Community News

Inyo Identifies remains

Shepherd Pass Remains Identified

The body that was located off the Shepherd Pass trail has been identified as 37-year old man, Kenneth Pledger, from Colorado City, AZ.  According to the Inyo County Sheriffs Department, at this time the cause of death has not been determined.

Back on Monday, May 18th, 2015 Inyo County Sheriff’s Dispatch received notification of a deceased person off the Shepherd Pass trail at about the 12,000′ elevation level. The information shared with the Sheriff’s Office from the reporting party was that it was evident that the person had been deceased for some time.

Due to the demanding and steep terrain, it was determined that a helicopter recovery would be the safest mechanism to remove the body. Several attempts were made, but due to the recent storm activity in the High Sierra’s the recovery mission had to be held off until the morning of Wednesday May 27th. CHP Helicopter H-80 out of Apple Valley was utilized. Inyo SAR members were able to safely secure the remains for transport to the Lone Pine Airport where they were met by the Inyo County Coroner’s Office.

cover photo by inyo county sheriffs department

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Inyo LA standing committee meets

Standing Committee talks irrigation

The mood was light and casual Thursday as the Inyo/Los Angeles Standing committee discussed serious business.  The meeting was scheduled to begin at 11am in the Independence board of supervisors chambers, but the pledge of allegiance did not start the session until 11:22.  After the delayed start there was little tension in the meeting, as Inyo and LA representatives agreed on all fronts.

The session opened with the two parties agreeing to a reduction in water supplied to the McNalley ponds and pasture enhancement/mitigation project.   Inyo Water Department Director Bob Harrington noted that the potential pumping wells that could supply the project are in “off” status, and Owens River diversions are not a viable option.

LADWP Aqueduct Manager Jim Yannotta presented the grim numbers associated with runoff and operations.  Yannotta relayed the fact that the anticipated runoff for the first 6 months of the water year are at 25% of normal, and just 36% for the entire year. Yannotta notes this is less than half the flow of the worst year on record.

The operations and runoff update led into the big item before the standing committee, that being irrigation.  Back on On April 27th the LADWP had written ranchers notifying them that all irrigation would end on May 1st, that order was later lifted. At the time the LADWP’s spokesperson Amanda Parsons said, “Collaboration with local partners” will allow the LADWP flexibility with how they distribute water for in-valley uses.  Thursday LA indicated they are able to continue irrigtion to local leases due to approximately 2 thousand acre feet in savings at Owens Lake and by adding 3 thousand acre feet from pumping.  Yannotta indicates the pumping plan is “conservative, and will not affect vegetation or groundwater levels.” Yannotta also noted there is an additional 3 thousand acre feet stored in Crowley Lake that will be released for irrigation.

Staff from both LA and Inyo County indicated they are continuing to work with Memorandum of Understanding members to shift water from the Lower Owens River Project and Owens Lake.  The Sierra Club, California fish and wildlife, the state lands commission, the Owens Valley Committee , and the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District are all a part of the MOU group.   All MOU members need to sign off on any changes.  Between the Lower Owens River Project, Owens Lake, and not supping water to Warren lake, the best estimates show four thousand acre feet of water could be shifted to irrigation. Between projected savings and the revelations of an additional 3 thousand acre feet at Crowley Lake, irrigation water will flow until august. This was certainly good news for ranchers who were in attendance.  Supervisor Matt Kingley was relieved to provide some bit of assurance to local ranchers, “We have bought time, but that’s really important for lease holders, our ranchers. To know that their irrigation is good through the end of July, except for those on creeks that may dry up, that we have no control over.”

Overall,  a clear feel of cooperation dominated the day, as light rain fell in Independence.   “I think the tone of the meting was really positive, obviously we have tough issues we are trying to work though with the city. One thing that I think is important to recognize is that we are all working sort of on one common goal, and that is to figure out the best way to use the water that we have to the best advantage of everyone here in the Owens Valley.”  Said Kingsley.

The next standing committee meeting is set for July 24th, in Los Angeles.

cover photo by Gary Young

inyo county news, ladap, matt kingsley, amanda parsons, jim yannotta, drought 2015

Bishop Chamber elects leadership

Bishop Chamber selects Board members

submitted by the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau

The Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau recently conducted an election to select new members to serve on its Board of Directors.

