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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, March 11, 2011

March 12, 2011

March 12, 2011
editor@mammothtimes.com

PACKING FOR MAMMOTH TROOPS
Mammoth Troops has scheduled a packing date for Tuesday, March 22 at 6 p.m. at the Mammoth Community Center. Homebaked cookies, beef jerky, pepperoni, sundries, chapstick and sunscreen are just a few ideas of needed items. If you can’t make the packing but would like to donate any items, they can be dropped off at the Mammoth Reservations office, next to Schat’s Bakery, before that evening.
Also any notes or cards of encouragement, and letters and colored pictures from the kids go along way in raising the spirits of our loved ones away from home.
If you have a soldier on our list of sevicemen that has had a change of address since the Christmas mailing, we would be appreciate the new mailing information. Also if you know of anyone who is serving from our county, please give us their name, if they are not currently on our list we will be honored to add them. Thanks so much for your generous help with Mammoth Troops. We couldn’t do it without you.
Tim Standifer, Lanie Somers,
Darla Howley
Mammth Troops Committee

A GRAND GRAND PRIX
This past weekend, Mammoth Mountain Resort welcomed U.S. Snowboarding for the Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix, the final stop of the Grand Prix tour this season.
The location of the venues and the comfort of the resort facilities couldn’t have provided a better arena for the crowd. The Pipes and Parks Venue is unlike any facility in the world. Whether you were there to learn a new trick or to watch others flip through the air, it is an experience that keeps you coming back for more.
Thank you to the entire Mammoth Lakes community for coming out and supporting our athletes. And a special thanks to Mammoth Mountain Resort for producing an amazing event and continuing a legacy of pushing the envelope in the sport. We hope everyone had a great time and we look forward to returning.
Don’t forget to catch the event on NBC, Mar. 12 at 10:00 a.m. PST.
Bill Marolt
President and CEO
U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association

HELMETED MOTORCYCLIST
I’m one of Mono County’s few 12-month 2-wheelers. And I may be the “helmeted motorcyclist” mentioned in a recent edition. I usually ride my motorcycle to Mammoth to get my mail, regardless of season.

In response to your question, do you ride for recreation or necessity? The answer is both. The recreational aspect is obvious. Have you ever ridden a motorcycle? Greatest thing ever! As many of our top local athletes know, the skills practiced in motorcycling fully complement their alpine training. (Try to keep up to Johnny Teller on a motocross track, I dare you).

The Eastern Sierra is one of Americas’ great motorcycling destinations both on-road and off.

So many great roads and trails! From Mammoth Motocross, the annual dual-sport rallies, cruiser rallies, the Goldwing group and countless touring and adventure riders, it is a very strong motorcycling community.

As far as necessity goes, at approaching and soon to be five dollars a gallon for gasoline, a 50 MPG motorcycle beats the heck out of a 25 MPG automobile.

Of course it would be very difficult to live here without automobiles, as motorcycles don’t do blizzards very well. I do own a truck, it gets used for two things: powder days and hauling my dirtbike.

But with an average temperature well above freezing and an honest 300 plus days of sunshine, do the math.

I predict this summer to be a huge one for motorcycling. Many people will turn to the motorcycle for financial reasons, as the difference between 25 MPG and 50 MPG may make a big enough impact on some household budgets to justify a purchase. People will realize you don’t need four wheels to drive yourself and your lunchbox to and from work, if the difference is hundreds or perhaps thousands of dollars annually.
Which leads us to the greatest by-product of this trend, more motorcyclists. We will also be helping the planet one MPG at a time.
You might even be able to park at Vons, or take a left turn out of the post office.

And then, instead of looking at me like I’m crazy for riding in February, you can say “what a brave environmental steward that motorcyclist must be!” And if you really care about the planet, you’ll join me.
J.W. Stoehr
Crowley Lake

A COUPLE OF QUESTIONS ABOUT GOLD MINING
1. Should it be the business of the Mono County Board of Supervisors to lobby for an Act of Congress on behalf of a multinational gold mining company who will use that act to extract resources, give false and unsustainable economic hope to small community and degrade soils, water and habitat?

2. Is it necessary to release the Bodie Hills from WSA status in order for Cougar Gold or any mining operation to explore the costs of mining?

3. Is this issue really about mining or is it about the push to release not only the Bodie Hills but other areas from WSA status?
Please do not go on record as standing by the side of a large gold mining company without an open, inclusive, broad and possibly time consuming process that would cause us all look at the costs and advantages of not only gold mining in Mono County but the consequences of releasing our public lands from WSA status.

Please visit the Cougar Gold web site and understand that they are advertising for six positions at the paramount site that will pay $14 per hour. Working full time for one year this would mean $28,000 per year. In 2008 the median income in Mono County was $56,000 per year. Is this about jobs?

The price of gold will continue to increase and the pressure to mine for profit, our public and nationally owned lands will also continue. Let us sent a unified message from Mono County that we cannot release any lands from WSA status until we are all brought together to discuss, present, question and decide what course of action will be the best for the most of us and for the public lands that have been placed in our protection for the future. The members of congress who authored the Wilderness Act were the founding fathers of land protection in the United States. Perhaps it is time we see it that way and not meddle in their intentions.

I ask that you consider putting together a group of entities, organizations and individuals who can discuss the issue of releasing WSAs; who can educate themselves about the broader social and environmental consequences of gold mining and sustainable economic development in Northern Mono County. I will volunteer in that effort if asked.

Please bring more of us who care about Mono County into the discussion and do not release the Bodie Hills WSA from its present status without a protracted, open and public discussion about the outcome.
Mary Pipersky
Sunny Slopes

CROWLEY CELL TOWERS
We were a bit disappointed to read Mammoth Times (MT) article “Pining for cell towers in Crowley Lake.” We are not challenging the idea of cell service in Crowley Lake, in fact we welcome it. We are, however, challenging the site selection which is located in a residential neighborhood with homes as close as 200 feet. We are greatly concerned about the height of the two 60 foot cell towers which will extend at least 20 – 25 feet above the 35 – 40 foot height of the existing tree line... This location is not appropriate, visually appealing, or safe for such massive towers...
Your article mentions that it is a commercial lot but it is actually a dual zoned lot, residential and commercial, along Juniper Drive and Hilton Creek Place which are both completely residential. The MT article states that the average height of Southern California Edison’s utility poles is 47 feet. The photo in your article and the drawings in the cell tower permit application are misleading. They seek to depict these towers as not being intrusive. We had a California State Licensed Professional Engineer measure the actual height of the telephone poles along the proposed lot which were determined to be 35 feet high. The trees were determined to be a maximum of 40 feet high...
Besides being visually impairing we also have concerns about light pollution to our beautiful dark skies (security lights), noise and air pollution from backup generators, fire hazard from storing fuel and running unattended generators, and the unclear health risk from the towers. These two towers will greatly disrupt the natural beauty of the area, not to mention further reduce property values in the area which have already been greatly depressed...
With four carriers this site would generate at least $100,000 per year. In the proposed arrangement most of this income would not go to the property owners but will go out of Crowley Lake, out of Mono County, into the bank accounts of Incline Partners located in La Quinta. If the residents of Crowley Lake and Mono County want to get serious about providing cell coverage to all of the area surrounding Crowley Lake and providing a much needed source of revenue then the county should hire a qualified independent engineering firm to perform a series of site assessments...
Once an appropriate site is selected the cell phone companies would build the cell tower(s) and provide the equipment providing a monthly lease fee back to the county. This is precisely what countless communities and counties have done providing valuable recurring income...
In a few short years, once the Digital 395 optical fiber project is complete and Crowley Lake has fiber, even more cell coverage options will become viable. “Small Cell” technology can be mounted onto existing telephone poles and lamp posts and connected by optical fiber to provide coverage doing away with the need for large unsightly towers...
Let’s not make a hasty decision that we all will have to live with the consequences for the next 30 years... In the interim, technology widely available today in the form of femtocells, provide affordable alternatives for cell phone coverage for all Crowley Lake residents.
Ann & John Hart
Crowley Lake

Editor’s note: The proposed lot includes the commercial Wash All Laundromat Car Wash & Showers, which have operated on the lot for years, and a firewood business that was recently added. According to Mono County Supervisor Hap Hazard, the county carried out an engineering assessment and inventory of potential sites during the past five years and concluded the only sites that could provide service to the area between Sherwin Summit and the airport would be located in a “signal rectangle down Crowley Lake Drive on both sides.”

CONSIDER THE SAGE GROUSE
Regarding the possibility of the Cougar Gold mining project coming to the Bodie Hills of Mono County, policy makers need to be aware that the proposed mine site is within the area containing important habitat for the Bi-state population of the Greater Sage Grouse. In response to numerous petitions from advocates seeking to have the bird placed on the Endangered Species List, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a decision in March, 2010, indicating that listing of this bird is “warranted but precluded.” This means the Service chose not to list the bird at that time due to other higher conservation priorities, but they will conduct annual reviews of its status, and likely take listing action in the future if the bird or its habitat is jeopardized further due to a variety of potential threats. As a biologist who has worked with this bird for an extended period of time, it is hard for me to imagine a gold mining operation in the Bodie Hills that will not have a negative impact on sage grouse populations there.

The sage grouse issue needs to be considered very seriously. A listing by the Service has the potential of significantly curtailing many of the traditional uses of public lands within the range of the Greater Sage Grouse in the entire western United States. Because the Bi-state Population is unique due to specific genetic characteristics, it is even more vulnerable to listing.

The benefits of a short term boost to the Mono County economy from a gold mine in the Bodie Hills may not be worth the risk of damage to sage grouse populations or their habitat, the same having the potential to accelerate a listing and curtail other traditional public land uses.
Greg Tanner
Bridgeport

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