Letter to the editor and LADWP: no big solar here


I encourage you to include the cultural impacts in the EIS. Because this site does have historical significance.

Regarding your plans to build a solar array in the Owens Valley. I am a descendent of many pioneer/settler families in the Owens Valley: the Yaneys; the Skinners; the MacIvers; and the McGees. Sadly the latter were part of the massacre at Owens Lake, that your LA Times reported on a few months back.

Just last night I found out that your solar array location plans will destroy historical remnants of my families’ Skinner/MacIver homestead/sections, including a graveyard, and the MacIver Ditch that my Grandfather Finley MacIver constructed. Also it will take out the narrow gauge rail line that the Slim Princess rode on. My grandmother, Frances Eva (nee Yaney) MacIver (daughter of Eva McGee Yaney) was on it’s last ride, as I recall from family stories.

I have called my elderly cousin in Bishop, my father, my cousin who is co-executor of my grandmother’s estate with my father, and my aunt; and none of them or anyone else in the family had been contacted about this project by POWER Engineers, Inc.

My family is part of the economic diaspora from the Owens Valley in large part due to the Aqueduct. However, I am planning to return to the Owens Valley soon to live as my children are grown and on their own. I have grown up always believing that I was supposed live in Bishop. My parents had to move to Victorville for my father’s job when I was five. We travelled one weekend each month up to Bishop from when I was in kindergarten to my senior year in high school to visit their parents, my grandparents. So during my growing up years I was very much and still am a member of the Owens Valley/Bishop community. Additionally my grandfather, Joe MacIver worked for the DWP.

I can’t believe that POWER Engineers, Inc. could think that my family’s site lacked historical significance as there is a street in Bishop named after them and we still own property on Main Street (where the Vagabond Inn and Denny’s Restaurant are). As I have said before they didn’t contact my father or my cousin about this as executors of that property. My elderly cousin has deeds and records of the property that she will be getting to me to share with you.

Additionally, my Uncle Dennis Bambauer was interned at Manzanar as a child and has made the pilgrimage back to it every year. He was a mixed race child from a Japanese woman and a US service man and an orphan, but was still interred! He was married to my mother’s sister. Sadly, they have since divorced. I may need to make the pilgrimage this year as his Parkinsons may not let him return. I join in his stead and Manzanar in asking you to respect that sacred site and the request of those at Manzanar to not site this project.

In closing I wish to remind the DWP and the City of LosAngeles that the trade for our water, was tourism. This project will impact our tourism greatly. And frankly what I see from my recent visit to the Owens Valley, is that we’re, you and I, not doing too good on that tourism. So many boarded up restaurants and other places that I remember as a kid, Welches in Big Pine, the Pines in Independence, etc. I hope we can join together to work toward a better tourism trade, throughout the whole valley. Getting rid of a rail line will not help that at all.

And I don’t see how this project works toward the “greater good” that Teddy Roosevelt traded our valley for to you LA. The LADWP, may own the property,  but the reason you own property in the Owens Valley is ONLY for the Aqueduct and for no other purpose.

If the DWP wants solar arrays, please consider putting them over the Aqueduct. This will alleviate evaporation and be a more responsible use of our shared water. Or put them in LA over parking lots, on resident’s houses, etc. I agree that we should be solarizing as much as possible. But large scale solar arrays are not compatible with many landscapes, especially the Owens Valley. They kill birds, increase flash floods, and this one would have significant line loss too. There are concerns about the health effects of power transmission and distribution systems which would not be an issue if the photovoltaic cells were distributed across rooftops, etc. closer to the point of consumption.

I look forward to the next century of cooperation between the City of LA, the LADWP, and the residents of the Owens Valley that takes into account those of in the Owens Valley. Please join me in working toward that.

Many kind regards,

Yaney LA MacIver


40 Responses to Letter to the editor and LADWP: no big solar here

  1. Paul M. Skinner November 7, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    I will have to agree with my relative Yaney LA MacIver. I love to go out in that area and walk around and show my grandchildren where my father W.V. ( Bill Skinner ) was born and lived until LA took over. He would show me where the garden and the orchards where, where he caught fish in the MacIver ditch, where he went to school at Reward all of these things. I still live in Lone Pine and am out that way quite often. I was at the meetings in Lone Pine on the subject of solar field and asked some of the city engineers if this is really viable and was told that no it was not, that it would be for SHOW.

    • Yaney LA MacIver November 10, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

      Paul get in touch with me. Lynn Johnson has my contact info. Please and thanks.

