LADWP Loans Tusk Artifact to Inyo County Eastern California Museum

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Jessica Johnson, LADWP Public Relations Specialist, left, and Heather Todd, Eastern California Museum Curator of Collections and Exhibits, examine the specimens in the museum’s Fossil Case, which includes the recently installed proboscidean tusk and artwork. Photo courtesy LADWP

Jessica Johnson, LADWP Public Relations Specialist, left, and Heather Todd, Eastern California Museum Curator of Collections and Exhibits, examine the specimens in the museum’s Fossil Case, which includes the recently installed proboscidean tusk and artwork. Photo courtesy LADWP

LADWP Loans Tusk Artifact to Inyo County Eastern California Museum

Eastern Sierra Partners Work Together to Preserve Owens Valley History Through Preservation of Ancient Artifact

INDEPENDENCE, CA –The newest exhibit at the Eastern California Museum features one of the oldest artifacts to ever be put on display at the museum. Visitors will now be able to see a nearly complete mammoth or mastodon tusk dating from the last Ice Age, which would make it at least 10,000 years old, if not thousands of years older.

The tusk was discovered on Los Angeles Department of Water and Power lands near Owens Lake in February 2015. Soon after the discovery, the LADWP contracted with ESA – Environmental Science Associates, to stabilize the fragile artifact. ESA paleontologist Dr. Michael Williams excavated the fragmented tusk and safely transported it to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles (NHMLA). Dr. Nathan Smith and Jose Soler of the NHMLA’s Dinosaur Institute then carefully stabilized the specimen and utilized the latest materials and techniques to preserve the tusk.

After the highly specialized work on the specimen was completed, LADWP offered to loan the tusk to the Eastern California Museum, where it is now on display along with other local fossil specimens from the Museum’s collection. “LADWP ensured the safe transport and curation of the specimen and at an institution where first-class restoration and preservation professionals could work on it so it could be displayed,” said Eastern California Museum Director Jon Klusmire. “We are grateful that LADWP devoted the time and resources to care for and preserve this priceless part of Owens Valley history and then allowed

Left, Ray Ramirez, LADWP Environmental Specialist, LADWP, Owens Lake, prepares to take the proboscidean tusk out of its protective case at the Eastern California Museum. Photo courtesy Eastern California Museum

Left, Ray Ramirez, LADWP Environmental Specialist, LADWP, Owens Lake, prepares to take the proboscidean tusk out of its protective case at the Eastern California Museum.
Photo courtesy Eastern California Museum

the Eastern California Museum to display it so the public could also learn from and enjoy this extraordinary artifact.” “We are happy with the outcome of this tusk finding, said Anselmo Collins, LADWP Director of Water Operations. “The correct management of cultural and paleontological resources is critical in promoting better communication and relationships in the Owens Valley. LADWP was excited to collaborate for the public presentation of this tusk, and help preserve some history of the area. Our staff learned a lot from our partners at the Eastern California Museum and we want to continue being resources for one another and develop more opportunities to highlight the uniqueness of the Eastern Sierra,” said Collins.

Determining the exact age of the tusk and which species it came from has been a challenge, as is the case with most fossils. The tusk is a Proboscidean tusk from the Pleistocene Epoch, which spanned approximately 10,000 to 2.5 million years ago. The specimen could be from either a mammoth (Mammuthus) or mastodon (Mammut) “The taxonomic determination of the proboscidean tusk is unknown at this time,” Michael J. Williams, Ph.D., Principal Paleontologist, ESA, explained in his report. “Given the preponderance of Mammuthus versus Mammut specimens found in the Owens Valley, the tusk may be more likely associated with Mammuthus,” he surmised.

