Local News

Mammoth Food Bank Ends After Serving over 37,000 Meals

Press Release from Mammoth Lakes Tourism

Mammoth Lakes, Calif. (July 13, 2020) —On June 26, 2020, after 14 weeks of operation, Mammoth Lakes Tourism wrapped up its community food bank amid the reopening of many business segments in town.In total the food bank served 10,312 households containing 37,054 persons with 25,000 bags of food during its time of operation.

Additionally, 196 volunteers gave their time at the food bank, donating nearly 3,500 hours to keep things running smoothly.

“It was so gratifying to see how the community pulled together to help each other,” said MLT Board Treasurer Rhonda Duggan. “With so much uncertainty about how COVID-19 would impact our residents and visitors, relieving the stress of how to feed our families seemed like the right thing to do. It started as a two-week commitment and grew into 14 weeks, through rain, snow, wind, and finally sunshine. Through all that time, the donations from locals, businesses, second homeowners, friends, and strangers kept coming.”

The food bank initiative began when the Mammoth Lakes Tourism Board of Directors decided it wanted to do something to support the local tourism industry as things were shutting down in town due to coronavirus. The organization wanted to make sure it helped keep tourism workers taken care of so they could remain in town. The food bank opened on March 23.

“When our MLT board looked at how we could best serve our business community, the food bank was almost instantly the best option,” said MLT Executive Director John Urdi. “In order for our workforce to survive, food would be a critical resource that would be difficult for many to afford. Within days we were able to formulate a plan, US Foods stepped up to provide food at cost, Paul and Kathleen Rudder offered what turned out to be the perfect location in the Promenade at Main Street, the volunteers immediately signed up to help, and cash donations from around the state poured in to assist our efforts to help sustain our workforce. To say the effort was well received by our community is an understatement.”

A huge thanks goes out to everyone involved in the food bank whether through donation, volunteer time, support, and everything else.

Northern Inyo Hospital is Running Low on COVID-19 Tests

Interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Will Timbers and Chief of Staff, Dr. Stacey Brown held a press conference Friday afternoon to discuss the current situation relating to the COVID-19 pandemic at Northern Inyo Healthcare District.

Nothing major has happened this week according to Dr. Brown, which is something he is relieved about. “I am super happy that we don’t have anything earth shattering to report on today, which shows that we are doing what we can to put a lid on this thing,” Brown remarked.

The discussion shifted toward antibody testing, which is being offered to essential workers throughout the community. “I think we are getting some traction finally on the testing front. I believe we will expand our net of antibody testing before these tests expire on the twenty-fifth of this month. Personally, I have signed off on eight to ten tests for my patients in the past few days. We will hear from our Director of Diagnostics, Larry Weber on how many tests have been administered by next Wednesday,” Brown said

Though antibody testing is available for many in the community, the same can not be said for the hospital’s supply of nasal swabs that detect active COVID-19 infection.

Northern Inyo Hospital has a short supply of PCR nasal swabs due to the rise in cases throughout the United States.

Dr. Timbers remarked that the supply chains are starting to waver, which has made it more difficult for the hospital to acquire testing kits. The Chief Medical Officer said, “We are down to twelve tests, so we will likely run out of them in the next few days. We will be receiving more of them in the next 5-7 days. The reason for a lack of tests goes back to the conversation at beginning of pandemic. We need to have systems in place, so when we do have a crisis situation we can respond accordingly.”

Bureau of Land Management to Discuss Management Plan for the Alabama Hills

BISHOP, California. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Bishop Field Office is seeking public input for the future management of the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine in Inyo County. Today’s release of an environmental assessment lays out three proposed alternatives and begins a 30-day public review period that ends on August 7, 2020.

