In 1997, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and several others parties, including Inyo County, signed an agreement outlining the Lower Owens River Project.
That Memorandum of Understanding included the parameters of the project – the largest river restoration in the western U.S. – as well as its overriding goal.
According to the MOU, that goal was “the establishment of a healthy, functioning Lower Owens River riverine-riparian ecosystem, and the establishment of healthy, functioning ecosystems in the other physical features of the LORP, for the benefit of biodiversity and threatened and endangered species, while providing for the continuation of sustainable uses including recreation, livestock grazing, agriculture and other activities.”
Seventeen years after the MOU’s signing and eight years after the project’s implementation, residents and visitors are invited to help gauge the project’s progress in meeting that goal.
A public meeting to discuss the current findings of environmental conditions present within the Lower Owens River Project, and adaptive management recommendations made in response to those findings, will be held at 8 a.m. Monday, Jan. 13 at LADWP’s Bishop Office, 300 Mandich St.
According to Inyo County Mitigation Manager Larry Freilich, those attending will hear the results of ecological studies and surveys undertaken in 2012-13, and gain a better understanding of the project’s overall progress since it was implemented in December 2006.
“In addition, the scientific team will present and discuss adaptive management recommendations made by the MOU consultant in response to observations and studies,” he said.
2013 was the sixth year of monitoring for the LORP, according to Freilich, and work included:
• Seasonal Habitat Flow, to encourage riparian development and improve water quality
• Rapid Assessment Survey, to detect management problems and evaluate the effects of the SHF
• Hydrologic monitoring, to measure flows and flooded areas in the LORP, and look at the effect of flows on tule growth
• Land management summary, to assess livestock management, monitor rare plant populations, and streamside monitoring to investigate woody species recruitment and persistence
• Fish census, to provide information about the health of the fishery in the LORP
• Saltcedar and invasive weed monitoring and treatment, looking at the spread and control of undesirable species
• Delta Habitat Area, to look for species indicative of attaining project goals, and wetland habitat assessment
“Monitoring data is used to analyze conditions, identify problems, and in response to these finding the MOU consultant makes Adaptive Management Recommendations,” Freilich explained. “This year these recommendations include changes in river flows, burning of wetlands to prepare for flooding, conducting certain monitoring studies, controlling noxious species and convening a LORP summit discussion.”
The public is invited to provide comments and contribute to the conversation. Formal comments on the Annual Report will be accepted until the close of business on Jan. 28. Comments can be sent to Larry Freilich, P.O. Box 337, Independence, CA 93526; or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org . For more information, call (760) 878-0011.
The Annual Report can be downloaded here: http://www.ladwp.com/LORP