Tag Archives: eastern sierra news

Bishop Union High School Prepares for Unorthodox Graduation

The 111 graduates from Bishop Union High School will get the chance to receive their diplomas from BUHS Administration over the course of three days next week. Though there won’t be a traditional ceremony in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, students will get the chance to drive to the high school’s parking lot with their family members and receive their diplomas.

This makeshift ceremony will be taking place starting May 26, 2020, until May 28, 2020. A maximum of four family members will be allowed to accompany the graduating seniors.

Graduating seniors will be assigned a specific time to pick up their graduation certificates on one of the three aforementioned dates. There is no specific time relating to when the celebration will start each day, but it will be some time during the evening.

During the three day ceremony, students will be filmed receiving their high school diplomas. After all of the footage is compiled, the high school will post it online for the general public to view on June 5th, 2020.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Implement Online Hunter Education Classes

CDFW Press Release

In response to the delay of in-person California hunter education classes due to COVID-19, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is temporarily allowing new hunters to complete their education requirements entirely online.

Prior to COVID-19, California offered a traditional in-person course or a hybrid online/in-person class with a certified Hunter Education Instructor (HEI). Because all classroom instruction opportunities have been suspended, California will temporarily waive the in-person requirement, allowing students to complete the full course of instruction online.

“Online-only certification is a temporary solution to allow Californians the ability to fulfill their hunter education requirements and obtain a hunting license during these unique times,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “We don’t want anyone to miss out on the chance to earn their certification before the fall hunting seasons, so we believe this is a reasonable solution, given the circumstances.”

When deemed safe to do so, CDFW intends to return to the prior system, including a minimum level of in-person instruction with a certified HEI. “We value our 1,000 extremely dedicated volunteer instructors enormously, and we’re anxious to see them back in front of students as soon as possible,” Bess added.

Effective immediately, prospective hunters may earn their hunter education certification online. More information is available at https://wildlife.ca.gov/hunter-education. The cost for the course is $24.95. Successful prospective hunters who complete and pass the online course will be able to immediately print a paper Hunter Education Completion Certificate, which will qualify them to purchase a hunting license. Their CDFW online license profile will automatically be updated with their Hunter Education Certification within two days.

Prospective hunters are advised that the deadline to apply for California’s Big Game draw is June 2, 2020. CDFW advises new hunters to set a goal of completing the online certification by May 31, to allow time for the automatic update of their CDFW license profile. CDFW license profiles can also be updated by presenting the paper certificate to a CDFW License Agent.

South Lake Road Reconstruction to Begin

The South Lake Road Reconstruction planned for the 2020 season will begin the week of May 11 The contractor, Hat Creek Construction & Materials, Inc., has been completing survey work in advance of construction work.

Construction delays will typically be 30 minutes during the day. However, when work requires it, Inyo County and the forest will permit longer closures. This could include three-hour closures twice a day.

This work is considered essential and Hat Creek Construction is taking all necessary steps to adhere to social distancing. This includes providing travel trailers for their crews.

There will be no night work, weekend work, or work during holiday weekends, although traffic controls will still be in place. Campgrounds along the South Lake Road remain closed under a Regional Closure Order through May 15.

Local businesses and services along South Lake Road will remain open and accessible during construction this year. Please check with individual businesses about early season services.

During construction, roadside parking, day use parking, and the parking areas for South Lake will be significantly reduced, and at times, closed. Visitors to the area should plan that parking will not be available and plan to be dropped off or use local shuttle services when feasible. Shuttle services may be limited in their capacity to serve demand based on social distancing guidelines. Thoughtful planning is helpful during any major construction project. This year coordinated planning is required for a successful visit to South Lake Road destinations.

The project is being completed under a funding request from Inyo County through Federal Highways Administration (FHWA). The road will be re-paved and needs significant repairs for safety and includes a new bicycle staging area. The Inyo National Forest is also completing trailhead parking and campground improvements in conjunction with this project.

