Inyo County and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power signed the Long Term Water Agreement more than 20 years ago. They started talking about a “re-greening” project east of Independence in 1988. DWP recently got around to that project area and one in Big Pine which are supposed to make up for some 655 acres of plant life killed by groundwater pumps. Residents pointed out that the clear-cut area east of Independence had re-vegetated on its own and was home to wildlife before the bulldozers rolled in.
Crews rapidly cleared the native vegetation that had grown up in the area to make way for an irrigated horse pasture of about 30 acres. Residents of Independence, hurt by the lack of any growth around the town due to Los Angeles land ownership, looked at the heavy equipment clear-cutting the acres and wondered what it’s all about. Those who live in the northwest part of town used to like walking from their homes toward the tree lot.
This project has lingered on the books for a long time and, according to the Inyo Water Department website, includes a new water supply well in Independence that will flood irrigate the pasture and offer some supplemental town water.
Foot-dragging doesn’t begin to describe the re-greening project which was supposed to take place back in 1991 “in the near future.” The project went through reviews by Inyo officials from 2002 to 2008. It’s unclear what happened before that. In 2009, the Inyo-Los Angeles Standing Committee revised the scope of the project to allow sprinkler irrigation and an onsite stable and corral. The Town well location was also changed, and the well has now been drilled. A lessee was chosen for the horse pasture.
According to the Inyo Water Department 2012-2013 Annual Report, the water tables in and around Independence have gone down in the past two years with increased pumping and linger below the acceptable baseline.
A couple of miles further east of the town is an area called the Independence Springfield, because it was once full of springs. Now, it is dried up and dusty. That area will not be re-greened.