  2. Water Moccasin November 6, 2013 at 12:29 am #

    “…but the reason you own property in the Owens Valley is ONLY for the Aqueduct and for no other purpose.”

    I agree and hope county supervisors make a point of this. Zoning laws don’t necessarily let other private land owners owners run more than one business.

  3. Steve November 5, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    President of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt was sold a lie by greedy men with only one thing in mind, making lots of money. The pitch was the fresh High Sierra water was going to waste as it was pouring into the dead Owens Lake. If LA could capture the river before it got to the lake it would be best for all. The lie comes from the fact that LA did not stop at just the Owens river. They continued to grab every source of water all the way to Mono Lake. They installed hundreds of deep wells to take the ground water. They were so good at taking all they could get a second pipeline was built to handle the the increased volume.

    Teddy was a great president that had respect for the blood and sweat of the common man that made it possible for great things to be done for the greater good of all. He also was the first president to make a National Park. Because he knew if it was not saved we all would loose. When Teddy signed the bill granting LA the waters of the Owens River it was never the intent to suck the valley dry and destroy the environment he so loved.

    As citizens of the United States we have to take LA to task for the greed and destruction of the environment they have caused. I am sure Teddy Roosevelt would have.

    • MajorTom November 5, 2013 at 10:46 am #

      And he was a Republican. And a progressive. We could use some TR Republicans.

      • Desert Tortoise November 5, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

        Hear, hear! Well said.

    • Water Moccasin November 5, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

      Roosevelt fought against corporate and government graft as well as champion for conserving natural resources, yes. He also used gunboat diplomacy to insure Panamanian revolution when Columbia wanted more money for Panama Canal than US offered. He also favored imperialism in Philippines and opening US trade to Asia. West coast port development fit into these plans. To say the Feds were completely naive in all this is far fetched.

      I agree that groundwater pumping is a further travesty here, as well as throughout the US and world, and original agreement has been pushed way too far

      • Benett Kessler November 5, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

        I think you are right about the federal government. Lipincott, of the federal reclamation bureau, was also working privately for LA in the whole taking of land and water. And, LA’s congressman
        had sway in it too.

    • Desert Tortoise November 5, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

      More badly informed exaggeration. William Muholland was an employee of a public agency and not out to make a profit for himself or for his employer. Today you might not like the policies of the time, but for all of his faults (I have had to evacuate my home when one of his dams was on the verge of collapse) he did the best he could with the engineering knowldege of the day in the service of a city he loved and was dedicated too. I am unapolagetically sympathetic to that position. Though I chose to leave LA decades ago, my father was a dedicated employee of the city (Burea of Engineers, not DWP whom he called the Department of Water and Parasites) and he was very proud of the qualtiy of public works LA built for it’s citizens. He loved his city and dedicated his working life to it, and the city rewarded him with a decent salary and great retirement. Once upon a time loyalty was thus rewarded and I have no doubt William Mulholland was a dedicated to the greater good of LA as that greater good was understood in their era as my father was to that same city.

      So making statements like “, Teddy Roosevelt was sold a lie by greedy men with only one thing in mind, making lots of money” tells me you are at the very least poorly informed and at worst a shallow ideological sloganeer with no understanding of the situation.

      • Benett Kessler November 5, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

        Harsh judgment on Steve, DT. The truth is none of us knows the inner motivations of others. Only they may know. The facts are those who bought up San Fernando Valley land enjoyed real estate values that ballooned when Owens Valley water flowed south. Owners? At least Otis Chandler, owner of the LA Times. I don’t personally know of the other owners, but any thinking person knew that water equaled money and influence. More than a few cashed in. Certainly, Mr. Mulholland may have loved his city and more particularly his work. But, he also knew about the fraud and the tough fights to manipulate politics and bureaucrats to put down Owens Valley people to get the water. Other than that, it really is hard to know Mulholland’s moral lines.

        • Desert Tortoise November 6, 2013 at 8:24 am #

          Water certainly did allow Los Angeles to grow and that growth made a great many people quite a bit of money. It is exactly that kind of development that allows a nation to gain economic power and allow it’s citizens to live more prosperous lives. Without it this would still be a relatively poor and weak agrarian society like the nation was upon it’s founding.

          Many here seem to think William Mulholland A: made a fortune off the completion of the aqueduct when in fact he was a municipal employee paid a salary to serve his city. He made the same money one way or the other, aside from perhaps any promotion he earned from his engineering success. But as far as profiting off the water? Any claims that Mulholland profited from the aqueduct are laughable nonsense almost not worth my time to comment on. The people who make such statements have an axe to grind and don’t let the facts get in the way. You Bennet are tipping awfully close to that camp sometimes.

