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An Earth Day Story of 'Rescue'

On April 22, four years ago, I wanted to die.

I had lost both of my Chihuahuas, Futuro, 18, and Karma 10½, within four months of each other, with Karma having died suddenly of congestive heart failure, despite being on meds, just four days before.

My grief felt like a straitjacket, constraining me, suffocating me, and I honestly didn’t know if it would ever come off.

“Get out of the house,” I said to myself. It was a Sunday. With the blinds closed in my dimly lit condo, I felt entangled in the shadows of the memories and the darkness of the guilt over possibly not having done enough for my dogs, especially Karma, even though I knew the chronic disease that had taken her is a common one for her breed.

I had decided to honor her and Futuro’s memory by giving myself all of spring and summer to grieve, and then, if I was ready, I would (maybe) seek to adopt another dog in the fall.

In the meantime, like it or not, life had to be lived.

“Go to the gym. Do something!” I thought. Somehow, I got myself out the door.

I had just put my gym bag in the trunk of the car when I became aware of it. It was coming from about 30 feet behind me: the most determined, desperate meowing I had ever heard.

I didn’t speak cat at the time, but I understood that message: “Human! Over here. Look at me. Notice me! I’m calling out to you. Help me. I need you. Now!”

It was impossible to ignore.

So was the cute little white and orange stray tabby that, in the darkest hour of my grief, was asking for my help.

He was scruffy, dirty, and apparently hungry. I went up to him and he rubbed up against my leg in complete trust.

I picked him up. He didn't struggle.

“What do I do? It’s Sunday. The shelters and vet clinics are closed. I don’t know how to take care of a cat,” said my head, trying not to acknowledge—because it seemed too good to be true!—the healing miracle my pounding heart could feel unfolding.

Quickly, I called up a friend who was a cat parent, and he readily confirmed what I already knew: “The universe is giving you a gift.” And right there, on the phone, I started bawling like a baby.

Rescue: I knew right away that is what my cat’s name would be, because in an instant he had rescued me from my grief. (Actually, I should say my first cat’s name, because two more, Groom, a short-haired domestic black cat, and Buttonwillow, a calico, would later come into my life. But I’ll leave their stories for another time.)

I didn’t make it to the gym that day. There was cat food to buy, and toys and a litter box and flea lotion. I even took Rescue to a church and had a priest bless him.

The straitjacket of grief and depression had fallen off effortlessly, and while I still missed my dogs, it was impossible to wallow in grief when there was a little life that depended on me, not just for basic needs, but for love and play as well. Rescue would attack my knees as I walked across the living room. He would climb up on my shoulder while I was shaving, crouch in the coolness of the bathroom sink, knead my chest and purr contentedly in bed. Each one of his antics and displays of affection made me laugh and smile and gave me life.

Rescue was just a four-month-old stray kitten on Earth Day 2018, the day we rescued each other. Ours is a joyous yet serious, life-or-death story that has since taken on a much greater, more urgent meaning for me.

The fact that Rescue’s adoption birthday is on Earth Day has never been lost on me. It's as if Earth decided to rescue me through him, while also giving me an opportunity to save a fellow creature that needed saving. 

Every year since then, as Earth Day draws near, I remember Rescue’s cries for help, and that memory makes me think that our planet is crying out urgently in the same way.

With every drought, with every wildfire, with every hurricane, with every flood, with every melting glacier and ice shelf, Earth is calling out to each of us, “Human! Over here. Look at me. Notice me! I’m calling out to you. Help me. I need you. Now!”

Four years later, Rescue has grown into a handsome, smart, happy cat with what I call his "Lion in Winter" mane. He worries about me when I'm in the shower and waits for me to come out and pick him up so he can lick my beard dry.

Because of the climate crisis, our planet’s situation is desperate, just like Rescue’s was when he reached out to me. Had I not recognized that it was in my best interest to help him, I might have sunk even deeper, more dangerously, into the depression I was in, and he might have ended up dying of hunger, feline AIDS, or something else. Fortunately, I rescued him, he rescued me, and together, we thrived.

And what about our planet? Will we go on ignoring its desperate pleas or look for ways to help it, and ourselves, to thrive?

