Category Archives: Local News

Mammoth Lakes Fire Protection District pushing Fuel Reduction

MLFPD Encouraging Reduction of Wildland Fire Fuels

May 18, 2016
Submitted by Mammoth Lakes Fire Protection District

Now that the winter snows have melted from much of town, the Mammoth Lakes Fire Protection District (MLFD) reminds residents of your responsibility to keep your property wildland fire safe. Long term residents are aware of the wildland fire incidence that can occur around town and especially 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. In addition, the warmer temperatures are revealing the significant number of dead trees that are located in and around town.

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.

forest 1
photo provided by MLFPD. Before Fuels reduction work.
forest 2
Photo Provided by MLFPD. After fuels reduction work.

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.

mammoth lakes fire protection district, mammoth lakes california, mammoth lakes fire department, defensible space

Tioga Road Opening

Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park to Open on Wednesday, May 18

May 18, 2016
Submitted by Yosemite National Park

The Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park will open for all vehicular traffic tomorrow, Wednesday, May 18, 2016, at noon. The Tioga Road, bounded on both sides by State Highway 120, is the popular east-west crossing of the Sierra Nevada.

We would like to thank all of our road crews, as well as our partners in Mono County and Caltrans, for all of their hard work in clearing the road for the opening tomorrow,” stated Don Neubacher, Superintendent.” Visitors are urged to travel with caution, as there will be ongoing roadwork and the possibility of ice in some places, especially in the early morning hours.”

Snow and icy conditions may still exist on hiking trails at the higher elevations. Visitors are urged to be prepared for snowy conditions and possible treacherous stream crossings while hiking the back-country in the early season. Vault toilets are available in several locations along the road.  Limited visitor services will be available over the next several weeks.  Additionally, late spring storms may change the status of the road and cause temporary closures. For updated, 24-hour road conditions, please call 209-372-0200 and follow the prompts.

All campgrounds along the Tioga Road remain closed. All commercial services, including the Tuolumne Store, and Village Grill, are also closed.  There are no anticipated opening dates for any of these facilities at this time. The gas station in Tuolumne Meadows is permanently closed and the nearest gas stations are Crane Flat to the west and Lee Vining to the east.

Yosemite National Park celebrated its 125th Anniversary last year and is currently celebrating its Centennial Anniversary with the National Park Service. The park welcomes over four million visitors from all over the world each year and serves as a strong economic engine for the region and local communities. Yosemite National Park generates $535 million in economic benefit to the local region and directly supports 6,261 jobs. The park is home to Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America, and iconic rock formations such as Half Dome and El Capitan. The park also features approximately 90 different species of mammals and over 1500 species of plants.

cover photo provided by Yosemite National Park

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Threat Closes Lone Pine Schools

Email Threat Closes Lone Pine Schools

May 18, 2016
submitted by the Inyo County Sheriffs Department

The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office was notified Tuesday afternoon about an email threat to Lone Pine High School. The Sheriff’s Office began immediate investigations and is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and other law enforcement agencies to determine the credibility of the threat.

A decision was made Tuesday evening by school officials and law enforcement to cancel classes and all other school activities (Wednesday, May 18th) at both Lo-Inyo School and Lone Pine High School.

At this time it appears that the threat was isolated to Lone Pine High School. Law enforcement and school officials will continue to work together; students, staff, and the public will be notified when Lo-Inyo School and Lone Pine High School have been reopened.

“The safety of both students and staff is paramount,” stated Inyo County Sheriff, Bill Lutze. “At this time we are unable to disclose the details of the threat due to the ongoing investigation; however, as more information becomes available we will provide follow-up press releases.”

If anyone has information that may be helpful in this case you are encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 760-878-0383.

Mule Days is Fun for Kids Too

I Want to be a Packer returns to Mule Days

May 16, 2016
Submitted by Mule Days

Mule Days presents I Want to be a Packer! This family-friendly, kid-loving, fun-having event is open to the public and is FREE to participants! Located at the Tri-County Fairgrounds Junior Packer Corral on Main walkway before the grandstands. The dates of this event are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday May 27-29, 2016.

