[UPDATE 5/26/2020 to Original Post on May 22, 2020: Inyo County Supervisors’ Poised to Ask State to Open Fishing Season…”)
At this morning’s Inyo County Board Meeting, in a 4-1 vote, the board approved a letter to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on a motion by Second District Supervisor, Jeff Griffiths, seconded by Third District Supervisor, Rick Pucci, to “Open the fishing season in Inyo County as soon as possible.” First District Supervisor, Dan Totheroh, voted “No.”
Apparently, based on comments by County Administrator, Clint Quilter, the county campgrounds might be open in two weeks, although it is not entirely clear “why” they cannot be opened immediately. There appears to be some concern by county officials with staying in compliance with Governor Newsom’s Executive Stay at Home Order limiting recreational and leisure travel, although it is being widely ignored as summer has arrived.
So, Inyo County, seemingly following in the footsteps of Mono County, has chosen “to put the cart before the horse” by opening the county to fishing, while leaving anglers and other visitors to the area to continue practicing dispersed camping, which threatens environmental damage, presents sanitation issues (no toilets, no trash collection) and an increased risk of wild fires early into the fire season from unregulated campfires.–James]
(ORIGINAL May 22, 2020 Post)
After the controversial and surprising decision on May 20 by the Mono County Board of Supervisors to open the fishing season by Memorial Day weekend on a 3-2 vote, attention has turned to the Inyo County Supervisors next board meeting on Tuesday, May 26. It is expected that the supervisors will approve a letter to the Department of Fish and Wildlife asking to open the fishing season as early as Wednesday, May 27.
On Tuesday’s Board Agenda, Item #14 “Request (the) Board consider requesting that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife open fishing season in Inyo County prior to June 1, 2020.”
The issue of where anglers and other visitors coming to the area will stay in the coming days with all short-term rentals and lodging still ordered closed by the public health officer’s order, combined with county, state and federal campgrounds also still closed, has not been addressed. Expect that to change quickly as both Inyo and Mono counties are working to have them reopened as quickly as possible given the circumstances.
Dispersed camping is reportedly already rampant in both Inyo and Mono Counties, with people ignoring the governor’s Stay at Home Order. This influx of visitors from coronavirus hotpots such as Los Angeles and San Francisco has local health authorities genuinely concerned, fearing that the small communities of the Eastern Sierra will likely see a sharp rise in the exposure to the coronavirus, followed by an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Fire officials and some forestry officials are concerned about camping outside of developed campgrounds that significantly increase the chance of wildfires that already seem to plague the state every fire season. The state’s peak wildfire season typically runs from May through October, but the fact is, wildfires can occur at any time.
With the rest of the state, and even other parts of the country, throwing caution to the wind, and reopening their economies, this season will either prove to be one of the best tourist seasons in the Eastern Sierra in recent memory, or the one seared in the memories of many as a time of “incredibly poor judgment” if there is a serious COVID-19 outbreak as a result.
Only time will tell.