KEEP LONG VALLEY GREEN
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) intends to de-water Long Valley. In 2018, LADWP notified agricultural ranch leaseholders in Long and Little Round Valleys in Southern Mono County that it intends to remove all irrigation water from future leases. The agency has not performed any study or analysis on this proposal’s impact on Long Valley’s environment, agricultural and recreational economies, the health and safety of local communities, or any other potential effect required by law.
In the 1940’s as part of its construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct system, LADWP constructed Crowley Lake Dam destroying the pre-existing wetlands meadows. Following the destruction of the wetland meadows, LADWP allowed ranchers to irrigate areas around Crowley Lake. Since the early 1940s, ranchers have been allotted sufficient amounts of water to support their agricultural operations. This water also created and maintained wetland meadow habitats – habitats that were lost when LADWP created Crowley Lake. The water spread by ranchers mitigated – to some extent – the destruction of wetland meadows and environmental effects caused by LADWP’s creation of Crowley Lake.
The meadows provide significant environmental and community benefits. Today, the wetland meadows around Crowley Lake and Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain streams support a biodiversity that includes a variety of invertebrate, amphibian, and avian life, including the native Bi-state Sage Grouse, a species of special concern. The meadows also decrease the risk of wildfire and suppress dust for local communities, and sequester carbon to mitigate climate change impacts.
Meadows also support the local economy. Long Valley meadows are the basis for Southern Mono County’s ranching and recreation economies. Ranchers have stewarded these lands for generations, creating and maintaining habitat by spreading water for their operations. The meadows also support recreational tourism and activities such as world class fishing at Hot Creek and the beautiful viewscapes enjoyed by significant numbers of campers, hikers, bikers, and OHV’ers from around the world, including Los Angeles.
Friends of the Inyo supports the litigation to stop LADWP’s de-watering. The Keep Long Valley Green Coalition, Mono County, and the Sierra Club have initiated litigation to stop LADWP’s dewatering of Long Valley. The litigation challenges LADWP’s failure to perform an environmental review pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Keep Long Valley Green Coalition, which consists of ranchers, environmentalists, recreationalists, local residents, and tribal governments, opposes the dewatering proposal and believes that the drying of valley meadows will cause many adverse impacts to the natural environment and local economies. In addition, the Coalition is advocating that LADWP reinstate irrigation flows and prepare an adequate CEQA review.
Update: Keep Long Valley Green Campaign The Keep Long Valley Green campaign has been very active in 2020 working to secure LADWP’s commitment to an adequate water supply for the area’s ecological, economic and recreational needs. Long Valley is a critical part of Eastern Sierra ranching operations, provides important habitat for the threatened sage grouse and other species, and is a popular recreation area for both locals and visitors. Settlement negotiations regarding the lawsuit filed by Mono County and the Sierra Club are ongoing. While we hope those negotiations secure a long-term commitment from LADWP to provide adequate water, the campaign…