Yosemite is one of world’s most iconic parks; this beautifully photographed video details the importance of Yosemite’s water to the rest of the state.
Our Eastern Sierra region manager (Mark Drew) has been busy working on the typically byzantine water projects common to the area. Drawn-out slogs through dense, technical water issues don’t always grab headlines, but the work typically impacts the long-term health of California’s fisheries.
Here’s an update on some of the bigger issues.
Wrapping Up A Couple Decades Of Work on Mono Basin
Way back in the 1980s (and 1990s), a series of court decisions initiated a restoration program for the main tributaries to Mono Lake. During the last year we’ve been follow through on what began decades ago — a collaborative process that is supposed to lead to lasting, healthy fisheries in the Mono Basin. (For the legal eagles among you, the key outcomes were Decision 1631 and Restoration Orders 98-05 & 98-07.)
At issue are the fisheries in Rush, Walker, Lee-Vining & Parker Creeks, and the enormous amount of research done in the interest of restoring them.
“What we’re hoping to do with this process is to bring closure to a couple decades worth of effort to restore Mono Basin — a collaborative process having to do with the long-term flow recommendations put forth by the state-appointed stream scientists” said CalTrout’s Mark Drew.
“For the last year, we’ve been trying to finish up an agreement as to how to implement the recommended flows and create long-term monitoring to protect these waters and fisheries.”
“It’s sobering to think this process began more than a quarter century ago,” Drew added.
Land use patterns are very different now than they were when the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DW&P) began altering the region’s hydrology, and the fish species of interest to fly fishermen aren’t native, yet CalTrout remains on the forefront of the goal to restore ecological health of the Mono Basin.
Mammoth Creek Water Fight
In a complex legal battle, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DW&P) has thrown a monkey wrench into the Mammoth Water District’s recently completed EIR and urban water management plan. The EIR is the result of a long, intensive collaborative process that CalTrout was integrally involved with and that resulted in the completed settlement agreement between the District & CA DFG.
DW&P contends their water rights would be impacted if the plans are implemented. (In simple terms, the DW&P has senior water rights for water entering Mammoth Creek above the Mammoth Water District, and says that their water right will be impacted by the flows proscribed in the EIR document.)
Opponents of the DW&P lawsuits say that DW&P’s upstream water sources account for approximately 1% of the total Mammoth Creek flow and won’t be a problem, while DW&P counters the district is underestimating the amount of water needed to meet growth demands over the next decade.
CalTrout is hopeful some kind of negotiated compromise will be possible. Our goal over the 15+ year process of completing the EIR was to be sure enough water was in the creek for fisheries, and we feel the settlement agreement and the EIR should move forward.
“We hope to maintain the integrity of the settlement agreement,” said Mark Drew, “And feel strongly the agreement is sound, supports fisheries, and doesn’t affect DWP’s ability to withdraw water.”
CalTrout Involved In Inyo National Forest Management Plan
The Inyo National Forest is embarking on a once-in-a-generation revision of its management plan, and CalTrout is there to make sure the USFS incorporates sound management of aquatic resources.
The Inyo National Forest includes portions of the Golden Trout Wilderness — a critical habitat for California’s state fish.
In the coming months, the Inyo NF will be engaging with interested stakeholders to embark on what is expected to be a three year process, the outcome being a revised management plan that will guide the Forest for the next decade or more. Critical to the revision process is to make sure robust and objective science guides decision making and that due consideration for the needs of aquatic flora and fauna is given.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced they were declining to list the California Golden Trout as endangered, and while a denied ESA listing is often cause for anxiety among conservationists, in this case the news is better than it sounds.
For the last ten years — ever since Trout Unlimited filed a petition for listing the golden trout in 2001 — private groups like TU, CalTrout, the Federation of Fly Fishers, Orvis and others have worked with government agencies to remove threats to the California Golden Trout.
These threats include overgrazing, hybridization and competition from stocked trout and others. Many of these threats have been (or are in the process of being) eliminated.
We’re not taking the California Golden Trout’s future for granted; we’re in agreement with Trout Unlimited’s Howard Kern, who said (in an LA Times Article):
“If there were no collaborative recovery efforts underway, as was the case in 2001, we would be furious,” Kern said.
“However, we are pleased with all the collaborative activity surrounding this fish right now. If it stalls later, we will absolutely go after the federal government with another petition for listing.”
A collaborative approach to Golden Trout recovery is working, and while we’re not yet out of the woods, we’re seeing real progress.
Sent to us by CalTrout member Scott Chandler, this impossibly gorgeous California Golden Trout was caught in the Kern River headwaters — after a 12 mile hike up to 11,000′.
