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In response to Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s reductions in water allotments to Long Valley grazing leases, the Mono County Board of Supervisors approved a letter drafted by County Counsel requesting “collaboration and communications” going forward.

The dispute goes back to 2018 when LADWP first proposed “dewatering” the 6,000 acres that provides valuable habitat to the bi-state sage grouse in addition to summer grazing for area ranchers. The Appellate Court required an Environmental Impact Report under the California Environmental Quality Act prior to any significant changes to land management. That EIR has yet to be completed. Los Angeles claimed it “was not doing anything new,” rejecting the idea that reducing water allotments from the historical practice of 5 acre-feet of water to 0.7 af was a significant change in the long-standing management of the land.

But, from lease holder Matt Kemp, the change is significant, reducing the number of cattle on his lease from 300 to 30. The cut in water availability would green-up land at the edges of creeks but reduce the balance of the 6,000 acres to tumble weeds.

As the case bounced around appellate courts with varying interpretations of the department’s
“past practices,” the one remaining issue is the absence of the required EIR, a document that
could scientifically determine the impact of de-watering the 6,000 acres.

Public comment brought up different aspects of the dispute. Former Mono Supervisor Fred
Stump, a resident of Long Valley, noted increased fire danger if the area was de-watered.
Several speakers noted Inyo County’s Long Term Water Agreement that “has not lived up to
expectations,” according to Charlotte Lang. Lynn Bolton with the Sierra Club explained that Mono County should learn from Inyo County’s “only push back on the big things” approach. “A lot has been lost in Inyo if you just meet the minimum requirements,” she said.

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