Mammoth’s water …
We’re perplexed that, as the agency combs California for more water, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) thinks going after Mammoth Creek is a wise move.
Why Mammoth’s water? For decades, Mammoth Lakes has been the getaway of choice for Los Angeles, a place to relax and recharge in the clear mountain air and spectacular natural surroundings. Many L.A. residents return year after year to fish, hike, ski and enjoy the Mammoth experience they were introduced to as children by their parents and grandparents.
Los Angeles needs Mammoth as an escape more than it needs its water. Mammoth Lakes is a four-square-mile island surrounded by the most accessible high country in the Sierra, all of it public land that can’t be developed. The town can’t sprawl. Its population at any one time–say, a very busy holiday weekend–is capped at 52,000 by the community’s General Plan.
All those 52,000 people, visitors as well as the locals working hard to help provide that rewarding Mammoth experience, need an adequate and dependable water supply. Taking away Mammoth’s water will take away far more than we think Angelenos want to give up.
Jim & Elizabeth Tenney
As the World Turners
Here is a fun one for all you folks in the Mammoth area who use Turner Propane. About three weeks ago, I called Turner Propane asking if, when I move, I can get a refund of my unused propane (I was planning to do the pre-buy at the time). I was told, “yes.” Great. I asked because I have been hit with bogus charges before and was preparing myself before putting $1,000 worth of fuel in my tank.
Fast forward to today. I went by to see what the process is for my refund and was told NO – we don’t give a refund for fuel in the tank. Of course, she said, they can charge me $200 to come and pump it out and refund the difference … or my landlord can buy it, which also comes with a fee. WHAT???? I called first. OH NO, she said, I never would have said that. She said that I asked if I would get a refund on the PRE-BUY, which was YES. Why would she not have mentioned that it was different if it’s not a pre-buy? When I was on hold waiting to speak to the gal, the message was all about how customer-focused Turner Propane is. Hmmm. I think they need a lesson on customer service.
Donna Lisa Knowles
To the Editor;
John Urdi (Mammoth Lakes Tourism/Eastern Sierra Air Alliance) is right on about wanting to support regular air service to Mammoth Yosemite Airport.
Last week, we put on the plane the last of four relatives (three from France, one from Colorado) who took advantage of the regular flights to join us for a family gathering. Being able to hop a short flight to/from LAX meant they could get here quicker and stay longer. It meant that two of them could come at all. My family isn’t unique or part of the 1%; mostly we drive here, but since 1978, I and others have had to fly into Reno, Bishop, or (sometimes) Mammoth to get here on occasion. Regular air service just makes it easier to get here, and in the end, that’s what the mountain, the town and the businesses need. I’ve seen the fits and starts of commercial air service through the years, and we can’t let it fail again.
Finally, thanks to MMSA for the waiting area tent.
The Trout that saved Mono Lake
Mono Lake is well on the way to full recovery, thanks to the trout, and the trout fishermen who discovered them.
In 1974 Jake Gittes, a private detective investigating an adultery case stumbled upon a scheme of murder that has something to do with Mono Lake water. Evelyn Mulray, the wife, suspected her husband was having an affair. She hired Gittes to investigate. Her husband, Hollis Mulray, is the chief engineer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the builder of the City of Los Angeles water supply system.
iettes pursues the case and slowly uncovers a vast conspiracy centering on water management, real estate development, and state and municipal corruption.
The story was the Oscar-winning movie “Chinatown.” Jake Gittes, the investigator, beaten and cut badly by agents of the LA water cartel, was Jack Nicholson. Faye Dunaway played the wife, Evelyn Mulray. Of course the movie is fiction … but in many ways resembles truth.
When Chinatown was released, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power had de-watered reaches of every trout stream in the Eastern Sierras from Lee Vining creek south through the Owens Valley, sunk deep wells into the aquifer, and continued to look for ways to acquire more water. Mono Lake had dropped forty-five feet since water diversions began in 1941.
El Nino visited the Eastern Sierra in 1982-83. Locals called it the year of the twenty-four-month-winter. Skiers skied on the upper slopes of Mammoth Mountain on July third …in eighteen inches of fresh powder. The Mono Basin creeks rushed from the mountains filling the dry streambeds. The Los Angeles diversion tunnel through the Glass Mountains could not handle the mass of water from the Rush Creek high country. Grant Lake filled and spilled for two years. Trout slipped over the dam and reestablished populations in Rush Creek all the way to Mono Lake.
The reborn fishery was discovered on October 13, 1984. After sampling seven sections of the stream with a fly rod it was estimated there were 12,000 browns, rainbows, and brooks in the creek. LADWP scoffed at that figure. A month later the California Department of Fish & Game wild trout census team, led by John Deinstadt, electro-fished the creek and came up with the figure of 30,000 trout.
On October 17, 1984, DFG game warden Wes Johnson told the fishermen Los Angeles would be drying up the creek and killing the 30,000 trout on November 1, the day after the trout season closed. They were stunned and made the decision to fight for the fishery. The incredible resource was too wonderful to lose. The discovery was shared with Mono Lake Committee’s David Gaines in Lee Vining. Several days later, the day before LADWP intended to kill the stream, a preventative Temporary Restraining Order, Dahlgren v. LADWP, was filed in Inyo County. The Mammoth Fly Rodders quickly added their name to the action, California Trout joined, and the TRO became a lawsuit.
Barrett McInerney, a California Trout board member and chief legal counsel, plotted a tort plan of brilliance to save the Rush Creek trout. The plan was a success. LADWP lost, lost again on appeal, and again on final appeal. In 1994 the State of California issued their decision. Los Angeles was to restore the trophy trout fishery to what it was in 1940. That court order, SWRCB 1631, stands today… unfulfilled.
California Trout, rightly proud of their victory, proclaimed to the fisher-folk of California that they were headed over the Sierra, and would roll up their sleeves, hire a stream restoration group, and start moving logs, digging new pools, and rebuilding riffles and runs.
Sadly, in spite of the court decision, the anglers of California have been shortchanged. Only the first mile was reconstructed. The trophy trout fishery that once existed has not been restored, and efforts to do so are about to end.
Remember, Mono is well on the way to full recovery, but it was the trout, and the trout fishermen, who saved the lake. Perhaps the question should be asked, ”Where is the Rush Creek trophy brown trout fishery?”