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Every now and again, one of our supporters, either in an email or a person-to-person interaction at one of our events, will introduce themselves as, "Hi, I'm a Friend." What they mean, of course, is "I'm a 'Friend of the Inyo.'" 

Hearing that type of self-introduction from someone I'm meeting (or e-meeting) for the first time is truly humbling.

You see, it's very easy for me, as a staff member of Friends of the Inyo, to think organizationally. I usually associate my fellow staff and board members with the name Friends of the Inyo. So it's good to be reminded that beyond (way beyond!) those of us with the official name badges and business cards and titles and @friendsoftheinyo.org email addresses, there are thousands of "Friends of the Inyo" without whose donations (both monetary and in-kind), volunteering, collaboration, advocacy, goodwill and plain old activist grit, our organization would never be able to fulfill its mission of Protecting and Caring for the Land and Water of the Eastern Sierra.

When Friends of the Inyo was founded in 1986, the "Inyo" in the name meant the Inyo National Forest. While "the form of things" in the name has not changed over the decades, "the essence of things" has, as our service footprint has increased to also include other lands that surround the forest's almost 2 million acre (or 3,000 square mile) expanse.

However, with regard to the word "Friends" in the name, neither form nor essence has changed: Anyone who loves and helps to protect the nature we are blessed with in the Eastern Sierra, "from the slopes of Yosemite to Death Valley," as our website says, is a Friend of the Inyo. 

And, Dear Friends of the Inyo Near and Far, as we come upon the most important season of the year for the ecologically minded, Earth Month (April) and Earth Day (4/22), I would like to applaud your friendship, not just of the Inyo and the Eastern Sierra, but of the Earth.

As I wrote one year ago in my Earth Day message included in the April 2023 Juniper, if we all were to "take care of our own little corner of the world—protect it, treasure it, guard it jealously like the pearl of great price that it is...every person on Earth would be helping to heal a patch of the planet here, and there, and everywhere. A patch that could gradually start to stretch endlessly...And we could, eventually, begin to see the blue come back" to our wonderful "Big Blue Marble" that has lost a bit of its luster to pollution, environmental degradation and climate change.

Well, NEWS FLASH: Through your engagement and support of Friends of the Inyo, that is exactly what YOU are doing—helping the planet to heal by preserving the health of our own little corner of the world!

So, during this season of intentional, unwavering resiliency on behalf of our planet, be hopeful, take a bow, and accept our humble acknowledgment of you as more than a Friend of the Inyo: You are a Friend of the Earth! THANK YOU!

Following in this issue of The Juniper are plenty of ideas and opportunities to express your friendship of the Eastern Sierra and our planet — through learning, exploration, engagement, volunteering, advocacy, giving, and more.

Read on, and...Happy Earth Month! 



In our Earth Month issue, "find your passion" and give back to the planet:

  • Join us in congratulating Friends of the Inyo's first employee and Executive Director, Paul McFarland, who was elected to serve as Mono County's District 3 Supervisor in the March elections;
  • Join Friends of the Inyo for the Owens Lake Bird Festival (4/19-21) and various Earth Day events happening through the end of the month;
  • Volunteer with the National Park Service at Death Valley's Eureka Sand Dunes, and give back by becoming a multi-day citizen scientist (several opportunities available throughout Earth Month);
  • Attend the Maturango Museum's Wildflower Exhibit April 5 - 7 in Ridgecrest; 
  • Volunteer with new Bishop-based nonprofit Sierra Refuge, and find healing for your mind as you help heal the land by cleaning up the Poleta Pit Shooting Area east of Bishop on April 8, and in subsequent months on the second Monday; 
  • Help give form to Mammoth's People's Mural Project, a budding grassroots effort to depict under-told local narratives in "Mammoth-sized murals" in Mammoth Lakes (Be sure to watch the video!);
  • Assist with the last few weeks of winter data collection in the Inyo National Forest;
  • Attend the fourth online session of Walking Water's yearlong Water Learning Series (focused on Los Angeles) on April 11, and also sign up for one of two Walks of Resiliency and Accountability to take place in Big Pine and Lone Pine May 18 & 19;
  • Action Alert: Speak up for Tribal Beneficial Uses of the Mono Lake Basin - Attend a public meeting April 18, and submit written comments by April 30;
  • Action Alert Reminder: Let the Bureau of Land Management know your thoughts regarding solar energy development in the Western U.S. - Submit Your Public Comment by April 18;    
  • Give to Friends of the Inyo's Water Justice Work;
  • And more!