Mastodons roamed North America for at least 5 million years, while mammoths arrived during the early Pleistocene, approximately 1.8 million years ago. In general the climate of California was cooler and wetter during the Pleistocene compared to today. Mammoths and mastodons were part of a group of large, Ice Age mammals termed the megafauna (any animal over 100 pounds). During the Pleistocene, megafauna included such animals as giant ground sloths, bears, bison, saber tooth cats and camels. Much of the Pleistocene megafauna, including mammoths and mastodons, went extinct by the end of the Pleistocene Epoch due to changing climate, overhunting by humans, and/or other environmental stresses, the report explained.

Williams, ESA cultural resource specialists Matthew Gonzalez, B.A., and Michael Vader, B.A., recovered the fragmented tusk and surveyed the location where it was discovered, but no additional fossilized remains were found. In addition to the tusk, LADWP also received approval from artist Laura Cunningham to use a reproduction of her color painting imagining what the Owens Lake region might have looked like in the Pleistocene Epoch. The artwork depicts an Ice Age mammoth, camel and bison grazing on the shores of the Owens Lake. The artwork is also part of the Eastern California Museum’s tusk exhibit.

The tusk is displayed in the museum’s Fossil Case with other specimens from mastodons and mammoths that were also found in Inyo County. Those include a mastodon jawbone, a mastodon vertebrae, two pieces of a mammoth femur, and a mammoth tooth. Other fossils in the case include trilobites, ammonites, petrified wood, petrified snails and worm burrows.

Williams added an interesting historical note about Owens Valley fossil discoveries in the early 20 th century: A specimen of Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) was collected by William Mullholland during construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct (1908-1913). Mulholland conceived of and oversaw completion of the LA Aqueduct and served as chief engineer and general manager of the city-owned Bureau of Water Works and Supply, the precursor to the LADWP. The specimen he collected is housed at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.

“We appreciate the work done by everyone who assisted in preserving this remarkable megafauna specimen,” Klusmire said. That group includes Joseph Ramallo, LADWP Assistant General Manager of Communications, who was instrumental in the coordination and planning with NHM and the ECM; Ray Ramirez, LADWP Environmental Specialist, Owens Lake, who coordinated the work on the ground; and Jessica Johnson, LADWP Public Relations Specialist; ESA staff Monica Strauss; Dr. Michael William; Matt Gonzalez; and Mike Vader; and Dr. Nathan Smith and Jose Soler of the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.

The Inyo County Eastern California Museum is located at 155 N. Grant St., in Independence, California, and is open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 760-878-0258, or email ecmusuem@inyocounty.us.

TUSK CASE -- The proboscidean tusk, on loan from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and artwork by Laura Cunningham illustrating what a Pleistocene scene might have looked like at Owens Lake during the Ice Age. Photo courtesy Eastern California Museum

TUSK CASE -- The proboscidean tusk, on loan from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and artwork by Laura Cunningham illustrating what a Pleistocene scene might have looked like at Owens Lake during the Ice Age. Photo courtesy Eastern California Museum

County of Inyo: Environmental Filings - Joshua Trees Update, Nanofarms, Organic Waste Methane Emission Reducation

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The following documents received on August 14, 2019 in the County Clerk's Office

Document Type: NOTICE
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed in-depth reviews of two species that may occur in your area - the Tri-colored blackbird and Joshua tree. For both species, we determined that listing is not warranted.

Ongoing partnerships and management of public and private lands are helping to ensure the long-term conservation of these species.

The Service determined the Tri-colored blackbird does not warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act due to on-going conservation efforts with a number of partners that have enabled the species to remain resilient. 

We determined there are two species of Joshua tree - Yucca brevifolia and Yucca jaegeriana; both of which are commonly referred to as Joshua tree. We analyzed both taxa and determined neither species needs protection under the ESA because species distribution mapping shows there has been no major reduction or contraction in Joshua tree populations during the last 40 years. We looked at a variety of factors including: wildfire, drought, and climate change. 