 

Set between the jagged peaks of the Sierra Nevada and the Owens Valley, the Alabama Hills are a unique formation of rounded rocks and eroded hills that encompass more than 29,000 acres of public land that is well known for its mix of scenic, cultural, geological, educational, biological, historical, recreational, cinematographic, and scientific values. In March 2019, President Trump signed Public Law 116-9 (P.L. 116-9), also known as the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which designated 18,745 acres within the Alabama Hills as a National Scenic Area. The BLM is currently preparing a management plan for the Scenic Area and adjacent public lands in the Alabama Hills Special Recreation Management Area.

 

Implementing P.L. 116-9 is a top priority for the Department of the Interior as we work to strike a proper balance for land and resource management, increase access for hunting, fishing, and recreation, and create economic prosperity, while protecting and preserving America’s treasures.

 

“We welcome continued public engagement in our effort to develop a comprehensive plan for management of the area,” says Bishop Field Manager Steve Nelson. “We also look forward to completing the plan and working with the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group, the local tribe, and the Lone Pine community to implement management strategies that will ensure the long-term protection, conservation, public access, and responsible use of this magnificent landscape.”

 

To facilitate public review and encourage public participation in the Alabama Hills planning effort, the BLM will host two virtual meetings in late July. Public meeting materials will be available on the project website: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/1502669/570. Virtual meetings will be conducted on the following dates and times:

  • Wednesday, July 22, from 2:00-4:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 23, from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

 

To register for one of the virtual meetings, go to the project website. Once registered, you will receive an email with instructions on how to join the meeting. These instructions will also include an option to call into the meeting using a traditional phone line.

 

Written comments on the proposed alternatives in the environmental assessment can be submitted via email to: blm_ca_alabama_hills_planning@blm.gov; by fax: 760-872-5055; or by mail to: BLM Bishop Field Office, Attn: Alabama Hills Management Plan, 351 Pacu Lane, Suite 100, Bishop, CA  93514.

 

Before including addresses, phone numbers, email addresses or other personal identifying information in a comment, commenters should be aware that the entire comment, including personal identifying information, could be made publicly available at any time. While the public may ask the BLM to withhold personal identifying information from public review, the BLM cannot guarantee that it will be able to do so.

 

For specific questions, please call Project Manager Monica Buhler at 760-872-5000.

Southern Inyo Hospital Reaches Payment Plan With Creditors

The Board of Directors of the Southern Inyo Healthcare District is pleased to announce the United States Bankruptcy Court – Eastern District of California -Sacramento Division approved the District’s plan for paying its creditors and bringing resolution to the bankruptcy case on July 6, 2020. The Board of Directors and the entire hospital and clinic staff want to thank all of the community partners and friends of Southern Inyo Hospital who faithfully, tirelessly gave their time, energy and resources to the hospital during this nearly 5 year journey. Without their support and that of our 5th district county supervisor Matt Kingsley this outcome would not have been possible.

A copy of the Disclosure State and Plan may be accessed on the District’s website: www.sihd.org.

Please contact hospital administration at 760-876-5501 ext.2210 or email Peter Spiers, CEO at pspiers@sihd.org if you have any questions or comments.

Inyo National Closes Group Camps Under Forest Order

The Inyo National Forest is extending the closure of all group campgrounds and two remote campgrounds under a forest order closure The closure can be terminated or extended depending in conditions.

Please see Exhibit A (in the link above) for a full list of campgrounds included in this order.

The decision is based upon recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and state and local health authorities.

Developed recreation group campsites on the Inyo National Forest typically draw large groups of people, creating mass gatherings and concentrated groups of forest visitors. This results in significant management oversight. especially during the high use conditions now being experienced.

Additionally, due to lack of personnel it is necessary to close two developed campgrounds, Grandview Campground and Kennedy Meadows Campground, located in remote areas of the Inyo National Forest. These facilities are located in areas that timely and routine cleaning cannot occur.

This closure is an interim measure. The Inyo National Forest will follow guidelines from the CDC, as well as state and local health departments, to ensure that the safety of our employees and our visitors is a priority.

Visitors are also urged to take the precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with local health and safety guidance. For tips from the CDC on preventing illnesses like the coronavirus, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.

