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Latest News in Mono Hot Springs, CA

Second Disease Outbreak Strikes Hot Creek Trout Hatchery; Vaccinations Underway for Uninfected Fish

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has detected a bacterial outbreak at its Hot Creek Trout Hatchery in Mono County – the second time in 2021 that Lactococcus garvieae has been confirmed in some trout at the hatchery.Three distinct groups of trout representing about 15 percent of the hatchery’s total trout population have tested positive. CDFW has quarantined the facility, temporarily suspended fish planting and is preparing to humanely euthanize infected fish and vaccinate uninfected stocks....

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has detected a bacterial outbreak at its Hot Creek Trout Hatchery in Mono County – the second time in 2021 that Lactococcus garvieae has been confirmed in some trout at the hatchery.

Three distinct groups of trout representing about 15 percent of the hatchery’s total trout population have tested positive. CDFW has quarantined the facility, temporarily suspended fish planting and is preparing to humanely euthanize infected fish and vaccinate uninfected stocks.

“The encouraging news is that we caught the outbreak early as part of our routine testing and only a portion of the hatchery’s trout has been infected,” said Jay Rowan, CDFW’s statewide hatchery program manager. “We now have proven and effective vaccines to protect uninfected fish – vaccines developed recently in a partnership between UC Davis and CDFW. We’re in the process of vaccinating the hatchery’s healthy fish populations. Unfortunately, we don’t have a cure or treatment for infected fish at this time.”

Hot Creek Trout Hatchery is located south of Mammoth Lakes and raises three species of trout – rainbow, brown and Lahontan cutthroat – for stocking into some blue-ribbon eastern Sierra fisheries, including Crowley Lake, Pleasant Valley Reservoir and portions of the Owens River. CDFW expects low to moderate impacts to waters stocked by the Hot Creek Trout Hatchery in 2022.

The 15 percent of infected fish consist of 118,000 rainbow trout and 52,000 brown trout, including 2,000 broodstock brown trout weighing 2 to 3 pounds each.

Nearly a million fish have tested negative and will undergo vaccination, either through a bath immersion process for smaller, juvenile fish or injection into larger fish. These healthy populations include rainbow trout broodstock, brown trout broodstock, rainbow and brown trout of various sizes, and juvenile Lahontan cutthroat trout. Once vaccinated, the fish will be safe to plant and safe for anglers to consume.

Lactococcus garvieae is the same disease that forced the quarantine and suspension of fish planting last year at three other CDFW trout hatcheries in Southern California and the eastern Sierra – the Mojave River Hatchery, Black Rock Trout Hatchery and Fish Springs Trout Hatchery. That outbreak ultimately forced the euthanization of 3.2 million trout at those hatcheries.

All three hatcheries have undergone intensive cleaning, disinfection and are raising fish once again. Fish Springs and Black Rock are back stocking trout for recreational fishing. Those two hatcheries have vaccinated all of their fish stocks, which continue to test negative for the disease.

Isolation of Lactococcus garvieae in a few fish at the Hot Creek Trout Hatchery earlier this year resulted in the temporary quarantine of the facility and the suspension of fish stocking. Other CDFW trout hatcheries outside of the eastern Sierra have assisted stocking waters in Inyo and Mono counties while the Hot Creek Trout Hatchery has been offline and while Fish Springs and Black Rock were rebuilding their fish populations.

The outbreak of Lactococcus garvieae, which is similar to streptococcus or strep throat, has been reported in cattle and poultry farms as well as fresh and saltwater fish and shellfish hatcheries around the world. It had never before been detected in fish in California until the hatchery outbreaks in 2020.

Fish that are infected with Lactococcus garvieae can show symptoms that include bulging eyes, lethargic or erratic swimming and increased mortality, or be asymptomatic and show no signs of infection depending on several factors, including water temperature and stress.

Fish-to-human transmission of the bacteria is rare and unlikely but there are several documented instances associated with immunocompromised people consuming infected raw fish and unpasteurized milk products.

