Tag Archives: Death Valley

Hiker Missing in Death Valley

HUNTER CANYON, CA. December 4, 2019 – On November 27 (evening), Inyo County Sheriff’s Office received notification by Death Valley National Park of a missing hiker, Rolin Bruno, a 76-year old man from Arrowbear, CA. Bruno planned on hiking up Hunter Canyon out of Saline Valley to cache water for a future hike in the Spring, prior to meeting family members at Saline Valley Hot Springs on November 27. When Bruno did not arrive, family members notified the campground host. Bruno was hiking alone. (It is unclear whether Bruno’s hike occurred on Monday November 25 or Tuesday November 26.)

 

On Thursday November 28 a severe winter storm impeded search efforts. Aerial reconnaissance was requested for Friday November 29; CHP Inland Division Air Operations initially responded, however a fog layer made flying impossible in the morning. China Lake Naval Air Station was requested to provide aerial support once the fog layer lifted; Inyo Search and Rescue (SAR) members were on board providing additional assistance.

 

Saturday November 30, 11 Inyo SAR members conducted extensive search assignments in the area. Aerial searching was provided by CHP Inland Division Air Operations. A drone was deployed in order to reach more remote areas and provide additional search information to the team.  Due to extremely icy conditions on Saline Valley’s “South Pass”, the team was almost unable to drive out of the search area.  Sunday December 1, winter weather disallowed flying or driving into the search area.

 

On Monday Dec 2, as weather cleared, two Inyo SAR members were hoisted from CHP H-80 into more remote areas high in the search zone to check structures and mining ruins. Additional aerial searching was provided by CHP Inland Division Air Operations with Inyo SAR members on board.

 

Tuesday December 3, six Inyo SAR members were inserted into the search area by Kern County Air Operations.  SAR members from China Lake Mountain Rescue Group drove into the search zone and combed lower segments of the area. Inyo Sheriff’s Office deputies also drove to the sight and conducted investigations at the vehicle and searched nearby mining cabins.

 

Today winter weather has hampered search efforts.  Overhead planning teams are working on the next phase of the search operation. If anyone from the public has seen Bruno you are encouraged to contact Inyo Sheriff at 760-878-0383 option 4. Bruno is 5’11”, 170lbs, white male, long grey hair, grey beard, brown eyes, possibly wearing a flannel or denim shirt and blue jeans.

 

Aerial assistance has been provided by: CHP Inland Division Air Operations H-80, China Lake Naval Air Station VX-31, and Kern County Air Operations Air 5. Ground searching has been provided by: Inyo SAR, Kern County SAR, and China Lake Mountain Rescue Group. Additional support has been provided by Death Valley National Park and CalOES.

 

Inyo County Sheriff’s Office Recover Body in Panamint Valley

PANAMINT VALLEY/ DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, June 25, 2019 – On June 18 at 2:40pm the Lone Pine Sheriff’s Substation had a walk-in report of an overdue hiker. According to the reporting party and camping companion, 85-year old Neil Malloch of San Francisco, CA hiked to the Defense Mine from their camp location near the Minietta Mine on June 17 around 2:30pm and had not returned.

 

The reporting party said that he strongly advised Malloch not to hike in triple digit weather; however, Malloch did not listen. Malloch did not return from the hike. The reporting party attempted to search along the trail the morning of June 18, but could not locate Malloch.

 

An aerial search was initiated on June 18 by the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office and was provided by the Civil Air Patrol. On June 19 search efforts were provided by Bureau of Land Management Desert District Rangers (out of Ridgecrest), and the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office. Aerial support on June 19 was provided by CHP-Inland Division Air Operations. Ground search efforts were difficult due to extreme heat.

 

On June 20, China Lake Naval Weapons Center helicopter VX-31 joined in the search operation. At about 5:30pm, China Lake VX-31 located the subject deceased in Thompson Canyon. Due to the terrain and time of day the VX-31 was unable to recover Malloch.

