KIBS/KBOV Announcements

Death Valley NP Press Release: Major $62 Million Utilities Project Expected to Begin in 2025

Major $62 million utilities project expected to begin in 2025
Environmental compliance completed for massive infrastructure investment in Death Valley National Park
DEATH VALLEY, Calif. – Safe and reliable water is essential in Death Valley National Park, often one of the hottest places on Earth. The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) Legacy Restoration Fund is providing approximately $62 million to complete critical upgrades to the park’s water and wastewater infrastructure. The project is crucial to address deferred maintenance and repair needs, while also remediating environmental hazards, enhancing conservation, and creating healthier ecosystems.
“The Great American Outdoors Act is a game-changer for Death Valley,” said Superintendent Mike Reynolds. “This project to rehabilitate two old and failing utility systems will take care of critical infrastructure needs and ensure a sustainable water supply while protecting the fragile desert ecosystem.”
The modernization of the Furnace Creek and Cow Creek water and wastewater systems is expected to begin next year. Subject to the final contract award, the project will:
  • Replace over 12 miles of aging water and sewer pipes
  • Construct a new well to eliminate use of the environmentally sensitive Nevares Spring
  • Replace well pumps in the Furnace Creek system
  • Replace one lift station and eliminate two others to improve efficiency and reduce maintenance
  • Build a new water treatment building at Cow Creek and upgrade the existing facility at Furnace Creek
  • Upgrade the Furnace Creek sewage treatment lagoon system
The project will also create looped water systems, ensuring uninterrupted water service even if there is a section break in the water main pipe. This is a key improvement for a water system that required repairs 32 times in 2023 and 67 times in 2022.
The upgrades to the wastewater system will reduce the risk of untreated sewage leaking into the park, thereby safeguarding the delicate desert environment. NPS staff repaired Death Valley’s wastewater systems 12 times in 2023 and 15 times in 2022.
“This is about more than fixing pipes,” said Reynolds. “It is about preserving the natural wonder of Death Valley and enhancing the visitor experience for generations to come.”
The National Park Service has completed the required environmental assessments for the project. The Finding of No Significant Impact can be viewed at
GAOA is part of a concerted effort to address the extensive deferred maintenance and repair backlog in national parks. Supported by revenue from energy development, GAOA’s Legacy Restoration Fund provides up to $1.3 billion per year for five years to make significant enhancements in national parks to ensure their preservation and provide opportunities for recreation, education, and enjoyment for current and future visitors.
This sign is placed at Furnace Creek Visitor Center when the water system is broken. NPS photo
Repair work on water lines (behind Cow Creek)
A NPS employee uses a rented bulldozer to add material to prevent release of partially-treated wastewater from the Furnace Creek sewage lagoons in April 2024. NPS photo

Inyo National Forest, BLM Seek Input on Proposed Removal of Wild Horses Outside Montgomery Pass Wild Horse Territory

BISHOP, Calif. – Inyo National Forest, in coordination with the Bureau of Land Management, is seeking public comment on a preliminary Environmental Assessment to consider removal of wild horses outside of the Montgomery Pass Wild Horse Territory in Mono County. The comment period is now and is expected to close June 26, 2024.

“The BLM is committed to working with the Inyo National Forest, stakeholders, and interested members of the public on reducing impacts to resources and addressing public safety concerns
associated with wild horses outside of Montgomery Pass wild horse territory,” said BLM Bishop Field Manager Sherri Lisius.

The proposed action would remove wild horses in areas that include, but are not limited to, the Mono Basin (i.e. horses located in wetlands along Mono Lake), CA State Route 120E, and US Highway 6. These priority areas are experiencing direct impacts to critical wetlands that are vital habitat for wildlife, as well as resource damage to the unique geological tufa formations. The proposal includes measures to remove horses from private lands when requested and where there are animal safety

The Inyo National Forest’s priority is to work with the BLM on the proposed action to conduct a safe, efficient, and successful horse gather operation while ensuring humane care and treatment of all
animals gathered,” said Inyo National Forest Mono Lake District Ranger Stephanie Heller.