Crash in Lone Pine Leads to Multiple Injuries

On July 6, 2020, at approximately 4:00 p.m. officers of the Bishop Area CHP responded to a two-vehicle collision at the intersection of US-395 and Inyo St. in Lone Pine. Jerrold Stolaroff of Santa Cruz, CA was driving a gold Toyota pickup and was entering the intersection of Inyo St. and US-395 from the Museum of Western Film History when it was struck broadside by a white Chevrolet pickup, which was being driven by Vicente Hernandez of Lone Pine, CA. The collision caused the Toyota to overturn. A preliminary investigation on scene indicates that the Chevrolet was traveling southbound at a high rate of speed through Lone Pine just prior to the collision. Injuries were reported by both drivers, as well as three passengers, and a dog from the Toyota pickup. This collision is still under investigation by the Bishop Area CHP. As always, Bishop CHP would like to thank Inyo County Sheriff’s Department, Lone Pine Volunteer Fire Department, Independence Volunteer Fire Department and the citizen’s that assisted the victims immediately following the collision.

South Lake Road Construction Update: No Overnight Parking Allowed

Joint Press Release from US Forrest Service and Inyo County

Stating on July 6, and anticipating effective through July 25, the South Lake Road Reconstruction Project will implement no overnight parking in the South Lake area. This will include the Bishop Pass Trailhead Parking, boat trailer parking, and some of the day use parking near South Lake. Additionally, there is  no parking permitted along roadside shoulders during the construction project.

This closure will allow the contractor to pulverize and pave these parking lots. The construction schedule remains Monday – Friday, 6:00 am to 8:00 pm. Expect up to 30-minute delays. Flaggers and a pilot car will manage traffic, allowing alternating two-way traffic.

Hikers entering or exiting the Bishop Pass Trail at South Lake should plan their trips in accordance with the construction schedule. Hikers need to plan for travel delays, re-routed trailhead access, understand that that long-term parking is not available, plan to be picked up or dropped off at the trailhead, consider shuttles to/from trailheads, and utilize alternative trails for resupply, if possible.

Eastern Sierra Transit Authority (ESTA)’s Bishop Creek Shuttle is running twice daily Please see the attached for a list of operators who may provide shuttles on the forest. Hiker Shuttles: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd586535.pdf.

The contractor is required to provide 40 day-use parking spaces in the area. However, since this is a popular recreation destination for boating, fishing, and hiking, these spaces will fill up quickly. Visitors should plan that parking, which is difficult in a normal year, will be substantially reduced during this project and will likely not be available.

Additionally, overnight parking will be allowed in the dirt lot just north of the Tyee Lakes Trailhead, including bear boxes for food storage (see attached map). It is approximately a three-mile walk to the Bishop Pass Trailhead via the trail behind Willow Campground that continues near Parchers Resort and connects to the trailhead on the east side of South Lake Road.

Motorhomes and trailers are not recommended past Four Jeffreys Campground unless you have a reservation with Creekside Resort, Bishop Creek Lodge, or Parchers Resort during this period since there is no safe turn-around past this point. Local businesses and services along South Lake Road remain open and accessible.

There is no way to complete a project of this nature without it having a significant impact on visitors to the area. Accessing the area may be, at times, difficult and frustrating.  If you have any flexibility in your plans, please consider a visit to South Lake/Bishop Pass destinations in another year.

As a reminder, the project’s scope stated that Bishop Pass Trailhead Parking and Tyee Lakes Trailhead Parking and certain campgrounds will be closed at times this summer, although access to the trailheads will be maintained

Klondike Lake Open for Public Boating

From July 3 to September 7 (Labor Day), Klondike Lake will be open for limited public boating use on weekend days only: Friday, Saturday, Sunday from 9 a.m. to sunset. At this time spots are limited and on a first come, first served basis.