Newly elected, re-elected and appointed members include:
David Bhakta, representing Holiday Inn Express
Kamal Bhakta, representing Days Inn and La Quinta
Pete Korngiebel, representing Community Printing & Publishing
Corinna Korpi, representing Alta One Federal Credit Union
Sam Patel, representing Vagabond Inn
Scott Piercey, representing High Country Lumber
Chris Plakos, individual member
Sally Symons, representing the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fairgrounds

Continuing Board Members include:
Julie Faber, representing Mountain Studio and Coso Operating Company
Todd Lembke, representing New-Cali Landscapes
Jennifer Roeser, representing McGee Creek Pack Station
Cheryl Underhill, representing VFW, Lions, Altrusa, ESBCA and Elks Lodge
Debi Yerkes, representing Alex Printing

Greg Allen, Rohit Bhakta and Manny Singh will be retiring from the Board when the new members take office on July 1st. “We so appreciate the dedicated service and we’ll definitely miss them,” states current Board President Julie Faber. “They’ve all agreed to continue to help out as needed and that’s awesome,” added Faber.

2015/2016 Chamber Board President will be Cheryl Underhill and offices of Vice President and Treasurer will be selected at the June 18th Board Meeting. The all-volunteer board meets monthly to provide leadership, oversight and direction to BACCVB staff. Meetings are always on the third Thursday of the month and follow the networking luncheons. Meetings are open to all members, guests and interested community members.

“Our community is extremely fortunate to have such a terrific group of individuals serving as Board Members for the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau,” states Tawni Thomson, Chamber Executive Director. “This group represents a wide variety of interests and they possess a vast array of talents. We truly appreciate their commitment and spirit of volunteerism. Congratulations to all and thanks for serving.”

cover photo provided by the Chamber, left to right, Harry Bhakta, Julie Faber, Cheryl Underhill

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Search And Rescue aids backpacker

Mono County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue helps injured man

Written and reported by: Jennifer M. Hansen, Public Information Officer, Mono County Sheriffs Department

On Sunday, May 31, 2015, at approximately 11:15am, the Mono County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Center received a 911 call regarding an injured backpacker near Fern Lake, in Madera County, about 5 miles southwest of Devil’s Postpile.

A couple from Woodside, CA, in the Bay Area, was backpacking from Devil’s Postpile to Fern Lake. While at the creek crossing, at Fern Lake, the husband fell sustaining an injury to his right knee. He was unable to put weight on his knee without a great deal of pain. He called 911 and requested a medical evacuation. The Mono County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue (SAR) Team was dispatched to assist the injured backpacker.

SAR Team members staged at Minaret Vista and ground teams hiked to Fern Lake with a litter and equipment to assist the injured backpacker. The ground teams put in 10 miles round trip in difficult terrain, with downed trees blocking the trail, and a night time stream crossing. The SAR Team located the injured backpacker. An EMT patient assessment determined the backpacker would not be able to walk and was evacuated by litter, arriving at Devil’s Postpile around 11:00pm. The backpacker signed a medical waiver to seek his own medical treatment.

Recently, the Mono County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue (SAR) Team held their annual recruitment. New candidate members were in the field for the first time on this long and difficult evacuation.

cover photo by Nick Holt

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Volunteers needed at Manzanar


submitted by Manzanar Historic Site
You are invited to join National Park Service staff in historic preservation work at Manzanar July 2 to 6, 2015. Work will focus on Block 14, the Historic Site’s “demonstration block” where visitors can better see and experience what a typical residential block at Manzanar was like. To date, Block 14 features two reconstructed barracks and a mess hall. The Japanese Americans imprisoned at Manzanar did all of the jobs needed to keep a small “city” like Manzanar functioning, but during their free time they took care of their families, tended Victory gardens, built Japanese gardens, attended church services, took classes, and played sports. Our July project will explore two of the ways people passed leisure time at Manzanar, playing basketball and playing cards.Under the direction of archeologists Jeff Burton, Laura Ng, and Paul Hoornbeek and preservation specialist Dave Goto, volunteers will excavate two barracks basements and clear and rebuild a basketball court. An oral history provides some details about one of the basements–a former internee built it when he was a teenager at Manzanar, to escape the heat. There, he used to play pinochle with his friends. From historic photographs, we know the basketball court surface was only dirt; we will regrade it to the original level, using soil changes, compaction, and perhaps remnant artifacts as our guide. We will also install posts and backboards, build a backstop fence, rebuild a retaining wall, and restore rock alignments in their historic locations. All of the restoration work will be guided by archeological evidence and historic photographs.Volunteers will be using shovels and small hand tools, screening sediments to retrieve artifacts, taking notes and photographs, using wheelbarrows, mixing concrete for small repairs, resetting rocks to reconstruct landscape features, and cutting and loading brush. We will be painting the basketball backboards and possibly a few rocks encircling a fire hydrant. Depending on the number of artifacts recovered we may also spend a day or two cleaning and recording artifacts.