 

The morning of June 21 CHP- Inland Division Air Operation and Inyo County Sheriff’s personnel conducted a hoist operation and recovered Malloch. He was flown to the Lone Pine airport where the Lone Pine Coroner took custody of his remains.

 

Death Valley National Park has summer temperatures that are well over 100°F (38°C), and often exceed 120°F (49°C).

 

Saline Valley Warm Springs Management Plan Update

Record of Decision for the Saline Valley Warm Springs Plan

DEATH VALLEY, CA – The National Park Service announces the availability of the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Saline Valley Warm Springs Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (plan/EIS). The Record of Decision outlines the agency’s actions for managing visitor use, natural resources, cultural resources, and facilities at this backcountry site.

The selected alternative will allow for the continued recreational use of the warm springs, while balancing the protection of natural resources and historic and ethnographic values. The selected alternative incorporates community engagement through Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with interested organized groups.

Saline Valley Warm Springs are located in a remote northwest corner of Death Valley National Park, 35 miles from the closest paved road. The springs have been important to the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe since time immemorial. Recreational users developed soaking tubs and art installations starting in the 1950s. The site was managed by the Bureau of Land Management until it was transferred to NPS with the California Desert Protection Act in 1994.

The NPS started working on a management plan for the site in 2012. Inyo County, the BLM, and the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe participated in the plan as cooperating agencies. Several organizations were heavily involved in providing comments, including the Saline Preservation Association and Recreation Aviation Foundation.

The National Park Service posted the completed Saline Valley Warm Springs plan/EIS on May 10. The Record of Decision is the formal approval of the plan and makes it effective as of June 14.

Saline Valley Warm Springs Plan Finalized

DEATH VALLEY, CA – The National Park Service announced on May 10 that it has finalized the Saline Valley Warm Springs Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (plan/EIS). The document outlines the agency’s plan for managing visitor use, natural resources, cultural resources, and facilities at this backcountry site.

Saline Valley Warm Springs are located in a remote northwest corner of Death Valley National Park, 35 miles from the closest paved road. Recreational users developed soaking tubs and art installations starting in the 1950s. The site was managed by the Bureau of Land Management until it was transferred to NPS with the California Desert Protection Act in 1994.

The NPS started working on a management plan for the site in 2012. Inyo County, the BLM, and the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe participated in the plan as cooperating agencies. Several organizations were heavily involved in providing comments, including the Saline Preservation Association and Recreation Aviation Foundation.

There were opportunities for the public to provide feedback on the plan’s direction in 2012, 2014, and 2018. The NPS received and analyzed a total of 1,696 pieces of correspondence during these comment periods. The NPS made changes to the plan at every stage of the process reflecting the feedback received from the public, organizations, and agencies.

“What we heard loud and clear from many of the recreational users was a desire to ‘leave it like it is.’ We feel this management plan will maintain a feeling of unconstrained recreation while protecting natural and cultural resources,” said Death Valley National Park Superintendent Mike Reynolds.

Things staying the same under the plan:

  • Existing soaking tubs at Lower Spring and Palm Spring would remain in use.
  • Upper Spring would remain undeveloped.
  • All art installations that were in place by January 1, 2019 in non-wilderness areas would be allowed to stay.
  • Airplane use of the Chicken Strip, in use for decades, would be authorized by a separate (pending) special regulation.
  • NPS would establish memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with user groups for maintenance and management of Saline Valley Warm Springs.
  • Public nudity is common at the site, and the plan is silent on this topic. Public nudity is not against Federal regulations, but lewd behavior is.

Things that would change under this plan:

  • Three camping zones would be established: 1) car camping areas; 2) walk-in camping with an associated parking area separate from the camping area; and 3) areas where camping is prohibited, including within 100 feet of source springs.
  • Artistic fencing would be added around source springs to prevent access by nonnative burros.
  • Existing mature palm trees will stay at Lower Spring and Palm Spring until they die of natural causes. No new palm trees will be allowed to grow and native plants will be added to provide shade.
  • All nonnative plants, including palm trees, at Upper Spring will be removed.
  • New artwork will be allowed only if it does not disturb natural or cultural resources, is of a temporary nature, and is removed by the visitor when he or she leaves.
  • The vehicle support facility would be removed.
  • The NPS would address concerns about water quality, storage of hazardous materials, and wastewater.