The I Want to be a Packer events are Musical Tires, Barrel Racing, Cross Country Jumping, Pole Bending, Clown School, and Bronc Riding, and will be occurring throughout the weekend on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

All youth participate for FREE, and parents are encouraged to watch their children perform in the Main Arena. However, adults will need to purchase show tickets.

Along with all the fun, there will be gold panning from 12pm-1pm, and free fishing at the Rick Dean Fish Ponds on Saturday and Sunday.

Cover Photo by Gary Young

Mule Days, Mule Days Kids Events, Mule Days Bishop CA, Mule Days Family Fun, Free Kids Events

Devils Hole Pupfish vandals identified

Nye County Sheriffs Office locates 3 suspects

May 13, 2016
By Arnie Palu

Law enforcement has tracked down three men suspected of killing an endangered Devil’s Hole Pupfish.  The Nye County Sheriffs Department and National Park Service officers are leading the investigation.  The Nye County Sheriffs Department has released the following details.

SUSPECT(S): SCHWINKENDORF, Steven, 29, Pahrump, NV REYES, Edgar, 35, North Las Vegas, NV SARGENT, Trenton, 26, Indian Springs, NV
Potential Charges : Charges are projected to be taken at the federal level.
Charges include Conspiracy to commit a crime,  killing of an endangered species, destruction of property,
trespassing,  destruction of  habitat, ex‐felon possession of firearm.

DETAILS: A collaborative investigation between the National Park Service andNye County Sheriff’s Office  Scorpion  Task  Force  has  led  to  the  identification of the three suspects involved in the   trespassing  and  property destruction at the Devils Hole section of Death Valley
National  Park.  Suspects Steven SCHWINKENDORF, of Pahrump, Edgar REYES, of North Las Vegas, and Trenton   SARGENT,  of  Indian  Springs  have  all  een interviewed and will be subsequently charged for their  actions which occurred on 04/30/16.

NPS officers contacted a detective with the Scorpion Task Force on 05/02/16 after the  damage  was  discovered.  Subsequent investigation led to the collection of evidence, including  DNA, along with video surveillance. The surveillance footage was viewed, and SGT KLENCZAR of  the  NCSO  was able  to  investigate  and locate the off road vehicle seen in the video. The vehicles’  owner was identified as SCHWINKENDORF, and detectives from both agencies made contact  with  SCHWINKENDORF  for  an  interview, during which more information was obtained.

REYES was contacted by phone, stated that the subject in the video was indeed him, and  directed further questions to his attorney.
SARGENT was also contacted by phone and interviewed. Based on the investigation of the  crime  scene  and  the  interviews  with  the  suspects, investigators determined the threesome had  been  drinking  and  out  shooting  rabbits  when  they  came  to  Devil’s  Hole.  They jumped the fence  of  the  clearly  marked  protected  area,  nd in the course of their unlawful visit destroyed an  electronic sensor by shooting it with a shotgun, damaged two surveillance cameras, and  rammed  and  shot  two  gates  causing  damage.   Their unlawful visit ultimately culminated with at  least  one  of  the  suspects  stripping  off  their  clothes  and  entering  the  water  of  Devils Hole. The  suspect(s)  in  the  water  stomped  around  the  shelf area of the critical ecosystem before  swimming  around  the  deeper  water,  leaving  behind  a  pair  of  dirty  underwear  when  finished.

In addition to the gates and cameras, a large sign near Devils Hole was shot multiple times  with  a  shotgun.  Assessments  of  the  financial loss are still being conducted, but will be felony in  nature. The intrusion is believed to have resulted in the death of at least one endangered Devils  Hole  Pupfish,  and  fisheries  biologists are trying to ascertain the extended damage that may  have been done to food sources and egg sites which could lead to more loss of a species who’s  numbers  are  now  below  the  last  count of 115 in existence. The killing of an endangered species  is a felony crime.

