Stories

03 Jul: New Proposal Would Slash Environmental and Public Review for Forest Service Lands

Comments needed by August 12! The USFS is proposing sweeping changes to its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) rules. NEPA law requires the agency to take a hard look at the environmental impacts of projects such as fuels reduction treatments, restoration, and development. The proposed rule is designed to increase the pace and scale of “work accomplished on the ground” which we acknowledge is a meaningful objective necessary to restore fire to the Sierra Nevada and remove hazardous fuels. Unfortunately, the proposed rule contains too many exemptions for commercial timber harvest and the ability for the Forest Service to conduct…

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26 Jun: 2019 Owens Lake Bird Festival Bird List

  Thanks to everyone who joined us for the 2019 Owens Lake Bird Festival! We hope to see you April 24-26th, 2020.  Here are the birds we saw at this year’s festival: American Wigeon Mallard Blue-winged Teal Cinnamon Teal Northern Shoveler Northern Pintail Green-winged Teal Redhead Red-necked Duck Lesser Scaup Bufflehead Ruddy Duck California Quail Chukar Common Loon Eared Grebe Western Grebe Clark’s Grebe American White Pelican Great Egret Snowy Egret Black-crowned Night-Heron White-faced Ibis Turkey Vulture Northern Harrier Cooper’s Hawk Red-shouldered Hawk Red-tailed Hawk Virginia Rail American Coot Black-necked Stilt American Avocet Black-bellied Plover Snowy Plover Killdeer Spotted Sandpiper…

06 Jun: Update: Eastern Sierra Pumped Storage Projects

Premium Energy Holdings, LLC (PE) is proposing two massive pumped storage projects in the Eastern Sierra that could impact local communities, recreational uses, and habitats in Inyo and Mono County. Pumped storage involves pumping water up-slope during times of low energy demand/high energy production and then releasing it (in pipes or tunnels) downhill to power turbines and generate electricity when additional energy is required. On May 24, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency that regulates hydropower projects including pumped storage, rejected the company’s application that proposed multiple “closed-loop” reservoir/pum systems within Wheeler Ridge’s John Muir Wilderness.  This proposal would…

04 Jun: 2019 BioBlitz at Conglomerate Mesa

On the weekend of May 10th, Friends of the Inyo teamed up with the California Native Plant Society, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, and volunteers to document the flora and fauna of Conglomerate Mesa. While preparing for the trip, the weather seemed to want to play their cards close to the vest and hide what was in store for the weekend. A changing forecast of rain, partly to fully clouded skies, to sunshine led us to question whether or not we would make it up to the rugged roads to the Mesa… To our surprise, when everyone arrived Saturday, the…

03 Jun: Summer Stewardship Calendar is Here!

It is with great pleasure that we present our calendar for the Summer 2019 Season of Volunteer Stewardship Events: 6/22 – 10th Annual June Lake Trails Day 6/29 – Lower Rock Creek Work Day w/ SEMBA 7/13 – Bridgeport Trails Day 7/20 – Rock Creek Lakes Clean-Up 8/7-11 – Sierra National Forest Wilderness Project  ***Space Limited, RSVP Required*** 8/10 & 11 – Owens River Water Trail Work Weekend 8/24 – Rock Creek Lakes Clean-Up 9/21 – Bodie Hills Stewardship Day 9/28 – National Public Lands Day w/ Eastern Sierra 4WD Club Look for more specific details on exact times and…

03 May: Bi-State Sage Grouse Public Comment Period

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is soliciting additional public comments on its proposed rule to list the Bi-State Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of Greater Sage Grouse as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This action follows a ruling overturning a 2015 USFWS and Department of Interior decision not to list the bird. As a result of this ruling, the agencies are required to re-analyze listing the Bi-State Sage Grouse. The notice announcing the reopening of the public comment period requires submission of comments by June 11, 2019. Comments can be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov by searching under docket number…

03 May: Big Winter Means Summertime Snow: Tips & Tricks

Spring has officially sprung here in the Owens Valley. The Tungsten Hills have blooming wildflowers, the daytime temperature high in Bishop reached the upper-eighties last week, and the snow line is creeping up the mountains. All of these factors may conspire to create a false sense that snow-free high alpine days are right around the corner. But the fact of the matter is quite a bit different. As of May 1, there is still over 10-20 feet along the Sierra Crest, meaning that there is still a good deal of thawing that needs to be done before the high country…

05 Apr: Action Alert: Lithium Mine in Panamint Valley

Proposed Lithium Mine in Panamint Valley What’s Happening? The BLM is considering allowing exploratory drilling project for lithium in Panamint Valley. Battery Mineral Resources, headquartered in Toronto, Canada proposes to drill four holes 2,000 feet deep on Panamint Lake just outside of the Surprise Canyon Wilderness. What Is Lithium? Lithium is used in a variety of renewable energy technologies such as the batteries that power electric vehicles. As the country begins to transition towards a more renewable and green economy, we need lithium to power the batteries that power our tech. Currently, the majority of the world’s lithium is produced…

05 Apr: CSU Long Beach Spring Outing to Conglomerate Mesa

“Oh, wow!” With wide eyes and a big grin, the last student crests the hill and catches his first views of Conglomerate Mesa. Our group, a dozen strong, gathers at the saddle just below the Mesa’s summit. Bryan Hatchell, Desert Lands Organizer at Friends of the Inyo, squats down to point out a spring parsley in bloom. The mid-day sun is warm on our backs, but now the gentle breeze from the West convinces us to put our jackets back on. We are all happy to take a break and quietly soak in the view. On Sunday, March 31st, Bryan…

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05 Apr: Spring Outdoor Programs Recap

Whew, the month of March has been a doozy for us and our stewardship and education programs! We started off with SnowSchool with the Bishop Elementary School fifth-graders up at Cardinal Village in Aspendell. In partnership with the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association, Winter Wildlands Alliance, the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center, and the Eastern Sierra Land Trust, we engaged 150 students over three days in snow science, creative activities, and fun games. A mere week later, we headed a bit lower to our high desert ecosystem in the Buttermilk Country, for a morning of Stewardship with the Flash Foxy Women’s Climbing…