This Earth Day Month, wherever you are, listen for Earth’s cries and heed them. There is a lot we can do to help our troubled Earth. Following in this month's Juniper are a number of ideas.

Let’s do something to save our planet. By rescuing it, we will be rescuing ourselves.

Happy Earth Day!


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


Louis (Lou) Medina
Communications and Philanthropy Director

PLEASE NOTE: As Friends of the Inyo's work grows, so does our Juniper Newsletter. It is possible that as you are scrolling, you will come across a message at the bottom that says [Message clipped] and/or the hyperlink "View Entire Message." Be sure to click on the hyperlink to keep reading, as more news will be displayed once you click on the link. This is done to prevent bandwidth issues in e-mail delivery. Thank you. 

Upcoming Events

(In Chronological Order)

"Worth More Than Gold" Bike Tour, April 21 - 27:
From Bodie Hills to Hot Creek to Conglomerate Mesa

Local activists Emily Markstein and Amber Rassler will be cycling to three different pubic lands that are under threat of mining: Bodie Hills and Hot Creek in Mono County, and Conglomerate Mesa in Inyo County. They are riding to raise awareness about the importance of public lands protection in the Eastern Sierra. Are there opportunities for the public to encourage them and meet them along the way? You bet! 

  • Dinner picnic and "Star Talk" at Hot Creek on Earth Day evening, Friday, April 22;
  • Mammoth-to-Bishop group ride on the morning of Saturday, April 23; and
  • BBQ and gathering at the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation the evening of Monday, April 25.

Way to call attention to the need for public lands protection from mining, Ladies!

This is not a Friends of the Inyo event, but we do support it wholeheartedly.

Questions? Visit NoHotCreekMine.com or write to nohotcreekmine@gmail.com.


Friends of the Inyo's Owens Lake Bird Festival is Less than Three Weeks Away!

Back by popular demand following a long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Friends of the Inyo’s Owens Lake Bird Festival returns as a one-day live event on Earth Day Weekend, Saturday, April 23.

Celebrate the migration of tens of thousands of birds that stop at Owens Lake on their hemispheric journey back and forth between Alaska and the tip of Argentina. Or get to know the stunning desert lands of Southern Inyo County while you learn what Friends of the Inyo is doing to ensure their protection. There are now seven outings to choose from.


Tickets are selling fast, so don't delay in signing up if you are planning to attend! 


Local Earth Day Activities Where Friends of the Inyo is Participating

  • Saturday, April 23, 10 a.m. till 3 p.m.: Earth Day Sierra Celebration at City Park in Downtown Bishop (at Main & Park Streets).
  • Saturday, April 30, 10 a.m. till Noon: 9th Annual Lone Pine Tribal Earth Day Celebration & Community Outreach Fair, at the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Tribal Gymnasium (next to the Community Center), 1145 E-Sha Rd. in Lone Pine. This year's theme is "Honoring Our Connection to the Land."

Be sure to stop by our outreach table and say hello! 

On this Friday through Sunday FREE Event, you will see films on Friday night, May 20, in Lone Pine, then have a chance to survey the skies and bask under the moon and stars with neighbors and friends on the foothills of Conglomerate Mesa on Saturday, May 21, and continue exploring the desert at Centennial Flat on Sunday, May 22. The outing will be led by Friends of the Inyo's Executive Director Wendy Schneider and Desert Lands Organizer Kayla Browne. Space is limited. 

Public Lands Protection 

Wild & Scenic Rivers:

Owens River Headwaters and Cottonwood Creek

Final Opportunity to submit comments on the LONG OVERDUE Comprehensive River Management Plans for Owens River Headwaters and Cottonwood Creek, which were designated Wild & Scenic Rivers in 2009. 


Submit Your Comments by April 14!


The efforts of MANY people to #ProtectConglomerateMesa from destructive mining were rewarded in a BIG way on March 17, when we received the news that Canadian mining company K2 Gold was indefinitely suspending its controversial gold drilling project on Conglomerate Mesa. While we're still basking in the afterglow of that win, at least for now, we know that the good fight for permanent protection for the Mesa continues.

Here are some recent updates on what's been happening:

To continue to stay up to date on all things related to the protection of Conglomerate Mesa, visit:



If you missed it, you can still watch it - It's FREE!