 

Local Conservation Groups Efforts to Protect Sage Grouse is Making a Difference

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) announced it is withdrawing a 2013 proposed rule to list the Bi-State sage-grouse as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

USFWS made this decision after an “extended and comprehensive analysis of the best available science.” They concluded that local conservation actions have and will continue to successfully reduce threats to the Bi-State sage-grouse.

This is good news for all the Eastside conservation professionals and community members who have unified to form what’s called the Bi-State Local Area Working Group (“LAWG”), a group of diverse stakeholders dedicated to bringing the power of local land protection to care for the Bi-State sage-grouse. The LAWG is made up of state and local officials, public and tribal land managers, ranchers, private landowners, scientists, and conservationists like the Bishop-based nonprofit organization Eastern Sierra Land Trust.

Sometimes, like in the cases of the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker or the California Condor, the Endangered Species Act serves as a very effective tool for the recovery of a species. In the case of the Bi-State sage-grouse, our uniquely local and collaborative approach is working without the need for the Endangered Species Act. The committed Bi-State partners have seen success in the targeted and specific actions they’ve taken to enhance our local sagebrush ecosystem. They’ve cared for the needs of our local environment using individualized and flexible efforts.

The efforts of LAWG have not only worked, but are also being heralded across the nation as an exceptionally successful model for local, collaborative, science-based conservation. And after such a comprehensive analysis by the USFWS, we can rest assured that we’re on the right track to protecting the many unique species that make their homes in the sagebrush, like sage-grouse.

Bi-State sage-grouse are a unique population of Greater sage-grouse that live in the Eastern Sierra and western Nevada. The birds are known for the males’ flamboyant springtime mating displays on traditional dancing grounds, known as leks. This species is a key indicator species for the health of other wildlife and for sagebrush areas generally. This means that if the Bi-State sage-grouse are thriving, there’s a higher likelihood that other species of plants and animals are thriving too.

In addition to the Bi-State sage-grouse, mule deer, pronghorn, songbirds, lizards, pygmy rabbits, and more depend on wide sagebrush areas for homes and food. It’s great to have some hopeful news right now, as our world navigates the current COVID-19 pandemic. Once it is safe to do so, local organizations like Eastern Sierra Land Trust look forward to inviting community members back onto the land

to work side by side with them and agency partners to care for sagebrush ecosystems. Future sage-grouse workdays are planned for this autumn, and the safe participation and support of our community members make a positive difference for our iconic Eastern Sierra land and wildlife.

Coronavirus Testing Results Coming Back Faster for Northern Inyo Hospital

Northern Inyo Hospital gave their weekly COVID-19 update to members of the media on Monday, April 6, 2020.

Dr. Stacey Brown told the media that the hospital is currently functioning at full capacity. “NIH is fully functional for all services at this time. If you break your leg, we are here to treat that,” Brown expressed.

Interim Chief Medical Officer, Will Timbers, shifted the discussion to COVID testing protocols at the hospital. He highlighted false negative tests, which are tests where a patient appears to not have coronavirus, but ends up actually having it. “No test that we do is going to be 100% perfect. We need to make sure to get a really good nasal swab to ensure that we can find out if they have it or not. There are false negatives, where the tests aren’t completely reliable due to limitations in the testing,” Timbers remarked.

Brown added that testing kits will continue to be reserved for essential workers and those with pre-existing conditions. The Rural Health Director said, “The priorities for testing will be for critical staff and critically ill patients. We know the spread of COVID-19 is communicable, so there is no need to test the general public.”

The amount of time it takes for Northern Inyo Hospital to obtain COVID-19 results is becoming more efficient as each week passes. Brown told the media that the hospital is now getting results back in about a day and a half. “Turnaround testing via LabCorp takes about 1.5 days now. LabCorp in Phoenix is doing a really nice job of getting the results to us,” he remarked. When NIHD started testing last month, the turnaround time for lab results was taking anywhere between 7-10 days.

Patients can expect even faster coronavirus testing in the future. The hospital is about one to two weeks away from rolling out their in-house testing, which will take about an hour. “In-house testing is about a week or two off at this point. We are hoping to do in-house testing by the end of the month,” said Brown.

