Protected Forever: Waterfalls, Canyon Walls, and Bighorn Sheep

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Thanks to the help of Mono Lake Committee and The Wilderness Land Trust, together we have permanently protected a critical piece of Lundy Canyon, a special and iconic Eastern Sierra place.

Photo of Lundy Canyon, originally posted to Flikr by m01229.

Thanks to your support and the support of our community of Eastern Sierra Protectors, we have helped make a dream come true: a critical piece of land in the magnificent Lundy Canyon is now permanently protected. We’d like to recognize the inspiring Eastern Sierra writer and advocate Genny Smith, who left a generous “legacy” donation to ESLT. A portion of her gift contributed to this important project. We would also particularly like to thank the Mono Market, whose recent gift carried this project across the finish line.

This conservation success is a happy ending in yet another story of communities coming together to protect our special places.

The story takes place in Lundy Canyon: a not-so-hidden gem of the Eastern Sierra nestled between Yosemite National Park and Mono Lake. This iconic Eastside spot puts on a show at all times of the year. In spring, vibrant wildflowers splash bright colors all the way from banks of Mill Creek in the heart of the canyon up to its forested walls. In fall, these colors grow rich and warm. Impressive year-round waterfalls cascade down from all directions, filling beautiful reflective ponds below. No wonder Lundy Canyon Trail is such a popular destination for hikers!

Photo by Jeff Moser.

But risk of harmful development loomed. Framing the upper entrance of the canyon was a 49.3-acre privately-held inholding entirely within the Inyo National Forest, including a portion in the Hoover Wilderness and a portion next to the wilderness boundary within sight of the trailhead. The parcel neighbored Lundy Canyon Trail and its scenic waterfalls, and it provided important habitat for endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep.

So for all these reasons – proximity to adjacent public land, remoteness, and scenic and wildlife values – Inyo National Forest marked this inholding as a high-priority acquisition. Development there would have posed a major threat to recreation, habitat, and the watershed.

Recently, the property went up for sale, presenting a rare conservation opportunity. So we teamed up with Mono Lake Committee and The Wilderness Land Trust. Together, and with the help of all of our supporters, we secured protection of these beautiful 49.3 acres with the intent to transfer the property to Inyo National Forest in one to two years.

With Lundy Canyon protected, the bighorn sheep will continue to thrive, the water will stay clean and pure, and Lundy Canyon Trail will remain peaceful, remote, and spectacularly scenic.

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Curious about where exactly this 49.3-acre parcel is located?

The property is located on the south side of Lundy Canyon on a steep talus slope with no established vehicle access. 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.

 

Lundy Canyon Trail, Hoover Wilderness, Inyo National Forest, Eastern Sierra. Photo by Marty Bower.