The Montgomery Pass Wild Horse Territory is managed for a wild horse population between 138 to 230 animals under the 2019 Inyo National Forest Land Management Plan. A 2024 aerial survey of the surrounding areas estimated 699 horses, with most of the horses located outside the territory in areas not designated for their use.

Wild horses that stray from their established areas may be removed to reduce conflicts with other resources under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Animals removed are transported to USDA Forest Service off range corrals, where they are checked by a veterinarian and prepared for adoption and sale programs or long-term pastures or sanctuaries.

Comments may be submitted through the BLM National NEPA Register (preferred) by selecting the “Participate Now” button in left-hand margin. Comments may also be mailed to 351 Pacu Lane, Bishop, CA 93514, or emailed to: Please address comments to the “Outside of Montgomery Pass PEA”

For more information or access issues contact:

18 graduate Cerro Coso Before High School from the Eastern Sierra Region

Friday, May 3 the Eastern Sierra College Center of Cerro Coso Community College celebrated 18 high school graduates who also graduated from the Early College Program. One was a home school student from Coleville and 17 were from Mammoth High School.


“Graduation at ESCC is proof year after year that Early College works!  Our graduates are ready to transfer and jump into the major of their choice to literally get a bachelor’s degree at half the price. Congratulations!” said Kim Blackwell, ESCC Director.


A total of 64 high school students graduated from the Early College Program at CCCC this spring.  These students earned either an Associate Degree or a Career Technical Education Certificate of Achievement while simultaneously graduating from high school this academic year.  The students came from Acellus Academy, Burroughs, California City, Heartland, Immanuel Christian School, Mammoth, Tehachapi, and Virtual Academy having taken dual or concurrent classes with Cerro Coso.  They are now starting on their journeys to universities across the country to continue their higher education.


“We are immensely proud of their achievements and wish them the best in their future endeavors,” said Kristin Hanle, Program Director for Early College.


The Early College Program creates a pipeline for service area high school students to take real college classes, learning the expectations and routine necessary to be an independent successful college student while earning both high school and college credits. Those graduating with an Associate Degree can enter the university system as juniors cutting the cost of a college education.

“Cerro Coso Community College is very proud of the success of these students and the partnerships we have built with our high schools to ensure higher education is available and affordable to all,” said College President Dr. Sean Hancock.

Extreme Heat in the Forecast for Inyo County

The National Weather Service-Las Vegas has issued an Excessive Heat Warning for Inyo County, effective from 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 7. The forecast predicts dangerously high temperatures for this time of year, with highs of 100-105 degrees from Bishop to Olancha and highs of 111-
120 degrees in Death Valley. Most of Inyo County normally doesn’t receive 100-plus degree weather until July, so it is important that
residents and visitors are not caught off-guard and are prepared for the intense heat.

“By taking certain precautions and staying informed, we can work together to ensure the safety and well- being of our community during this extreme heat event,” said Inyo County Emergency Manager Mikaela Torres.

Stay Safe
Heat-related illnesses increase significantly during extreme heat events. Vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly are particularly at risk for serious health impacts.

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions to stay safe during the excessive heat:

• Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty. (The Centers for Disease Control recommends drinking 8 ounces of water every 15–20 minutes, which is about 3⁄4 to 1
quart [24-32 ounces] per hour.) Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

• Stay Indoors: Remain in air-conditioned spaces as much as possible. If you do not have air conditioning at home, consider visiting public places like museums and libraries. Anyone unable
to avoid going outside should wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing.

• Keep Your Vehicle Maintained: Be sure your vehicle is in good working condition before traveling through areas of excessive heat. Extreme heat can damage a car’s battery, cooling
system, tires, and fluid levels, which can lead to breakdowns. Under-inflated tires can overheat and increase the likelihood of a blowout. Be sure to stock your car with plenty of drinking water.

