Mono ranch lessee supporters waging paper war on LADWP

By Deb Murphy

Friends of the Inyo is the latest entity to come out in support of ranchers with grazing leases in Long Valley, leases receiving a fraction of previous irrigation water allocations this year and possibly no water following an environmental analysis by land owner, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Initially, LADWP leases indicated no water for this year. In early May, Mayor Eric Garcetti indicated by letter ranchers would receive “an amount of water…. similar to 2016, which was also based on snowpack conditions.” Snowpack this year came in at 82-percent of normal, compared to 71-percent in 2016. The total water for Mono County leases this year amounts to 18-percent of historical allocations.

Bishop-based Friends of the Inyo’s June 29 letter to Garcetti notes the 2012 Bi-State Action Plan that kept the sage grouse off the Endangered Species list. “The Plan clearly states that irrigated meadows are crucial for successful brood rearing habitat.”

A new wrinkle introduced by the correspondence: “Prior to the development of Crowley Lake Reservoir, the lower part of Long Valley contained several thousand acres of wetland habitat.” In essence, the 6,200 acres of irrigated leases helped maintain those wetlands. LADWP had indicated its no-water policy would improve the ecosystem by returning the land to pre-irrigation conditions. However, it’s doubtful the department intends to fill in Lake Crowley.

In conclusion, the Friends ask for the development of a management plan addressing timing and allocation of water resources to the leases, a plan developed through collaboration of local stakeholders.

The Audubon California and Eastern Sierra Audubon Society’s May 31 letter to Garcetti strongly supported both the sage grouse and ranching lessees. While “the sage grouse adults “subsist on sagebrush leaves during the winter, the baby birds need the insects found amongst the forbs and grasses in wet meadows and irrigated pastures …in the spring and summer…on Los Angeles lands,” the letter states.

The Sierra Club Range of Light group, Assemblyman Frank Bigelow and California Senator Tom Berryhill have also weighed in on the issue.

Perhaps the letter with the most clout came from the California Natural Resources Agency, the umbrella agency for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Agency Secretary John Laird asked for an “immediate commitment to provide a water allocation this year for these ranchlands commensurate with current snowpack and water conditions.”

In response to Mono County’s request to maintain irrigation, Garcetti had noted successes on Owens Lake, a settlement reached through litigation. Laird noted that achievement but reminded the department it had missed the January 2018 deadline to complete facility upgrades in the Owens River Gorge, also a settlement agreement.

Laird asked the department to “immediately commit to an appropriate water allocation this year” and to begin discussions with Mono County and the Department of Fish and Wildlife for continued irrigation for both the benefit of the ranchers and the protection of wetlands, species and their habitat.


6 Responses to Mono ranch lessee supporters waging paper war on LADWP

  1. Philip Anaya July 10, 2018 at 6:44 pm #

    “Prior to the development of Crowley Lake Reservoir, the lower part of Long Valley contained several thousand acres of wetland habitat.”
    Something the DWP conveniently has forgotten about. Besides it was over a hundred years ago and who gives a load of s–t about life that they have destroyed a hundred years ago and about lives and life that they will destroy as we watch it happen.

  2. Allen Berrey July 10, 2018 at 1:53 pm #

    If this is all true, then Mono County and the State of California should work together to acquire the rights to the irrigation water via eminent domain on the grounds that protection of an endangered species and preservation of a traditional local economy are collectively a more beneficial use of the water than its export to and use in Los Angeles.

    A consortium of the referenced “local stakeholders” could then manage that water for those uses.

    The ranchers and the grouse would get the water; LADWP would be compensated for the loss of its property.

  3. Randy Keller July 10, 2018 at 7:43 am #

    Kind of a two-fer for L.A. – a war against the environment and against rural ranchers and business people. Congratulations Mayor Garcetti.

  4. Tom Tuttle July 10, 2018 at 7:12 am #

    These Ranchers sound like a bunch of freeloading Welfare recipients who think they are entitled to everything and anything for free or on the cheap. If they don’t like the conditions and terms of the lease, they are free to go elsewhere. Nobody id forcing them to ranch there. Reminds me of the Mormon Ranchers in Arizona and Utah who didn’t want to pay the U.S. Government fees for using the land.

    When will the people in the Owens Valley finally figure it out? It is not their land or their water rights. LADWP owns the land and the water rights. Figure it out and just get over it. 100 years later and their still whining about it.

    • David Dennison July 10, 2018 at 12:24 pm #

      Tom Tuttle….Those Ranchers are far from “freeloaders and welfare recipients”…that talk,something like you’d hear trump saying,since he couldn’t care less about the environment,especially when the environmental issues are in California…as a visitor to Bridgeport I always look forward to seeing those fields,cattle,ranchers and the river running…my suggestion to you,with that attitude,if your not an Inyo or Mono local,don’t come here…stay south….we love the Bridgeport area up here….we don’t want anyone or anything turning areas into a barren wasteland….LADWP will get so much flack for this,especially with the environmental groups getting involved now,I promise you,the cattle,the Ranchers and the water,it isn’t going anywhere….

    • Tom ain't a local July 10, 2018 at 3:59 pm #

      I suppose it’d all be a lot easier if we just done dried up and blowed away, Tom, but then where would you get your food? Seems to me you don’t know what you’re talkin’ about.


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