The plan will become effective when the NPS signs the Record of Decision (ROD), which will be on or after June 10, 2019. However, some aspects of the plan may not be implemented immediately.

The plan and associated documents can be viewed at parkplanning.nps.gov/SalineValleyWarmSprings. A printed copy will temporarily be available at each of the following locations: Amargosa Valley Library, Bishop Library, Death Valley Library, Furnace Creek Visitor Center, Lone Pine Library, Pahrump Library, and Ridgecrest Library.

Death Valley National Park Gains Land and More

DEATH VALLEY, CA – The largest national park outside of Alaska just got bigger.  On March 12, President Trump signed public lands legislation that included several changes to Death Valley National Park.

The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (Public Law 116-9) transferred approximately 35,000 acres of land from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to the National Park Service. Already nearly the size of Connecticut, Death Valley National Park increased by about 1% to 3,422,024 acres.

One part of the transfer is a 6,369-acre lollipop-shaped section of land adjacent to the Big Pine – Death Valley Road in the northern part of the park. It includes the Crater Mine, a colorful former sulfur mine.

The 28,923-acre “Bowling Alley” is a long, narrow swath of land on the northern border of Fort Irwin National Training Center. This area includes a portion of the Quail Mountains.

About 93% of the park is designated as the Death Valley National Park Wilderness, which is the sixth-largest wilderness area in the nation and the largest outside of Alaska. The Dingell Act added 87,999 acres of wilderness in North Eureka Valley, Panamint Valley, Warm Springs, Ibex, Bowling Alley, and Axe Head.

The Act designated 5.3 miles of Surprise Canyon Creek as a Wild River. The wild river designation provides further protection to this rare desert creek and adjacent Panamint City, a 1870s silver mining ghost town.

The Dingell Act authorizes the operation and maintenance of the existing microwave telecommunications infrastructure on Mormon Peak. AT&T owns this facility, which has been in legal limbo since the land it sits on was designated as wilderness in 1994. With the exception of satellite connections, the Mormon Peak facility relays all land-line telephone, cell phone, and internet connections for Death Valley residents and visitors.

www.nps.gov/deva-

Famous Motorcyclist Struck by Golf Cart in Death Valley

Famous motorcyclist, Malcolm Smith was struck by a vehicle on Friday and sustained major injuries. On January 25th, at approximately 1:30 in the afternoon, Bishop CHP responded to an accident taking place at the Furnace Creek Golf Course in Death Valley.

Malcolm Smith was with is his friend, Greg Lang of Redlands, CA playing golf, when the accident occurred. The famous motorcyclist walked behind the golf cart being operated by Lang, who thought the golf cart was in drive, but was actually in reverse. Lang accelerated the rearward moving cart and struck Smith, which subsequently knocked him to the ground.

Malcolm Smith was quickly transported via ambulance to Desert View Hospital in Pahrump, Nevada. As a result of being hit, Smith sustained major injuries.

Bishop CHP is currently investigating the collision.

Smith is considered by many to be a motorcycling legend. He has won the Baja 1000 six times, and the Baja 500 four times. The motorcyclist won the Baja 1000 three times driving a motorcycle and three times in a car.

The famed biker was inducted into the Off-road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1978, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1996 and the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998.

Select Death Valley Facilities Closing

DEATH VALLEY, CA – Due to the government shutdown, several sites within Death Valley National Park will be closing for health and safety concerns associated with continuing issues of human waste, trash, vandalism and park resource damage. 

On Friday, January 4, the Furnace Creek and Texas Springs Campgrounds will be closed.  Access roads to Natural Bridge, Dantes View, and Keane Wonder Mine will also be closed. The road to Salt Creek remains closed.

Visitor services are limited due to the lapse in federal appropriations. During the government shutdown, national parks are working to remain as open and accessible to the American people as possible. 