• Avoid Strenuous Activities: Limit outdoor activities, especially during the hottest parts of the day. Try to further limit outdoor activity to early morning or evening. If you must be outside, take
frequent breaks in the shade or a cool place.

• Check on Vulnerable Individuals: Keep an eye on family members, neighbors, and friends who are elderly, young, or have health conditions that make them more susceptible to heat-related

• Keep an Eye on Children and Pets: Never leave young children and pets in unattended vehicles, not even for a minute and not even with the car running and air conditioner on. In extreme heat, vehicle interiors will reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes.

• Protect Your Pets: Make sure pets have protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because
they don’t obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat – in fact, it makes it worse. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible. Always carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating.

• Know the Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses: Be aware of symptoms such as heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, and confusion. In pets, symptoms include heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness. Anyone experiencing these symptoms must move or be moved to a cooler
place, hydrate, and seek medical attention if necessary. Pets suffering from heat stroke should be moved to a cooler place where ice packs or cold towels are applied to their head, neck, or
chest. Let them drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take them directly to a veterinarian.

For comprehensive information on how to prepare for extreme heat, visit This resource provides valuable tips and guidelines for staying safe during extreme heat events.
Stay Informed Inyo County Office of Emergency Management will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as
necessary. Stay informed by following local news and weather reports, and signing up for emergency alerts

Park Rangers, Law Enforcement Rescue Woman from Steep Ridge

DEATH VALLEY, Calif. – Park rangers and law enforcement officers successfully rescued a woman May 10 after she left her tour group and spent a night out on a steep, loose ridge near Artists Drive in Death Valley National Park.
The 31-year-old Canadian woman was part of a day-long van tour from Las Vegas on May 9. The tour stopped at Artists Palette, and the group was given 20 minutes to return to the van.
When the woman did not return to the van, the tour guide searched for her, then drove to Furnace Creek to report her missing.
The woman had tipped her tour guide at the start of the tour, which led rangers to believe she had planned to leave the tour before its conclusion. She had told other people on the tour group that she was coming to Death Valley for “spiritual reasons.”
Park rangers conducted a quick unsuccessful search of the Artists Palette area on the afternoon of May 9.
The search continued the following morning, when a park ranger spotted the woman on a steep, unstable ridge north of Artists Palette. Park rangers were able to communicate with her but could not find a safe route to reach her. A California Highway Patrol (CHP) helicopter hoisted the woman from the ridge. Staff from the National Park Service, Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, and CHP partnered on the search and rescue mission.
The woman later told park rangers she had intended to climb up the slope, wander into the desert and not return. She appeared to experiencing an emotional crisis.
California Highway Patrol’s H-82 helicopter landing at Artists Palette. NPS photo
A NPS park ranger watches as CHP’s helicopter extracts the woman with a hoist. NPS photo
If you or someone you know is in emotional crisis, dial 988 for free and confidential support from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The toll-free lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone, and all calls are confidential.

Appeals Court Strikes Down Forest Service Approval of Gold Drilling in California’s Eastern Sierra Nevada

Project Threatened Imperiled Wildlife, Endangered Fish

SAN FRANCISCO— A federal appeals court issued its opinion reversing the decision of a lower court that would have allowed exploratory drilling east of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The Court found the Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when it relied on two categorical exclusions for a single project to avoid the required environmental reviews. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s decision and overturned the U.S. Forest Service’s 2021 approval that allowed gold-mining exploration in sensitive habitat in Inyo National Forest’s Long Valley area.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had issued an earlier ruling in September 2023, just one day after oral arguments, because the company had planned to begin drilling at that time.

In their 2021 lawsuit, conservation groups said the Forest Service’s use of two categorical exclusions, rather than more detailed environmental review, effectively ignored the mining
project’s effects on Bi-state sage grouse in the area, as well as the potential harm to nearby Hot Creek where endangered Owens tui chub live.

