February 26, 2014

Inyo County Planning Commission

My name is Julie Fought and I reside outside of Lone Pine, California.
I operate a small eco-farm and eco-tourist business. I came to the Owens Valley in 2007 to develop our property at Carroll Creek as an eco-tourist destination. Such an endeavor places me in the center of the Owens Valley number one industry.

Having daily contact with visitors from all over the world, I can tell you, our great valley is seen as an unprecedented, world-class treasure. It is within that frame that I tell our visitors of the story of the Owens Valley and present my work on our property as land stewardship.

I applaud Inyo County management for its desire and efforts to enter the sphere of green development. I fully understand the dire need for renewable energy, and acknowledge Inyo County’s potential role in such generation. The public workshop addressing renewable energy development held several months ago was an excellent first step toward forming sound planning decisions as a community.

It seems we are perfectly poised to do it right. As we depend predominantly on tourist dollars, we have the perfect audience to send a message to the watchful world that we indeed are stewards of our magnificent open space. Nothing is more appealing to those who love and repeatedly visit our great valley than seeing a community who cares, protects, and thoughtfully stewards such a treasure.

My concerns are the following:
1. Giving away our open space (the very thing that fuels our economic engine) rather than focusing on long term sustainable economic development
2. Jumping into an industry that could very well be obsolete in a less than a decade, leaving us with large scale ruin
3. Destroying a very delicate and thus far undisturbed land, thus posing grave ecological / environmental hazards
Dust issues that would further protracted mitigation at great financial cost to
the county (not to mention health risks & revenue loss of filming & tourism)
Water use issues that would further threaten our water table
4. Allowing yet more extraction from both DWP and other outside industrial developers who would be impossible to hold accountable (our LTWA not holding DWP accountable for mandated mitigation greening projects is a prime example)
5. Appearing to ignore the voices of engaged citizens. This especially concerns me as in my seven years here, this is the first time I have seen such engagement. Citizen engagement is evidence of resiliency all over the world. If we want to succeed as a community, as viable and healthy, we must foster community engagement toward resiliency.

As many California counties are dealing with abandoned and/or badly planned industrial solar projects, projects that have caused large scale dust emissions, and unmitigated habitat destruction, Inyo county must take heed. I feel very strongly that we must not accept the renewable energies planning amendment documents presented today as our way forward. We must be innovated, inclusive and focused on preserving our open space as our heritage, our tremendous asset not to be given away. Many would argue that it is not ours to give away.

If indeed our role in Inyo County is to harvest our sun, and export it toward a sustainable economic future, then let’s develop in and around our existing industry. Let’s take our time. Let’s take notice of the tremendous public outcry over DWP’s current proposed solar development. Our people, our engaged and concerned citizens are our future. They are the people who will continue to engage, to contribute and to innovate. Please take heed of these voices. Please do more research. Please check into the failed industrial solar projects around the sate. And please do not rush to sell off our treasure known around the world, only to leave us holding the mess, and looking the fool.

Thank you.

Respectfully,

Julie Fought
DelaCour Ranch
Lone Pine, CA

 

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