Volume 2, No. 5 October 1983
THE CALIFORNIA NATIVE PLANT SOCIETY
Beautiful Indian summer in Inyo-Mono, still and golden. This has been known to last throughout October and well into November.
Those of us living in Owens Valley and many of you outside this area are familiar with the 70 odd year controversy over the exportation of water, both surface and underground, by the City of Los Angeles. Upon completion of a second aqueduct in 1970, pumping was increased to an alarming amount. Although the people of Owens Valley had been assured that "only excess" water would be exported, it quickly became apparent that there was a decided difference of opinion in the meaning of that term. The very life blood of the valley was included in the "excess" category by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP). In desperation, Inyo County filed suit to require an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). To this date, the DWP has not come up an EIR which is acceptable to the court. Until it does, there is a court imposed limit of 149.56 cfs of pumping for export. Significant damage has occurred even under this limit.
In the meantime, Inyo County citizens voted by a 76% majority to adopt a Groundwater Ordinance which would create an Inyo County Water Department to proceed with a water management plan for Owens Valley. Los Angeles responded by filing suit in which they claimed that the ordinance was illegal because it interfered with the municipal affairs of the City of Los Angeles. After a long delay, Jurdge Turner of the San Bernardino Superior Court handed down a decision in their favor. Inyo's next move was to appeal that decision to a higher court, where it is thought that our chance of winning is good, apparently good enough to frighten Los Angeles. For the first time in history they are interested in negotiating a joint water management plan, along with other terms, in an agreement. This would put both court cases on hold.
After several meetingstoward this end, a proposed agreement has been released to the public. The meetings had been held in secret sessions. It appears that our officials consider it a good agreement and are eager to accept it. Others find it frightening, pointing to dangerous loopholes and the possibility of excessive pumping. It seems that we are expected to enter into this on the basis of "good faith". There has been great hope that the time might come when Los Angeles and Inyo County could arrive at a joint management plan, fair to both sides. The large question now is how much security, or how little is acceptable to the people of Owens Valley. At this point, any opposition to the proposed
agreement is being downplayed, even though significant in numbers. Statements of opposition have been made by the League of Women Voters of the Eastern Sierra, the Concerned Citizens of Owens Valley, and the Bristlecone Chapter, C.N.P.S.
REPORTS ON PAST EVENTS
A great field trip was enjoyed by the small group that visited Mono Lake on September 17. Debbie Jewett, in charge of information and tours at the Mono Lake Visitors Center, gave us a superb slide show of the lake and its environs. This was followed by a guided tour to Mono Lake Park on the northwest shore to see a wet meadow at water's edge; then to Panam Crater to visit a volcanic site; and then to the Mono Lake Tufa Towers State Park to see the scenic wonders of these fascinating formations. After a picnic lunch on the shore we split up, some heading home while the Prathers, Yoders, Doris Fredendall, and Ray Mosher looked for a place to spend the night. Next day the Prathers went to the Red's Meadow area while Doris, Ray and the Yoders went up Tioga Pass way to botanize in an alpine meadow where over 50 species were checked out. It was a special trip, enjoyed by all.
The regular meeting scheduled for September 28 was put off a week to October 5 to avoid conflicting with the Water Commission's public hearing on the proposed Los Angeles - Inyo agreement. The speaker was David Groeneveld, Ecological Consultant, now doing a joint study for U.S.G.S., Inyo County, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. He explained the procedures, including the use of neutron probes, of the vegetation survivability studies now under way in Owens Valley. The object, of course, is to determine the water requirements of various species and their tolerance to water withdrawal. While David focuses on the plants, the same project includes studies of the geology and hydrology of the valley.
November 19, Saturday.
Meet with David Groeneveld at 9:00 a.m. at a place yet to be determined. Watch the media. He will escort us to some of the sites where survivability studes are being conducted. This is a follow-up of his talk at our last meeting, and an excellent opportunity for us to see the actual procedure. His generosity in sharing time from his busy schedule indicates his sincere interest in the Owens Valley environment.
November 30, Wednesday.
The regular meeting at 7:00 p.m. at the Security Pacific National Bank in Bishop. Following a short business meeting and election of officers for the coming year, Vince Yoder will present a short talk and slide show describing his
ongoing biota study in the Alabama Hills.
December 10, Saturday. Field trip.
Meet at Whitney Portal Road at its intersection with Movie Road, west of Lone Pine, at 9:30 a.m. Bring lunch and walking shoes. This is a follow-up on Vince's study in the Alabama Hills. Don't miss it!