As you can see, our Earth Day issue is chock full of ideas on how you can give back for the wellbeing of the Eastern Sierra and the planet. 

Remember: When scrolling through our newsletter, you might come across a message at the bottom that says [Message clipped] and/or the hyperlink "View Entire Message." Be sure to click on the link to keep reading, as more news will be displayed. This is done to prevent bandwidth issues in e-mail delivery. Thank you.  

Happy reading—and if you like what you read, happy sharing! 


Louis (Lou) Medina
Communications and Philanthropy Director

Congratulations, Paul!

By Paul we mean Paul McFarland, who recently won the election for Mono County District 3 Supervisor! And at Friends of the Inyo, we can actually say, "We knew him when..." because Paul was FOI's first ever paid employee and later its first Executive Director!

Hired as a Conservation Associate in 2000, Paul worked from home and even out of a converted greenhouse while living out of his van, until FOI opened an office and promoted him to Executive Director in 2003. He worked closely with FOI’s Board of Directors to expand membership, launch the FriendsoftheInyo.org website, and begin publishing FOI's Jeffrey Pine Journal biannual  magazine. He stayed with the organization in that leadership role till 2009, then came back as a part-time employee from 2012 to 2015. 

A part of FOI history, Paul now becomes a part of Mono County government history. Congratulations, Supervisor McFarland! (Historical note: Another former FOI Executive Director, Stacy Corless, also went on to serve two terms on the Mono County Board of Supervisors as District 5 Supervisor.) 

Paul McFarland and his son, Solomon, in the
Amargosa River in 2008. 
PHOTO: Yvette Garcia.

Mark Your Calendars!

On Earth Day Weekend, April 19-21, Friends of the Inyo will host its annual Owens Lake Bird Festival in Lone Pine, with generous support from the County of Inyo and AltaOne Federal Credit Union. The festival will feature birding tours on and off the famous Owens Lake, as well as photography, hydrology, botany, geology, and mining history tours.

Get your tour and meal tickets today (dinner is available for those who want to learn more about Friends of the Inyo and listen to our Keynote Speaker the second night of the festival). Tickets are selling fast! Just go to FriendsoftheInyo.org/BirdFestival.

Festival Keynote Speaker Announcement

This year's Keynote Speaker will be Jolie Varela, founder and voice of Indigenous Women Hike, as well as the recently launched Native Birding Club here in the Eastern Sierra. She will be speaking on bringing indigenous voices into the world of birding and sharing her passion for birding with newcomers. 


Death Valley Love!

Death Valley National Park Seeks Volunteers to Help Monitor Plant Life at Eureka Sand Dunes in April!

In what has become an Earth Month tradition, Death Valley National Park is once again appealing to hearty citizen science volunteers who love Death Valley to help with annual monitoring of endemic plant species at the Eureka Dunes.

Monitoring will be strenuous, requiring climbing to the tops of tall dunes and hiking 6-15 miles each day. Volunteers are encouraged to commit to an entire four-day monitoring period if possible, and can choose from the following dates:

  • April 1-4

  • April 8-11

  • April 15-18

  • April 22-25 and possibly

  • April 29-May 2

At least two volunteers are needed for each four-day volunteer assignment.

Volunteers will camp with park staff at the Eureka Dunes Campground. Please bring your own water! Park Service staff confirms that the Eureka Valley/Death Valley Road is open, although it might be washboarded in places.

This is a great activity for giving back to nature during Earth Month!

Those interested should contact Death Valley National Park Biological Science Technician Carol Fields at Carol_Fields@nps.gov, or 760.786.3252. Please DO NOT contact Friends of the Inyo with questions, as we are simply helping the Death Valley National Park staff spread the word.

Thank you!

