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On Friday, February 24th Los Angeles Department of Water and Power rescinded its permission to hold the event at Pleasant Valley Reservoir due to public safety concerns.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



Inyo County approves grants to local non-profit groups for 2017

Posted by Seth Conners

According to a press release from Inyo County Museum Services Administrater Jon Klusmire, the Inyo County Board of Supervisors recently approved 10 grants to various local, non-profit community groups and organizations, for a total of $20,984.
The grant process is part of the county’s Community Project Sponsorship Program, which awards grants to projects and programs that will help promote the area to visitors, create events that attract local residents and visitors, or enhance the cultural life of residents. For 2017 the Board of Supervisors approved about 20 CPSP grants, with a total allocation of $95,000.
The board approved a new structure and process for the CPSP grants in the fall of 2016. In past years, all grant applications went through a competitive review and ranking process. In addition, the grant cycle was based on the county’s fiscal year, which meant each year a number of events, projects and programs were unable to apply for the CPSP grants due to the timing of the events.
Under the new system, programs and events that had received funds in nine of the past years were allocated funds without having to go through the competitive process. Those events included traditional fishing derbies and other well-known events and projects. Under the new formula, $35,000 was allocated to four fishing derbies and other longstanding fishing promotions, and $39,016 was allocated to other well-established projects and events.
That left $29,984 for the “competitive” grants for 2017.
Nine local non-profit groups submitted grant applications for 12 separate events or programs. The total requested was $57,785. A grant review panel made up of three residents scored each grant application and also worked collaboratively to award the total of $29,984 in available grant funding. The Board of Supervisors approved the grant award recommendations at its Feb. 14 meeting.
The following is a list of the projects, events and programs approved for CPSP grant awards in 2017.
Third Annual Owens Lake Bird Festival (Friends of the Inyo): This well-received event continues to highlight the birding and wildlife viewing opportunities on the Owens Dry Lake, which has become a notable, statewide birding destination. Grant Award: $3,000.
Death Valley ‘49er Encampment (Death Valley ‘49ers ): The ‘49er Encampment is a Death Valley tradition which began in 1949. This is the first year the group has sought CPSP grant funding. The grant funds will be used for expenses related to the event’s musical entertainment. Grant Award: $2,000.
Celebration of the Larry Pecham Engine House (Carson & Colorado Railway): Grant funds will be used for a community celebration to mark the completion of the Larry Pecham Engine House that will house the restored, operational Carson and Colorado #18 locomotive, on the grounds of the Eastern California Museum in Independence. The party is planned for July 3. This is the first CPSP grant awarded to the Carson and Colorado group. Grant Award: $2,500.
Music in the Courtyard (Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce): This popular event brings live music from local bands and musicians to Lone Pine on summer evenings, which is enjoyed by visitors and residents alike. Grant Award: $3,000.
Second Annual Eastern Sierra Music Festival (Eastern Sierra Music Festival): This will be the second year for this ambitious musical event, after a successful debut. After covering costs, funds will be donated to the National Wounded Warrior Center planned for Mammoth Lakes. This is the first CPSP grant for this event. Grant Award: $2,000.
Eastern Sierra Vintage Film Festival (Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau): This is a new event that will feature an assortment of historic films and videos and home movies from various individuals, groups and businesses in Inyo County. Grant Award: $3,000.
Inyo County FAM Tours (Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau): This project helps educate front-line hospitality employees about the numerous attractions and events in Inyo County so they can provide useful, up-to-date information to visitors. Grant Award: $1,000.
Amargosa/Highway 127 Visitor Guide (Amargosa Conservancy): This brochure will highlight the various attractions in Southern Inyo, including the Shoshone Museum, China Ranch, Tecopa Hot Springs and numerous natural attractions. This is the first CPSP grant for the Amargosa Conservancy. Grant Award: $1,000.
Movie Tours Development Program (Museum of Western Film History): This ongoing program will refine and standardize tours of movie sites in Lone Pine and Inyo County. The tours are also enhanced by supporting elements, such as video, photos, etc. Grant Award: $1,000.
Lone Pine Film Festival Buses (Museum of Western Film History): Grant funds will be used to help defray the cost of buses for one of the festival’s most popular components, the nearly 20 unique, two-hour long movie location tours led by enthusiastic volunteers. Grant Award: $2,484.