On July 9, in Boise, Idaho, and within the arms of his spouse Julie and daughter Tess, Dick Dahlgren took his final breath on the age of 80. For all of the folks generously described as a Renaissance Man or Girl, Dick was one among few for my part who might genuinely be described as such.
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He was an ardent and completed skier in addition to a founding member of the Mammoth Mountain Ski Patrol. He organized and led the Mammoth Fly Rodders to provide a voice to the world‘s fly fishing neighborhood. Regardless of being an actual property dealer, he at occasions fought over-development of his beloved mountain.
When builders started to win too lots of these battles to go well with him, he retired along with his spouse Julie to Idaho, the place they constructed the quintessential log cabin and fishing camp actually a solid from Idaho’s Massive Misplaced River. As time marched on, it was accompanied by the infirmities of advancing age and Dick admitted to feeling down till discovering a expertise for each artwork and writing and started partaking in each at a livid tempo. He proudly displayed photographs of his paintings together with excerpts and e book evaluations on his Fb web page, which he used to remain in contact with mates outdated and new.
I’m proud to say that we had been mates. If you’re an angler who loves the Japanese Sierra with its plentiful trout streams, or perhaps a naturalist taken in by the distinctive magnificence and wildlife of Mono Lake – Dick Dahlgren was your pal too.
It was Dick whose discovery of trout in usually dry Rush Creek led to the epic David versus Goliath battle that pitted him towards the highly effective and seemingly all-powerful Los Angeles Division of Water and Energy. Ultimately, he received. Beforehand diverted streams, fish, wildlife and Mono Lake received – and so did you and I.
Following is a column that appeared Might 2, 1985 in The Tribune because the battle strains had been starting to be drawn:
River of brown trout has water works officers seeing pink
As forecast, good climate and even higher fishing produced hundreds of glad anglers because the Sierra trout season opened final weekend.
Few of them nevertheless went dwelling as glad as Dick Dahlgren of Mammoth Lakes.
As an alternative of a creel of rainbows or a hook-jawed outdated brown trout, Dahlgren it appears has landed a stream. That no less than is the optimistic consensus of those that have been watching and ready since Dahlgren first obtained a strike final fall and set the hook – a hook that appears painfully embedded within the seat of the highly effective Los Angeles Division of Water and Energy.
All of it started Oct. 13, when Dahlgren determined to go for a drive and take just a little hike – one thing the DWP needs he would do immediately. Dahlgren’s automotive took him alongside a mud street to the southern fringe of Mono Lake – web site of an ongoing battle between the DWP and a coalition of areas residents and conservation teams. His ft and curiosity took him to the mouth of Rush Creek. There he noticed a brown trout feeding on brine shrimp distinctive to Mono Lake that had ventured into the stream. There have been two issues incorrect with that scene. Not solely was the stream purported to be barren of trout; it additionally was purported to be dry.
Till the season ended Oct. 31, Dahlgren selected to disregard what was purported to be and loved what was; “a fully improbable trout stream.” Checking round, he discovered handful of different anglers had made the identical discovery, however had typically saved their discover secret. It’s each ironic and coincidental that one of many stream’s discoverers was the Mono County coroner, as a result of it was quickly to be lifeless. Inside days the DWP deliberate to dry the stream up – one thing it had been doing since 1940.
Nature’s plan for Rush Creek has it flowing simply north and west of the Owens River watershed, offering life for plant and animals communities and water for Mono Lake.
That plan has prevailed for eons till Rush Creek was eyed by the Metropolis of Los Angeles as a supply of water for its personal communities. 4 lakes had been constructed to control Rush Creek‘s irregular move. These lakes, June, Gull, Silver and Grant are often called the June Lake Loop, one of many Sierra’s hottest recreation areas. Rush Creek was then diverted via a tunnel into the Owens River, from which it may very well be neatly packaged and shipped to the multitudes rising in Los Angeles. Aside from the drying and dying of Mono Lake, the system appeared to be working properly – particularly for Los Angeles and its Division of Water and Energy.
The current state of affairs started in 1981, when distinctive rainfall and runoff amounted to extra water than may very well be siphoned via the tunnel. The surplus merely spilled out of Grant lake and proceeded down its pure and historic course to Mono Lake. Because it seems, just a few trout additionally spilled out, proving that you just actually can go dwelling once more. They promptly arrange housekeeping and started producing extra trout, thousand and hundreds of them. So many who this stream that isn’t purported to be is as soon as once more what it actually and naturally is meant to be – a premier pure trout stream and supply of water and life for Mono Lake. DFG surveys have turned up as many as 7,000 trout per mile in the best stretches of Rush Creek.
When he realized final fall that the stream would once more be diverted to LA and decrease Rush Creek would dry up, Dahlgren laid down his fly rod and screamed “foul.” His name has been answered by a curious coalition of people and teams able to enter battle over Rush Creek. The widespread thread via these unusual allies is that they share a standard enemy – the DWP.
Even Dahlgren is amazed by the alliance and considerably amused by what some could really feel is a contradiction in himself. “Hell,” he says, “I’m no environmentalist, I’m an actual property dealer, however even I do know the distinction between proper and incorrect. From the time I heard it was going to be dried up, I knew I needed to try to put it aside. I needed to do one thing.”
Doing one thing meant turning into a catalyst. First he was joined by fellow members of the Mammoth Flyrodders over which he presides. Later got here assist from the Mono Lake Committee, CalTrout and others who’ve rallied round this inconceivable hero.
The important thing authorized challenge is part 5937 of the Fish and Sport Code which says, “the proprietor of any dam shall enable enough water always to cross via a fishway, or within the absence of a fishway, enable enough water to cross over, round or via the dam to maintain in good situation any fish which can be planted or exist under the dam.”
On that foundation, the DWP was restrained from following via with a scheduled Nov. 16 shutoff date and was ordered to keep up a minimal move to maintain alive the stream’s trout. On March 6, that place was upheld by a preliminary injunction towards DWP, which has maintained that an settlement entered into in 1940 with the Division of Fish and Sport provides them the precise to dry decrease Rush Creek, parts of Walker Creek, Parker Creek, Lee Vining Creek and the Owens River Gorge under Crowley Lake in return for the Scorching Creek Fish Hatchery which was constructed by the DWP as mitigation.
Nobody it appears, is questioning that interpretation of the settlement. What’s being questioned and has been upheld by the courts so far, in response to legal professional Barrett McInerney, is the legality of the settlement – no matter what it says.
McInerney is arguing state company or fee can not write or enter into an settlement waiving a penal code statute, and so far the courts have agreed.
“In giving us the preliminary injunction towards the DWP, the decide (David Otis), in impact, stated it’s possible that all the metropolis’s water agreements are unlawful and have been for over 45 years,” stated McInerney.
Exactly that challenge would be the order of enterprise when the court docket convenes tomorrow in Bridgeport. Dahlgren and his allies are assured of a everlasting injunction and optimistic that the ruling will carry over to different streams now dry because of the unique settlement. Excessive on their record is the restoration of flows within the Owens River gorge.
Whatever the end result, it’s probably the battle won’t finish there – not while you’re speaking a couple of foe with the monetary, authorized and political assets of the town of Los Angeles and its Division of Water and Energy.
Within the meantime, fishing is fairly good in Decrease Rush Creek and Dahlgren and his mates are sporting a smile of satisfaction that comes from greater than catching just a few fish.
They assume he caught a stream.