It’s a colorful reminder about one of the things CalTrout is fighting to preserve.
by Mark Drew, PhD, Eastern Sierra Region Manager
The City of Los Angeles depends on the Eastern Sierra for between 40-50% of their annual water supply. Likewise, fisheries of the Eastern Sierra are dependent on an adequate, quality water supply from this region, without which they would perish.
Unfortunately, overexploitation of natural resources (at the state level) to meet urban water demands is threatening:
- The health of Sierra Nevada ecosystems critical to imperiled native trout fisheries
- The quality of water that serves the Eastern Sierra’s disadvantaged communities
Given these conflicting needs, integrated water resources planning is essential for the long-term sustainability of such demands.
California’s Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) Integrated Regional Water Management Program was formed as a means to promote regional planning efforts throughout California.
Through Prop 84 (2006), DWR funds projects that address the following categories/issues:
- Providing adequate water supplies and stream flows
Improving water quality
- Maintaining/restoring healthy ecosystems that are vital to watersheds and the
fisheries they support
In 2008, CalTrout initiated the Inyo-Mono Integrated Regional Water Management Planning process which geographically covers 11% of the state. Since then, CalTrout led the development and implementation of an Integrated Regional Water Management Program (I-M IRWMP) — the first ever for this region.
In addition, we recently coordinated and submitted a proposal to the DWR that included 15 discrete projects that address priority water needs for the region.
This past February, CalTrout was awarded a grant from DWR totaling $331,000 in support of the I-M IRWMP effort, and more recently, Mark Drew, CalTrout Region Manager and Director of I-M IRWMP, was invited to speak at the first ever State-Integrated Regional Water Management Conference and at a National Watershed
Conference on principles of successful integrated water resources management.
Building on that momentum, CalTrout and the RWMG has been awarded one of only five state-wide grants aimed at engaging and empowering economically disadvantaged communities to more effectively manage regional water resources.
A two year grant worth $371,000 will build regional capacity in areas such as Lone Pine (Owens River) and the Walker/Antelope Valley area (Walker River) and in turn, help maintain rivers and waterways within the Eastern Sierra region.
In the coming year, CalTrout will provide continued leadership necessary to further implement the existing plan and coordinate priority projects. In doing so, watersheds and fisheries throughout the Eastern Sierra will benefit.
In May, the Mammoth Creek Environmental Impact Report was approved, paving the way for a restoration of Mammoth Creek’s habitat and fishery. Once given formal approval by the State Water Resources Control Board, the EIR offers several key benefits to fisheries and anglers, including:
- Minimum instream flows needed to support fisheries in good condition
- $10,000 contributed annually to a fisheries enhancement fund supporting watershed restoration
- The Mammoth Community Water District will implement a comprehensive water conservation plan
CalTrout’s role in this process has been critical; we worked collaboratively and relied on sound scientific techniques to drive our participation in this landmark project.
All motorized vessels planning to launch at Crowley Lake must enter through the main gate at the South Landing and must be inspected. No boat access will be available at any other area of Crowley Lake. Boats showing signs of contamination with invasive mussels, or found to contain any water or debris that could harbor invasive mussels, will not be allowed to launch into Crowley Lake. Frequent users of Crowley Lake can arrange with Crowley Lake Fish Camp to store their boat on-site.
Boat owners may have their boat inspected and receive an Inspection Certification prior to arriving at Crowley Lake’s South Landing at this location:
April 27, 28 from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm and April 29 from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm at the Bishop
VONS/KMART parking lot at the corner of Main Street (SR 395), Wye Road and SR 6.
Beginning April 27 at Crowley Lake’s South Landing:
April 27, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm; April 28 through the duration of fishing season 7:00 am – 7:00 pm.
Only pre-inspected boats will be allowed to enter the gate or launch at Crowley Lake after 7:00 pm on April 29. Inspections will resume at 7:00 am on fishing opening day. Pre-inspected boats may use the
pre-paid line at the main gate at South Landing of Crowley Lake to expedite entry.
If you are planning on launching a boat into Crowley Lake please keep the following in mind:
- ALL boat owners are required to fill out a written questionnaire concerning the
boat’s past use
- ALL boats will be thoroughly inspected
- ALL boats and trailers must be CLEAN and DRY or they will be denied access
- ALL DRAIN PLUGS must be pulled or opened prior to boat transport that day
- ALL vehicles towing boats will be required to have a visible Inspection Certification during boat launching at Crowley Lake
Boat owners should be aware there may be an extended wait to enter Crowley Lake Reservoir due to these important protective measures. Inspections are required for the protection of the fishery at Crowley Lake and in order to keep the reservoir open to recreational boating. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Crowley Lake Fish Camp appreciate the cooperation of boat owners and will work to expedite the inspection and certification process.
For more information contact LADWP at (760) 873-0409 or www.LADWP.com/mussels or Crowley Lake Fish
Camp at (760) 935-4043.