Other charges including trespassing,  damage  to  habitat,  and  conspiracy will be added.  Additionally, it is believed that at least one of the suspects is a convicted felon making it illegal  to  possess  or  be  in  involvement  with others possessing a gun. The NCSO and NPS would like to  thank all of the people who called in with information and helped
keep  the case active.
cover photo by the Nevada Fish and Wildlife Department, Olin Feuerbacher
nye county sheriffs department, devils hole pupfish, death valley national park

Home Street Students of the Month

Home Street names April Students of the Month

May 11, 2016
submitted by Home Street Middle School

STUDENTS OF THE MONTH

Home Street Middle School is proud to announce their April
Students of the Month. Selections are based on academic success or improvement, community service, effort, positive attitude, or excellent citizenship. The following students were presented with a certificate to be displayed on the Wall of Fame.

Students of the Month

Shelbi Sapp
Dakota Reynolds
Juan Martinez
Emily Motley
Billy McKinzey
Scott Hennarty
Bodie Bedore
Nicole Emmert
Hugo Santana
Ezra Rambeau
Kayla Jackson
Carlos Rodriges-Gonzalez
Kayden Rinehart
Tyler Hembree
Zachary Mojarro

120 opening, take 2

Caltrans sets opening date for 120 west…to the park gate

May 11, 2016

After originally setting the opening day for the opening weekend of the general trout season, Caltrans is now hoping to open 120 west to the Yosemite gate tomorrow.  Winter weather delayed the original plan.  No date has been set for the full opening of highway 120 west.

Anticipated opening of California State Route 120 West to the east Yosemite National Park Entrance Gate is scheduled for Thursday, May 12th at Noon.

Mono County – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has been working on clearing snow, removing rocks, and repairing the road to open State Route 120 West to the east Yosemite Park entrance gate.  It is anticipated that the road will reopen from winter closure on Thursday, May 12th, 2016 at noon, weather and safety permitting.  Caltrans’ number one priority is safety for the traveling public and highway maintenance crews.    State Route 120 west will remain closed at the Yosemite Park entrance.

This partial opening is dependent upon favorable weather and verification that the highway is safe for users.  If the area is impacted by inclement weather Caltrans may not be able to open the highway as anticipated.  Please check local highway conditions before planning to use SR 120 west.

For the latest highway information please visit the Caltrans QuickMap site at quickmap.dot.ca.gov or call the Road Condition Hotline at 1-800-427-ROAD (7623).

BUHS Mathletes Finish First

Bishop Union Varsity Mathletes take league title

May 4, 2016

Both the Varsity and Junior Varsity Mathletes finished up successful seasons, with the varsity team earning the league championship and the junior varsity team coming in with a strong second place.

Leading the way were the Varsity Mathletes who competed in their last meet of the season in Bishop on April 20, 2016. Bishop won not only the meet, but also the league’s high point champion team of the season. Bishop earned 141 points over the course of the 2015/2016 season, Tehachapi earned second place team honors with 125 points, and Rosamond came in third with 118 points. BUHS senior Jamie Shultz was Bishop’s high point individual scorer for the year with 40 points, and earned an individual finish of 2nd place out of the approximately 70 students who regularly compete from ten different schools. Other top scorers for Bishop were junior Duncan Reid who earned 32 points and an individual 6th place finish, and senior Logan Stephenson who tied for a 14th place finish with 18 points.

The BUHS Junior Varsity team finished second place overall in the league, behind Desert High School. The JV team had strong individual performances from Jim Tomasek who tied for an individual third place finish with 27 points, Carter Silva who tied for a 5th place finish, Dylan Fitt who tied for 8th place with 21 points, and Jeanine Lomaintewa who finished in 13th place individually, earning 17 points.

The Mathletes are coached by BUHS math instructor Mrs. DeeDee Buchholz, who says, “I love coaching Mathletes! These kids are so outstanding and I just love spending time with them. Winning is certainly fun, but winning alongside teammates who are just as kind as they are smart is extremely rewarding. The JV Mathletes team has so much depth that I am certain BUHS will see success in the future. The Varsity team took home first in the league which is outstanding in itself, but when compared to teams like Tehachapi High School that are three times our size, it really puts into perspective how talented the team really is. Congrats to all my Mathletes, you have made your coach proud!”

