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Owens River Gorge Restored

July 10, 1994

* Your July 2 article concerning the restoration of water to the Owens River Gorge brought back a flood of memories.

My father, James C. Kerr, was employed by the then Southern Sierras Power Co. in Riverside. His position required occasional visits to the many power plants owned by the company, including Bishop Creek and beyond into Mono County.

My father used to tell me of the boundless beauty of this country with its flowing streams teeming with wild trout. Although he didn't fish, his stories to a lad 10 years old fired an imagination that to this day is vivid.

As time went on, the thought of this beautiful, untamed land would not leave my mind. I planned that the next time my father would make a trip to the Sierras I would go with him. And so it was.

One of the power plants on his itinerary was the plant at the bottom of the Owens River Gorge. In order to reach it, it was necessary to take a very steep, precipitous road which wound down breath-taking turns. Usually, only the heavy four-wheel-drive vehicles could make this trip. However, on this occasion we traveled in a Chrysler passenger car, which at that time was supposedly the only domestic vehicle with four-wheel brakes.

Finally, after many frightening minutes of blind curves and fear of dropping into the chasm below, we reached the bottom of the gorge and the powerhouse there.

As one could imagine, the scene was unforgettable, with the turbulence of the raging water and the sound of the generators driven by the huge "Pelton" wheels, which were like giant waterwheels. The whole thing was so spectacular that for several hours I forgot all about the fishing for which these waters were famed.

The healing of the great Owens River Gorge is also the healing of lost memories of those distant days of the past.

JAMES KERR

Laguna Beach

* Despite the fact that the climb out is too steep and I'll probably never get to fish there, I helped open the Owens River Gorge and I couldn't be more proud. I wholeheartedly supported the Federation of Fly Fishers, California Trout, Trout Unlimited, the California Sportsfishing Protection Alliance and all the other Davids who fought and beat Goliath.

So, let's drink a toast of gratitude to Barrett McInerny, the conservation attorney who virtually single-handedly brought the DWP to the mat; to Dick May and Jim Edmonston of CalTrout, to Mike Jackson and Bob Baiocchi of the CSPA and to all the fly-fishing club members, who volunteered a gazillion hours to give the Owens River Gorge back to the people of California, the United States and the world.

BENNETT J. MINTZ

Chatsworth

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