Category Archives: Community News


DWP issues post-standing committee statement

DWP issues statement

The June 4th Inyo/LA standing committee meeting was dominated by a shared sense of cooperation between Inyo County and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.  Working through another year of drought the two parties agreed to reduce water to the McNalley enhancement/mitigation project and Warren Lake while securing irrigation water through July.

In response to the June 4, 2015 Inyo County/Los Angeles Standing Committee meeting, The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has issued the following statement:

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is pleased with the outcome of the June 4 Standing Committee meeting. In these times of unprecedented drought, we are encouraged by the collaboration exercised by the Inyo County community. This shared sacrifice by all, including the City of Los Angeles who itself is receiving an 85 percent reduction in LA Aqueduct water this runoff year, will allow local ranchers the ability to irrigate their lands through July. LADWP and the other MOU parties are working toward finalizing an agreement (hopefully by early THIS week) that will save up to 4,000 AF of water toward additional irrigation in the Owens Valley. If additional water savings are realized on Owens Lake this Fall and are agreed by Great Basin, State Lands, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife, then more water can be made available for continuing irrigation into August and later into the irrigation season.  We look forward to continued constructive collaboration with the community and more positive outcomes from future negotiations.”

The next Inyo/LA standing committee meeting is set for July 24th in Los Angeles.

inyo county news, ladwp, drought 2015, inyo county water department
inyo forest

Wilderness Evaluation open house

Inyo National Forest open house Tuesday

The Inyo National Forest announces an open house to share the results of the wilderness evaluation process as part of the completion of forest plan revision.

The informal open house will be Tuesday, June 9, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 p.m. at the US Forest Service Supervisors Office, 351 Pacu Lane, Bishop, CA 93514. Interested parties can stop by and talk to staff and view maps.

There will be a brief presentation to help explain the process the US Forest Service used. This meeting is informational and there is no comment period associated with it.

“I made a commitment to my communities that I would share the results of the wilderness evaluation with them prior to the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)” said Ed Armenta Forest Supervisor. “I am proud of the work of my staff to meet the intent of the evaluation. We neither advocated for or against wilderness, rather we simply evaluated which lands meet the criteria for proposed wilderness.”

The 2012 Planning Rule requires forests to identify and evaluate lands that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) and rivers suitable for inclusion under Wild and Scenic River Act (WSRA). The Sierra, Sequoia and Inyo national forests were selected as early adopters; they will be the first forests to revise their land management plans using the 2012 National Forest System Planning Rule. The planning rule provides the framework for Forest Service land management plans across the nation.

Staff will share the status of the Wild and Scenic River evaluation that is currently being reviewed by the planning team. If the review is complete, those results will be shared at the open house as well.

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) decision document of the revised forest plans will describe any recommendations for wilderness.

Congress holds the authority to designate wilderness.  If areas are recommended for wilderness, the responsible official will include forest plan direction to protect ecological and social characteristics so that the wilderness character of the recommended area(s) is not reduced before congressional action on the recommendation can take place.

There will be an opportunity for formal comment when the DEIS is released. The Forest Service expects to publish a “Notice of Availability of DEIS” in the fall 2015, which begins a 90-day public comment period.

inyo national forest, ed armenta, eastern sierra news, wilderness
inyo s and r

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

inyo county news, inyo county sheriffs department, shepherd pass, inyo county search and rescue

Peggy Blunt

Peggy Blunt, 1931-2015

Peggy Blunt, long time Bishop resident, dies on Mule Days Weekend

Margaret “Peggy” Rose Blunt, a resident of Bishop for over 60 years, passed away on May 23rd at the age of 83.

Margaret Rose Blunt, known to many as Peggy, was born as Margaret Price in 1931 in Winscombe, England. Like many youths in England at the time, Peggy did volunteer work during WWII. Upon completing her education, Peggy worked at a local paper mill. While visiting her mother at a local pub in 1951, she met a United States Air Force mechanic named Ernie Blunt who was stationed at the nearby RAF Fairfield air base. Their courtship continued for several years until Ernie proposed marriage prior to leaving the military service. Although they planned to get married in England, paperwork held things up. Peggy flew to Los Angles in 1955 shortly after Ernie had left England. They were married a month later on July 18, 1955, at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Bishop.