Whether to wear facial covering or not to reduce the spread of coronavirus has been a hot topic of discussion throughout the world, with the CDC now recommending that the general public wear masks after previously discouraging the public from using them. Dr. Brown is encouraging the general public to cover-up. “The CDC came down with recommendations for decreasing transmission in the community by wearing masks. The push on that is to have you protect the rest of the community from spewing out the virus from your mouth. It looks like many people are transmitting coronavirus without showing symptoms, so it is smart to wear masks. My anticipation is that you are going to see the adoption of the masks in our community,” Brown expressed.

The Rural Health Director stated that the community has been stepping up as far as helping out with medical supplies. One such program that Brown says has been quite successful is “project cover-up,” a grassroots effort in which local seamstresses and quilters have created masks for healthcare workers to use. “’Project Cover-Up’ has been a great example of the community stepping up during the pandemic,” Brown said. “So far, we have had over 200 masks donated.”

Dr. Brown is encouraging people to continue to donate medical supplies. “If people are interested in dropping off Personal Protective Equipment donations, you can drop them off at the front of the hospital.”

The Interim Chief Medical Officer, Will Timbers spoke about the possibility of people building up immunity to coronavirus, and if the data he has been examining is accurate, it is a promising sign. “It does seem like with the majority of patients who have COVID, that there is some herd immunity at this point. The data suggests that there are some antibodies that are being built up in patients,” Timbers said.

Antibody testing to see if patients with COVID-19 are building immunity to the virus will be implemented in medical facilities across the world soon. As for testing locally, the public can expect it to be ready some time around May. Dr. Brown said, “Larry Weber, our Director of Diagnostic Services, says there is a rush for antibody testing to be implemented by many companies. Larry and his team have vetted a company that has a good reputation, and that looks very promising. I still don’t see testing happening for a few weeks though. Right now, we are looking at early May.”

Inyo County Could Approve New Regulations on Certain Tobacco Products

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors has plans to approve regulations which they hope will restrict adolescent access to tobacco products at Tuesday’s meeting.

Anna Scott, the Inyo County Health and Human Services Deputy Director gave a presentation to the board, and recommended regulating the sale of some tobacco products.

There are three components the department wants to see when it comes to preventing children from purchasing tobacco products. According to county documents,“1) a flavored ecigarette or “vape” ban; 2) a requirement that all little cigars be sold in packs of 20 and cigars be sold in packs of 5 (except cigars that cost more than $5 each); and 3) a requirement for minimum pricing of $8 per pack for cigarettes and little cigars and $5 per cigar.”

Scott says Inyo County’s high school students can easily obtain tobacco paraphernalia, and vape use among Inyo County’s youth is more than three times higher than the state average. The Deputy HHS Director also told the supervisors that according to a survey the department conducted with 9th and 11th graders, obtaining tobacco products is “very easy.”

In order to enforce a ban on these products, Health and Human Services requested the board also adopt a Tobacco Retail License ordinance, which will help create a structure for cracking down on illegal tobacco sales.

The board will not charge retailers for these licenses. Due to available funds in the county budget, the application cost will be covered.

Inyo County zeroed in on the sale of tobacco that costs under five dollars. The big item under five dollars the supervisors wanted to address, was the sale of cigarillos and blunt wraps, including popular brands like Swisher, Zig Zag, and Backwoods. County Health and Human Services officials say that these brands are targeting children with flavors such as grape, cotton candy, and blueberry.

According to Tobacco Control Supervisor, Eryn Clark, the sale of these cigarillos has increased dramatically. “The sale of blunts like Swisher Sweets has grown 280%.” Clark said.

As of right now, it looks like the Board of Supervisors will only implement part of what the Health and Human Services Department wants. There will be no outright ban on flavored tobacco, but that could happen in the near future.

With that being said, the board may vote to increase the price of cigarettes to a minimum of eight dollars per pack, along with cigarillos, which will now cost a minimum of five dollars per package. The cigarillos must also be sold with a minimum of six per pack. Additionally, flavored vape E-liquid will be banned in Inyo County.