The Mathletes Awards Ceremony will be held on Tuesday, May 17th at 5:15 p.m. in the BUHS theater and is open to anyone who would like to support and celebrate the teams.

Inyo bringing back Talking Water Workshops

Inyo Board of Supervisors set Talking Water Workshop

May 4, 2016
Submitted by the Inyo Board of Supervisors

THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS is resurrecting the “Talking Water Workshops” held last year to discuss water availability in the Owens Valley. The workshop will be held at 1:30 p.m. during the Board’s regularly scheduled meeting, next Tuesday, May 10, 2016, in Independence.

Last year’s workshops were held in light of the severity of drought conditions and the dire shortfall in water for in-valley uses proposed in LADWP’s 2015-2016 Proposed Annual Operations Plan. Although this year’s run-off forecast is markedly better than last year, it is still projected to be 71% of ‘normal.’ Additionally, in its 2016-2017 Proposed Annual Operations Plan, the City of Los Angeles Department and Water and Power included a footnote that, although it plans to provide 45,000 acre-feet of water for Owens Valley irrigation purposes,

“LADWP intends to pursue a [further] reduction in irrigation pursuant to the terms of the Long Term Water Agreement . . .”
This follows LADWP seeking to have the Inyo-Los Angeles Standing Committee pre-approve undefined reductions in irrigation at Standing Committee meetings on February 8th. It also follows the March 31st Standing Committee direction that the Technical Group meet “to develop a program, or programs, providing for reasonable reductions in irrigation Water Supply of Los Angeles-owned lands in Owens Valley and for enhancement/mitigation projects, and to submit the programs for consideration and possible approval by the Inyo County Board of Supervisors and the Department acting through the Standing Committee.”

Despite LADWP’s call for undefined reductions to irrigation and other projects identified in the Long Term Water Agreement, and  the Standing Committee’s direction to the Tech Group, the LADWP has yet to provide the County or the community with any written proposal to evaluate.

In anticipation that – despite, to date, the lack of a written plan being shared with the County, considered by the Technical Group, or available for public review – LADWP will again place this issue on the agenda for the Standing Committee scheduled on May 12, 2016, in Inyo County, the Board of Supervisors is being proactive and seeking input from all segments of the community concerning Owens Valley water availability and use.

The workshop is scheduled for May 10, 2016, at 1:30 p.m., in the Board of Supervisors Room, at the County Administrative Center in Independence. Following the workshop, the Board will consider the draft agenda for the May 12th Standing Committee agenda and provide direction to the County’s Standing Committee representatives.

The Board encourages those who are interested in learning about and providing information concerning the impacts and mitigation of reduced water availability in Inyo County to attend the workshop and share with the Board your comments and ideas.

cover photo by Gary Young

inyo county board of supervisors, LA DWP, inyo county standing committee

Fresno Teacher’s Aide Sentenced

Fresno Teacher’s Aide Sentenced for Marijuana Cultivation in Trinity County

May 3, 2016
Submitted by the Department of Justice

FRESNO, Calif. — Kevin Nouthai Yang, aka Thai Yang, 49, of Fresno, was sentenced today to three years and 10 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiring to cultivate, distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana grown on property that he owned in Hay Fork in the Shasta Trinity National Forest, Acting United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
In sentencing Yang, U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill also ordered the forfeiture of the property and a firearm.
According to court documents, Yang, who was then a high school teacher’s aide for the Central Unified School District, was found armed at the Hay Fork property during the execution of a federal search warrant. Yang was in the process of harvesting marijuana and was in possession of 324 pounds of marijuana and 200 marijuana plants. He was also in possession of restricted-use pesticides that had been transported across public land for use in the marijuana cultivation operation. Yang has since resigned from his teaching position.
U.S. Forest Service agents obtained the search warrant after seeing hundreds of large, mature marijuana plants growing on Yang’s property. Some of the marijuana grown on Yang’s property had already been transported to Fresno for distribution.
This case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service and the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Karen A. Escobar prosecuted the case.