Lone Pine, Calif. – The Alabama Hills Stewardship Group, Inc. (AHSG) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Bishop Field Office, along with dozens of stakeholder groups and the community of Lone Pine; are gathering to celebrate the federal designation of the new Alabama Hills National Scenic Area, established by law on March 12, 2019.
Community members, supporters and visitors of the Alabama Hills are invited to join a celebration of stories and place at the Museum of Western Film History in Lone Pine on Saturday, Oct. 5, starting at 6 p.m. The event is free to the public, with food and refreshments provided. There will also be commemorative items available for purchase. A pre-event ribbon cutting is planned for 4 p.m. and requires an RSVP, due to limited transportation.
“All these years of community input has helped improve and strengthen both our stewardship efforts and this important designation, as well as our coalition of support,” stated Kathy Bancroft, board president of the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group. “The heavy lifting was done early in the process with several final enhancements—based on stakeholder feedback—helping to reach the perfect balance between conservation and access.”
The designation was the culmination of a collaborative 10-year process, led by the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group, who gathered input from over 30 stakeholders and 40 different user groups, including the Inyo County Board of Supervisors, Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, Friends of the Inyo, cattle ranchers, rock climbers, four-wheel drive groups, and other public land users. The designation is a rare example of a local grassroots led effort, carried forward in federal legislation, with bipartisan leadership from Congressman Paul Cook and Senator Dianne Feinstein.
The Inyo County Board of Supervisors were also enthusiastic in their support behind the designation, voting unanimously to endorse it and traveling repeatedly to Washington, D.C., to lobby for its passage. “We are excited to see the cooperation and hard work of local stakeholders finally come to fruition,” Matt Kingsley, 5th District – Inyo County Supervisor said.
A decade long effort to explore a federal designation for the Alabama Hills, led to the designation of the 18,610-acre National Scenic Area, which will be managed by the BLM as part of the National Conservation Lands.
“For years, the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group has worked with us, the local Tribe and the Lone Pine community to promote a shared-stewardship approach towards management of the Hills,” BLM’s Bishop Field Manager Steve Nelson said. “We look forward to building upon this community-based stakeholder effort as we begin to implement the conservation and public access goals established by this unique designation.”
The Alabama Hills Stewardship Group, Inc. (AHSG) is a group of Owens Valley community leaders who have partnered with the Bureau of Land Management over the last 12 years. What evolved is a stewardship organization composed of citizen volunteers, whose goal is to conserve the Alabama Hills by assisting the BLM in their ongoing management of the area. The group was recognized in 2008 with a “Cooperative Conservation Award” from the US Department of the Interior; in 2011 with a “Vision Award” from the Sierra Business Council; and this past year, as volunteer “Group of the Year” by the Inyo Register ‘Profiles’ magazine.
The AHSG, Inc. is committed to protecting the jaw-dropping beauty of this semi-primitive landscape with continued access for hikers, motorists, photographers, rock climbers and campers as well as allowing important economic activities like commercial filming, cattle grazing, hunting/fishing and recreation to continue. Balancing all these needs is what makes the Alabama Hills so special to so many people.