The Forest Service had attempted to shoehorn the mining exploration into a “short-term” categorical exclusion lasting less than a year, even though the remediation of the drilling sites
would take much longer than a year in this snowy, remote area; and then attempted to use a second categorical exclusion for restoration projects to cover the required mining reclamation and remediation.

“We are so thrilled that the appellate court overturned the illegal agency actions,” said Wendy Schneider, executive director of Friends of the Inyo. “The impacts to the ecosystem, including
sensitive species, and to the local community deserve an in-depth, detailed evaluation. Friends of the Inyo will keep working to protect this special area from destructive mining impacts.” “This is a win for the Sierra Nevada’s imperiled wildlife, and the appeals court is absolutely right that the Forest Service shouldn’t be able to pile on exclusions to avoid the legally required environmental review,” said Lisa Belenky, a senior counsel at the Center for Biological
Diversity. “Drilling here could harm the Owens tui chub, an endangered fish, and populations of bi-state sage grouse that rely on this area. The Forest Service should never have approved this
project without thoroughly investigating the impacts.”

“This is a precedent-setting decision that will have ramifications across the West and the country, as the Court correctly nipped in the bud the agency’s proposal to avoid the required ‘hard look’
of significant impacts to wildlife and the environment,” stated Roger Flynn, Director and Managing Attorney of the Western Mining Action Project.

The Court held that “The Forest Service asks us to adopt a view of categorical exclusions that will swallow the protections of NEPA. We decline to do such violence to NEPA’s procedural
safeguards.” Court decision at p. 25. As the Court explained: “when an agency applies CEs in a way that circumvents NEPA’s procedural requirements and renders the environmental impact of a proposed action unknown, the purpose of the exclusions is undermined. That is the case here.” Court decision at p. 24.

Bi-state sage grouse, whose numbers have drastically declined in the past decade, live next to 12 proposed drilling pads, project roads and access roads. The birds are a genetically distinct population of greater sage grouse, famous for their showy plumage and mating dances, during which the males make popping sounds with large, inflated air sacs. They live only in an area along the California-Nevada border and face multiple threats.

Gold exploration and drilling would harm sensitive habitat for the imperiled Bi-State distinct population segment of greater sage grouse and could result in abandonment of this area by the species,” said Laura Cunningham, California director at Western Watersheds Project. “The bi- state sage grouse populations have been in severe decline across the Eastern Sierra due to mining, development of intact landscapes, livestock grazing in meadows and sagebrush habitats, and raven predation. This ruling gives the imperiled birds a reprieve from industrial disturbance.”

“We’re gratified that the appeals court recognized the need to overturn the Forest Service’s hasty approval of this risky mining exploration,” said Lynn Boulton, chair of the Sierra Club’s Range
of Light Group, Toiyabe Chapter. “Exploratory drilling for gold causes unnecessary harm to the environment and vulnerable species. If KORE Mining insists on continuing their drilling plans,
there must be a comprehensive environmental assessment subject to full public review — as there should have been from the start.”.

The groups were represented by Roger Flynn of the Western Mining Action Project, Talasi Brooks of Western Watersheds Project, and Lisa Belenky of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Fatality Due to Medical Causes – Death Valley

A man died in Death Valley National Park on May 19 after suffering an apparent medical event while driving.
The approximately 70-year-old man and his wife were visiting from Holland. The man went unconscious while driving on Artist Drive. His wife stopped the vehicle safely and moved her husband to the back seat. There is no cell service in that area of the park. The wife drove to Furnace Creek, and called 911 once she had service.
Park rangers did CPR. An automatic external defibrillator (AED) was attached but did not advise shocking. The man was pronounced dead by rangers on scene under consultation with University Medical Center.

Historic Saline Valley Salt Tram Tower Pulled Down, Individual Responsible Comes Forward

DEATH VALLEY, Calif. – Following a press release and overwhelming response on social media, a visitor responsible for pulling down a 113-year-old historic salt tram tower on April 19, 2024 is taking full responsibility for their actions.

