Part-timers need stimuiation, too
Mr. Oster’s article [Q &A, Sept. 3] regarding “stimulating” our local economy addressed building development. That is perfectly fair as Paul is expert in the arena and represents the best of Mammoth people. However, there is an area of development that deserves consideration. Paul touched upon the issue. Improve the neighborhood and keep the dollars flowing inside the neighborhood.
Stimulate part-time residents to stay longer and more often. Show them that Mammoth is the Shangri La of California. Have them meet together. Loneliness is not stimulating. Develop a “newcomers club” available to new buyers so that they can “plug into” community affairs and with each other. Stimulate them to come to some place (i.e. the athletic club) at a specific time. There are mostly successful fantastic part-time residents that desire to participate in common interests be it skiing, biking, hiking, fishing, swimming, playing cards, group dinners, dancing or anything that Mammoth has to offer. It is a lot more fun to participate in recreational activities with a group rather than alone. Encourage them to join the newcomers club with inducements of discounts or samples to local restaurants, stores, etc. I’ve met fascinating part-time residents here, but not often enough and not enough of them.
There may be a good market in the part-time residents that requires stimulation. Give them good reason to extend their stay and come more often. They have two homes. Make their Mammoth home so much fun that they sell the one they thought they liked.
Kevin Lester, M.D.
INF is a DNF in wilderness
The Inyo National Forest’s Public Relations Office has responded to concern about the evisceration of the wilderness and trail program in order to provide funds for off highway vehicle (OHV) grant matching. However, their primary response has been that the Inyo’s budget is greatly reduced this year and that next year looks bleak too. But, rather than passing the buck with talk of a bad budget year, the Inyo National Forest owes anyone who recreates on our public lands some real answers to some hard questions.
The first question is about the timing of this funding decision. The Inyo claimed that “we had staffed visitor centers, hired rangers, and were ready to go for summer” when the Forest’s budget came in late — June 15 — and much smaller than expected. This implies that the lack of wilderness management this summer is a result of that unfortunate event. However, if that’s the case, why did most rangers and trail workers know that they didn’t have jobs prior to May?
Secondly, it has been said, as per Public Relations, that the Inyo is not matching the state grant anywhere near a dollar-for-dollar amount. The Forest claims that it is responsible to match a minimum of 26% of the state OHV dollars it receives. One must ask: Is this the original amount agreed to upon getting the grant, or is it a newer figure renegotiated after the Forest realized that it couldn’t actually afford to match the money? If 26% was the original amount the Forest agreed to match, then: What happened to the rest of the wilderness/recreation funds that were taken to meet the incoming OHV grant? They’re gone. Permanent employees paid out of those dollars have gone partially un-funded, or their salaries are being creatively paid through other means. These are people whose jobs the Forest is required to pay for out of the same budget as the wilderness and trails program.
Additionally, Inyo Public Relations has assured us that the work being done on the OHV grant would have to be done either way. As if this makes it acceptable to not do work in the wilderness and on trails. What exactly does this statement imply? The Forest could be claiming that it is responsible for doing work for which there is no funding (the OHV work would have to be done even without the grant). In that case, how does the Forest account for the fact that no work is being done in the wilderness and trails programs? How can they justify laying off visitor center employees and reducing business hours simply because that money went to OHV? But, what they could mean is that while OHV work needs to be done regardless, wilderness and trail work does not. Is the Inyo National Forest claiming that it is not mandated to enforce the Wilderness Act, or to manage the 52% of its acreage that is wilderness? Is the Forest Service not responsible for the land within its jurisdiction?
Finally, there is the question about the way the Forest is claiming to get work done in the wilderness: with volunteers. One would never call into question anyone’s desire to participate in the hands-on stewardship of his or her own public lands. Volunteers are wonderful people. But how can the Inyo National Forest justify using its entire wilderness and trails budget to match an OHV grant by saying that volunteers working in the wilderness somehow “matches” or “offsets” the work that would be done by would-be wilderness personnel? It’s okay if we just decide not to hire people to do this work, they must think. Volunteers will do the same work for free! An important question to ask, is: Can the Forest really decide to displace paid employees with weekend volunteers? This thought process might imply that the work done by seasoned wilderness rangers and trail workers is so easy and simple that anyone can learn to do it in a day. That sounds like a management sincerely out of touch with what work “on the ground” really entails and how hard its own (former) employees toil for our public interest. Does the Union not have a rule to prevent such grievances?
Again, it has been a difficult budget year for the Inyo. But that fact should not stand as a blanket answer to some questionable decisions that have been made by the Inyo National Forest regarding its Wilderness and Trail Program. The public deserves some answers!
It’s in the bag
Recently, I went on a hike with a few friends on a beautiful trail taking in waterfalls, fast moving streams, wild flowers … all of what the Eastern Sierra has for us to enjoy.
While on the trail, I noticed a small blue poop bag off to the side — nicely tied, but no dog owner in sight.