###

Media Contacts: Jay Rowan, CDFW Hatchery Program, (916) 212-3165 Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 215-3858

Outdoorsy 2: Mono Hot Springs, Dispersed Camping & Your Camp Recipes

In our last episode we took you to this mountain oasis called Mineral King in Sequoia National Park. This time, we go 100 miles north of there to a place called Mono Hot Springs.Mono (pronounced “MOE-no”) Hot Springs is tucked away in the Sierra Nevada south of Yosemite National Park and Mammoth Lakes, and it’s about halfway from the Valley to the East Side. The hot springs sit in a mountain valley next to a fork in the San Joaquin River....

In our last episode we took you to this mountain oasis called Mineral King in Sequoia National Park. This time, we go 100 miles north of there to a place called Mono Hot Springs.

Mono (pronounced “MOE-no”) Hot Springs is tucked away in the Sierra Nevada south of Yosemite National Park and Mammoth Lakes, and it’s about halfway from the Valley to the East Side. The hot springs sit in a mountain valley next to a fork in the San Joaquin River.

Like Mineral King, the springs are at the end of a long, winding road. To get there from Fresno, you drive up Highway 168 East past places like Shaver Lake and China Peak Ski Resort. Before reaching Huntington Lake, turn onto Kaiser Pass Road, which quickly becomes only one lane.

At some points it’s worse than the drive to Mineral King. It’s narrow and bumpy and at a few points, the side of the road drops off literally over a cliff. We don’t recommend driving it at night.

As you climb Kaiser Pass, the highest point of the drive, you briefly venture out of dense pine forest onto bald rocky terrain, then settle back underneath ponderosa and lodgepole pines for the rest of the way. Once you’ve made it, you arrive at a mini community of campgrounds, cabins, a restaurant and even a general store. It’s charming and rustic and has something for everybody.

In this episode, we’ll take you there and talk about all the other great things you can do nearby. We’ll also talk about a kind of off-the-beaten path camping that’s not quite backpacking, but it’s definitely not staying in a campground. We’ll finish with some camp food stories - ‘cause who doesn’t like food?

“I think it’s just heavenly”

We, Ezra and Kerry, have both visited Mono Hot Springs - but this week, we decided to bring in someone else to tell you about them: Alice Daniel, a reporter for KQED who recently traveled to Mono with her family. She put together a story on the area for a series called “Hidden Places,” and she reveals what originally attracted her there.

“Doris Lake [a short distance from the hot springs] is filled with snakes,” she says. “So I figured, what better place to bring two boys?”

The road to Mono, Daniel says, is “listed as one of America’s most dangerous,” and it bears its own complicated history beginning in the 1920s.

“Apparently, the last six or seven miles of the road were so difficult to build that it was dubbed ‘the cheap and nasty,’” she says. “They blew it up with dynamite and had to remove huge boulders the size of houses.”

"I think it's just heavenly. It just restores you. It makes you feel better about people and the world itself." - Alice Daniel

Her family, all vegetarian, skipped out on the elk burgers and corned buffalo at the resort restaurant, but enjoyed soaking in the resort’s private tubs and the outdoor hot springs just a short walk from their cabin.

A map of the area identifies a handful of hot springs encased in cement. More adventurous hot spring-goers can seek out natural pools dotting the hillside - if they’re ready to navigate pockets of soft, silty mud. “It’s almost like quicksand, sometimes, when you’re walking through all that muck,” Daniel says. “When I was walking along, I would notice there would be, like, one sole flip flop on the trail, like somebody just couldn’t quite get it out.”

Snakes, dangerous road and muck aside, the whole Mono Hot Springs area is peaceful, soothing and serene. “I think it’s just heavenly,” Daniel says. “It just restores you. It makes you feel better about people and the world itself.”

For the rest of our conversation, listen to the full show.

More Than Just Hot Springs

There’s a lot more to do in the Mono area than just basking in hot water. When Ezra went up there this summer, he went kayaking on Edison Lake near the Pacific Crest Trail. He and his friends camped off the grid. That’s called dispersed camping.

To find out more about this way to camp, we want you to meet Jeff Greene.