“We are grateful to the dozens of people who reached out to the park with information and for all the statements of support that we received from people who care about this place and its cultural resources,” said acting Superintendent Elizabeth Ibañez. “Although we would certainly prefer that this damage hadn’t happened, we are glad that the person who did this ultimately took responsibility for their actions and came forward.”

The individual responsible for pulling over the salt tram called the tip line provided in an earlier press release, stating that this was done during a time of desperation while being deeply stuck in mud, and that it wasn’t their intent to cause harm to the historic structure.

While traveling in remote wilderness areas where cell phone coverage is not available, carrying a satellite-based communication device is an important safety tool. As Death Valley’s famous summer temperatures continue to increase, park rangers encourage people to stay on paved roads during this time of year, as help is more readily available.

The park’s resource management team is working on doing a full assessment of the damage, and making plans for what responsible restoration of the salt tram would look like. While we work to make plans for how to best restore the damage, the park’s cultural resources team urges people to be patient, as repairs done by well-intentioned people who don’t have the proper tools and training can do additional damage.

The park is not disclosing further information about the individual who turned themselves in.

The Saline Valley Salt Company built the 13-mile aerial tram to transport salt from Saline Valley to Owens Valley in 1911. The tramway climbed over 7,000 vertical feet at steep vertical grades up to 40 degrees. The Saline Valley Salt Tram is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is considered nationally significant because of its age, length, steepness, preservation, and scenic setting.

Lady Broncos Softball Team Defeated in Playoffs

Bishop traveled to Corcoran Wednesday for first round play.  Bishop lost 3 to 7.  Bishop led the game 3 to 2 until the bottom of the 5th inning then Corcoran scored 5 runs in the bottom of the 5th.
Senior Baileigh Momberg threw all 6 innings.  Allowing 6 hits, 6 walks, 1 hit batter and 7 strike outs.
Offensively, Junior Sienna Fuller was 1 for 3, reached 1st on an error, had 1 RBI and 2 runs scored.
Baileigh Momberg was 1 for 3, with 1 RBI
Cambrie Lanphear was 1 for 2 with 1run scored.
Coaches Mark and Lisa Manuelito would like to acknowledge seniors, pitcher Baileigh Momberg,  and 3rd baseman Kris Sorensen they will be missed. They would also like to thank all the players for their commitment to the team this year.  Volunteers, Nikki, Jess and Katie Manuelito.  Our trainer Gage for keeping us on the ballfield.
We thank AD Stacy Van Nest for making a trip to Disneyland to make sure our seniors made it to our playoff game and all the parents and fans for the support this year.

SAR RECOVERY- North Fork of Lone Pine Creek

On the morning of Sunday, May 12th, the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office was notified that a hiker in the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek had been hit by a falling rock and was severely injured. Inyo County Search and Rescue (SAR) was activated to initiate a rescue.

Helicopter H-42 from the California Highway Patrol Central Division Air Operations Group inserted a SAR team member via hoist near the scene of the accident, and it was determined that the injured party had perished from their wounds. The body of the deceased party was hoisted by Helicopter H-42 and flown to Lone Pine where it was turned over to the Inyo County Coroner.

This was the third fatality in the Mt. Whitney region within a week. Early spring conditions prevail on the mountain, with treacherous steep snow, loose rock, and variable weather. Parties venturing onto Mt. Whitney should stay together, turn around before deteriorating conditions become unmanageable, make responsible decisions, and be prepared and fit.

The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office and Inyo County Search and Rescue are grateful for the assistance afforded by the California Highway Patrol Central Division Air Operations Group in this mission.

Historic Saline Valley Salt Tram Tower Pulled Down

DEATH VALLEY, Calif. – The National Park Service (NPS) is seeking information about recent damage to a historic salt tram tower in Saline Valley. It appears the 113-year-old tower was pulled over while a person used a winch to extract their vehicle out of deep mud. The damage happened sometime between April 1 and April 24.


