The Mammoth Lakes area has a long history of notorious battles with special interest groups, beginning in 1910 when special interest lobbies for mining and lumber sent an application to U.S.D.A. Forest Service engineer Walter L. Huber for permission to blast the area now known as Devil Postpile National Monument in order to dam the San Joaquin River and provide power for mining and lumbering operations in this pristine wilderness. Fortunately, in 1894 and in 1911, John Muir had set pen to paper and had written and sketched detailed descriptions of this area in The Mountains of California and My First Summer in the Sierra, respectively. These two pieces of eloquent writing and scenic sketches were so influential that in 1913 President Taft established the Devil Postpile National Monument as an area of “scientific interest,” thereby saving the entire San Joaquin River basin. Interestingly, the San Joaquin River and Rainbow Falls area of Mammoth Lakes were originally part of Yosemite National Park, but mining interests had managed to have this protection removed prior to 1910.
In the tradition of conservation, and in order to insure the stability of the flora and fauna in the Mammoth Lakes Basin, our local Mammoth Community Water District (MCWD) had been conducting a twenty-year environmental study to determine the stream flows necessary to sustain a healthy trout population in Mammoth Creek. From this study, they have developed, among other things, the fisheries bypass flow requirements, which will benefit not only the wildlife, but also the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). Nevertheless, the LADWP is challenging MCWD’s water rights in a lawsuit that is costly to residents of both Mammoth Lakes and Los Angeles. Additionally, LADWP is another special interest group who has shown no interest in protecting this emerald of the Sierras. Tens of thousands of Los Angeleans flock to Mammoth Lakes every week throughout the year to escape the crowds and bask in the serene beauty described by John Muir, Mark Twain, David Bower, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Clarence King. Taxpayers and residents of both Mammoth Lakes and Los Angeles should be outraged that precious funds are being wasted on costly, unnecessary, and irresponsible litigation, which will result in an increase in fees to all residents, and which could result in destruction of priceless riparian habitats. Please go to MCWD’s web page for more information on this important issue: http://www.mcwd.dst.ca.us/CityofLALawsuits.htm.
Joanne E. Anderson, M.Ed.
Concerned Citizen and Educator