"I describe that area as having 80 percent of the scenery of Kings Canyon and Yosemite and one percent of the people." - Jeff Greene

By day he runs media inquiries for Riverside County, but his true passion is the outdoors. He writes about his escapades on a blog called Greene Adventures. Greene and his high school buddies have camped in this area every summer for the past 16 years.

“I describe that area as having 80 percent of the scenery of Kings Canyon and Yosemite and one percent of the people,” Greene says. “It really is about how beautiful that area is and yet so isolated.”

When Greene and his buds go to Mono, they want to camp alone. So they try not to stay in designated campgrounds.

“There’s a lot of areas back there for what they call dispersed camping, which is camping somewhere other than a campground,” says Greene. “It’s perfectly legal in the national forest. If you want a campfire you have to get a fire permit.”

A fire permit can be picked up at the High Sierra Ranger District office in the mountain town of Prather on the way up the hill. You can also pick one up at the High Sierra Visitor Information Station on Kaiser Road. You can’t miss it. Greene says the most important part of dispersed camping is that you need to bring everything.

“You just have to be completely self reliant,” says Greene. “Besides your regular camping gear you need to bring your own portable toilet. You need to bring all your own water. We tend to like eat really well and drink really well. So we have way too much gear to strap to our backs, but in a couple of trucks we can bring in everything we need.”

You can also hike, fish and kayak on lakes and rivers here. Both the Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail run nearby. One cool feature a few miles east of Mono Hot Springs is Edison Lake. There’s a ferry that brings hikers to camp stores at a place called Vermilion Valley Resort.

And if you don’t like to hike that much you can also hunt or shoot guns.

“We can put up little targets and while we’re waiting for dinner to be done we can just target shoot right there on the site. You would never be able to do that if you were in a campground. Camp hosts get a little agitated when you try to do something like that.”

I'm Hungry

So you’ve had an amazing day soaking in hot tubs, hiking, swimming, (hunting?), maybe soaking again, and you settle back into your campsite for the evening. Roaring campfire? Check. Cold beer? Check. Now, an important question: what do you eat?

Being out of the kitchen scares some people, but camp cooking doesn’t have to be difficult - or terrifying.

Kerry’s strategy: take pre-packaged foods like ramen or macaroni and cheese and add tons of fresh veggies to them. Here's Kerry's recipe for Beer and Bean Burritos:

Ezra’s strategy: SNACKS. He also likes sandwiches and chips for lunch and some heartier meals like homemade chili, baked potatoes or steaks for dinners. Things that you can cook on the open fire. Here's a ready to go meal you can make before you leave home from Ezra:

This week, we also tried something a little different: we asked our listeners for audio files with their own camp cooking recipes and pointers. Molly in Fresno reminisced about a backpacking trip in Tasmania.

“At the end of day three,” she says, “I was more thankful to have a broiled grilled cheese sandwich than I had been at any other point in the trip just based on the fact that those flavors reminded me of home in a foreign place”

And here’s Jill from Wisconsin.

“If you’re doing a long trip, go out on a one overnight or two-night shake down trip and try eating it on the trail,” she advises. “My appetite changes so much on the trail and normal things that I will eat are disgusting.”

And of course, as Emily in LA says, there’s only one way to end the evening.

“When I think of camping, I think of family and sitting around the fireplace,” she says, “and for me that always meant s’mores. It doesn’t matter where I’m camping or with who; I always bring stuff to make s’mores.”

For their full stories, check out the full podcast.

Like what you heard? Want to get your story on our show? Follow Valley Public Radio on Facebook and keep an eye out for posts about Outdoorsy. We’re also on Twitter and Instagram, username @outdoorsypod for both.

How Did Californians Spend Their Second Summer of the Pandemic?

This summer in California was not what we signed up for.Instead of a “summer of freedom” from the coronavirus, we got a surge in the Delta variant. “Hot vax summer” turned into a literal, way-too-hot summer.Between th...

This summer in California was not what we signed up for.

Instead of a “summer of freedom” from the coronavirus, we got a surge in the Delta variant. “Hot vax summer” turned into a literal, way-too-hot summer.