Peggy’s arrival in Owens Valley in 1955 was quite a culture shock, including adjustments to the heat, food, and the very different high desert weather instead of the mild weather of England. Her first stop was the Parker Ranch, located above the current Independence Fish Hatchery. The Parkers, Ernie Blunts’ grandparents, employed Ernie to take visitors on mule packing adventures into the mountains. After a couple of years in Independence, they finally settled in Bishop where they have lived ever since.

Peggy was school homeroom mother, a member of the Bishop Bottle Club and became involved with Brownies, Girl Scouts, and 4-H, especially since she was raising two daughters. Peggy’s hobbies included knitting and plastic canvas, fishing, flowers, gardening, and traveling to go fishing or to see her grandkids. Her passion, however, as many Bishop residents may know, was her penchant for going to every yard sale in town. Her husband Ernie will most likely continue that tradition.

Peggy is survived by: her brother Gordon Price of England; husband Ernie Blunt of Bishop; daughters Helen Waitkus of Bishop; and Mandy McCarthy of Rohnert Park, CA; grand-daughter Kelsey McCarthy of Los Angeles; and grandsons Joseph Blunt of Wasco, Oregon and Jack McCarthy of Orange County, CA.

Peggy and Ernie were planning to celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary in July.

A funeral and a public celebration of life service are not planned. Instead of flowers, please consider a tax-deductible memorial donation to the American Diabetes Association.



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

Aurora Lopez

Aurora Granado Lopez 1941-2015

Aurora Granado Lopez, 73, resident of Bishop, CA for 41 years, born in Deming, N. Mexico on December23, 1941 Passed away on June 2, 2015 peacefully at her home.
Aurora’s love and joy were her grandchildren and great- grandchildren. She found pleasure in watching them in the many activities they were involved in and just sharing conversation with them. Her cherished times were early morning coffee with Kristopher, teatime with all her granddaughters and grandson Donald and council time for all as they sat or laid on her bed.
She enjoyed many hobbies during her life like crocheting, embroidery, jigsaw puzzles, bowling, gardening, watching novellas with her husband, cooking with her daughters and quilting. The homes of her family are decorated with many of her beautiful crochet and embroidery work as well as many quilts and afghans to keep her family warm.
The Lopez home was always open as Aurora and her husband Calie took in and welcomed family and friends during all of their married life. Sometimes it was for short visits but mainly raising or providing a home for long periods of time to loved ones in need. She was known to her children’s friends as “mom” and to her grandchildren’s friends as “ grandma”. She provided a great example of Matthew 25:31-40 until the Lord took her home that Tuesday afternoon. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her and were blessed by her touch in their lives.
Aurora is survived by her husband of 55 years Calie Lopez, sister Mary-lou Granado, aunt and uncle Natalia and Moses Acosta, daughter and son-in-law Tina and Rogelio Esparza, son Edward Lopez, daughter Debbie and son-in-law Jeff Clarkson, grandchildren Katrina and Juan Martinez, Kris Lopez, Donald Clarkson, Erica and Juan Esparza-Ambriz, Acacia Clarkson, Marisa Aurora-Jean Clarkson, Elizabeth Lopez-Esparza, great-grandchildren Xochitl Martinez, Juan Martinez Jr., Rogelio Josue Esparza, Alexa Itzel Ambriz-Esparza, nephew Patric Granado and numerous other nephews, nieces, cousins and friends.
Aurora is preceded in death by mother and father Manuela and Alberto Lechuga-Granado, brother Albert Granado and brother Raymond Granado.
Funeral Services for Aurora Granado Lopez will include a Rosary on Tuesday, June 9th at 7 PM at the Brune Mortuary 325 W. Elm Street, Bishop and a Mass on Wednesday, June 10th at 11 AM at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church 849 Home Street, Bishop. Interment will be private.




Counting Votes

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

bishop area chamber of commerce, bishop news, julie faber, cheryl underhill

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

mono county sheriffs department, mono county search and rescue, minaret vista, fern lake

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
manzanar national historic site, eastern sierra news, independence california
Gary's Gallery

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

inyo county public works, drought 2015, clint quilter, lone pine news, laws, independence