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Over the last two months, Friends of the Inyo visited Panamint Lake in Panamint Valley to monitor lithium exploration being conducted by Battery Mineral Resources, a Canadian mining company. 

Executive Director Wendy Schneider, Desert Lands Campaign Manager Kayla Browne (center photo), and Desert Lands Organizer Jaime Lopez Wolters documented the work and took photos. 


A Brief Note with Photos from the Field

An important part of Friends of the Inyo's (FOI's) work is to monitor mining exploration on vulnerable public lands in Inyo and Mono Counties. This is done to ensure exploration activities are carried out within National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) parameters as laid out in the corresponding Environmental Assessment presented to the public by the land management agency responsible for approving the work.

One such project involves lithium exploration across four sites in the Panamint Valley by Canadian company Battery Mineral Resources (BMR). This project, according to my colleague, FOI's Desert Campaign Manager Kayla Browne, who works primarily out of our Lone Pine Satellite Office, was approved through an Environmental Assessment from the Bureau of Land Management's Ridgecrest Field Office in 2020.

"BMR completed two of the four approved exploration sites in 2020," Kayla reported, "then let the project go cold." However, she said, "In December of 2023, FOI was notified of BMR’s revival of the project with the intention to explore the remaining two sites."

Kayla, together with Desert Lands Organizer Jaime Lopez Wolters, who also works out of our Lone Pine Office, and Executive Director Wendy Schneider, traveled to Panamint Valley earlier in the year to monitor the work. 

"It is not uncommon, with respect to extraction projects on our public lands, to find that mining companies disturb more land than allowed, or fail to clean up or revegetate the landscape following their exploration activities," Wendy said. Thankfully, however, "In this case, we did not find any evidence that the mining company was out of compliance with the parameters of the approved project," she said.

We wanted to share that brief, hopeful field note and the photos above just to let you know that one of the things we do with your support is work hard to ensure accountability so that our public lands are properly taken care of.


In this issue of The Juniper:

  • Join us in welcoming our new Water Justice Organizer, Lauren Kelly, who is strategically based in Los Angeles;
  • We're Hiring! Help us spread the word to anyone who might be interested in working as a Friends of the Inyo Trail Ambassador this summer;
  • Attend a FREE NEPA 101 webinar we are offering together with some of our environmental and water justice partners;
  • Volunteer with us in our SnowSchool or Winter Data Collection efforts--or both; 
  • Check out upcoming online, in-person and even hybrid events from our friends at the Sierra Club & Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center, Walking Water, and Desert Survivors;
  • Read the latest announcement about FOI's upcoming Owens Lake Bird Festival;
  • And more!


Beginning this spring, our Juniper E-newsletter (as of the next issue), as well as our other electronic communications and some of the online forms on our website, might look slightly different. This is because we are transitioning to a new data management platform. While we will do everything in our power to make this transition go as smoothly as possible, we ask for your patience and help should you encounter any e-difficulties (I believe I just coined a new word!), which we will work to correct as soon as possible. Please do not hesitate to contact us at info@friendsoftheinyo.org to report any issues or if you have any questions. Thank you, as always, for your support.

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


Louis (Lou) Medina
Communications and Philanthropy Director

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.  

Welcome, Lauren! 

Please Join Friends of the Inyo in Welcoming
Our New Water Justice Organizer!

Lauren Kelly has loved history and nature for as long as she can remember. She earned a B.A. in American History from UC Berkeley in 2018, and went on to get an M.A. in history of the U.S. West. She is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at USC, studying the history of water extraction in Payahuunadü. Motivated by her experience growing up and living in Los Angeles, she dedicated herself to learning everything she could about L.A.’s environmental and social impacts in Payahuunadü. Beyond her research, she helped organize graduate students at USC to create their first union. She also developed a passion for serving her community as president of her department’s graduate student association. After building this organizing experience, leadership ability, and historical expertise, Lauren wanted to apply these skills to the cause she cares the most about: helping to protect the Eastern Sierra. Lauren also loves to bake, hike, and camp. You can reach Lauren at Lauren@friendsoftheinyo.org

We're Hiring!

Friends of the Inyo is currently accepting applications for
2024 Summer Trail Ambassadors!

Friends of the Inyo’s Trail Ambassadors (TAs) support the Inyo, Sierra, & Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests and other partners by providing positive public service, outreach, interpretation, and trail maintenance on popular hiking trails from Lone Pine to Bridgeport. Ideal candidates will be self-driven, enthusiastic, outgoing, and affable with the public, with knowledge and passion for the topography, history, and many “ologies” of the Eastern Sierra. Use the button below to access the full job description and learn how to apply on the Professional Opportunities page of our website.

