As winter starts winding down, it’s time to get wound up about the upcoming spring and summer seasons. Local chambers of commerce and nonprofit groups are preparing for a busy March, while spring will see a continued emphasis on local and regional promotional efforts.
Upcoming and ongoing plans, programs and events were announced during the monthly gathering of Inyo Associates Feb. 17, at Jenny’s Café in Independence. The meeting started with the Independence Civic Club officially concluding its year-long hosting duties, and handing the reins to the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce for 2014. The chairman for 2014 will be Matt Kingsley, the Inyo County Fifth District supervisor.
Inyo Associates was started by Inyo County’s pioneering priest, Father John Crowley, in 1935, as a way for promotional groups, governments and businesses to share information and ideas, and “build relationships” in an informal setting, Kingsley noted.
The Blake Jones Fishing Derby is one of the oldest derbies in the Eastern Sierra, and this year’s version will take place on March 15 at Pleasant Valley Reservoir, north of Bishop, said Tawni Thomson, head of the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau. The event draws nearly 1,000 anglers to the area, with a good mix of locals and visitors vying for prizes and early-season fishing action.
The Chamber recently published a new brochure, “Easy Hiking Trails in the Eastern Sierra,” which highlights six short, family-friendly hikes and walks from Lone Pine to Rock Creek. The Chamber also provided information and ideas to a television crew from “the Italian version of the Travel Channel,” which recently visited the Eastern Sierra, Thomson said. Working with Mammoth Lakes Tourism, this June the Chamber will be hosting members of the Society of American Travel Writers, and providing story and photo ideas, she added. Chamber staff and volunteers will be attending the Fred Hall Outdoor Experience travel show in Long Beach, and another outdoor show in Bakersfield, she added.
Allan Pietrasanta, of Bishop, gave an update on the National Geographic Sierra Nevada Geotourism Website, a project spearheaded by the Sierra Business Council. The website recorded 2 million visits in 2013. The site contains more than 1,600 separate listings of things to do and places to go in the Sierra, including a substantial number of listings in Inyo County. The SBC is also working to shape a proposed State Water Bond ballot proposal so that the Sierra Nevada region, which supplies 60 percent of the state’s water, will receive more than a token amount of bond funds (1 percent of the total bond), as is currently proposed, he noted.
Inyo County Clerk- Recorder Kammi Foote had some digital news: The Clerk’s Office has an official Twitter feed, @inyoelections. She added that March 7 is the deadline for candidates to get on the June primary ballot for Inyo County.
Kristina Blum, formerly Miss Bishop and a Bishop Chamber volunteer, recapped her experience competing in the Miss California USA pageant: “It’s really different than doing a trout derby.” After being named Miss Congeniality, she went on to appear on the “Katie Couric Show” in New York. “I want to thank all of you with all of my heart,” she concluded.
The Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce announced its next overseas trip: a seven-night cruise down the Danube River, including stops in Vienna and Budapest. The group leaves on Oct. 15 and information on the excursion is on the chamber website. On waters closer to home, the Chamber will be hosting the Early Opener Trout Derby at Diaz Lake, on March 1. This is the first trout derby of the season, and traditionally attracts a large, enthusiastic crowd of visitors and locals.
The Friends of the Eastern California Museum will be holding their annual meeting on March 8, said FECM Vice President David Woodruff. The event will start with a reception at the museum and then a potluck dinner at the Legion Hall, “since Independence is the potluck capital of the world,” he said. Woodruff will then present a talk on “The History and Development of Tourism in Death Valley.”
The Owens Valley Committee will have a fundraising event on March 22, from 5-8 p.m. at Mountain Light Gallery in Bishop, said OVC board member Mary Roper. The guest speaker will be Bill Powers, whose presentation will focus on “Distributed Solar Power.”
Brief updates were also presented by representatives from Mule Days, the Bishop Community Concert Association, Round Valley School, the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center, the Sierra Club, Healthy Communities of Southern Inyo County and several area businesses.
The next Inyo Associates meeting will be a St. Patrick’s Day Dinner hosted by the Inyo County Superintendent of Schools, on Monday March 17, at the Sierra Adventure Center at Bernasconi Ranch, three miles west of Big Pine. For more information or to make reservations, contact the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce, (760) 876-4444.