PRESS RELEASE FROM DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK:
Death Valley, CA– Death Valley National Park, in response to Executive Order N-33-20 issued by the Governor of the State of California and the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), is announcing additional modifications to operations to support federal, state, and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
As of March 21, 2020, Death Valley National Park will offer very limited services outside those that support visitor or resource protection. At Death Valley National Park, the following services and operations will be suspended in order to comply with the California order:
- The park will no longer provide public restrooms at most trailheads and viewpoints.
- Parking lots at Zabriskie Point, Badwater, and Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are closed.
- The following campgrounds are closed: Furnace Creek, Mesquite Springs, Texas Springs, Emigrant, Sunset, Stovepipe Wells, Thorndike, and Mahogany Flat.
- Visitor centers are closed
- The Oasis at Death Valley has closed lodging, camping, stores, and restaurants.
- Stovepipe Wells Resort has closed lodging, camping, and restaurants.
The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at Death Valley National Park is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working with the federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website (nps.gov/deva) and social media channels.
Outdoor spaces at Death Valley National Park remain accessible to the public in accordance with the latest federal, state, and local health guidance, in addition to entry fees being waived for visitors.
- Restrooms are available outside Furnace Creek Visitor Center and at Emigrant, and at the Stovepipe Wells store.
- Fuel is available at The Oasis at Death Valley (pay-at-pump only), Stovepipe Wells (pay-at-pump only, and only during calm winds), and Panamint Springs.
- Stovepipe Wells General Store is open.
- Panamint Springs Resort is open for camping and take-out dining.
- Regulations for backcountry camping or dispersed road-side camping are online at: www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/backcamp.htm.
The NPS encourages people who choose to visit Death Valley National Park during this pandemic to adhere to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local public health authorities to protect visitors and employees. As services are limited, the NPS urges visitors to continue to practice Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy.
The NPS urges visitors to do their part when visiting a park and to follow CDC guidance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases by maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other groups; washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; and most importantly, staying home if you feel sick.
For high-risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, we ask that they take extra caution and follow CDC guidance for those at higher risk of serious illness.
Updates about nationwide NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. Death Valley National Park’s current conditions can be found at: www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/conditions.htm.
There’s a new location for the Fourth of July Celebration in Bishop this year.
After sixty-eight years of having the show at the Bishop Airport, the festivities will now be held at the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fairgrounds and Events Center for year sixty-nine.
Fairgrounds CEO, Jen McGuire spoke glowingly about the new location saying, “I’m excited about this event. Joining forces with the City, Chamber, The Tribe, Casino, County, DWP, Caltrans, CHP, BVFD is going to make this event the biggest and best this town has ever seen! All of these great organizations coming together to put on an event is very special.”
There will be quite a few traditional activities going on at the Fourth of July celebration, along with new ones. “We will have an entire day of food and craft vendors, live music, games, face painting, designated picnic and fireworks areas, ice cold beer, and a chili cook-off with chili tasting for the public. It’s going to be fun and you’re not going to want to miss it!”
The new venue for the event is a result of Inyo County preparing to bring in commercial flights to Bishop. Because of the airport upgrades, a new location for the fireworks needed to be selected.
City of Bishop Mayor, Laura Smith expressed her enthusiasm for the new location. “I’m excited about it. We had to move it, so it’s nice to have a new location for the fireworks.”
Smith also expects the celebration to be bigger and better. “I think it is going to be good for Bishop. We get to combine the event with the tribe, the fair, LADWP, and Inyo County. It has also become more of an all day celebration now.”
BISHOP, Calif. – The Bureau of Land Management Bishop Field Office has issued seasonal fire restrictions for BLM-managed public lands in the Eastern Sierra effective Monday, July 1, due to increased wildland fire danger in the region. The restrictions will remain in effect until November 1, or until wildland fire conditions on public lands in the region improve.
Fire officials estimate that nearly 90 percent of wildland fires affecting BLM-managed public lands in California during the last decade have been human caused. Individuals who spark wildfires, intentionally or unintentionally, may be held responsible for fire suppression and property damage costs. Officials encourage the public to be extremely careful when recreating outdoors, to carry a shovel and water at all times, and to check weather forecasts and fire danger conditions before leaving home.