“I have hiked along sections of this tramway, and am amazed by the tenacity it took to build,” said Superintendent Mike Reynolds. “I hope the person responsible for this damage will contact us so we can discuss restitution.”


The Saline Valley Salt Company built the 13-mile aerial tram to transport salt from Saline Valley to Owens Valley in 1911. The tramway climbed over 7,000 vertical feet at steep vertical grades up to 40 degrees.


The Saline Valley Salt Tram is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is considered nationally significant because of its age, length, steepness, preservation, and scenic setting.


Only the first four towers are within Death Valley National Park. Most of the tramway crosses lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.


Tram tower #1 is the tower closest to Saline Valley lakebed. Nearby tracks show that a vehicle drove a short distance off the legal roadway and got stuck in mud. Park rangers believe that someone used the nearby tower as an anchor to pull their vehicle out of the mud. The tower toppled over, pulling its concrete footings out of the ground.


The NPS already had a salt tram stabilization project planned before this damage happened, funded by the Inflation Reduction Act. The project manager has not determined if that funding can be used to re-anchor tower #1.


Park rangers ask that anyone with information on this incident contact the NPS-wide tip line at 888-653-0009 or

Saline Valley Salt Tram tower #1 on March 5, 2024. NPS photo
Saline Valley Salt Tram tower #1 on April 27, 2024. NPS photo

Update on Whitney Portal Road Repair Project

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday received the first of what is to become regular, every-other-meeting updates
on the Whitney Portal Road Repair Project from Public Works Director Mike Errante.

Errante reported that the Federal Highway Administration Central Federal Lands (CFL) Highway Division put the
project out to bid on May 2. Proposals are due May 16 with the contract tentatively expected to be awarded May 30
and construction starting around the second week of June.

Whitney Portal Road was among the hardest hit last year by multiple, record-breaking weather events, including
atmospheric rivers in January and March, flooding from unprecedented spring runoff levels, and Tropical Storm Hilary
in August 2023. The latter storm dumped more than a year’s worth of precipitation throughout the county over a 12-
hour period, causing upwards of $10 million in damage to Whitney Portal Road alone, with the worst of it occurring in
the canyon section.

The Board of Supervisors authorized the CFL to take over responsibility for the repair project on October 10, 2023,
including handling the bidding process, covering the costs, and doing the design work. The Board agreed that allowing
the CFL to manage the redesign and contract would provide additional resiliency in the design, environmental
streamlining, and cashflow coverage that would otherwise not be available.

A preconstruction meeting is scheduled for early June, and a Notice to Proceed with construction is expected to be
issued on or about June 10. Completion is still slated for October. Errante said he is hoping to meet with the contractor
during the CFL’s preconstruction meeting to encourage condensing the project schedule if possible.

In the meantime, the road – which provides access to Mt. Whitney, the Inyo National Forest, Alabama Hills National
Scenic Area, and multiple residential communities outside Lone Pine – remains closed between Tuttle Creek and
Movie roads with detours established from Moffat Ranch Road to Movie Road, Tuttle Creek Road to Horseshoe
Meadows Road, and Lubken Canyon Road to Horseshoe Meadows Road. The County continues to address concerns
from residents about traffic speeding or even blocking the roadways or taking high-profile vehicles on narrow, winding
routes. Inyo County Road Crews will be adding to existing signage this week, installing approximately 30 new signs
along all directions of the detour routes to help with traffic calming and control.

Chairperson Matt Kingsley has previously said he wants to impress upon the contractor the need for expediency by
inviting them to a public meeting where they can hear residents’ concerns and frustrations first-hand, and hopefully
understand and appreciate the sense of urgency.

Updates on the project, as well as detour maps and images of the road damage, can be found online on Inyo County’s
Whitney Portal Road story map, accessed on the home page of the County website (, through
the Ready Inyo site (, or directly here: