Sunrise light on a grove of tufa towers emerging from the water of Mono Lake with soft green and dusty-red wild grasses in the foreground, Canada geese in the shallow water with reflections of the rocky towers, and desert hills in the distance.

Lundy Canyon inholding heading toward permanent protection

The Mono Lake Committee, The Wilderness Land Trust, and Eastern Sierra Land Trust are partnering to permanently protect a 49.3-acre inholding in Lundy Canyon.

The property frames the upper entrance of this iconic Eastern Sierra canyon, is entirely within the Inyo National Forest, and includes a portion within the Hoover Wilderness and a portion adjacent to the Wilderness boundary within sight of the Lundy Canyon trailhead. This dramatic and scenic location is next to waterfalls, a popular hiking trail, and endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep habitat.

In 2004, The Wilderness Land Trust identified the property, a former mining claim, as a high-priority acquisition for transfer to the Inyo, and has been working to acquire the property through two private ownerships. The Mono Lake Committee has identified a risk to recreation, habitat, and Mill Creek if this inholding were to be developed. Eastern Sierra Land Trust sees this as a rare opportunity to reduce the risk of inappropriate development in Lundy Canyon. The Inyo has confirmed that this acquisition is a high priority.

The Mono Lake Committee is loaning The Wilderness Land Trust $25,000 to purchase the property. We are able to provide this loan at this critical time thanks to a generous bequest from writer, advocate, and Board Member Emeritus, Genny Smith. Genny was a strong advocate for protecting the special wild places that make California so wonderful, and she had the determination and strategic thinking to turn such lofty goals into real accomplishments. The Committee is grateful and honored to be able to use these funds from Genny for Lundy Canyon.

Eastern Sierra Land Trust is committed to raising at least $5,000 to support the project, and the Wilderness Land Trust is doing the legal and staff work needed to complete the acquisition and transfer the property into public ownership.

The property is in escrow, and is predicted to close within the month. Completing the transfer to public ownership will take one to two years.

For those familiar with Lundy Canyon, the property is across from the old beaver pond (now mudflat) that you reach after walking approximately three minutes from the Lundy Canyon Trailhead. The lowest property line is at approximately 8,500 feet above sea level and the property extends up the canyon wall from there. The property is on the south side of Lundy Canyon on a steep talus slope with no established vehicle access.

Given the property’s proximity to adjacent public land, remoteness, and scenic and wildlife values, the most appropriate outcome is to transfer ownership to the Inyo. Any activity on this property would be a highly visible distraction in Lundy Canyon and within this section of the Hoover Wilderness. The Inyo has been contacted by potential buyers of the property about vehicle access and one potential buyer applied to the County to put a houseboat or yurt on the property. Dr. Connie Millar (Senior Research Ecologist, Pacific Southwest Research Station, USFS) has documented that this site has one of the most northern stands of limber pine in the Sierra Nevada and is therefore unique. Lundy Canyon is a very popular hiking area, and a valuable recreational asset to Mono County tourism.

For more information, or to support this critical action please contact Lisa Cutting, Associate Policy Director by email or at (760) 647-6595 x142. Donations to the campaign to purchase the property are being matched here.