Between the drought, huge wildfires and 17 million gallons of sewage spilled off the Los Angeles coast, Californians were forced to wonder, “Is this the end of summer as we know it?

But fear not. With summer officially ending this week, I asked you to share the best thing that happened to you over these past few months. And, I’m happy to report, the California summer is still kicking.

You wrote about international adventures, outdoor movies and concerts, adopting pets, bingeing shows, reunions with friends, attending Zoom comedy classes and a whole host of activities that made this summer worth enjoying. The season of celebration and relaxation lives on.

“Road trip! And the best kind — picking up two longtime friends on the way.

We ate, we drank, we reveled in our friendship of over 50 years! It was a summer solace.”

Melanie Lunsford, San Diego

“My favorite summer memory has been learning cooking and sharing meals with my 87-year-old grandma, without a mask and indoors. I’m so grateful to the scientists who made the vaccine possible so we could enjoy each other’s company safely.”

Amanda Ha, San Francisco

“My Vermont son and wife brought their two children to a cabin at Lake Tahoe to spend a week with my Oakland son, his wife and their child — the first time the three grandchildren got to be with each other.

That love-fest feels like the happiest moment of my life so far.”

“Wine nights with close girlfriends in the backyard after the kids are asleep have sustained me through this summer.

“What got me through this summer — and every month since lockdown — was dancing alone in my living room for my Cuban ‘nightclub parties.’

I dress up, put on my dance shoes, perfume, lipstick, and dim the lights. Then I channel Havana and sway.”

“Feeling safe enough to attend an art workshop in teacher’s covered patio area. Everyone was required to show proof of vaccination on arrival. Had fun doing something happy, meeting new people.”

“Take me out to the ballgame! Monday evening, Giants vs. Mets:

It was an absolutely gorgeous evening in San Francisco (read: no fog), enough people in the stands to feel like part of a crowd of excited fans, but not so many that it activated our Covid fears. My New Yorker husband in his Mets jersey, me and my Giants hat — we were covered no matter who won. Happily for me (and San Francisco) the Giants won in a very, very exciting game!”

“This summer I decided to make sure I went swimming every single day.

Swimming in the cold, clear water helped clear my brain and remind me to be grateful for everything I have.”

Debbie Beane, South Lake Tahoe

“Watching my friends’ hair turn gray (and mine WHITE) in August I decided to turn my hair into an adult coloring book. Using temporary color spray, I gave myself a coloring of the week and matched my fingernails and toes to go with it.”

“These last 18 months I’ve been doing all I can to ‘find the good’ in books, home improvement projects, nostalgia, holiday smells …

On Sept. 8, I ‘graduated’ from my breast cancer radiation treatments — where they put up a banner, played ‘Pomp and Circumstance,’ rang noise makers, had me ring a bell to mark the moment and gave me a certificate.

Getting to remove stickers that I had worn since July = ‘finding the good.’”

“Our backyard garden produced an amazing crop of golden cherry and yellow pear tomatoes this August. To celebrate, we used five pounds of these gorgeous fruits to make what turned out to be a most exceptional gazpacho; peak sweetness and uncharacteristic hue put it over the top. It was like eating summertime by the spoonful.”

If you read one story, make it this

In Tennessee, even if a local school district requires universal masking, students don’t have to comply. Gov. Bill Lee has allowed parents to send their children to school maskless, no questions asked.

That tension recently exploded in a suburb of Nashville, where one parent, a self-described “California refugee,” held up copies of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist Papers and the Bible in front of the school board and said: “These guarantee my freedom, and yours, and my children’s to breathe oxygen.”

Read the full article from my colleague Erica L. Green.

The rest of the news

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

What we’re eating

In her latest newsletter, The Times’s California restaurant critic Tejal Rao offers recipes to help transition your cooking from summer to fall.