NOTE: It will be the policy, as far as possible, to schedule the
NOMINATIONS FOR OFFICERS
President . . . . . . . . . . Mary DeDecker
Note that election of officers will be at the November 30 meeting.
Correction: On page 7 of Vol. 2, No. 4, in the last paragraph of "Good News" we erroneously spoke of "California's two federally 1isted species". It should nave been "Inyo-Mono's two...". A total of 15 species are listed for California.
LATE BLOOMERS ARE SPECIAL
The purple bird's-beak, Cordylanthus helleri, now known as C. kinqii ssp. helleri, in common in the pinyon woodlands of Inyo-Mono and western Nevada. Normally it is not particularly impressive. This year, however, it has been abundant and highly admired. It blooms late, even through the glorious Indian summer weather of October, so easily steals the show. Many have inquired about that purple plant that had escaped notice before. Doris Fredendall called to exclaim over a massive display of it above Little Cowhorn Valley in the Inyo Mountains. The pink-purple plants, outlined by a pale grayish pubescence, fairly glowed with color when back lighted by a lowering sun. Still later, on a woodcutting trip high in the pinyon country, we found dwarfed plants still blooming after everything else was dormant. A brief snowstorm left the reddish-purple little plants decorated with frosty white, exquisitely jewel-like. According to Ray Mosher, they are still blooming on Sherwin Hill at the end of October. The plant is adaptable and widespread, mostly between 6000 and 8000 feet, but we have found it as high as 10,400 feet in the bristlecone forests.
Rabbitbrush, the Chrysothamnus species, blooms through the fall until the first frosts. It turns the countryside to gold, even before the fall colors appear. At lower elevations it is Chrysothamnus nauseosus,
an aggressive shrub which readily takes over abandoned farms or a grasslands under stress. But it, too, dies when water is withdrawn, as evidenced by extensive areas of dead gray shrubs. Other species, shrubs of various sizes, are common at higher elevations. They bloom from late summer into October.
We are happy to welcome the following new members:
Steve R. Brougher P. 0. Box 1323
Please forgive us if there is a lag in getting your name on the list. Since the memberships go through the state chairman it takes a little extra time. Any errors or ommissions should be called to our attention at the address on the newsletter.
BURRO REMOVAL PROGRAM
At long last the ferral burros are being removed from Death Valley National Monument! A combined effort of the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management to remove burros from the Monument is now under way. The goal is to complete the removal by 1986-87. The animals are rounded up and removed to holding pens in Las Vegas and the Ridgecrest area for adoption. This is a costly procedure, however, and there was a problem in meeting the cost until the new owner could reimburse the Park Service. Ever resourceful, the Death Valley '49ers and the E Clampus Vitis came up with an ingenious plan to fund that phase of the project. They printed 1000 Burro Bonds and placed them on sale at $5.00 each. It proved to be a hot sales item--good for framing to put over the bar, or for gifts to favorite friends. A revolving fund was set up to be drawn upon as needed, the reimbursements from the new owners to be returned to replenish the fund.
The Fred Harvey Company plans to display two burros in their Furnace Creek Ranch corral with an interpretive exhibit on the removal and adoption program. The necessary educational program continues.
This introduces a little known program of great value to our region. The following comes from the Biannual Report dated June 30, 1983.
Dr. Charles L. Douglas is the Unit Leader and Senior Research Scientist. Although his office is at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, he is employed by the National Park Service. The studies are funded by the Park Service. It provides grad students with the opportunity to earn a degree while making significant contributions to knowledge of our public resources. This, of course contributes to better management decisions.
Of special interest to the Bristlecone Chapter are the botanical projects in Death Valley National Monument. Each of its mountain ranges have been or will be the subject of a comprehensive study. Members of our chapter are working on two of them. Paul Peterson is nearing the completion of his study of the Cottonwood Mountains, and Carol Annable expects to complete hers on the Funeral Mountains next year. Other studies are concerned with bighorn sheep, the impact of ferral burros, and other areas in the field of natural sciences.
Things with a price have taken precidence over things which are priceless .
The tragedy is that this type of thinking by temporary decision makers can destroy the quality of life for generations to come.
The Bristlecone Newsletter comes out bimonthly. It is mailed free to members of the Bristlecone Chapter, C.N.P.S. The subscription rate is $5.00 per year for non-members.