On World Water Day, March 22nd, the Keep Long Valley Green Coalition (KLVG), of which Friends of the Inyo is a prominent member, virtually premiered our short film Without Water. This beautifully made film, by Metabolic Studio and directed by Jonathan Hyla, features diverse voices within the coalition and explains why we must Keep Long Valley Green for the ecological, economical and cultural health of Mono County. The film, and subsequent Q&A panel held during the premiere, encourage the public, both in the Eastern Sierra and Los Angeles, to call on the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) and the L.A. Mayor and City Council to secure the future of irrigation leases in Long Valley for the sake of water equity.

KLVG is planning to host more showings of the film throughout the year, allowing members of the public to not only see Without Water, but engage with coalition members further - and hopefully join us! KLVG’s bimonthly newsletter, Every Last Drop, and social media (@keeplongvalleygreen on Facebook and Instagram and @longvalleygreen on Twitter) will be updating the public on future events and other opportunities to learn more and get involved, such as offering public comment at DWP’s bimonthly board meetings, writing to the mayor of Los Angeles, and more. Follow the coalition, take action, and help us spread the word on social media using the hashtag #keeplongvalleygreen.

Information provided by Allison Weber, Keep Long Valley Green Coalition Organizer

Find news and updates from the latest issue as well as all past issues of Every Last Drop, the official newsletter of the Keep Long Valley Green Coalition, here.

Use the button below to subscribe to the newsletter so you can stay up to date with all coalition news and developments. 

FOI En Español

Rescue's story is featured in this month's Amigos de Nuestras Tierras (Friends of Our Lands) column in the latest issue of El Sol de la Sierra! The Eastern Sierra's only Spanish-language weekly is distributed FREE of charge in businesses throughout Mono and Inyo Counties and can also be read online at ElSoldelaSierra.com. Tell your amigos!


For the Littlest Friends of the Inyo

Snow School 2022

Despite receiving a measly pittance of snow this winter season, Friends of the Inyo’s Snow School week (March 15 - 17) was a great success! In collaboration with Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association and Bishop Elementary School, we were able to teach the entire 5th grade class (roughly 120 students) about snow in the Sierra Nevada. 

Thanks to our hosts at Cardinal Village in Aspendell, we were able to find the very best snow for digging snow pits, building model watersheds, and learning to walk with snowshoes. We learned about local water ecology, where our water comes from and where it goes, and what animals do when it snows in the Sierra Nevada. 

Thankfully, the temperatures stayed cool enough throughout our three days of class, just before entering the warming-up and thawing-out of spring. We’ve all got our fingers and toes crossed for more precipitation next season, so we can have even more time to play in the snow! 

Narrative by Lindsay Butcher, FOI Stewardship Program Manager. Photo by Eric Bissel, ESIA.

For and By Climbers and the Lands They Love

The last weekend in March saw the in-person return of the Flash Foxy Climbing Festival after a two-year hiatus. The absence of the women/genderqueer festival was felt during COVID, and we happily welcomed them back to Bishop.

The goal of the three-day festival is to create and maintain a safe and diverse space where consent and respect are the number-one priorities for veteran and budding climbers alike. Participants get to give back to this area with a stewardship project on Sunday, the last day of Flash Foxy.

Enter Friends of the Inyo.

In partnership with the Bishop Climbing Rangers, the Access Fund, the Bishop Area Climbing Coalition, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Forest Service, we put together three stewardship projects across our public lands in Pine Creek, the Buttermilks, and the Volcanic Tablelands. Volunteers got down to work cleaning up trash, hauling rocks for trail delineation, and helping with campsite restoration.

Thank you to the organizers of Flash Foxy for providing this opportunity to mitigate user impacts and give back to the lands we love!

Narrative and photo by Lindsay Butcher, FOI Stewardship Program Manager.


Want to support Friends of the Inyo? Consider making a donation online today!

Thank you for your generous support.

Other Ways to Give

We recently mailed out our 2022 First Quarter Appeal highlighting our general operating support needs. 

Thank you!

Friends of the Inyo appreciates the following organizations and local businesses for their generous 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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