I’m guessing the owner felt good about themselves: A) they took the time to have a bag on hand; B) they took responsibility by picking up the poop; and C) they tossed the poop bag off to the side. (You wouldn’t want someone to step on the bag!)
My friend, who was visiting from San Francisco, told me the city was having a big debate regarding the blue bags, AKA “feel good about yourself bags.” And it’s okay to leave them because she said, “They’re biodegradable!” REALLY?
I asked her “how long do you think the ‘feel good about yourself bag’ takes to completely biodegrade?” Probably a long time — they are plastic!
If dog owners just took a moment to find a stick and flick their dog’s poop off the trail (you wouldn’t want someone to step on your poop!) it would biodegrade much quicker.
I get it that when you live in a concrete jungle, you need to have the biodegradable “feel good about yourself bags.” But if you are taking the time to tie a nice little knot around your poop bag, just think how good you’d feel about yourself if you carried it out with you and threw it away?
Or are you just leaving it and hoping someone as responsible AS YOU picks it up?
Who knows? Maybe you’ll start a “feel good” trend and the people riding horses will start to do the same. We can make them biodegradable too! Wow, think about it: a beautiful hike without blue bags and large amounts of horse dumps and thousands of flies buzzing around. I’m happy already!
Dirty Girls love Mammoth
Sandy and I (aka Dirty Girls) just wanted you to know how much fun we had at the first annual Mammoth Mud Run. The course, food, entertainment and people of Mammoth made for a wonderful experience! Meeting Tony Horton for the warmup session before the run has given us incentive to get in better shape for next year’s run.
We vow to return with a bigger, better team of Dirty Girls.
Let’s get coherent
It is time for Mammoth Lakes to develop a coherent plan for the airport by retaining a top professional planning firm like Bishop did. One can read such plans on the web. Even for small airports like ours, they are far above anything we have produced locally. After years of big talk and spin, the Town doesn’t even have a credible plan on paper. Without an expansion plan approved by the Council, there can be no construction.
The first step is to make an accurate forecast of air travel based on real data, not marketing claims. We need more than misleading comparisons with Eagle County (Vail), where they have a population nearby of about 60,000 and several major ski areas, not to mention an interstate highway. Eagle County was the site of President Carter’s billion-dollar oil shale project. Too bad nobody listened to him.
Claims that 300,000 people will come into Mammoth by air are absurd. That is about as many people as US 395 brings in for an entire ski season. Anybody who invests money based on such hype needs a business therapist.
The next step is to look at the airplanes likely to be available in ten years, not ancient models being sold to Third World airlines. These will typically be jets. For jets to operate successfully year-round, the runway needs to be extended to at least 9,000 feet. This is nothing new; American Airlines said that about 737 operations 12 years ago. Jets need a longer takeoff run.
The problem with this expansion is that the runway goes over a hill and the top of it needs to be shaved off for visibility. Also, the runway is too steep at the east end, and the safety areas will need to be lengthened. By planning for regular use by airplanes no bigger than the current jet (CRJ700), there will be no need to move the taxiway or carve the end off Doe Ridge as the sillier proposals require.
All of this is unquestionably an expansion and requires an expansion plan meeting federal and state requirements, not another pie-in-the sky marketing document full of hot air. While the construction itself will cost millions, the plan won’t and it is required to move forward. To get money from the FAA, it must contain competent professional travel forecasts and layout plans. To stuff all those hangars and the new terminal into the limited space available and leave enough room for airplanes to taxi is difficult, and a fresh look at the layout is essential.
We will know the Town is serious when the spin stops and the real planning begins.
Seriously? This whole airport issue (“All Sprung Out,” Sept. 3) has me dumbfounded. Story quotations followed by my reaction in italics.
“Mayor Jo Bacon sat next to me during the Airport Commission meeting. This was the first she had heard about a possible legal issue involving the Sprung Structure. She said she was unaware of the applicability of the court injunction and that staff had never brought it up.”
Who is running the show? Why are these staff members still employed?
“Mammoth Mountain Senior Vice-President Pam Murphy said it would not change current plans for up to seven flights a day. ‘We could still do it,’ she said, ‘but it would create a potentially damaging customer service experience.’”
Why would we want to consider a situation that creates potentially damaging customer service?
“Airport Manager Bill Manning said Wednesday that ‘our legal team believes it [Zimmerman’s injunction] doesn’t apply.’”
Really Bill? Who is that legal team? Did you even ask? Is it the same legal team that advised on the last airport debacle?
“FYI, Mammoth’s Planning Commission defined temporary as being good through 2017 in its approval.”
Clearly staff is not providing enough information or accurate information to council and commissions. BTW what does our own code state as “temporary?”
“The speculation is that the Study was conducted to show how economically infeasible it is to build a compliant airport, hope being the FAA will continue to grant Mammoth Yosemite code exemptions.”
Why would we want to build an unsafe airport? So we could face more lawsuits?
“As Manning said, ‘There aren’t any perfect airports out there.’ He cited Burbank as one example.”
Are you kidding me? This is ludicrous.
Mammoth Lakes /Costa Mesa