          I also challenge the anger directed at Mulholland and LA for subsequent events in the Owens Valley, as if people of that era had the slightest idea of the ecological effects of the aqueduct. In the context of the day he did what was expected of him by the public who paid his salary. There was a very limited understanding of these things one hundred years ago. For all his faults Mr. Mulholland did what he viewed as a service to Los Angeles, the city he worked for. He didn’t make a fortune as some here imply, and the tragic failure of his engineering with the collapse of the San Francisquito Canyon Dam, an event that put the limits of his engineering talent in the public spotlight, left him a broken man.

          • Benett Kessler November 6, 2013 at 11:05 am #

            Dear DT, You seem to be the one who brings up Mulholland. Others have merely responded. Not sure what your source of info is. Some have suggested that you are a DWP shill. Surely, that is not true. I do not have an axe to grind. I have a truth to tell – over nearly 40 years, I have witnessed bullying, intimidation, disrespect and lies from DWP officials in relation to the Eastern Sierra’s people and environment. It’s my job to tell about it.

            You have missed my point. It is not to criticize the need to grow and evolve. It is to shed light on how it is done and the lack of principles by which Los Angeles has operated in the Eastern Sierra. If you think we are alive to selfishly steal what we want and abuse those from whom we take it, I would strongly disagree. Many, even in Los Angeles, now see the institutionalized disrespect LA has for Inyo-Mono. Their officials speak nice words, but their actions show disregard and duplicity for us and our land here.

            Benett Kessler

          • JeremiahJoseph November 6, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

            Desert Tortoise, I find your comment slightly offensive, and just out right WRONG, of course we must put in play the ideological lens that I am looking through, that of which interprets what I see (my underlined perspective).
            Yes the water that the Paiutes, Shoshones, Mono, Miwuk’s used and cherished for thousands of years, certainly did help and allow the city of LA to prosper to what we know of it today, BUT WAIT? your proud of the social and environmental injustice that has taken and still takes place? and your going to call my indigenous ancestors poor and weak?
            The kind of tactics and strategies of how (at times) our country gains economic power is nothing to be proud of? of course unless you drink up the kool aid the culprits dish out!
            I keep reading your comments to see what angle I want to use to counter your view… the more I read it the more it makes me vomit a little bit in my mouth.
            It just cracks me up how anybody could defend mulholland, when it was obvious he cared less about the people of the Owens Valley, but yet his legacy is still very much alive because people will tend to reinforce it, in the best interest of LADWP and future proposals.
            This is a topic I will not ease up on, I believe Tribes in the Valley and in the nation deserve “Tribal Sovereignty”, unfortunately the rule of law continues to undermine tribal sovereignty on a daily… but with the belief tribal communities deserve the “vital” resource that will secure and make sustaining the culture and community more a reality, when this “a nation to gain economic power and allow it’s citizens to live more prosperous lives” collapse’s, because of the narrow-minded self-serving mindsets that think we can continue to divide and conquer with the ignorance that it’s only way a nation attains power and prosperity??
            I challenge you in the way to prove to me how we are not a part of everything around us and why we should look the other way when we see the plants and animals around us hurting for a voice?
            Prove to me why people should agree with you over any counter argument? Or I will just (admittedly) fill in the blanks for you and say you are working off “cherry picked” facts and opinions that compliments what you already believe….

        • Mark November 7, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

          “Shoshones, Mono, Miwuk’s used and cherished for thousands of years”

          Cherished? The lived in dirt huts I don’t think they knew a thing about the World they lived in.

          Seems a lot like to blame Mullholland when he was just working under the direction of Fred Eaton. It was Fred Eaton who created LADWP and appointed William Mulholland as superintendent and Chief Engineer.

      • Steve November 6, 2013 at 8:32 am #

        Please take the time to read “Left in the Dust”: How Race and Politics Created a Human and Environmental Tragedy in L.A. by Karen Piper.

        She did a great job of laying the truth out for all.

        And as for me you have only read a post on a blog. And have some how gathered enough info to label me. So shallow of you.

  4. tourist from overseas November 5, 2013 at 1:08 am #


  5. tourist from overseas November 5, 2013 at 1:07 am #

    Here’a a link to George Takei on facebook: he has 5,000,000 facebook fans so his message goes far. You can google his broadway show on internment camps by googling “Allegiance and Takei”

    Schools get grants for solar. This school has a $900k grant. Why can’t every home get their own? http://ecowatch.com/2013/10/31/crowdfunding-campaign-helps-schools-go-solar/

    Here’s a story on the White House EO in case its relevant. http://ecowatch.com/2013/11/04/president-obama-executive-order-prepare-u-s-impacts-climate-change/

    Best wishes and good luck.