The following restrictions will remain in place until the risk of wildland fire in the Eastern Sierra subsides:
- No campfires, charcoal or wood barbeques, or similar open flame fires, except within a designated campsite with a fire ring or fire pit specifically provided for such use in the following developed campgrounds: Tuttle Creek Campground, Goodale Creek Campground, Horton Creek Campground, Crowley Lake Campground and Pleasant Valley Pit Campground. Portable stoves burning gas, jelled petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel are allowed outside of developed campgrounds when used in accordance with a valid California Campfire Permit, available free at all BLM, Forest Service and Cal Fire offices or at www.preventwildfireca.org/Permits.
- No tools powered by internal combustion engines off established roads, trails or parking areas (such as chainsaws or lawn mowers).
- No smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, or within the developed campgrounds listed above, or while stopped within an area at least five feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
- No motorized vehicles off established roads, trails or parking areas.
- Target shooters may not use incendiary, exploding, tracer, steel core or armor piercing ammunition. Shooting at steel or exploding targets that could emit sparks is not allowed. Target shooters must have a shovel or fire extinguisher on hand. Hunters may use steel shot and other non-lead ammunition as required by California State Law.
- No fireworks, including “safe and sane” fireworks.
- No welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame, except by special permit.
- No use of explosives, except by special permit.
BLM-managed public lands subject to these fire restrictions extend from the southern Owens Valley in Inyo County, north to Topaz Lake and the Nevada border in Mono County. These fire restrictions also apply to popular BLM-managed recreational areas in the region including the Alabama Hills National Scenic Area, Inyo Mountains Wilderness, Volcanic Tableland, Long Valley, Adobe Valley, Mono Basin, Bodie Hills and Slinkard Valley. BLM seasonal fire restrictions for the Eastern Sierra Region are being implemented in close coordination with Cal Fire (https://www.facebook.com/1663811310523258/posts/2419842918253423?sfns=mo).
The BLM is committed to keeping public landscapes healthy and productive by working closely with cooperating agencies, neighboring communities, and public land visitors to prevent wildland fires. To learn how you can do your part to prevent wildland fires visit www.readyforwildfire.org. A listing of fire restrictions throughout BLM California is available at https://go.usa.gov/xmUEG. For specific questions, please contact the Bishop Field Office at 760-872-5000.
Inyo County Agricultural Commissioner Nate Reade announced that the county will again be accepting applications to operate cannabis businesses within the unincorporated portions of Inyo County beginning on June 10, 2019. The license application window will remain open to potential business owners at least until August 9, 2019. Once the application window closes, scoring of applications will occur with a final determination made by the Inyo County Board of Supervisors at a public meeting. Application fees will remain $2,711.89. License fees, which will be charged if an applicant is successful, are set at $8,850.00. A list of available license types by licensing zone is posted on the both the Inyo County and Inyo County Agricultural Commissioner’s websites.
The business license is one component necessary for a cannabis business to be legal in Inyo County, the other being a conditional use permit for the property where the business activities will occur. Interested individuals can find more information at the Inyo County website, www.inyocounty.us, or at the Inyo/Mono Counties Agricultural Commissioner’s site at www.inyomonoagriculture.com
Graduation season is here in the Eastern Sierra and West and South Central Nevada. With all of the schools saying goodbye to the class of 2019, parents can be proud of the numbers.
Bishop Union High School will be seeing 122 students receiving diplomas, with no seniors ineligible to walk. The valedictorian of of Bishop High School will be Ariana Pope, who is scheduled to study at the University of Nevada, Reno.
As for south of KIBS/KBOV studios, Big Pine High School will see their class of five seniors walk, with the top student of the class, Cassandra Meza also attending University of Nevada, Reno.
Owens Valley School will have their two seniors walk on June 6th, with Steven Mather being crowned as Valedictorian.
Lone Pine have sixteen seniors slated to graduate depending on how finals go, with the valedictorian still undecided.
Up north in Mono County, Lee Vining will see six graduates walk with two co-valedictorians. The two girls atop the class are Caelen McQuilkin, and Sophia McKee.
Mammoth High School will see ninety-nine seniors graduate, which is one of their largest classes ever. The valedictorian is Guy Laborde.
