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History of Bishop - Water Rights
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kuan


Mar 27, 2006, 1:25 AM
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History of Bishop - Water Rights
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I am headed for Bishop and am curious about the history of that area. I am especially interested in water issues - the battle of water rights, the divergence of water to L.A., and the environmental issues this has brought up. Also, what is the role of the Department of Water and Power in this controversy - historically and currently?


lofstromc


Mar 27, 2006, 3:53 AM
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There is a really interesting documentary on that very subject called "Cadillac Desert". That will answer some questions and probably create a whole lot more. There is also a book.


dingus


Mar 27, 2006, 4:15 AM
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In a big heap of irony, the LA dept of Water saved the Owens Valley, or preserved it in a manner of speaking. If it had retained its bounty of water it would be a very different place today.

2nd the Cadillac Desert, very engaging read.

DMT


thedus


Mar 27, 2006, 5:45 AM
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You can find a brief overview on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owens_Valley and http://en.wikipedia.org/...alifornia_Water_Wars. I'll third the Cadillac Desert recommendation.


ccox


Mar 27, 2006, 6:46 AM
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I have a friend who works for Game and Fish in Bishop. He's been donning a wetsuit and swimming the streams and lakes of the high Sierra studying frog populations. Apparently the damming of streams and the introduction of certain fish have caused frogs to disappear in many areas. They plan to eventually reintroduced frogs to some areas. Maybe not what you're looking for, but it is interesting work.


bandidopeco


Mar 27, 2006, 8:07 AM
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One thing I've heard was that Mulholland (sp?) purchased the bank in Bishop and refused to give the various farmers and ranchers loans when they needed them. When they sold out, they sold out much more cheaply because of this. I can't confirm it, but if true it would be pretty sleazy.

Then again if LA didn't mess with Bishop it might be a much bigger city now which wouldn't be so good for climbing.


kuan


Mar 27, 2006, 11:20 PM
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How is this for random coincidence: Since I am headed for Bishop this week and since I want some peace of mind, I visited an insurance agent to take out an emergency policy, and the book Cadillac Desert was sitting on his bookshelf! I asked if I could borrow it, and he lent it to me.

Good thing I didn't tell him I was off for a week of bouldering before he sold me the policy! :lol:


dingus


Mar 28, 2006, 5:52 AM
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Re; The salamander thing... read something last week to the effect that many amphibs in Cali are dying not from predation per se, but from a fungus. The article offered a few reasons as to why the fungus is a problem, not sure I bought any of them as definitive.

DMT


superbum


Mar 28, 2006, 8:31 AM
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In reply to:
I have a friend who works for Game and Fish in Bishop. He's been donning a wetsuit and swimming the streams and lakes of the high Sierra studying frog populations. Apparently the damming of streams and the introduction of certain fish have caused frogs to disappear in many areas. They plan to eventually reintroduced frogs to some areas. Maybe not what you're looking for, but it is interesting work.

HA! That sounds like Jim, my neighbor...I think I met you guys a few weeks back. you had a big dog right??

Anyway, there are so many ways to look at this issue. I am first a climber so obviously am exposed to the various viewpoints of the "outdoor set" climbers, hikers, bikers, photographers, etc. BUT I also work at Manor Market, a little mom and pop type store (Best beer and wine selection in the owens valley!) and often find myself talking w/ locals about how the surrounding land should (and shouldn't) be managed. Thankfully they see me as "me" not as a stereotypical representation of climbers.

The biggest issue for the locals seems to be the invasive nature of climbers and other active outdoor types. By invasive I don't mean dogs, chalk, tape, trash, tents, big ugly vans full of dirty ugly people....they see us invading their land w/ our ideals. They feel at times looked down upon and judged beause they hunt, fish, and drive 4x4s. Kyle, Manor Market's owner put it well;

"Hey, I love climbers! Most are real nice and they are great for business. I am also in support of the unbridled human spirit, and I respect climbers for going out and getting scared, having an adventure and coming home again. but, what gets me is when they try and tell me I can't hunt, or drive my truck out on dirt roads that are allready there, or tell me I can't build a fire and sleep outside in certain areas. I was born and raised here. My parents were born here. They started three businesses from the ground up. Everyone I know has lived here more than 20 years and has more right to use this land than some climber who has been parking his car off the road and living in it for two weeks, or two months. It's when they get pushy and tell me what to do in my hometown that I get mad."

Obviously, that is quoting from memory and not his exact words, but that was how I interpreted it. I'd like to add that he is a great boss, very fair, and he gave me a chance and hired me when I was a dirtbag w/ no shower, adress, etc.

It's hard for me because I would love to see all the cows disappear. Overgrazing is one of the MOST obvious and distructive things facing our public lands. I would love to never hear motercycle engines when I am gripped on a sketchy topout. But, they were here first...AND there is still plenty of WILD around Bishop....which brings me to my next point.