All normal park rules and regulations still apply and violators will be cited. Dogs are not permitted on park trails or off leash.  Off-road vehicle travel is illegal within the park, vehicles must stay on established roadways.  Camping must be in accordance with park regulations. The Stovepipe Wells Campground as well as private campgrounds at The Oasis Furnace Creek Ranch and Panamint Springs remain open and operational.  

Visitors are encouraged to stop and use restroom facilities in the gateway communities before entering the park as there are extremely limited restroom facilities in the park. Visitors are also encouraged to practice leave no trace principles and pack in and pack out waste.     

Additional roads and facilities within Death Valley National Park may close at any time for the health and safety of park visitors.

Thanks to donations from The Oasis at Death Valley, restrooms at the Ryan Junction, Zabriskie Point, Golden Canyon, and Badwater are cleaned and stocked daily.  The Death Valley Natural History Association has also made a donation to have the Furnace Creek Visitor Center open from 8am-5pm daily.  Ortega National Parks LLC. continues to operate the Stovepipe Wells Campground as a donation.

For updates on the shutdown, please visit www.doi.gov/shutdown.

Remains of Missing Man located in Death Valley

The Body of Graig Legatt found Monday in Death Valley

The Inyo County Sheriffs department is reporting the discovery of the remains of Graig Legatt.  A statement for the Inyo County Sheriffs department:

Graig Legatt’s remains were located on February 16, 2015 in Death Valley National Park approximately one mile up a ravine from where his vehicle was discovered by National Park Services rangers abandoned.
The vehicle was reported to the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office on February 10th; since then both ground and aerial searches have been conducted in attempt to locate Legatt.
The Inyo County Coroner has notified Legatt’s family; the cause of death was determined to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Although this search had a tragic ending, the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank everyone for their assistance: CHP, National Park Services, New Richmond WI Police Department, as well as the outpouring of support and assistance received by the public. Our thoughts are with the Legatt family as they begin to heal.

legatt

photo courtesy of the Inyo county sheriffs department

death valley, graig legatt, inyo county sheriffs department

 

Death Valley Fatal Accident

Saturday Crash Kills Santa Ana Woman

The California Highway Patrol says alcohol was a factor in the Saturday evening crash.  According to the CHP accident report, a 52-year old Santa Ana woman (name being withheld pending notification of next of kin) was driving a Toyota Tacoma pickup southbound on Scotty’s Castle Road.  The report notes that the driver was not wearing a seat belt, and due to “alcohol intoxication” she allowed the truck to leave the roadway, over-correcting the truck leading to the vehicle overturning at minimum of one time.  The driver, the lone occupant of the truck, was ejected sustaining fatal injuries.  The single vehicle accident occurring at 5pm on Saturday, January 17th.

death valley, california highway patrol, eastern sierra news, inyo county news, scottys castle

 

Inyo Associates in Death Valley

Death Valley Inyo Associates Weekend

January 16, 17, 18, 2015 at Furnace Creek. The schedule:
Friday: 6pm – 8pm
Complimentary Social Hour in Marquez Room at Furnace Creek Inn
Saturday:
8am – 3pm
Tour of Southern Inyo County with Representative Paul Cook
Cost: $25 per person.
The tour will leave the lower parking lot of the Furnace Creek Inn at 8am. We will be touring Charleston View, St Theresa Mission, China Ranch Date Farm, Tecopa Hot Springs, Shoshone and, time permitting, Ash Meadows for Lunch. We want to show Representative Cook Inyo County as well as let him get to know some of his constituents. This will be a time for those who want to speak to Representative Cook about any federal issue you might have. Lunch will be served and beverages provided.
The bus is being provided by Inyo County School Superintendent Terry McAteer and the driver is the Superintendent of the Death Valley School District, Jim Copeland.

Make your room reservations by calling Furnace Creek Resort 760-786-2345 and ask for reservations.  Use either booking number 676452 for the Inn or 676201 for the Ranch. To receive the special price you must book by December 16th.

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Paul Cook

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