First-of-its-kind partnership will improve regional watersheds, reduce fire risk and increase forest carbon capture
INYO COUNTY, CA (July 7, 2021) – The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the United States Forest Service (USFS) today announced a first-of-its-kind partnership in the Eastern Sierra dedicated to improving forest resiliency, increasing carbon capture, decreasing wildfires, improving wildlife habitats and recreation sites, and enhancing the Eastern Sierra watershed over the next two and a half years.
“We are proud to partner with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service on such a critical program,” said Nancy Sutley, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager of External and Regulatory Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer. “This partnership uniquely leverages LADWP’s expertise in both water and power to protect and preserve the Inyo National Forest and safeguard the region’s watershed, while also reducing our carbon footprint.”
With an investment from LADWP of $1 million with matching funds, the partners will implement seven projects ranging from prescribed burns and invasive plant removal to fuels reductions and recreation management. These types of fuels management activities can have the potential to increase water retention up to 407 acre-feet of water per year and capture 230,000 metric tons of carbon emissions over 30 years, equivalent to removing 50,000 cars off the road.
“With some projects already showing success, NFWF is excited to expand our partnership with LADWP and USFS to benefit the future health and wellbeing of Inyo’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats,” said Jeff Trandahl, NFWF Executive Director and CEO. “It is inspiring to see this initiative bring together stakeholders, both locally and nationally, to work together to protect and enhance this magnificent area of California.”
Most of the projects are set to kick off in Fall of 2021, but a select group are already underway, including the Climbing Rangers Program and Casa Diablo Prescribed Fire project, representing the single largest project in the partnership to date.
Climbing Rangers have been tasked to work closely with the rock-climbing community and provide education on how to protect the landscape, provide trail maintenance and trash removal, and monitor recreational visitors – a holistic approach to preserve the ecosystem around climbing, prevent detrimental effects on watershed health and mitigate potential for wildfire. The Casa Diablo Prescribed Fire project will reduce the risk of catastrophic fire and improve wildlife habitat and watershed health in the Owens River and Crowley Lake area.
“These projects are an example of how public and private partnerships can make a meaningful impact on watershed protection,” said Lesley Yen, Inyo National Forest Supervisor. “Spanning the entirety of the Inyo National Forest, this partnership will have long-lasting benefits for the region – from wildfire protection to improved water quality and new visitor resources.”
Additional projects include:
- June Lake Vegetation Management and Fuels Reduction:
- Projects: Restoration of white bark pine, meadow and aspen vegetation, forest thinning on steep slopes and fuels reduction. Involves significant amount of helicopter logging
- Benefits: Protect the June Lake community, improve watershed function and enhance wildlife habitat and scenic quality
- Bishop Creek and Pine Creek Fuels Reduction:
- Projects: Vegetation removal and prescribed burns near popular recreation areas
- Benefits: Improve watershed health, wildlife habitat, scenery and protection of cultural resources
- Forest-wide Invasive Plant Removal:
- Projects: Remove tamarisk along creeks, streams and lakes forest-wide
- Benefits: Improve water quality and quantity, watershed function, aquatic habitat and riparian conservation areas
- Buttermilk Recreation Improvements:
- Projects: Replace outdated infrastructure and plan for future recreational development, including improved stormwater runoff around facilities, trail development and trail rehabilitation
- Benefits: Improve public access while at the same time preserving watershed health and reducing wildfire risk
In addition to its investments in the Inyo National Forest, LADWP continues to advance numerous environmental restoration projects in the Eastern Sierra, including the Lower Owens River Project, Mono Lake stream and fishery restorations, a new adaptive management plan for the Bi-State Sage Grouse, and the ongoing Owens Lake Dust Mitigation Program. Most recently, the LADWP Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the environmental documents for a spillway structure at Grant Lake Reservoir, which will deliver higher flows into the Mono Basin stream systems during wet years.
“LADWP recognizes the importance of environmental preservation measures in the Eastern Sierra region, especially as we face the increasing impacts of climate change,” said Martin Adams, LADWP General Manager and Chief Engineer. “The Inyo National Forest environmental enhancements projects, along with the many other projects funded and implemented by LADWP, are representative of our dedication to the forests, watersheds, fresh air and wildlife that make the Eastern Sierra a unique and beautiful place to live and visit.”