  6. tourist from overseas November 5, 2013 at 12:56 am #

    I came across your letter for reasons unknown as I was looking into travel through Bishop for a ski holiday later this year. Anyway, Actor George Takei of Star Trek fame has a show on broadway at the moment about the internment of Japanese children like himself. He has a huge following on facebook. If this solar project impacts on the internment camps, he might get the message out very effectively and around the world. Oh, the Whitehouse just issued an Executive Order (yes I see all sorts of stuff) about EIS reports. I saw a link to it on http://www.unofficialalpine.com) that might be relevant. Gov Brown and Eric Garcetti are 2 members of a task force that is supposed to implement reforms on climate change. Heritage issues might take a back seat I suspect. Best wishes with saving the cemetary.


  7. Desert Tortoise November 4, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    Lone Pine Railroad station long before the LA Aqueduct.


    Olancha circa 1920


    Old construction photos of the aqueduct construction;



    You can view the photos at this site as well


    I think the degree of greenery some here attribute to the Owens Valley pre-aqueduct might be exaggerated.

    • Benett Kessler November 4, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

      Why are you pro-LADWP without the facts? Consider the fact that before the aqueduct, all streams from the Sierra stayed in the Valley. So did all the groundwater which began going south in the 20s. Certainly the absence of all of that water made a difference. Not sure why we’re even discussing this.
      Benett Kessler

      • Rejoice at living here November 5, 2013 at 6:04 am #

        All who live far from the overpopulated, overcrowded nightmare in the south should go outside every morning and rejoice and be thankful for living in such a beautiful place on earth. Meanwhile, there will be more people being born in the south next year adding to the pollution, the crime, the gangs, the lousy attitude, the breakdown of society in general – and more water they need each year the population continues to demand.

      • Water Moccasin November 5, 2013 at 10:45 am #

        Showing another viewpoint of the truth is not necessarily pro-aqueduct. The statement that OV looks like it did 100 yrs. ago is quite a stretch, as well is the idea that some have that it looked like the western Sierra and central valleys.
        Settlers on the east side of river found poor farming and moved on. Grazing sheep and cattle changed the landscape and drove off native game. Settlers fought over water and cut each other, and natives, off upstream also. Water diversions had begun to lower the lake. Some sold willingly, and many were forced out.

        Thanks DT, BK, and YLM for sharing your stories. They help us see all the facts.

        • Benett Kessler November 5, 2013 at 11:28 am #

          Another viewpoint is not necessarily pro-aqueduct, but when someone alleges no or few impacts from the aqueduct there is no basis in fact. What is your source of information?
          Thanks, Benett Kessler

          • Water Moccasin November 5, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

            Never alleged no or few impacts. Just that there were impacts pre aqueduct and there would be impacts if water had stayed in valley. DT’s photos show how unlike western Sierra it is here in the rain shadow. Our water comes from snow melt and results in different environments as MTI has pointed out. Yes, orchards here were uprooted unjustly in favor of orchards in San Fernando Valley, as natives and their crops were uprooted by settlers.

            Information about settlement on eastern side of valley
            found in museums in Lone Pine and Independence if memory serves.

          • Benett Kessler November 5, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

            I did not say you alleged no or few impacts. My comment was in reply to DT.

    • Mongo The Idiot November 5, 2013 at 8:57 am #

      My favorite Owens Valley photos are at Eastern Cal. Museum and in the pioneer towns gallery on line. Prior to the devastation caused by the removal of water the region was a unique mix of arid desert, lakes, springs, riparian forest, etc. The further north you travel the greater the vegetation. How amazing it must have been to see the 100 square mile Owens Lake in the desert at the South end! The thing that is striking about the images is that they communicate a special sense of community, Independence still has it to a degree. There are very few possibilities on earth for a ecosystem like that of the Owens, and even fewer that were preserved by water removal and sabotage of industry. Today it seems like a dream to live in such a place. Adorable towns, friendly people, hunting, fishing, mountaineering, exploring, riding the Slim Princess, and enjoying life in the isolated valley.

      • Desert Tortoise November 5, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

        I showed you pre-aqueduct photos, some taken of the aqueduct under construction before any waters were diverted and you can see the Owens Valley shown in those photos was as parched then as today. I stand by my contention that the valley before the aqueduct was an arid place, semi desert in most places and not as lush or as green as some here maintain. You do not have to take my word. Those photos say it all.

