By Lindsay Butcher, Stewardship Director

The winter of 2022-2023 has been a doozy!

As of the day I’m writing this blurb in late March, we are inching closer and closer to an all-time record snowpack, just shy of the 1952 record, with more precipitation on the way!

This means we’ve had to be, well…flexible, to say the least, about managing our usual season of low-elevation Stewardship Events.

Starting in November with the American Alpine Club’s Bishop Craggin’ Classic: The original project site was covered in 3 inches of snow the week before. Friends of the Inyo was able to pivot at the last minute, and hosted a project down south in the Alabama Hills.

We had a similar experience in mid-March with the Flash Foxy Climbing Festival: All access trails to U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management sites were washed away due to flooding. Despite the weather being abominable, however, our group of 30 enthusiastic volunteers got muddy at the Bishop Conservation Open Space Area (or COSA) on the Bishop Paiute Reservation, another alternative lower-elevation volunteer project site. 

As to our Mammoth Elementary SnowSchool program, through which FOI delivers a fun day of learning about snow on the snow to 5th graders in partner with the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association, our plans have yet, again, been re-re-re-scheduled due to insane weather. Magically, we’ve been able to find back-up plans to our back-up plans every time, which speaks to the unending need for more stewardship events.

The constant plan changing and pivoting has me feeling like a dizzy ballerina! But I’m starting to appreciate how supportive and understanding all of the volunteers, project partners, and organizations have been through each wild ride.

Looking into the future, even more atmospheric rivers may be on the horizon. But here’s hoping April’s events go off without a hitch. Our Owens Lake Bird Festival, Conglomerate Mesa Wildflower Tour, various Earth Day Celebrations organized by community and Tribal partners, and Round Valley Elementary Earth Day Fair are all on the itinerary. 

The Round Valley Earth Day Expo-Fair is for school kids, so it is not open to the general public, but that does not mean we can’t tell you what it’s about! Friends of the Inyo helps gather Eastern Sierra organizations to host Earth Day-related activities for the students of Round Valley Elementary School. Kiddos get to tour various stations where they get hands-on lessons about wildlife, water, geology, ecology, fire—in short, anything Earth-related—from local organizations such as ESIA, Bishop Paiute Tribal-COSA, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, BLM, USFS, Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation, and other partners. This collaboration is an annual April event, and we always look forward to a fun-filled morning, with kids learning energetically outside of the regular classroom curriculum at Round Valley Elementary. 

Stay tuned for announcements about our Summer Stewardship Events (both Volunteering Events and Educational Hikes) later this spring.