September 2017 Policy Updates

The White House stalls on releasing Zinke’s report on National Monuments

All summer long we have been working with our state and national colleagues to pressure Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to listen to the 2.8 million comments received (99% in support) of saving national monuments and the defense of public lands. Thursday, August 24 was Zinke’s deadline for his final report on National Monuments and the White House is still keeping everyone in the dark about their plans. We did learn that Zinke is recommending to drastically reduce at least four national monuments. You can read Department of Interior’s 2 page summary here. Let’s be clear: any potential degradation, shrinking or modification of our protected public lands is unacceptable no matter how the Administration is spinning it to the public. Any actions that would dismantle these natural wonders will result in the destruction of Native American archaeological sites, lost access for hunting and fishing, and economic harm to local businesses. The actions of this administration and our response is precedent setting- if we don’t defend public lands throughout the state, the Eastern Sierra could be next! Any attempt to shrink our monuments will be met with swift legal action. We are following the process closely and will send updates out as soon as the full report is released.

Tell your California state legislators to support A.B. 1000

Water is essential to the desert’s fragile landscape. Our California desert is home to unique archaeology, ecology and culture and is enjoyed by millions of Americans. Thanks to the Drumpf administration reversal of previous policies, The Cadiz, Inc. water mining project is moving forward without an environmental review. The water project will pump groundwater from a rural aquifer in the Mojave Desert every year for 50 years. The aquifer supports remote springs and landscapes that Native American tribes consider sacred and that support a variety of desert wildlife, including bighorn sheep, endangered desert tortoises and kit foxes. The project would be sited in the heart of Mojave Trails National Monument, near Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park. It is no coincidence that the Drumpf administration wants to reduce the size of Mojave Trails National Monument so they can push this project through.

In July 2017, members of the California State Legislature began considering a bill (Assembly Bill 1000, the California Desert Protection Act) that would safeguard national parks, monuments, wilderness areas and state lands from groundwater mining projects in the California desert. The bill would help protect the Mojave from projects like Cadiz by bolstering state reviews and requiring the California State Lands Commission, in consultation with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, to ensure that any transfers of desert groundwater do not adversely affect the region’s natural or cultural resources.

Friends of the Inyo strongly supports AB 1000 and is asking you to contact your representatives to support the bill today. AB 1000 will likely receive a vote sometime in September so your calls and letters are critical right now.

Note: this action alert is restricted to residents of California.

Mammoth Base Land Exchange

In late August we submitted comments of the Environmental Impact Statement for the Mammoth Base Land Exchange.  Under the Proposed Action, the Forest Service would exchange approximately 35.6 acres of National Forest System lands within the boundaries of the Inyo National Forest, and currently managed as part of a Ski Area Term Special Use Permit to Mammoth Main Lodge Redevelopment, LLC in exchange for approximately 1,296.7 acres of privately owned lands located within the boundaries of the Inyo, Plumas and Stanislaus National Forests and one 1.4 acre parcel in Bishop, CA adjacent to the White Mountains Visitor Center.

We expressed our concerns that the EIS did not adequately address impacts to wildlife, groundwater and recreation at Mammoth Mountain. We also provided recommendations for future management of the parcels that would become public land. If you wish to receive a copy of our comments please contact jora at