Since early in the last century people have been arguing over the water of this valley and whether the city of Los Angeles stole it. After years of litigation a peace of sorts has been achieved and part of the agreement is that LA's Department of Water and Power would put water back in the lower Owen's River. A river that has been dry since LADWP diverted its water for use in Los Angeles.
When we were in Lone Pine last month we decided to go see what the river looks like now that it has a little water.
It seems to be a green oasis in an otherwise dry landscape. They refer to this as a mitigation project, restoring some of the lost habitat. It certainly looks like a place for birds and other wildlife
Looking across the river bed you can see the grasses and trees in front of arid lands, the Alabama Hills and the Sierra crest, an interesting layering of landscapes.
Over our years in the Owen's Valley we heard many opinions on the controversy. In the spirit of full disclosure I will say that my husband worked for the LADWP. We loved the valley though and would like to think that we were unbiased in our opinion. I have come to realize, though, that no one is unbiased, we tend to filter the facts through our own interests.
Many believe that when the City bought the land and water rights (LA owns most of the land in the valley, and some believe they were dishonest when they bought it) they ended any chance for economic development and this is a fair assessment.
Others, myself included, feel that if the City had not bought out the farmers and ranchers the valley would have been developed beyond its ability to sustain a quality environment. It would have had air pollution, congestion and locked gates rather than the open spaces and free access that LADWP allows. As for air pollution, it has that on a cold winter morning when everyone is burning wood for heat.
It reminds me of the story of the blind men and the elephant, "while all of them are partly right, each of them is wrong." Perhaps not wrong but trying to make a very complicated problem simple. Is it better to move the people to the water or the water to the people. What do you think?
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