DISCLAIMER: The story has been changed. Inyo County has not made the ban official, and it still needs to be voted on.

BLM Bishop Conducting Pile Burns This Week

BISHOP, Calif. – Interagency wildland fire crews from the Bureau of Land Management Bishop Field Office and the Inyo National Forest will be treating up to 70 acres of public lands with prescribed fire at Fish Slough north of Bishop in Inyo and Mono counties to improve wetland habitat. Prescribed fire operations will occur in late February or early March, depending on weather, air quality and staff availability.

The BLM has used prescribed fire as part of a larger strategy to maintain and improve wetland habitats in the Fish Slough Area of Critical Environmental Concern for several decades. Prescribed fire operations, which are scheduled to occur before the spring growing season, will reduce tule accumulations, increase open water habitat for Owens pupfish, and encourage new vegetation growth to support other species dependent on this desert wetland. The BLM is committed to keeping public landscapes healthy and productive.

 

During prescribed fire operations, smoke may be visible from Bishop and nearby communities along U.S. Highway 395 and U.S. Highway 6 corridors, including Mustang Mesa, Round Valley, Swall Meadows, Laws and Chalfant. The BLM requests that the public avoid congregating on or near roadways in the Fish Slough area, which can obstruct fire equipment and emergency vehicles supporting prescribed fire operations. All prescribed fire operations will be conducted in close coordination with the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District.

 

For more information, please call Heather Stone at the Bishop Field Office, 760-872-5000.

Eastern Sierra Wins Big at Visit California Poppy Awards

Eastern Sierra, Calif. (February 24, 2020) — Earlier this month, the Eastern Sierra triumphed at Visit California’s biennial Poppy Awards contest. This competition honors the best and brightest of California tourism promotion and awards are bestowed in even-numbered years as part of Visit California’s Outlook Forum conference.

To kick off the evening, the Bishop Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, Inyo County, Mammoth Lakes Tourism and Mono County walked away with the award for Best Cooperative Marketing Campaign for the collaborative efforts to promote fall colors in the Eastern Sierra.

“I really love that the Eastside was recognized for our cooperative effort on the fall color campaign,” said Tawni Thomson, Executive Director of the Bishop Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau. “There are honestly no boundaries between us when it comes to the visitor experience. Our guests identify all of us as the Eastern Sierra and the success of this campaign proves that working together can produce a great outcome.”

The agencies partnered to capitalize on the area’s lengthy fall colors season. The concept was particularly clever, as elevation changes cause the different partners to experience peak colors throughout autumn, which allows the area to market a lengthy season without bringing destinations into competition with one another.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized for our long-standing partnerships to promote the fall season to our visitors,” said MLT’s Executive Director John Urdi. “I am proud of our efforts and even prouder of the results for our Eastern Sierra communities. Winning the Visit California Poppy award for best cooperative marketing program is just the cherry on top.”

Judges declared that the campaign provided impressive occupancy increases across the cooperation and was a great concept that joined competitors in an effective campaign for a low investment. The judges also appreciated the use of multiple marketing tactics that they felt have potential for further applications.

The award was given as a tie with another joint cooperative campaign between San Francisco Travel Association and San Diego Tourism Authority.

Additionally, Yosemite National Park along with Yosemite Gateway Counties — Mono, Tuolumne, Mariposa, and Madera were selected as the winner in the surprise inaugural category, Excellence in Destination Stewardship for their collaborative digital influencer campaign. The funding for the campaign was received as a grant from Yosemite National Park for the purpose of encouraging travelers to arrive on off-peak days or seasons, take public transportation into the valley, and to arrive early if taking your own vehicle.

“Both of these Poppy Awards really affirm the top priorities for all the agencies involved — one, regional collaboration and two, sustainable tourism through stewardship and best practices,” said Alicia Vennos, Economic Development Director for Mono County. “We also share these honors with our local business community and all those who joined the effort and used their own channels to help promote the Eastern Sierra Fall Color Campaign and the best ways to visit Yosemite Valley. I congratulate everyone involved for a fantastic team effort.”