Over in Tonopah, Nevada, the senior class has already graduated. Thirty-eight students walked with no seniors ineligible to receive their diplomas. The valedictorian for Tonopah High School is Delaney Friel. Currently, she is undecided as to where she will attend college.
Lastly, Round Mountain High School had thirteen graduates walk last week.
Congratulations to the class of 2019!
On May 16, 2019, Mono County District Attorney Investigators,with the assistance of Mammoth Lakes Police Department,arrested Jorge Romero Espitia for 19 felony charges, including alleged sexual acts with minors and providing methamphetamine to minors. He is currently in custody with bail set at $500,000.
There is reason to believe there may be other victims. If you or someone you know has information concerning Mr. Espitia and potential sexual acts with minors or furnishing illegal drugs to minors please contact Mono County District Attorney Chief Investigator Chris Callinan directly at 760-858-2127.
You may also walk in during normal business hours to the Mammoth Lakes branch of the District Attorney’s office located in the Sierra Center Mall at 452 Old Mammoth Road.
DEATH VALLEY, CA – The National Park Service announced on May 10 that it has finalized the Saline Valley Warm Springs Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (plan/EIS). The document outlines the agency’s plan for managing visitor use, natural resources, cultural resources, and facilities at this backcountry site.
Saline Valley Warm Springs are located in a remote northwest corner of Death Valley National Park, 35 miles from the closest paved road. Recreational users developed soaking tubs and art installations starting in the 1950s. The site was managed by the Bureau of Land Management until it was transferred to NPS with the California Desert Protection Act in 1994.
The NPS started working on a management plan for the site in 2012. Inyo County, the BLM, and the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe participated in the plan as cooperating agencies. Several organizations were heavily involved in providing comments, including the Saline Preservation Association and Recreation Aviation Foundation.
There were opportunities for the public to provide feedback on the plan’s direction in 2012, 2014, and 2018. The NPS received and analyzed a total of 1,696 pieces of correspondence during these comment periods. The NPS made changes to the plan at every stage of the process reflecting the feedback received from the public, organizations, and agencies.
“What we heard loud and clear from many of the recreational users was a desire to ‘leave it like it is.’ We feel this management plan will maintain a feeling of unconstrained recreation while protecting natural and cultural resources,” said Death Valley National Park Superintendent Mike Reynolds.
Things staying the same under the plan:
- Existing soaking tubs at Lower Spring and Palm Spring would remain in use.
- Upper Spring would remain undeveloped.
- All art installations that were in place by January 1, 2019 in non-wilderness areas would be allowed to stay.
- Airplane use of the Chicken Strip, in use for decades, would be authorized by a separate (pending) special regulation.
- NPS would establish memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with user groups for maintenance and management of Saline Valley Warm Springs.
- Public nudity is common at the site, and the plan is silent on this topic. Public nudity is not against Federal regulations, but lewd behavior is.
Things that would change under this plan:
- Three camping zones would be established: 1) car camping areas; 2) walk-in camping with an associated parking area separate from the camping area; and 3) areas where camping is prohibited, including within 100 feet of source springs.
- Artistic fencing would be added around source springs to prevent access by nonnative burros.
- Existing mature palm trees will stay at Lower Spring and Palm Spring until they die of natural causes. No new palm trees will be allowed to grow and native plants will be added to provide shade.
- All nonnative plants, including palm trees, at Upper Spring will be removed.
- New artwork will be allowed only if it does not disturb natural or cultural resources, is of a temporary nature, and is removed by the visitor when he or she leaves.
- The vehicle support facility would be removed.
- The NPS would address concerns about water quality, storage of hazardous materials, and wastewater.
The plan will become effective when the NPS signs the Record of Decision (ROD), which will be on or after June 10, 2019. However, some aspects of the plan may not be implemented immediately.
The plan and associated documents can be viewed at parkplanning.nps.gov/SalineValleyWarmSprings. A printed copy will temporarily be available at each of the following locations: Amargosa Valley Library, Bishop Library, Death Valley Library, Furnace Creek Visitor Center, Lone Pine Library, Pahrump Library, and Ridgecrest Library.