  8. Yaney LA MacIver November 4, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    What would be really cool is to have pictures posted at all the lost homesteads of what it looked like then. Things were very green. Of course, please stay tuned for Jenna Cavelle’s Paya for what it really looked like before the settlers arrived.

    As to the McGees, they’ve got enough already with the creek and the mountain. If anyone knows what they used to be called. Please let me know–thank you.

    • MajorTom November 5, 2013 at 10:41 am #

      A phone/tablet app that would show historic photos of the scene when pointed in that direction would be awesome. Are there any maps of the valley from early 1900’s that show the farms, ranches and orchards?

  9. Yaney LA MacIver November 4, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    Dear Desert Tortoise,

    Please do some research and reading about those times. Yes, they could make it and many did. But when you have the President of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt, and Gifford Pinchot working in tandem to force the land from those who had been granted homesteads, etc., the homesteaders didn’t have much of a chance and they were denied water rights for their property. So how you do you expect them to have made a go of it?

    Also I must comment that my great-great grandfather, Israel Putnam Yaney and his brother John, traveled from Sonora CA over Sonora Pass thinking they were going to settle in LA but saw the beautiful Owens Valley and decided to settle there. They were indentured by their family in Ohio. They were merchants in Sonora and made money off of the gold rushers. They donated their land to Sonora County and there is another Yaney Street there.

    • Philip Anaya November 5, 2013 at 10:05 am #

      Dear YL MacIver ,
      Thank you for your letter and for sharing some of your Family’s history. Folks who wish they had some Family history here in the Valley, that they would have given anything to be here all their lives are naturally to some degree hankering to do the same. Instead of making some local history for themselves and having a family, putting roots down and nuturing their home, they just might be struggling a bit to survive here all on their own. Outsiders, flatlanders, people like me who finally get to be in a place where we can say “this is it” are thankful to be able to be here and to be accepted into the community. Dreams of fishing everyday turn into the reality of being part of the community and doing what we can to keep it as good as when we arrived. Broken down dreams and homesteads are someone’s history and although not historic enough for some, there is a story to be told and with luck and with someone to listen, then a story to be shared. We will be doing what we can no doubt to preserve this special place we call home. It’s hard to imagine that anyone who calls this place home, wants to see it become a broken down dream, a broken down homestead.

  10. Desert Tortoise November 4, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    There are all manner of abandoned ruins in the Owens Valley and the deserts to the south. Is every single one “historic”? Really? Or are they just the abandoned property of people who tried and failed to make a living in the unforgiving envronment of the desert southwest? US 395 is lined with the ruins of business that failed, homes that burned, little villages that were abandoned when the residents fortunes ran out. Are the ruined buildings across from Pearsonville for example “historic ruins” or just an eyesore that needs to be torn down? If a future owner wants to build something there are so-called preservationists going to raise a stink over building on “historic ruins”.

    The only owner who is owed anything in this instance is the current owner of the property. If the property was so important, then why did the family sell it and leave? It obviously wasn’t important to them then. I think people are just looking for a reason to be outraged.

    • Benett Kessler November 4, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

      A lot of people had to sell their property or simply had to leave during LA’s buy-out of the Valley. Historic accounts say LA’s agents would buy land up stream and cut off those downstream. Check out the little book, “Dry Ditches” written by the Parchers. Anyway, there is a State Historic Preservation Office that sets down rules for preserving places and things 50 years and older.
      Benett Kessler

  11. Mongo The Idiot November 4, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    I just interviewed 10 people at my LA post office about the proposed solar project, here is what I learned:
    – All but one knew where Owens Valley is.
    – They all think it is criminal to put the panels in Inyo along the scenic byway.

    If you are against the panels you can help by posting comments on the articles about the mule march and 100th anniversary of the aqueduct.

  12. Mongo The Idiot November 4, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    NPR just did a big article on LA water, it’s a good place to post comments from the valley.
    There are also many other articles in the LA area papers because of the 100 mules.
    Sign Up and post comments Inyoites?


  13. Mongo The Idiot November 4, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    Great article!
    Did you know that you may be able to register your families homestead site and graveyard with the national register of historic places?
    I pray to GOD that LADWP doesn’t desecrate your families graves.
    Thanks for your communication!

    • Mongo The Idiot November 4, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

      I think the Yaneys; the Skinners; the MacIvers; and the McGees all deserve some consideration for their loss. Inyo needs a national historic site on the property with a memorial wall dedicated to all the families of the Inyo who lost their homes, farms, livelihood, and lives.


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