomson from the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, Brent Green of Caltrans, Clint Quilter of Inyo County Public Works, and John Helm of Eastern Sierra Transit Authority.  City Council and staff will also be available to discuss projects being worked on by the City to support businesses in Bishop.  The discussion will be moderated by City Administrator Jim Tatum.

Participation is encouraged by all those interested in enhancing entrepreneurial opportunities region-wide, not limited to those either doing business or residing within the city limits of Bishop.

Although not required, RSVPs to ekabala@cityofbishop.com or 760-873-8458 would be greatly appreciated.  Questions regarding the Town Hall meeting may be directed to the same contact.

 

BLAKE JONES CANCELLED

Heavy water flow in the Owens River leaves no choice but to cancel the derby.

Posted by Seth Conners

According to Tawni Thomson, The Bishop Chamber of Commerce regrettably announces cancellation of the 2017 Blake Jones Trout Derby which was scheduled for March 11th. A unique set of circumstances beyond the chamber’s control led to the decision.
On Friday, February 24th Los Angeles Department of Water and Power rescinded its permission to hold the event at Pleasant Valley Reservoir due to public safety concerns. Strong winter storms have caused extremely high water level in the reservoir and dangerously high water flows in the Owens River. The chamber immediately began working with LADWP, Inyo County, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife seeking other options. Millpond was suggested as a safe alternative; however, on Monday, February 27th CADFW informed the Bishop Chamber that Millpond is not a viable location. According to CADFW regulations, Millpond is not open to trout fishing this time of year.
“Since LADWP issued the public safety warning for PVR and the Owens River, and no safe alternative is available, the Chamber’s Executive Committee has no choice, but to cancel the event for this year,” explains Tawni Thomson, Bishop Chamber CEO.
This is not a decision taken lightly. The chamber had been making plans for many months and invested several thousand dollars in advertising and prizes. They also understand the financial impact to the local economy; however public safety must be the highest priority.
The 2017 event was to be the 50th Annual Blake Jones Trout Derby and the Bishop Chamber had many new and fun activities planned to celebrate the milestone. “We’ve decided not to view this as a total cancellation. We will still have the 50th Anniversary, it will just be in 2018,” says April Leeson, Chamber Event Coordinator.
While the chamber is disappointed, they are not upset with LADWP or CADFW. “It was wonderful to see representatives from all agencies working so hard to try to save the derby,” Thomson states. “We really appreciate everyone’s suggestions and sincere efforts.”
Preregistered derby contestants will have all fees returned. “It will take us a few weeks to process the refunds and we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding,” explains Thomson.

 

BLAKE JONES TROUT DERBY CANCELLED

Press release from Tawni Thomson, Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau.

The Bishop Chamber of Commerce regrettably announces cancellation of the 2017 Blake Jones Trout Derby which was scheduled for March 11th. A unique set of circumstances beyond the chamber’s control led to the decision.
On Friday, February 24th Los Angeles Department of Water and Power rescinded its permission to hold the event at Pleasant Valley Reservoir due to public safety concerns. Strong winter storms have caused extremely high water level in the reservoir and dangerously high water flows in the Owens River. The chamber immediately began working with LADWP, Inyo County, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife seeking other options. Millpond was suggested as a safe alternative; however, on Monday, February 27th CADFW informed the Bishop Chamber that Millpond is not a viable location. According to CADFW regulations, Millpond is not open to trout fishing this time of year.
“Since LADWP issued the public safety warning for PVR and the Owens River, and no safe alternative is available, the Chamber’s Executive Committee has no choice, but to cancel the event for this year,” explains Tawni Thomson, Bishop Chamber CEO.
This is not a decision taken lightly. The chamber had been making plans for many months and invested several thousand dollars in advertising and prizes. They also understand the financial impact to the local economy; however public safety must be the highest priority.
The 2017 event was to be the 50th Annual Blake Jones Trout Derby and the Bishop Chamber had many new and fun activities planned to celebrate the milestone. “We’ve decided not to view this as a total cancellation. We will still have the 50th Anniversary, it will just be in 2018,” says April Leeson, Chamber Event Coordinator.
While the chamber is disappointed, they are not upset with LADWP or CADFW. “It was wonderful to see representatives from all agencies working so hard to try to save the derby,” Thomson states. “We really appreciate everyone’s suggestions and sincere efforts.”
Preregistered derby contestants will have all fees returned. “It will take us a few weeks to process the refunds and we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding,” explains Thomson.
##
Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau
690 N. Main Street
Bishop, CA 93514
760-873-8405
execdir@bishopvisitor.com

BISHOP DEATH INVESTIGATION

Tragic news announced by Bishop Police department.