Wildflower Exhibit

Our friends at the Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest, Kern County, just over the southern Inyo County Line, will host their annual Wildflower Exhibit Friday-Sunday, April 5-7. The exhibit will feature specimens from the Indian Wells Valley and surrounding canyons, lectures, and the artistic talents of members of the Desert Artist League, who will be drawing and painting selected wildflowers throughout the weekend. Admission is just $2 per person at the door. Click on the e-flier below to get more information and directions from the Events page of the museum's website. Questions? Please call 760.375.6900 or email info@maturango.org

Monthly Partner Event 

Land Stewardship = Healing: Not just for the land, but for our minds and emotions as well. This can be especially true for those in recovery from addiction or other life challenges. This Earth Month and every month, consider joining our friends at a relatively new Bishop-based nonprofit called Sierra Refuge, who call themselves "Stewards of the Land and Stewards of the Mind," in their monthly cleanup of the Poleta Pit Shooting Range. It happens on the second Monday, which in April is 4/8. Click here or on the e-flier below to visit the corresponding Event Page on Sierra Refuge's website to register for this volunteer event so you can get directions, as the shooting range is on an unpaved rural road on BLM-managed land beyond the end of Poleta Road east of Bishop. The GPS coordinates for the shooting range, as provided by Sierra Refuge are: 37°21'39.1"N 118°18'43.9"W (or 37.360846, -118.312189). For more information, please write to info@sierrarefuge.com, or call or text 760-614-0874.  

New Community Effort

Do you love art? Storytelling that enacts change?
Local history? People? The Mammoth community?
Then, consider engaging with the People's Mural Project!

An ambitious undertaking officially launched early this year with support from Mammoth Lakes Tourism, the fiscal sponsorship of Friends of the Inyo, and the involvement and endorsement of numerous community organizations, leaders and members as you can see in the video below (in English with Spanish subtitles), the People's Mural Project aims to capture in "Mammoth-sized" murals with audio storytelling, five under-told narratives of the dynamic people+environment forces that have helped shaped Mammoth's local history and culture:

  • Indigenous Heritage;
  • Water;
  • Latin Heritage;
  • Early Ski History; and
  • Mining Then and Now.

According to the PMP's official website, peoplesmuralproject.com, "The project centers the power of storytelling and art-as-activism, as a way to weave our collective belonging, healing, and understanding of people + place, remembering that we catalyze change when we come together and consider future generations in thriving diversity and equality."

This endeavor is just getting underway, and is gathering organizational supporters and collaborators. On the website you will find a fun timeline laid out like a meandering path leading through every stage of the project through completion. You will also find an invitation to engage with the PMP by providing feedback, contributing to the narratives being developed, volunteering with project administration and events, or making a donation. 

At this early stage of the People's Mural Project, the best thing to do is to sign up through the project's  website for email updates, which will include project needs (such as opportunities to support the PMP at all levels within the community) and ideas on how to get involved. The People's Mural Project is a great way to build legacy in our area, and, through the 2.5 million yearly visitors the murals are expected to reach once they grace the town of Mammoth Lakes, the world! 

Winter Data Collection

Do you crosscountry or backcountry ski or snowboard, snowshoe, or snowmobile in the Inyo National Forest? Do you want to help the US Forest Service make informed decisions about Winter Recreation and Over Snow Vehicle use?

Then, help Friends of the Inyo by taking part in some citizen science!

It's easy:

  1. First, check out the Colorado Mountain Club's Recreation Impact Monitoring System (CMC - RIMS) app here;
  2. Then take a peek at a two-minute online training video here.

After that, you'll be ready to record some observations and be able to boast about being a self-conscribed field researcher!

If you have any questions, please contact Lindsay@friendsoftheinyo.org.

FREE Online Series

Session Four of Walking Water's Yearlong FREE Online Water Learning Series is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 11. This session welcomes Jesse De La Cruz, Founder of Urbano Strategies, whose mission is to engage one million Los Angeles residents to take an active role in the planning and design of public spaces and infrastructure, in the furthering of a commitment to socioeconomic justice. Click on the button or image below to register. 