Precautions are being taken to guard against invasive mussels, so all motorized watercraft must be inspected before being launched into Klondike Lake. Due to COVID-19, face coverings and social distancing are required. We will take additional measures during boat inspections to protect boat owners and LADWP employees. Boat access to Klondike  is free this summer period  and subject to change for future seasons.

Access for motorized watercraft being transported by car, truck and/or trailer will be allowed for a one-hour period between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. at the gate entrance in order to accommodate inspections. After watercraft have been inspected and granted access, visitors can enjoy the lake for as long as they want that day, while practicing safe social distancing. Please note, recreational users with smaller, non-motorized watercraft that are not transported with a trailer can access the lake at any time.

 

Death Valley National Park Provides Reopening Overview

Death Valley, CA – Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Death Valley National Park is increasing recreational access according to the park’s phased reopening plan. The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

Beginning Friday, June 26th, Death Valley National Park will reopen roads, trailheads, restrooms, and overlooks, including the Badwater Road, Dante’s View, Artists Drive, Golden Canyon, and Ubehebe Crater. Backcountry roads will also reopen, including roads to Saline Valley, the Racetrack, and Titus Canyon. Devils Hole, a detached unit of the park located in Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, will also reopen. For a full list of areas that will be reopened to recreational access, please visit (www.nps.gov/deva).

Beginning Friday, June 26th, Death Valley National Park will also reopen access to the following camping options:

  • Furnace Creek Campground (Group and tent sites will remain closed)
  • Thorndike, Mahogany Flats, Wildrose, Emigrant, Homestake Dry Camp, Eureka, and Saline Valley Campgrounds
  • Areas where dispersed backcountry camping is allowed per regulations

The park will resume collecting entrance and camping fees. Visitors can pay entrance fees using automated fee machines throughout the park and soon through the digital pass program on Recreation.gov. Visitors with a valid National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass or Death Valley National Park Annual Pass do not need to pay an additional entrance fee. Camping

Fees for the Furnace Creek Campground may be paid at an automated fee machine within the campground.

With public health in mind, the following facilities remain closed at this time:

  • Furnace Creek Visitor Center
  • Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station
  • All warm springs

Scotty’s Castle Road remains closed into Grapevine Canyon due to flood damage in October 2015. There is no access to Scotty’s Castle or Nevada State Route 267.

“While enjoying Death Valley National Park, remember to recreate responsibly by maintaining social distance and avoiding high risk activities,” said Superintendent Mike Reynolds. “It’s summer in Death Valley, so avoid hiking at lower elevations after 10:00 am and carry plenty of water. Using extra caution during your visit reduces the strain on local medical resources.”

While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. When recreating, the public should follow Inyo County health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.

 

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19, and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.

 

Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on social media channels and

 

 

Northern Inyo Hospital Offering COVID-19 Antibody Testing to Essential Workers

Northern Inyo Healthcare District now offers COVID-19 antibody tests for our community’s essential workers. This is part of an ongoing effort with state and county officials to increase local testing services.

Essential workers, as defined by the state, are eligible for first come, first serve testing starting July 1. A lab order from a primary care provider is required. For more information, or to schedule a testing appointment, please call (760) 873-2155.

Dr. William Timbers, NIHD’s Interim Chief Medical Officer, explains that the body’s immune system produces IgG antibodies late in an infection. These antibodies stay within the body for an extended time.

Timbers said while it is unclear if these antibodies offer any protection against future COVID infections, their presence does show that an individual previously carried the virus.

“While NIHD’s goal is to eventually have enough antibody and antigen testing for all community members, the District unfortunately remains limited by over-burdened supply chains and difficulty in obtaining tests,” Dr. Timbers said. NIHD will keep the community updated as additional testing becomes available.

As the nation watches COVID cases increase across many states, Dr. Timbers wants to thank the community for remaining vigilant with continued precautions such as social distancing and wearing masks. “Our successes thus far in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our community is in large part due to your diligence,” he said.

For a complete list of California’s essential workers, please visit the state’s COVID-19 website at https://covid19.ca.gov/essential-workforce.