LADWP (LA dept. water and power) is a multiedged sword. On one hand they own and control every trickle of water in the owen's valley. They are directly responsible for extremely unsafe levels of toxic dust in the air by draining mono lake and owen's lake. There are power plants and power lines everywhere (anyone who has gone to the Keough ditch hot springs knows what I mean!) and the Gorge looks like a war zone. BUT........................Because they own everything...there is no development. LA will not sell out to WallMart or home depot. They need Bishop and It's water. We don't have hundreds of new homes creeping out every road like some virus and we never will. Bishop is small and will stay small. Noone is going to build anything near the buttermilks, or on the volcanic tablelands. We won't be climbing in backyards like I have done in (great) places like Flagstaff, Phoenix, Portland, etc....

The way I look at DWP is an imense and lame evil, but w/ some great perks.

OK, It's a beautiful day and I have to go climbing now. Thanks for reading this. Interesting can of something opened w/ this question...


dingus


Mar 28, 2006, 3:26 PM
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A very well considered post Superbum.

DMT


superbum


Mar 29, 2006, 7:33 PM
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thanks! I tried on that one...


cragb


Mar 29, 2006, 8:40 PM
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The idea of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power having any kind of "perks" just doesn't seem right superbum, considering the ecological and social damage that was created. I feel like those involved in the water scandal in Owens River in the early 20th century would think a whole lot differently about the LADPW then we do today. I only mention this because I just took a class about water in the west, and have started to understand the basics of water history/politics in the SW. What irks me the most is the idea of agricultural in a place like LA, or all of southern California for that matter...had people realized the absurdity of irrigated agricultural in areas that barely recieve 10" of rain a year, the Owens River debacle may never have happened... of course hindsight is twenty-twenty, but it took a certain amount of zeal to turn desert/semi-arid land into productive agricultural fields...the sad thing is, despite my knowledge of what agricultural in the SW means, everyday in AZ I enjoy the bunker California crops that include salad, oranges, strawberries, and pretty much everything else except what comes from Mexico this time of year.. these forum topics are really great, especially coming from people with first hand experience...political/social/ecological history is always worth discussing.... :shock:


superbum


Mar 30, 2006, 1:29 PM
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Of course you are right...the social and ecological damage done by the DWP is inexcusable. But a undeniable positive spin remains. The fact that housing and retail development has been hemmed in by LA's private property makes and ugly situation bearable. They also have been kind enough to allow other invasive groups (climbers, hunters, fishermen, etc...) use their land. Don't get me wrong. I am not a DWP fan and would love to see the whole Los Angeles area slide into the big blue pacific. But living here means exploring the positive side of an entity so large and untouchable. Also, I would love to see all the cows spontainiously explode. All the cows. Let the turkey Buzzards thrive!


superbum


Mar 31, 2006, 10:17 PM
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bump


tradclmbr


Mar 31, 2006, 11:56 PM
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For a truly insightful account see the comparative-historical account by John T. Walton (a sociologist) who looks at three epocs of rebellion in Owens River Valley with the final period examined being modern environmentalist rebellion. Its called Western Times and Water Wars and has received a bunch of awards from historiographers and sociologists alike.

China Town with Jack Nicholson also provides an interesting look at the mafioso politics behind the rural-urban water wars


dingus


Apr 1, 2006, 4:42 AM
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The things have learned about western water:

1. Anything west of about Missouri/mid-Kansas is semi-desert at best.

2. In California populated areas, if its green in the summer time its because someone waters it.

3. Places like Phoenix are totally over populated in terms of local water supply, by millions of people.

4. When those people run low on water, nothing will stop their political movements to get more. Nothing...

5. Environmentalism in the west that preaches no more dams is a bubble. Next extended drought will authorize new contruction; count on it.

6. No matter the new water supply, we will quickly develop it and out grow it; like bacteria in a petri dish overrunning the culture. Phoenix is such a place.

7. Flood protection - the city of Sacramento is New Orleans waiting to happen all over again. The city allowed developers to put 20,000 homes in Natomas Basin KNOWING, KNOWING! The flood protection was not there. Most of these homes will be under 10-20 feet of water if a levee breaks. The mayor of Sac now blames the corp... and she played a direct and knowing role in allowing that development. She is culpable. And yet she pretends its the corps fault.

That model plays out itself out in pretty much every western water district. The LAWPD theft of Owens Valley is the poster child of a serialized western about water development. Securing water rights is meaningless to most westerners... if you don't exploit the water.

Fish, the Delta, the environment... ALL will take a distant 2nd fiddle necxt drought cycle. And there WILL be a next drought cycle... we all live in the great western American desert after all. Droughts is what deserts do.

DMT


superbum


Apr 5, 2006, 8:54 AM
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sigh...where is Ed Abbey when we need him??? Oh yea, rotting in the ground, probably enjoying himself and happy w/ his contribution to the dirt.


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