What is Friends of the Inyo

“This is the most beautiful place on earth.” —Edward Abbey

Officially, Friends of the Inyo is a 501(c)(3), but that doesn’t even begin to describe who we are, what we do, or most importantly, why we exist.

Let’s start with WHY.

The public lands of the Eastern Sierra are a national treasure. Think of the iconic places, plants, and animals that exist here: Mount Whitney, Mono Lake, Little Lakes Valley, the Buttermilks, bristlecone pines, Jeffrey pines, Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, yellow-legged frogs…

Millions of people visit the Eastern Sierra each year to enjoy the vast and dynamic resources of the public lands that span the Sierra Nevada and White Mountains. That visitation brings economic vitality to the Owens Valley, but it also comes with an impact. Friends of the Inyo is here to ensure that the public lands of the Eastern Sierra remain wild and free for the benefit of future generations of people, plants and wildlife.

Who are we?

Friends of the Inyo is a community. It includes a board of directors, five full time staff, and seasonal, professional trail and restoration crews. Our community includes federal agencies like the Inyo National Forest, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service. We also partner with other government agencies like Mono and Inyo Counties, local organizations such as the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association and the Mono Lake Committee, and regional and national groups such as California Audubon and Winter Wildlands Alliance.

The heart and soul of the Friends of the Inyo community is the collection of individuals who love public lands and want to ensure their vibrancy for the future. We are a member-based organization—much of our funding comes from member support. We actively engage the community in causes and initiatives that affect public lands and the local environment, economy, and culture of the Eastern Sierra. We bring the community together through events and volunteer projects to get their boots on the ground and hands on the land, helping to care for trails, meadows, campsites, lake shores, and all the beautiful places that need some touching up.

What do we do?

Friends of the Inyo has three major program areas. At first they may appear distinctive, but as you peel the layers, it becomes clear that they’re intertwined—sort of like John Muir’s quote about how when you tug at a single thing in nature, you find that it’s attached to everything else.

PRESERVATION

This is speaking out. Speaking out for the trees and plants and animals that can’t speak for themselves. This is mobilizing the public to speak out for themselves in favor of effective land management, sustainable recreation practices, and meaningful environmental policy that benefits the greater good. Collectively, Friends of the Inyo and our community are the voice of public lands in the Eastern Sierra.

EXPLORATION

The paradox is that sometimes the best way to be the voice of  a beautiful place is to get out and enjoy it first. Experience it. Learn about it. Take someone along with you. The beauty is that in a time of real division and animosity, public lands are a place where we can find mutual agreement and sympathy for each other. Friends of the Inyo organizes regular outings that engage our community in discovering new places or sharing a familiar place with someone new. Once we’ve come together to enjoy it and learn what it needs, we’re ready to actively care for that place.

STEWARDSHIP

One way to speak out is to put our money where our mouth is and care for places that need caring for. For over a decade, Friends of the Inyo has actively mobilized our community to care for popular high country trails, alpine lakes and meadows, the Great Basin lowlands, and many places in between. From the high quality craftsmanship carried out by our professional trail crews to our annual series of volunteer events, we get a lot of meaningful work done on public lands throughout the Eastern Sierra. While we’re at it, we get to enjoy a beautiful place as we work.

Where we work:

From Mount Whitney’s alluring summit to the rejuvenated shores of Owens Lake. From the enchanted bristlecone pine forest on top of the White Mountains to the sagebrush steppes of the Tablelands. You’ll see or feel our presence on public lands across Inyo and Mono Counties, from Death Valley to the Sawtooth Range above Bridgeport.

So yes, Friends of the Inyo is a 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization based in Bishop, California. But really we’re an ambitious and broad community, and once you’ve joined us on an outing, or spoken out through one of our campaigns, you’ll begin to notice that it’s all attached to everything else and all there to support the public lands in this most beautiful place on earth.