A copy of these findings is on public view today at the Federal Register, and can be accessed online at: https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2019-17536.pdf


 The following documents filed and/or posted on August 6, 2019 in the County Clerk's Office pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA):

Document Type: NOTICE OF AVAILABILITY

Project Title: CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT 2019-10/NANOFARMS
Lead Agency: INYO COUNTY PLANNING DEPARTMENT

The document can be viewed here: http://www.inyocounty.us/EnvironmentalDocuments/Documents/19-050.pdf                 

A complete list of documents filed/posted in the County Clerk's Office pursuant to CEQA since January 1, 2010 can be viewed on the following website:

http://www.inyocounty.us/EnvironmentalDocuments/EnvDocs.php


The following documents filed and/or posted on July 29, 2019 in the County Clerk's Office pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA):

Document Type: NOTICE OF AVAILABILITY
Project Title: DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT FOR THE ADOPTION OF REGULATIONS FOR SHORT-LIVED CLIMATE POLLUTANTS:  ORGANIC WASTE METHANE EMISSION REDUCTION (SCH #2018122023)
Lead Agency: CALRECYCLE DEPARTMENT OF RECYCLING AND RECOVERY 

The document can be viewed here: http://www.inyocounty.us/EnvironmentalDocuments/Documents/19-049.pdf                           

A complete list of documents filed/posted in the County Clerk's Office pursuant to CEQA since January 1, 2010 can be viewed on the following website:

http://www.inyocounty.us/EnvironmentalDocuments/EnvDocs.php

US Fish & Wildlife Service: News Release - Iconic Joshua Trees

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Iconic Joshua Tree Does Not Require Protection Under the Endangered Species Act

Carlsbad, Calif.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced it has thoroughly reviewed the status of the Joshua tree and concluded it does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The Joshua tree is best known for its presence in Joshua Tree National Park, but it also spans several million acres of high-desert habitat in Arizona, Nevada, Utah and California. Adapted to harsh desert conditions, the trees can tolerate extreme temperatures, ranging from 4 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and elevations between 1,900 to 7,200 feet.

Through consultation with experts and review of scientific literature, the Service determined that there are two species of Joshua tree, Yucca brevifolia and Yucca jaegeriana. They are both commonly referred to as Joshua tree. The two species are similar in appearance; however, they rely on different species of yucca moth for pollination, and Y. jaegeriana has shorter leaves and is shorter in height than Y. brevifolia.

The Service reviewed the status of both species and assessed the potential impact on their populations of stressors such as wildfire, drought, plant-eating animals, and climate change. The Service’s analysis determined that neither taxa currently requires protection under the ESA.

Most habitat occupied by the two species is federally-managed by agencies including the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and Department of Defense. A much smaller portion of habitat is managed by state or local governments or is privately owned. Species distribution mapping shows there has been no major reduction or contraction in Joshua tree populations during the last 40 years. Additionally, several federal agencies, the states of California and Arizona and several local jurisdictions have adopted and implemented policies that provide some protections to Joshua trees from harvesting and removal.

The Joshua tree finding is available for public view today at the Federal Register, and will officially publish in the Federal Register on August 15, 2019. All documents and supporting information for the 12-month finding will be available at www.regulations.gov. In the search box enter Docket No FWS-R8-ES-2016-0088 and click “search”.

Photos of both Joshua tree species are available on Flickr: Joshua tree images

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information about our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov/cno or connect with us via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr.

CNPS: Annual Native Plant Sale

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On Saturday, August 24th the Bristlecone Chapter of the California Native Plant Society will be having their annual native plant sale. The sale goes from 9-11a.m. at the White Mountain Research Station, 3000 E. Line St. in Bishop. Current Members of the Native Plant Society can start buying plants at 8.

All the plants have been grown from locally collected seed so are adapted to our weather and limited water supply. The native plant society can take credit cards. A full listing of available plants can be found on the CNPS website http://bristleconecnps.org/native_plants/sale/plant_lists/2019-06-plant-list.pdf .

It is a good idea to arrive at the sale early, as there can be limited numbers of some varieties.

CNPS: Annual Native Plant Sale
When: Sat., Aug. 24 (9-11am)
Where:
White Mountain Research Station, 3000 E. Line St. in Bishop