Former Inyo County Sheriff’s Department Corporal Nick Vaughn was arrested today by Investigators from the Inyo County District Attorney’s office on charges stemming from an alleged misappropriation of public funds.
After an internal investigation, the Sheriff’s Department referred the case to the District Attorney’s office for a criminal investigation. After a lengthy investigation, a criminal complaint has been filed charging Mr. Vaughn with misappropriating over $10,000.00 that had been collected by him from participants in the Sheriff’s Department Work Release Program. Participants in the program are required to pay certain fees to the Department, and it is alleged that a portion of those fees were diverted to Mr. Vaughn’s personal use or the use of other individuals. Mr. Vaughn was the supervisor of the Work Release Program from approximately May, 2014 to March, 2018.
At this time, no other employees of the Sheriff’s Department are implicated in the investigation.
Mr. Vaughn was booked at the Inyo County Jail. Bail on the arrest warrant was set at $15,000.00.
The District Attorney reminds the public that a defendant in any criminal case is presumed to be innocent until the contrary is proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
Inyo County Office of Education is pleased to announce that Alexandra Morales from Round Valley Joint Elementary School won first place at the 59 th annual Inyo County Speech Contest, for her speech: Parkland, Columbine, Sandy Hook, Enough! The second place winner was Paige Makris from Owens Valley Elementary School with her speech: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities. The third place winner was Kyle Schaniel from Seventh Day Adventist with the topic: Nuclear Fission. Also representing their schools were: Willam Young, Will Hennarty, Luis Leon, Marlene Castro, Jade Scott, and Harlee Bardonnex.
The Speech Contest was sponsored by Bishop Real Estate and held on April 11 th at the Jill Kinmont Boothe School. Students from Big Pine, Home Street Middle School, Owens Valley, Round Valley, and Seventh Day Adventist participated in the event. The topic was: How could lessons learned from historical examples of tragedy and triumph be applied to decisions we make every day? Audience members were impressed by the insightful and inspiring speeches from creative middle-schoolers striving to make our world a better place.
All speeches were evaluated on content and delivery by a panel of three community judges: Gerald Howard, Maggie Kingsbury, and Chris Langley. Inyo County Office of Education thanks these judges for their time and expertise.
In addition, ICOE would like to thank Bishop Real Estate Rasmuson & Associates for sponsoring the contest and providing the winners with trophies and cash prizes.
ICOE would also like to express gratitude to the school coaches for their time, effort and support for our students. The coaches were Tim Steele of Big Pine School, Mark DesRochers of Home Street Middle School, Vivian Hanson of Owens Valley School, Jennifer Morales of Round Valley School, and Sandy Burns for Seventh Day Adventist School.
Congratulations to all the participants!
DEATH VALLEY, CA – The largest national park outside of Alaska just got bigger. On March 12, President Trump signed public lands legislation that included several changes to Death Valley National Park.
The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (Public Law 116-9) transferred approximately 35,000 acres of land from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to the National Park Service. Already nearly the size of Connecticut, Death Valley National Park increased by about 1% to 3,422,024 acres.
One part of the transfer is a 6,369-acre lollipop-shaped section of land adjacent to the Big Pine – Death Valley Road in the northern part of the park. It includes the Crater Mine, a colorful former sulfur mine.
The 28,923-acre “Bowling Alley” is a long, narrow swath of land on the northern border of Fort Irwin National Training Center. This area includes a portion of the Quail Mountains.
About 93% of the park is designated as the Death Valley National Park Wilderness, which is the sixth-largest wilderness area in the nation and the largest outside of Alaska. The Dingell Act added 87,999 acres of wilderness in North Eureka Valley, Panamint Valley, Warm Springs, Ibex, Bowling Alley, and Axe Head.
The Act designated 5.3 miles of Surprise Canyon Creek as a Wild River. The wild river designation provides further protection to this rare desert creek and adjacent Panamint City, a 1870s silver mining ghost town.
The Dingell Act authorizes the operation and maintenance of the existing microwave telecommunications infrastructure on Mormon Peak. AT&T owns this facility, which has been in legal limbo since the land it sits on was designated as wilderness in 1994. With the exception of satellite connections, the Mormon Peak facility relays all land-line telephone, cell phone, and internet connections for Death Valley residents and visitors.