For the 5-day project we will be able to accommodate up to 20 volunteers a day. Volunteers must be at least 15 years old and be able to work outdoors. Most of the work is physically demanding, but there are usually a variety of tasks each day, to suit different interests and energy levels. Previous experience is helpful, but all that is needed is an interest in history and a willingness to get dirty.

Volunteers must sign up in advance and may work any number of days or hours, but a full day or multiple days are preferred. Work will be conducted regardless of weather, so please come prepared, bring water, lunch, sunscreen, a hat, and work gloves. We have never had anyone stung by bees, but if you are allergic bring your EpiPen®. We will meet each day at 7:30AM on the north side of the visitor center and work until 3:30PM.

To sign up email

Manzanar National Historic Site is located at 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence, California. For more information, visit our website at or call 760-878-2194.
Cover Photo By Gary Young
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Inyo Limits Watering to twice per week

Inyo County revises emergency drought regulations

Public meetings next week will detail Inyo County’s regulations.  The regulations apply to systems operated by Inyo County, that’s Lone Pine, Independence and Laws.  The new standards are restricting watering to two days per week. Even numbered addresses may water on Wednesday and Saturday. Odd numbered addresses may water on Thursday and Sunday.

Clint Quilter, director of the Inyo County Department of public works says that for now, enforcement will focus on notification and education, “With the resources we have, what we are looking at initially, is to do a notification type enforcement. If someone tells us, ‘hey my neighbor is watering on the days they are not suppose to’.  We would really go quite a ways to inform that person of the days they can water. If it becomes an issue, then we will go down a different path and have that discussion with the board when it becomes necessary. So now we are looking for voluntary compliance.”

Inyo County has scheduled community meetings in Lone Pine and Independence to provide information on the State regulations, the County’s regulations and how that impacts town water systems consumers.

Public Meetings are scheduled for-

Independence:    6:00 PM, June 9, 2015 at the American Legion Hall, 205 South Edwards Street, Independence, CA 93526

Lone Pine:    6:00 PM, June 10, 2015 at Lone Pine Senior Center Statham Hall, 138 South Jackson Street, Lone Pine, CA 93545

Inyo County Public works is encouraging town water system customers in Lone Pine, Independence, and Laws to attend one of these meetings. For additional information, please contact Inyo County Public Works at (760) 878-0201.

Cover Photo By Gary Young

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MLFD pushing defensible space

Mammoth Lakes Fire Protection District gearing up for fire season

submitted by Thom Heller

Now that winter seems to have faded, the Mammoth Lakes Fire Protection District (MLFD) wants to remind residents of your responsibility to keep your property fire safe. Long term residents are aware of the wildland fire incidence that can occur around town and especially after dry winters and with windy, hot, dry summers. From just about anywhere in town one can see the results of previous fire activity and the scars that have been left behind.

Establishing and maintaining defensible space around our property is all of our responsibilities. We are all part of the team that will protect our community should we find ourselves in the situation of a wildfire threatening town. A well-maintained landscape enhances the beauty and value of any property— and just as importantly, the work serves as a fuel break. The goal is to keep your landscape lean, clean and green. The following steps can reduce your home’s vulnerability from the threat of wildfire and reduce your use of irrigation.

