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Input sought on Keeler Dunes dust control plan

November 8, 2011

The Bureau of Land Management and Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District are seeking comments on a proposed EIR on potential dust mitigation efforts on the Keeler Dunes. Photo courtesy hydrobioars.com

Officials with the Bureau of Land Management and Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District are teaming up to tackle an Environmental Impact Report that may lead to dust control measures on the Keeler Dunes.
According to Great Basin Air Pollution Control Officer Ted Schade, the district is seeking input from regulatory agencies and other interested parties regarding the scope and intent of information that should be included in the EIR.
High winds in the Owens Valley often create dusty – and unhealthy – conditions for Southern Inyo communities, including Lone Pine, Keeler and the Olancha-Cartago area. The dust is often the result of particles blowing off the Owens Dry Lake and Keeler Dunes.
On Thursday, Nov. 3, the Great Basin Air Pollution Control District issued a Stage 2 Air Pollution Health Advisory for Lone Pine, citing “extreme particulate pollution levels.”
On Tuesday, a Stage 1Air Pollution Health Advisory was issued for Keeler. Children, the elderly, people with heart or lung problems or current illnesses such as the flu were advised to stay indoors during the dust storm.
The Notice of Preparation for the EIR explains that creating an EIR before implementing a project often brings ideas to the table to help mitigate a problem and can bring attention to sensitive areas within the project area.
“Scoping has been helpful to agencies in identifying the range of actions, alternatives, mitigation measures and significant effects to be analyzed in depth in an EIR and in eliminating detailed studies of issues not found to be significant,” the Notice of Preparation states.
The proposed project site is located northwest of Keeler, on lands administered by the BLM and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and is about one square mile in size. The site has State Route 136 as its east-northeast border and the Owens Lake bed shoreline on the west-southwest border.
According to the Notice of Preparation, “The district’s goal is to use dust mitigation measures that stabilize the sand dunes and have a low impact to natural resources within the Keeler Dunes.”
Those dust-control efforts may include a variety of measures, including establishment and management of natural vegetation, wind breaks and barriers; spraying of the sand with water or other dust-suppressing substances; and/or placement of gravel, possibly with an underlying geotextile fabric in selected areas.
According to HydroBioars.com. which is monitoring the movement of the dunes, adding water to the dunes can create an “artificial desert pavement” that would reduce the amount of blowing dust.
The Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District is seeking public comments on the proposed project by 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25.
Comment letters may be sent to 157 Short St., Suite 6, Bishop, CA 93514 or e-mailed to keelerdunesproject@gmail.com.
A scoping meeting will be held from 6-8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14 in the Board of Supervisors Room in the Inyo County Administrative Center in Independence.

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