LADWP Begins Environmental Review Process for New Ranch Leases in Mono County
Releases Notice of Preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Report
LOS ANGELES, CA (August 16, 2018)– The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) today released a Notice of Preparation for an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) — marking the beginning of the environmental review process for the proposed Mono County Ranch Lease Renewal Project (Project). The study will assess the environmental impacts of a proposal to enter into new, 20-year leases, with 10 current lessees of approximately 28,000 acres of City of Los Angeles-owned lands in the Long Valley area of Mono County. Past leases of these lands to the same operators have expired, and they are currently operating on holdover status.
Historically, 6,100 acres of these lands were flood irrigated on an ad hoc basis to answer an LADWP operational need to manage surplus water flowing to the Los Angeles Aqueduct. However, in the period that would be covered by the new leases, LADWP anticipates that little to no surplus water will be available, due to circumstances including reduced annual rainfall due to climate change and LADWP’s environmental enhancement/mitigation obligations unrelated to the leases. Therefore, LADWP is proposing to issue new leases with the provision that water may only be diverted to the leased lands to address LADWP’s operational and environmental-protection purposes. The proposed new leases would not affect LADWP’s long-term commitment to the natural environment in Long Valley – including the creeks, streams, fisheries, and Sage Grouse and riparian habitats.
“We look forward to the preparation of the Environmental Impact Report and encourage all interested stakeholders to participate in this public and transparent process,” said Richard Harasick, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager of Water System.
LADWP continues to work closely with and implement recommendations from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Mono County, local Audubon representatives, and U.S. Geological Survey to ensure the health of the Sage Grouse habitat.
All interested stakeholders are encouraged to attend a public scoping meeting that will be held to solicit input from interested parties on the scope and content of the EIR – meeting details will be provided to the public as soon as the date and location are determined. LADWP will keep stakeholders and community members informed throughout this environmental review process.