ZONE 1: 30 feet or more adjacent to the home and beyond attachments such as wooden decks.
Within the first 10 feet of the home, use nonflammable landscaping materials (rock, pavers), or low level annuals or perennials less than 18 inches in height. There should be nothing flammable within 10 feet of the home.
Keep this area lightly irrigated and free from dead or dry vegetation, combustible debris, and accumulations of leaf and needle litter. Plants should be carefully spaced, low growing and free of vegetation high in resins, oils, and waxes that burn easily. Mow lawns regularly.
Prune all trees up 1/3 the height of the tree or so the lowest limbs are 10-15 feet from the ground. If adjacent to a structure, prune up to the eave level. Clearance shall be a minimum of 10 feet from chimneys/stovepipes. Keep roof surfaces clear.
Thin out living vegetation 30 to 50% within this zone to decrease fire intensity and continuous path of travel.
Allow space between tops of trees to reduce the risk of crown fire.
Keep firewood stacks/piles at least 30 feet from the home. If this is not possible, from June 1 to September 30, cover entire woodpile with properly secured, fire resistive, California State Fire Marshal tagged tarp.
Water plants and trees as needed to ensure they are healthy. Do not use finely shredded mulch and mulch should be wetted periodically.
Areas around and above propane tanks need to be kept clear of vegetation for 10 feet.
ZONE 2: Approximately 30 to 100 feet from the home (if your property size permits).
Leave approximately 30 feet between clusters of two to three trees, or approximately 20 feet between individual trees. Do not remove more than 1/3 of the crown density.
Limit vegetation that serves as a link between low level vegetation and tree tops (ladder fuels).
Prune trees so branches and leaves are at least 10-15 feet above the ground.
Give yourself added protection with “fuel breaks,” such as gravel walkways, and lawns.
Remove any dead or dying material from yard and break up continuous patches of brush species to slow fire advance and decrease heat productivity.

Property owners who are unable to do this work themselves are encouraged to hire a licensed professional who both understand this information and can apply it to the property. MLFD maintains a list of qualified contractors that can perform this work.

Failure to comply with the regulations and clear your property in a timely fashion is not only expensive, but endangers the lives and homes of your neighbors, the community, and the firefighters who protect them.

If you would like more information on this or any other fire safety related matter, please feel free to contact the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department at (760) 934-2300.

cover photo by the Mammoth lakes fire protection district

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Standing Committee meets Thursday

Inyo/LA Standing Committee meeting Thursday

The Inyo County/Los Angeles Standing Committee meets Thursday, June 4th in the Board of Supervisors Room, Independence.  Thursday’s agenda includes a runoff and operations update looking at “Water availability for Owens Valley and Los Angeles”.  There are two action items before the Standing Committee, the first looking to approve a program for reasonable reductions in irrigation water supply for Los Angeles owned lands in the Owens Valley, for recreation and wildlife projects, for projects implemented as part of the Inyo/Los Angeles Long Term Water Agreement, projects associated with the 1997 memorandum of Understanding, and for enhancement/mitigation projects.

The second action item is asking the Standing Committee to consider the approval of reductions in water supplied to the McNally Ponds and Pasture Enhancement/Mitigation Project.

Time will also be set aside for public comments.  The Thursday Inyo/Los Angeles standing committee meeting will begin at 11am in the Board of Supervisors Room, County administrative center, 224 North Edwards Street, Independence.

cover photo by Gary Young

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Grah wins at Tahoe

Bishop Union HS Senior wins speech competition

submitted by Pat Nahin
Olivia Grah, took first place in the Bishop Rotary club’s speech contest last February  and went on to compete at the 2015 District 5190 Conference held at Harrah’s South Lake Tahoe on May 16th, 2015.  Olivia was awarded $1000 for first place.  At a recent noon meeting of the Rotary Club of Bishop, Olivia gave her winning speech to members.  The theme:  “It is better to light a single candle than to sit and curse the darkness.”  It was easy to see why Olivia won first place.  Her speech was compelling and dramatic.  She held the audience in rapt attention to her very meaningful interpretation of Rotary’s theme for the contest.  Congratulations and Best Wishes were given to Olivia for her academic accomplishments and certainly are proud of our Bishop student who will attend Princeton University next fall.
Olivia Grah, photo by Ed Nahin
Olivia Grah, photo by Ed Nahin
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Inyo Holding Solar Workshops

Inyo County Solar Workshops begin

Two solar workshops are being held this week.  Inyo County is conducting the public workshops to provide and gather information on the Owens Valley Study Area (OVSA) and solar energy development.  The public workshops will provide information on the OVSA, and information collected to date will be on display.  The workshops will also provide the opportunity for participants to ask questions and provide comments and information about the Owens Valley Study area.

Session 1
Tuesday, June 2nd.  6-8pm, City of Bishop, City Council Chambers, 377 west line st.

Session 2
Wednesday, June 3rd. 6-8pm, Statham Hall, Lone Pine, 138 North Jackson Street.

The agenda for both workshops will be the same and the public is welcome to attend each.  For more information contact the Inyo County Planning Department, 760-878-0263, or email

cover photo by Gary Young

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