And the final icing on the Eastern Sierra cake was Bishop winning the award for Best Overall Brand Identity (with a budget under $1 million), beating out Visit Carmel and Visit Santa Maria County.

“Our team was so proud to bring home the Poppy for Best Overall Brand Identity,” Thomson said. We’ve really got a great group of local professionals that are passionate about telling Bishop’s story to our guests. We love our Small Town with a Big Backyard slogan as it resonates with locals as well as our guests.”

Poppy winners are selected by a panel of industry marketing experts in nine categories ranging from best public relations campaign, to best digital campaign to best cooperative marketing campaign.

Struggling Broncos Drop Second Straight Game Against Desert

The Bishop Broncos suffered their second straight loss last night against the Desert Scorpions losing 62-45. Unfortunately for Bishop, the loss all but eliminates them from having a chance to win the High Desert League.

Bishop got out to an early lead, hitting their first few shots. However, the advantage did not last for long. Desert took control of the game in the second quarter and never looked back.

The reason Bishop’s opponent was able to get out to a big lead in the first half was because of Desert’s shooting. Senior, Javier Elliot hit back to back three pointers in the second quarter, and continued his effective shooting throughout the quarter hitting a total of four three-pointers in the first half.

When Elliot wasn’t hitting shots beyond the arc, he was driving inside the paint whenever he pleased. There were many times throughout the game where Elliot had the ball on the left wing and would slash into the paint to create an easy layup for himself.

Another player who was hitting shots throughout the game was Marquis Morris. The Desert guard was the recipient of quite a few wide-open looks from three thanks to Elliott’s penetration which collapsed the defense.

The Broncos did a good job on Desert’s best player in the first half. Emil Rogers, who is averaging a double-double, was a non-factor inside thanks to Luke McClean and Tristan Valle’s interior defense. The Scorpions would often throw the ball inside to Rogers to try an get easy looks. However, every time he got the ball inside, McClean and Valle were there to stave off the big fella’s efforts.

Bishop’s stout interior defense fell apart in the second half. Emil Rogers was able to score three straight buckets to start off the third quarter. The senior continued to dominate inside in the second half.

Although Bishop did not have the best game, there were still some positives. Luke McClean, who had a bad night from beyond the arc was able to make up for it on the defensive side of the ball. There was a span where McClean had three straight steals on three possessions. A few plays later, McClean had two blocks in one sequence.

Jaydan Braithwaite had a good game defensively as well. The senior was a pesky presence with his excellent perimeter defense. He won player of the game honors thanks to his hustle.

Clay Omohundro performed well in the game. The young Junior came off of a rough game against Rosamond on Tuesday in which he had difficulty connecting on his shots. This time, Omohundro hit jumpers and did a nice job creating baskets for himself off of the dribble.

Bishop will face California City on Tuesday for their next game in the High Desert League.

City of Bishop Appoints New City Administrator

After conducting a comprehensive recruitment facilitated by an executive search firm, the Bishop City Council voted unanimously to appoint Ron Phillips as its next City Administrator at the City Council meeting on January 13, 2020.

The recruitment process yielded 14 applicants, which were put through a rigorous screening. The field was eventually reduced to 4 highly qualified candidates for final interviews. Candidates interviewed before two panels comprised of staff and the City Council.

Mr. Phillips holds a Master’s degree in Regional and City Planning and has a diverse career as a City Manager, Planning Director, Engineering General Manager, Transportation Planner and Past President of the Colorado Municipal League. Ron attended the Program for Senior Executives in State & Local Government as a Gates Foundation Fellow in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Ron has served as Town Manager in Vail, Colorado, Transportation Services Director for Fort Collins, Colorado, principal in his own consulting firm, and most recently as General Manager for six water utility special districts in Wasatch County, Utah.

The Bishop City Council welcomes Mr. Phillips to the City! He is expected to start on February 1st, and we are excited to have him join the City team.