Tag Archives: eastern sierra news

Bishop Paiute Tribe Faces Water Shortage

July 28th, 2020 – Inyo County – The Bishop Paiute Tribe is experiencing low water pressure reservation wide due to the high demand of water usage and minimal storage and pumping capacity.

The Bishop Paiute Reservation has six drinking water wells with two wells each located at PaMe Lane, Tibec Lane, and Siebu Lane. Currently three out of six wells are inoperable. With the temperatures rising, and more community members staying home due to the COVID-19 pandemic the water usage has gone up significantly.

The Public Works Department is working hard to secure funding and contracts to make the needed repairs and replacements for inoperable pumps and motors of the three wells. It is of highest priority to ensure our community has continuous safe drinking water.

The following restrictions apply to all residential, commercial, non-profit and Tribal entities. No use of the domestic water for any water users is allowed on Mondays. Even numbered addresses may water only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 5:00am-10:00am and 5:00pm-10:00pm . Odd numbered addresses only water on Wednesday Friday and Sunday from 5:00am-10:00am and 5:00pm-10:00pm.These restrictions will be strictly enforced until further notice. The only exception to consider under these regulations is you may water any gardens and fruit trees as needed as long as it is not excessive. We encourage those that have access to irrigation or creeks to utilize those resources. If you have any questions or would like to report any violators, please do not hesitate to contact the Public Works office at 760-873-6638. We thank you for your cooperation in joining the team of conservation.

Updates will be available to the public as they occur on KBPT-LP 96.1fm at the top of the hour for breaking information and at 8am, 11am, 6pm and 11pm for cumulative information.

The Eastern Sierra Has Never Been Busier, Nor More Trashed

Campgrounds, public lands, and public facilities have never been busier than they are right now in the Eastern Sierra. The large increase in visitation to towns and areas in the Inyo National Forest is likely because visitors from Southern California and other areas of the state and country have been encouraged to stay at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and are looking for a getaway in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Unfortunately with a high amount of visitation, comes a higher chance of seeing vandalism, littering, trash dumping, dispersed camping, and illegal campfires.

Inyo National Forest Public Affairs Specialist, Deb Schweizer, says she cannot remember a time that she has seen campgrounds and hiking trails busier. “I have never seen our public lands busier,” Schweizer said. “I have never seen as much violation of rules as we are seeing right now such as illegal campfires, dispersed fires, trash dumping, and vandalism.”

One such example of the disregard some individuals are showing is near June Lake. Trees and rocks have been vandalized with graffiti on hiking trails, trashcans have been left overflowing with waste, and playgrounds have been riddled with trash.

According to Mono County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer, Sarah Roberts, the department’s June Lake Substation was vandalized, and the door was kicked in. The Mono County Sheriff’s Office says they are investigating the incident.

At this point in time, they are not completely sure if the vandalism occurred this past weekend or beforehand. Luckily the substation is not currently used by the department, so nothing of value was taken.

Another recent example of some of the disregard travelers are showing on public lands is at the Crestview Rest Area just north of Mammoth Lakes. One picture posted on Facebook shows four dumpsters filled to the brim with trash along with litter spewed across the parking lot.

Schweizer says that the Inyo National Forest is not the only place that has seen an uptick in illegal activity on public lands. “The vandalism is not just happening on the Inyo. The National Forest Service has seen an increase in vandalism, littering, and illegal campfires everywhere,” Schweizer said.

Mammoth Hospital Sees First COVID-19 Hospitalization Since March

COVID-19 Positive Patient Hospitalized at Mammoth Hospital.

Mammoth Hospital has hospitalized its first patient since late March due to COVID-19. While the Eastern Sierra has seen relatively few infections over the last few months, the pandemic continues to be a threat to Mono County. This patient is now hospitalized and being treated for coronavirus.

“This new hospitalization is a reminder that the pandemic is still a very real crisis, on both a local and global level,” says Mammoth Hospital CEO, Tom Parker. “Many restrictions have been eased and we have seen a reopening of many businesses, giving us a sense of normalcy. Mono County’s ‘Stay Safe to Stay Open‘ campaign speaks to the need to stay vigilant in our efforts to cover, distance and wash. We have seen a significant increase in the last two weeks in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19. This is not the time to let our guard down. Mammoth Hospital has taken great steps to prepare for a surge of COVID patients, and we remain prepared to care for anyone who presents to our facility.”

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.

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.

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

Eastern Sierra Foundation Increases Scholarship Funding for Student

The Eastern Sierra Foundation would like to congratulate the 76 Cerro Coso Community College 2020 graduates from Inyo and Mono Counties! While we are saddened that due to the pandemic an in-person graduation celebration is not possible this year, we are so impressed by the graduates’ perseverance, resilience, and strength in completing their certificates and degrees during these very challenging times. We know that the Class of 2020 will all go on to make positive contributions to our community and our world.

This year, Cerro Coso Community College’s Eastern Sierra College Center in Bishop and Mammoth graduated students in 26 different certificate and degree fields, including humanities, social sciences, math and sciences, studio arts, administration of justice, business, art history, English, human services, management, nursing, information technology, childhood development, medical assisting, and web development. Half of the graduates earned multiple degrees and/or certificates. Cerro Coso Community College will be hosting a virtual graduation on Saturday, June 13 at 6PM. For more information visit https://www.cerrocoso.edu/studentservices/commencement.

Each year, the Eastern Sierra Foundation offers full scholarships for any and all Inyo County residents who enroll in 12 units per semester on the Bishop Campus. The scholarship covers all enrollment fees. Additionally, in response to economic challenges resulting from the pandemic, the Eastern Sierra Foundation will now also cover up to $500 per semester for books. Scholarship applications and information are available online https://www.cerrocoso.edu/studentservices/financial-aid/eastern-sierra-foundation-scholarship. Due to the uncertainty about whether four-year colleges will offer in-seat courses in the fall, and to support local students who may be changing college plans, the Eastern Sierra Foundation has extended the scholarship deadline for the Fall 2020 semester to Tuesday, June 30 at 5PM.

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.