Where we’re traveling

Today’s travel tip comes from Thomas Cushing, a reader who lives in Napa. Thomas recommends Doris Lake in Mono County:

“‘Hidden’ at the end of 20 miles of a bad, one-lane logging road, this hot springs-fed lake is a temperate Sierra beauty. Near Mono Hot Springs, with a bit of a hike up to it — to put you in the mood for a good soak.”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

What we’re recommending

Fall television returns to normal this year after last year’s pandemic wipeout. Here are 31 shows to watch.

And before you go, some good news

The Michelin Guide awarded 45 California restaurants this week bib gourmands — a designation a step down from Michelin’s famous star ratings, but which guarantees a delicious meal nonetheless.

The restaurants are a sampling of the full Michelin California restaurant guide that will be released next week, Eater San Francisco reports.

For now, browse the 45 new bib gourmands on Michelin’s site.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back on Monday. Enjoy your weekend. — Soumya

Steven Moity and Miles McKinley contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

Sierra National Forest Revises Closure Order Effective Today (Saturday), Allowing More Recreational Opportunities and Access

Sierra National ForestCredit: USDA file photoJune 26, 2021 - Clovis, CA. – The Sierra National Forest (SNF) announces the closure extension of select recreation sites, roads, and trails. Closure Order No. 05-15-00-21-11 SNF Recreation Site, Road and Trail Closure supersedes previous Closure Order No. 05-15-00-21-09 SNF Developed Recreation and Trail Closure. For clarity and simplification we’re issuing this order to protect the public from hazards within the SNF as a result of the existing tree mortality a...

Sierra National ForestCredit: USDA file photo

June 26, 2021 - Clovis, CA. – The Sierra National Forest (SNF) announces the closure extension of select recreation sites, roads, and trails. Closure Order No. 05-15-00-21-11 SNF Recreation Site, Road and Trail Closure supersedes previous Closure Order No. 05-15-00-21-09 SNF Developed Recreation and Trail Closure. For clarity and simplification we’re issuing this order to protect the public from hazards within the SNF as a result of the existing tree mortality and associated hazards due to the recent Creek Fire and Mono Wind event, the net result will be a significant amount of acreage that will be opened. This order will be in effect from June 26, 2021 – July 26, 2021

Forest personnel have been addressing and continue to clear and repair the damage to National Forest System roads, most recently opening the 9S10 road where the Lower Cow Creek Bridge was replaced. More trails across the Forest are also now open as well as developed recreation sites, due to the hard work and effort that continues.

The following trails were listed on the previous Forest Order 05-15-00-21-07 Exhibit A and are no longer reflected on Forest Order 05-15-00-21-11 Exhibit A, they are now open to the public as of as of June 26, 2021.

High Sierra Hiking Trails: Bass Lake Hiking Trails:

25E03 Billy Creek 24E40 Clover Meadow

27E69 Corbett Lake 24E07 Cora Spur

27E03 Devil’s Bathtub 24E05 Jackass Lakes

29E11 High Sierra Pack Station 25E07 Pack Station

26E61 Indian Pools Bass Lake OHV Trails:

26E03 Margaret Lakes 26E324 Hollywood

27E25 Mono Hot Springs 24E304 Johnson

26E35 Potter Creek 06S059 Shuteye

Until on-going restoration projects are complete, several recreational sites, roads and trails will remain closed as listed in Exhibit A of the Closure Order, in order to protect the public from hazards associated with occupancy in direct proximity of dead standing trees, which could result in property damage and/or injury. Their closures will be designated with signs and/or barricades and monitored by law enforcement personnel. Seasonally designated roads and trails open to the public will be accessible in accordance with the Sierra National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Map.

If you plan on visiting the SNF we ask that you practice, and maintain, responsible/safe recreational practices, at all-times including:

• Avoid areas with dead standing trees, look up before you choose a trail, park your car, or set your camp, always be aware of your surroundings

• Avoid large gatherings and maintain your physical distance while recreating

• Let family and friends know your plans, in the event of an emergency

• Pack out your trash and leave with everything you bring in and use

• All services, including restrooms, may not be available, so please plan accordingly

• Recreate Responsibly!