Posted by Seth Conners

According to a press release from Bishop PD, On Sunday, February 26, 2017 at approximately 0807 hours, the Bishop Police Department received a 911 call from a business located on the 1100 block of N. Main Street, reporting a female inside a vehicle, who appeared to be in distress.

Units from the Bishop Police Department, the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department and Symon’s Ambulance Services arrived a short time later and life saving measures were initiated. The female, a 38 year old and new to the Bishop area, was transported to Northern Inyo Hospital, where she was pronounced deceased.

There was no evidence of foul play but rather a suicide.

The Bishop Police Department investigation is continuing. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact us at (760) 873-5866.

LION ENCOUNTER

Mountain lion attacks hunter near Mono Lake.

Posted by Seth Conners

According to Lt. Bill Dailey at the CDFW law enforcement division, on Feb 24 2017 at approximately 1500 hours a hunter who had been hunting near the north
shore of Mono Lake for coyotes had a mountain lion encounter. The hunter was wearing
camouflage clothing lying on his stomach on top of a small knoll blowing on a distressed rabbit
call when he heard a noise behind him. As the hunter looked over his shoulder he saw a
mountain lion had jumped in the air and was coming toward his head. While lying on the
ground the hunter threw up his arms in order to protect his head. The lion landed on the
hunter’s head, sprung free and ran towards the north. The hunter, being in fear for his life fired
two shots striking the lion. He then returned to his vehicle and notified DFW Officers.
The hunter sustained a minor injury to the back left side of his head that did not break skin.
The hunter sought medical treatment from Mammoth Lakes Hospital and initiated the rabies
shot series. Evidence from the scene was collected and sent to DFW’s Wildlife Investigations
Lab in Sacramento. The lion will be necropsied and tested for zoological diseases including
rabies.
An analysis of the tracks found at the scene of the incident left a very clear picture of the event
and how it unfolded. It appeared the lion was responding to the distressed rabbit call and the
encounter resulted in the hunter possibly being mistaken for prey by the lion. Given the
circumstances, the lion likely mistook the hunter for an injured rabbit and given the suddenness
of the attack the hunter responded in fear for his life.
The Department will not be filing any charges for the take of the mountain lion.

LADWP

LADWP to maximize local water spreading

Posted by Seth Conners

According to a press release from LADWP’s Amanda Parsons, During the Inyo County/Los Angeles Standing Committee earlier this week, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) announced plans to maximize the spread of water in the Owens Valley this year to levels not seen since the wettest year on record, 1983-84.

The above average snowpack levels, registering north of 200 percent of normal to date, are expected to provide ample water supply for both the Eastern Sierra region and the LA Aqueduct. Runoff calculations from the Eastern Sierra are anticipated to be in the range of 900 to 1 million acre feet (AF) of water.

Due to the ample water supply, LADWP will be able to meet all water needs throughout Long Valley and Inyo County. The spread of this water is expected to improve local vegetation and groundwater levels, representing a significant recharge of the Owens Valley aquifer. Given the abundance of water, LADWP will conduct no discretionary pumping in the region – only necessary pumping for town water systems and Enhancement and Mitigation projects which always operate using groundwater, such as fish hatcheries and pasture irrigation.

“To date this winter we’ve spread 8,000 acre feet of water in the Owens Valley and we expect to spread a lot more,” James Yannotta, Manager of the Los Angeles Aqueduct for LADWP said. “We anticipate matching if not exceeding the amount spread during our wettest recorded winter.”

The wet winter is also expected to assist ranch lessees who will receive at least a full allotment of water this year, a much welcome reprieve from the   past five consecutive years of drought.

