By Deb Murphy
Inyo County appears to be aging well, with the exception of noted dehydration, for a 150-year old. That milestone will be officially hit on March 22 of next year and Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Carunchio is determined to put together a “year’s worth of parties.”
The County is wasting no time celebrating itself. At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting, Carunchio announced a January 14 kick-off meeting at 7 p.m. in the Supervisors’ Chambers. “This will be the first call for those interested” in participating, he said. The idea is to form a “greater committee to encourage and coordinate” a celebratory year with parties put together by organizations, communities and whoever else wants to host a party for the birthday county.
Adventure Trails Public Hearing
The official Adventure Trails public hearing, held as part of the state’s reporting requirement, exposed few flaws, some frustration with the few number of trails opened and gratitude to the County for supporting the pilot project.
The hearing mirrored the comments made at the Supervisors’ December 8 meeting. Four the seven approved routes start or end on land owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Those four never opened; the other three have been in operation since this past summer with light use, no negative impacts and no complaints registered. The majority of speakers appreciated the County’s efforts. Lone Pine resident Earl Wilson recommended better signage, relating an encounter with an Off Highway Vehicle sporting a blinding light bar on a county road beyond the trailhead on a designated combined use route.
At the end of the brief hearing, Chairman Matt Kingsley repeated his interest in asking the state to extend the pilot program to give the County time to work out issues with LADWP and gain more data.
The Inyo National Forest Service requirement for a National Environmental Protection Act analysis has not impacted the seven routes approved by the Board early this year. According to Public Works Transportation Analyst Courtney Smith, the County is pursuing grant funding for the required environmental documents.
Tribal Consultation Moves Forward
After two earlier meetings to solidify a protocol for consultation with area tribes on projects requiring environmental analysis, the Supervisors felt they were making some progress following comments by Shannon Romero, chair of the Big Pine Paiute Tribal Council.
At the previous meetings, Tribal representatives objected to not being included in the development of the consultation protocol. The consensus was: we want to be at the table, we don’t want to come in after the fact to comment. In terms of the details of the policy, agreement appeared to be like fitting a square peg in a round hole. County protocols and limitations within Brown Act restrictions simply didn’t jive with the way Tribal entities did business and Romero’s comments reflected that divide.
In response to forming a consultation committee, Romero suggested Supervisors “just come to a Tribal Council meeting.” She was adamant that cultural resources remain confidential, “We want to protect these sites,” she said.
Romero also asked that the four pages of the draft policy defining the scope of the consultations be deleted and that the County simply negotiate those details with each tribe.
The Supervisors were encouraged. In a show of flexibility, they agreed to send notices to other area tribes for another workshop, offering two possible dates and either morning or afternoon timed workshops.