We appreciate your cooperation in keeping our national forests safe for everyone’s use.Source: SNF

Creek Fire updates: Fire grows east; no structure loss at Mono Hot Springs so far

The Creek Fire has now been burning for just over one month.The wildfire grew by close to 4,000 acres on Monday, according to Cal Fire. As of Tuesday morning, the fire had burned 326,706 acres and was 49% contained. Those figures remained the same Tuesday night.The Creek Fire remains the largest single-fire incident in state history., though several complex fires have burned more total acreage.The fire continued to be active in the nort...

The Creek Fire has now been burning for just over one month.

The wildfire grew by close to 4,000 acres on Monday, according to Cal Fire. As of Tuesday morning, the fire had burned 326,706 acres and was 49% contained. Those figures remained the same Tuesday night.

The Creek Fire remains the largest single-fire incident in state history., though several complex fires have burned more total acreage.

The fire continued to be active in the north, moving out toward The Minarets Range, and the east, where it jumped the south fork of the San Joaquin River on Monday. There had been no structure loss at Mono Hot Springs or the High Sierra Ranger Station as of Monday evening.

? The SQF Complex Fire, burning in and ear Sequoia National Park and forest, added less than 1,000 acres on Monday and had burned 158,945 acres. It remained at 65% containment.

? The Bullfrog Fire, burning east of Shaver Lake near Courtright Reservoir, continues to remain the same, according to incident reports. As of Monday night, it was still listed as 1,185 acres burned and 50% contained.

The Sierra National Forest will allow individuals to enter, temporarily, into two more areas within the Creek Fire to clean out and close cabins for the winter.

Those with permits will be allowed into the Arnold Meadow Community starting Wednesday and the Beasore Meadows Community beginning Thursday.

The Arnold Meadows Community will be escorted by the Madera County Sheriff’s Office and the USFS starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday through 3 p.m. Oct. 10. Permit holders will meet at Madera County Fire Station No. 11, old mill site at Douglas Station Road.

The Beasore Meadows Community will follow a similar plan beginning 9 a.m. Thursday through 3 p.m. Oct. 11. Permit holders will meet at Madera County Courthouse, Bass Lake, Road 274.

Permits allow access to and from specific communities only and do not allow access to any other area within the Sierra National Forest, which remains closed. Those who have already submitted permit requests you will not need to re-submit.

All applicants will be required to bring with them two forms of identification, a valid driver’s license/identification and proof of property ownership (electric bill or property deed).

The time frames will be enforced and should be used for the purpose intended. The forest service and sheriff’s office will sweep the area to be sure no one is loitering in the area.

The High Sierra Ranger District will continue its process for re-entry on Saturday and Sunday.

Roadblock access will be allowed from 7 am. to 1 p.m. each of the two days. Check-in will be staged at each of the roadblock access points to areas where entry is to be made for that day.

Access will be allowed by permit for McKinley Grove to Wishon to Courtright Roads from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Dinkey and Rock Creek areas from 7 a.m. t o 5 p.m. and Huntington Lake and Camp Sierra areas from 7 a.m. t o 7 p.m.

The remnants of a tropical system off the Pacific Coast is expected to move through the central San Joaquin Valley on Tuesday, bringing in cooler temperatures (almost seasonal) and more humidity through the weekend.

More importantly, it should flush out the haze, smoke and particulate matter that has accumulated in the Valley and foothills, though the air quality was still expected in the unhealthy levels through much of the Valley on Tuesday. Exceptions are San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties, where the Air Quality Index was expected in the moderate levels.

As of 7 a.m., the AQI in Fresno was anywhere from 158 to 182 depending on location. Anything from 150-200 is considered unhealthy. The PM2.5 level was at level four, according to the Real-Time Air Advisory Network. Sensitive individuals should exercise indoors and everyone should avoid prolonged or vigorous outdoor activities.

Into the weekend, there’s a 40% to 50% chance of measurable rain within the area of the Creek Fire on Saturday; slightly higher in the northern zone in Madera County, according to the Creek Fire’s incident meteorologist.

The storm system should be cold enough to even generate a little snow (the first of the season) in the highest elevations of the Sierra by midday Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

This story was originally published October 6, 2020 8:46 AM.

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