“Band” members of Mono Lake continue to bicker over property rights
On October 28, The Sheet reported that an un-permitted grading operation was underway on the shore of Mono Lake, across from the Tioga Lodge Resort. That report was based on information provided by Mono County Public Works Department and The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board cited Tioga Lodge Resort owner Dr. Gloria Ma for diverting Post Office Creek and issued a decree warning her of fines and litigation if she did not restore the creek to its “original channel and flow tributary to Mono Lake” by October 28, with a technical report detailing erosion mitigation efforts at the site submitted to Lahontan Water Board by November 7.
As of Tuesday, November 16, Lauri Kemper, Assistant Executive Officer for Lahontan Water Board said that no restoration efforts had been made and that all three copies of the Cleanup and Abatement Order mailed on October 21 had been returned to the Water Board.
Dr. Ma said this week that she never received the orders issued by Mono County or Lahontan Water Board, and that she had been traveling since she closed Tioga Lodge Resort for the winter on October 24. She sought direct contact with Kemper this week.
Meanwhile, Dr. Bill Cunningham, Ma’s neighbor, expressed his concern that the Mono Lake Committee had mistaken existing features of The Tioga Lodge property for new development when the nonprofit reported the diversion of Post Office Creek and “new” road to Mono County, The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, and The Mono Lake South Tufa State Reserve.
Like Dr. Ma, Cunningham owns property upland from Mono Lake’s Eastern shore. His family owned the Tioga Lodge Resort from 1919 to 1969, during which time they offered boat tours from the beach on their property. He said that the standing pond reported by the Mono Lake Committee had been in existence since his childhood, and that the new road reported by the Mono Lake Committee already existed.
Cunningham contested The Mono Lake Committee’s assertion that certain land up to the water’s edge is owned by the State of California. In an email, Cunningham said he and other property owners were told that the land between the 6,417 foot elevation line and the current lake level was “disputed” land by the former Director of California State Parks, Rusty Areias at a meeting between private property owners, the California State Parks Department, and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, in 2001.