In 2017, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power notified leaseholders in Long and Little Round Valleys that it would be eliminating their irrigation allotments. Historically, lessees have been allotted up to 5-acre-feet per acre annually for irrigation. This water not only helps to support local pasture, it also plays a critical role in maintaining wetland and meadow habitat – much of which were lost in 1941 when LADWP built the Long Valley Dam and created Crowley Lake.
The rich meadows in Long and Little Round Valley are interspersed with lush riparian corridors, access to the Mammoth Lakes hot springs, fed by Mammoth Creek, Convict Creek, McGee Creek, and numerous other tributaries.
The biodiversity in the includes a wide variety of invertebrate, amphibial and avian life. One native species of renown is the bi-state sage grouse, which is listed in California as a species of special concern. These birds utilize the lands in and around Long Valley as lekking (or mating) grounds. Biologists are concerned that the grouse may be directly threatened by LADWP’s plans to dewater the area.
In addition to various environmental impacts to the area, Mammoth Lakes Recreation is concerned about how LADWP’s plan will affect recreation in the area. Long Valley supports several fisheries, including two world-class fishing resources: Hot Creek and the Upper Owens River. Local fishing guides and tackle shop owners have expressed concern over how the loss of wetland habitats will affect the fishing resources in Long Valley.
Virtually no studies have been done to review the potential impact dewatering will have on Long Valley and the biodiversity in the area. Mammoth Lakes Recreation and others are asking LADWP to reinstate the irrigation allotments at their previous levels until a full Environmental Impact Review can be completed.
In addition to the direct impacts on fishing, LADWP’s actions may also impact winter recreation. Wetlands are one of the most efficient mechanisms for carbon sequestration – an important function in combating climate change. By destroying these wetlands, LADWP is lessening our planet’s ability to fight climate change—changes that are already impacting glacial fields in the Sierras.
If we don’t act now, we will never again see a green Long Valley. We will face the loss of critical wetland habitats, witness likely increases in invasive plant species, and will be forced to manage heightened risks of wildfire.
We need your support! Your tax-deductible donation will support the outreach, environmental studies, and litigation needed to win this fight. Please help us protect Long Valley and Little Round Valley. Together we can keep them green!