Partner Event 2/29!

February 29 only comes once every four years. Make your 2024 Leap Day count by joining our partners from the Sierra Club and Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center for an evening designed to help you understand mining threats to Conglomerate Mesa and how impactful storytelling can be harnessed in its protection. This is a hybrid in-person & online event around the viewing of the short documentary film, "Island in the Sky," at the Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center, 2300 W. Line Street, in Bishop. Sign up to attend, indicating whether you will do so in person or virtually on Zoom, at: bit.ly/islandskydoc. See you at the movies!

Make Your Vote Count!

Remember: Tuesday, March 5, is Election Day! 

Join Great Basin Water Network, the Center for Biological Diversity, Owens Valley Indian Water Commission, and Friends of the Inyo, on Wednesday, March 13 at 6 p.m., for a FREE webinar to help you learn about the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), how it affects communities, and how you can meaningfully engage in the public comment process to help shape federal actions and policy planning measures concerning public landsAttendees will learn where to sign up for updates in their area and how to gather meaningful information from NEPA documents in order to speak up on the issues they care about affecting federal resources.

Click on the button or image below to register. Questions? Write to FOI's Water & Forest Campaign Manager Allison Weber at Allison@friendsoftheinyo.org

Volunteers Needed!

We have opportunities for kind volunteers who love working with kids and would like to help impart seasonal knowledge to them through our SnowSchool offerings in the Mammoth and Bishop areas. See announcement below for details. For questions and to sign up as a volunteer, please write to FOI Stewardship Director Lindsay Butcher at Lindsay@friendsoftheinyo.org

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 Three of Walking Water's Yearlong FREE Online Water Learning Series is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 14. So far this year, the calibre of presenters and the information shared on the issue of water and the City of Los Angeles' management thereof (including the water L.A. extracts from the Owens Valley) has been superior. This upcoming session, featuring guests from Los Angeles Waterkeeper, Kelly Shannon McNeill, Development and Communications Director, as well as Ben Harris, Staff Attorney, is sure not to disappoint! Click on the button or image below to register. 

See Conglomerate Mesa 

Check out the Trips & Events page of the Desert Survivors website to see their new trip offerings for March, including a backpacking trip to Conglomerate Mesa in the company of Friends of the Inyo's Desert Lands Organizer Jaime Lopez Wolters on March 9 - 11 (weather permitting). Learn about the rich biodiversity in this pristine desert landscape, as well as the mining threats it is under. Find more information on the Desert Survivors website. Please note that this trip is limited to 12 participants and will be contingent upon weather.  

Questions? Pease correspond directly with Desert Survivors' David Oline at olined@sou.edu, or (458) 658-7307. 


Make the Bureau of Land Management Aware of Your Priorities Regarding Solar Energy Development in the Western U.S. Submit Your Public Comment 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), as detailed in the Notice of Availability published in the Federal Register. 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

The public is encouraged to submit written comments no later than April 18, 2024. Written comments related to the Draft Solar Programmatic EIS may be submitted by any of the following methods:

  1. Website:  https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/2022371/510
  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 will be hosting two virtual and six in-person, open-house public meetings during the comment period to provide information and answer questions. For the public meeting schedule and to submit a comment, visit the BLM National NEPA Register (ePlanning) website. Public meeting information is available on the site’s How to Get Involved page.

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.

Stay Tuned for Further Guidance from Friends of the Inyo

FOI is going to engage deeply with this process and work to protect our ecosystems, with the understanding that a renewable energy future is also an important goal. 


Owens Lake Bird Festival


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

Tickets for this popular event will go on sale soon, with "right of first purchase" available to Friends of the Inyo members before opening up sales to the general public. What does this mean? FOI supporters whose membership status is active (those who have donated $35 or more to Friends of the Inyo within the last year) will have the first opportunity to get tickets and sign up for tours. Stay tuned to your email inbox for our exclusive members-only announcement when ticket sales and birding tour sign-ups go live! Please e-mail any questions about the Owens Lake Bird Festival to Kayla@friendsoftheinyo.org.

Want to make sure your membership is current and in good standing? Donate a minimum of $35 today by going to FriendsoftheInyo.org/Donate. Thank you! 

Festival Keynote Speaker Announcement

On the evening of the second day of the festival, Friends of the Inyo usually invites a keynote speaker to address different aspects of birding, as well as habitat/environmental protection. 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. 


Want to support Friends of the Inyo? Consider making a donation online today!
Or help us Grow Our Circle of Friends...of the Inyo! by purchasing a membership for a friend or loved one. Click on the button or image below.  
Thank you 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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