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.

Important meeting for Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep protection

This post was written by Lisa Cutting, 2002-2020 Eastern Sierra Policy Director, 2000-2001 Environmental Resource Coordinator, and 1999 Mono Lake Intern.

Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep
Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep. Photo courtesy of Chris Cleveland.

Please help protect Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep by attending the Mono County Board of Supervisors meeting this Tuesday, March 7 at the Bridgeport County Courthouse. Originally this was on the agenda for the February 21 meeting, but that meeting was cancelled due to weather.

On Tuesday, the Board will consider whether or not to renew domestic sheep grazing leases for Conway and Mattly ranches in the Mono Basin. The Mono Lake Committee is urging bighorn sheep supporters to express their opposition to domestic sheep grazing on these properties in order to protect the bighorn from a fatal respiratory disease that is transmitted from the domestic sheep. Federal and State wildlife agencies have notified the County that the two species are geographically too close to each other and the bighorn sheep populations are at risk.

For the Board meeting on Tuesday, there are two items related to this issue:
1. A 30-minute presentation by staff from California Department of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) and US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) starting between 10:30am and 11:00am with a discussion following.
2. The Request for Proposal (RFP) discussion regarding possible leasing of the county owned Mattly and Conway ranches for domestic sheep grazing (the current use). This will begin promptly at 1:00pm with a 15-minute staff presentation followed by extensive Board discussion and public comment. The Board could take action on this issue at the end of the discussion or at a future meeting.

If your time is limited, please attend and make a comment at the 1:00pm presentation and discussion about the possible leasing of the property for sheep grazing, as this is the item on which the Board will act. People wishing to make a public comment will be required to submit speaker cards and be limited to three minutes.

If you cannot attend the meeting at the Bridgeport County Courthouse you may attend via the satellite location in Mammoth Lakes in the Sierra Center Mall (across Old Mammoth Road from the Vons shopping center) in the Board meeting chambers on the third floor.

Visit the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation for more information, including a summary of the issue, details on the meeting location and time, and addresses where you can submit letters.

You can also view the Mono County Board of Supervisors agenda and agenda packet which includes many scientific papers on pneumonia transmission from domestic sheep to bighorn sheep, a summary of DFW decade-long reintroduction of Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep to their historical range, and comment letters to the Board.

Please contact me by email or at (760) 647-6595 x142 for additional information or questions.