In all, the Department expects to release water to Long Valley and throughout the Owens Valley in Laws, Bishop, Big Pine, Independence and areas further south.

“In terms of water supply, this winter is good news for everyone – both the Owens Valley and Los Angeles,” Richard Harasick, Senior Assistant General Manager of Water System for LADWP, added. “There is ample water to go toward both our environmental commitments in the Eastern Sierra and supplying our ratepayers in Los Angeles.”

Also in the Standing Committee Meeting, the parties from both Inyo County and Los Angeles agreed to formally adopt revisions to the vegetation monitoring protocols outlined in the Green Book. The adoption of these revisions represents the end of a monitoring discrepancy that has been in place since 2005.

The new method strengthens existing practices by developing a more consistent sampling program. The new protocols allow Inyo County and LADWP staff to divide pre-determined monitoring parcels rather than separately monitoring the same areas, reducing overlap and streamlining the process.

Vegetation monitoring in Inyo County is required by the Inyo-LA Long Term Water Agreement and must be able to compare vegetation cover and composition to the vegetation cover and composition obtained during the initial vegetation inventory which occurred between 1984 and 1987.

The Technical Group approved the new monitoring program at its meeting of February 9, 2017. Today’s approval by the Standing Committee makes the new protocols official.

BUILDING PERMITS

Inyo County and The City of Bishop now issuing building permits from the same place.

Posted by Seth Conners

According to Michelle Rhew at the City of Bishop, Earlier this year Inyo County and the City of Bishop consolidated the
building permit staff for each agency at one location at Bishop City Hall.
The consolidation was done to improve service and reduce cost.
Inyo County’s Building and Safety staff are now based in the Public Works
Office at Bishop City Hall, 377 West Line Street. The county staff now
perform building permitting and inspection for the city as well as the county.
Inyo County Building and Safety staff are available during regular City Hall
hours, 8 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, excluding city holidays.
They can assist with building permitting throughout Inyo County including
the City of Bishop.
Although the county staff has moved to city offices, they can still be
reached at the usual county phone number 760-873-7857. For projects in
the city they can be reached at the city phone number, 760-873-8458. Their
mailing address is the same as City Hall, 377 West Line Street, Bishop,
California 93514.
Inyo County and City of Bishop have appreciated the public’s patience
during the move to City Hall and appreciate patience as details of the
consolidation are worked through in coming months. Comments and
suggestions on building permitting and the consolidation are always
welcome by both agencies.

BISHOP PARKING

The City of Bishop looks to improve parking in the downtown area.

Posted by Seth Conners

According to Elaine Kabala from The City of Bishop, The City of Bishop will hold an open house from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Wednesday March 1st to review the draft parking plan update being considered for implementation by Bishop City Council. The open house will be in the executive conference room in City Hall, 377 West Line Street. Community members are invited to drop in anytime during these hours to learn about the proposed parking update, provide feedback on the proposed plan or offer other ideas on how to make downtown parking better. Anyone concerned about downtown Bishop should attend.

The proposed parking plan update was developed based on input received from the public at the community workshop held in 2015. The parking plan update focuses on downtown Bishop, including City owned parking lots, and proposes modifications to timed parking spots, generally extending parking limits from two hour parking to three hour parking. In addition, the draft parking plan also identifies spaces appropriate for RVs, provides more spaces to accommodate elderly and disabled residents requiring ADA spaces, consolidates public safety vehicle parking, and allows for efficient enforcement by the Bishop Police Department. The parking plan update also proposes new standards for the City owned lot located on Sierra Street.

The open house will have maps that show the current parking situation and proposed parking modifications, as well as informational and comment sheet for public input on proposed parking plan.

Public participation is important to make the most of this process and the open house on March 1st in City Hall will be one of the best chances to have your voice heard in the process. If you can’t make it to the open house, come by City Hall to see the maps and provide input. The proposed parking plan maps are also available on the City’s website at http://www.cityofbishop.com/BishopParking2017.pdf . Input is welcome by phone and email as well. The open house will be followed by another workshop with City Council before changes are implemented. Contact the City of Bishop Department of Public Works at 873-8458 or ekabala@cityofbishop.com for more information about parking in downtown Bishop.