May Event in Payahuunadu

Also be sure to learn about Walking Water's Walks of Resilience and Accountability, organized in partnership with the Owens Valley Indian Water Commission. The walks will take place May 18 & 19 in the Big Pine and Lone Pine areas. Click here for details and to sign up while there are still spaces left! 


Speak Up for Tribal Beneficial Uses in the Mono Lake Basin!

What's Happening?

In response to requests from the Mono Lake Kutzadika Tribe and the Bridgeport Indian Colony, the Lahontan Region Water Quality Control Board is proposing to amend the Water Quality Control Plan for the Lahontan Region to designate Tribal Beneficial Uses to waterbodies in the Mono Basin, which is located near the community of Lee Vining in Mono County.

The Board will hold a public hearing on April 18, in Barstow, California. No action by the Lahontan Water Board will be taken at the public hearing, which is solely to receive public comment on the draft Staff Report.

Background on the Tribal Beneficial Uses and information on the Lahontan Water Board's current activities is available here, and on this page of the Mono Lake Committee's website, where you can download a fact sheet

What Can I Do?

Besides getting informed by reading the materials per the links above, you can attend the 9 a.m. Thursday, April 18 meeting in person or via Zoom. If you wish to speak at the meeting, you can find information on how to do so here. You can also submit your written public comments no later than Noon on Tuesday, April 30. Find instructions for submitting written comments, the physical location and Zoom link for the hybrid meeting on April 18, and additional information by downloading the Notice of Public Hearing here.


Let the Bureau of Land Management Know Your Thoughts Regarding Solar Energy Development in the Western U.S. Submit Your Comments by April 18!

What's Happening?

The Bureau of Land Management’s Draft Utility-Scale Solar Energy Development Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Draft Solar Programmatic EIS) is available for public comment on the BLM National NEPA Register (ePlanning). This Programmatic EIS effort would update the BLM’s 2012 Western Solar Plan to support current and future national clean energy goals, long-term energy security, climate resilience, and improved conservation outcomes.

What Can I Do?

Submit Your Comments

Please remember to submit your written comments on the BLM’s Westwide Solar Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement by Thursday, April 18th.

Topics to highlight in your comments that are specific to the Eastern Sierra are:

  • Advocate that BLM choose Alternative 5 in the Draft Programmatic EIS. Alternative 5 is the most comprehensive of all the alternatives proposed. Not only does this alternative exclude steep slopes and sensitive biological habitats from solar development, but it also stipulates that previously disturbed lands be the focus of development. 
  • Request that BLM work closely with state agencies, like the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, to ensure accurate data on critical habitats for the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep and Bi-state Sage Grouse.
  • Request updates to BLM Field Office Resource Management Plans (RMPs) and databases for Lands with Wilderness Characteristics (LWCs). The RMP for the Bishop BLM Field Office is from 1993—more than three decades ago (!) and a whole 13 years before water began to be released back into the Owens River in 2006. 

Written comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:

  1. Website:  https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/2022371/510 - Use "Participate Now" Link(s)
  2. Email:  solar@blm.gov
  3. Mail:  BLM, Attn: Draft Solar EIS, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240

Get Informed and Ask Questions

The BLM's data viewer provides interactive maps of the alternatives included in the Draft Solar Programmatic EIS to aid in your review.

Questions may be directed to solar@blm.gov.

Let Others Know

Please forward this message to any party that might be interested in this effort.

Coalition Newsletters 


If you are a Friends of the Inyo supporter, you probably received our First Quarter Appeal for 2024 in mid-March, asking for your help in raising funds to expand our Water Justice Initiative, whose ultimate goal is to keep more of the Eastern Sierra's water here, where it belongs! If you have not yet had a chance to read our appeal, it is below. Click on either page to open up and download a pdf version of it. We hope you will consider making a donation using the button below.  

Thank you in advance for your generous support!


Friends of the Inyo appreciates the following organizations and local businesses for their generous monetary sponsorship of our programs:


Inyo Mono Alpine County
Cattlemen’s Association


Remember to update the address to our new location:

Friends of the Inyo
621 W. Line St., Suite 201
Bishop, CA 93514


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