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On Friday, February 24th Los Angeles Department of Water and Power rescinded its permission to hold the event at Pleasant Valley Reservoir due to public safety concerns.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.