Status Update on Operations at the White Mountain Research Center

We hope that this update finds you well and in good spirits. As you can imagine, 2020 has been a challenging year for the WMRC. We are fortunate to have such dedicated staff and such an understanding community of clients and friends.

Many people have reservations for 2021 and many have asked for information about operations for 2021. The situation has been uncertain and still is so, but we thought we should let you know the current operating status and potential for 2021.


Summer/Fall 2020

In the Spring we prepared a plan for limited use of Owens valley facilities for essential research by small teams of 8 people. This was done in collaboration with UCLA EHS and was approved in June. We posted a Playbook of rules and the application process, and had great success with very small research groups or individual researchers. They filed COVID-19 operating and evacuation plans and worked safely with masks, social distancing etc. at the Owens Valley Station. Based on that, we again worked with UCLA EHS to develop a plan for essential adult field courses of no more than 12 overnight guests to utilize Owens Valley. This was approved and we have had one successful ‘test run’ of a small field course. Both essential research use and essential courses require monitoring and testing prior to arrival, restriction of community interaction, and stringent following of social distancing, masking and decontamination rules. No meals or linens are provided. We will be posting the revised Playbook on the WMRC website. It is also available via email requests.

Currently, WMRC falls within the Southern California zone for COVID-19 restrictions. There is a Stay at Home order in place and this will last for at least 3 weeks. During this time, we will restrict any research or educational use of facilities.

Winter/Spring 2021

Assuming that the Southern California Zone moves out of a Stay at Home Order status and Inyo County does not move into a Risk Rating of Widespread, WMRC would be able to host small essential research groups or small essential field-based courses (adults only) of 12 people or less overnight at Owens Valley. This cap is unlikely to be raised by UCLA under current conditions. There will be no meals or linens, but access to one of two kitchens can be requested. Groups will need to meet all Playbook requirements. We would want to see testing done by all members of the group very shortly prior to arrival at WMRC.

If you have an existing reservation and know you cannot come, please cancel it by getting in touch with Denise,, so we can plan for Winter. If you have a reservation for a group larger than 12, you will need to decrease the group size or cancel. If we do not move out of the Stay at Home Order we will not be able to accommodate any individuals or groups. Please keep informed of California state and county COVID-19 restrictions. Anyone visiting must file a COVID-19 operating and evacuation plan that is approved by their institution and by WMRC.

Summer/Fall 2021

Operations for the Summer remain uncertain. Assuming there is no major improvement in the COVID-19 situation, but things again become good enough for limited operations, we will host small essential research and education groups at Owens Valley as we did this summer-fall, providing no meals or linens. We will try to provide very restricted use of Barcroft for some long-standing essential multi-year projects only, but it will generally be unavailable. We will not provide meals or linens. We are trying to develop a plan for Crooked Creek, but any such plan is unlikely to include meals and linens. Stand by for developments on Crooked Creek planning. Of course, with a vaccine on the horizon we may be able to expand operations this summer, but this remains uncertain.

Again, we ask that if you have a reservation for summer or fall of 2021 and you know you will not be coming to WMRC please cancel so we can plan accordingly.

In closing, we thank you for your understanding and wish you the best in 2021.


Glen MacDonald, WMRC Director and WMRC Staff

Tony Orme on White Mountain

Passing of Former Director Professor Tony Orme

It is with a heavy heart that we note the passing of former WMRC Director, Professor Antony (Tony) R. Orme this past Spring. Tony received his undergraduate degree and doctorate from the University of Birmingham and served at UCLA from 1968 to 2010 as a faculty member in the Department of Geography. Upon official retirement he quickly rejoined the UC ranks as Director of the UC White Mountain Research Center from 2012 to 2016. This is almost half a century of dedicated service to UCLA.

Tony was an internationally recognized and award-winning geomorphologist who worked in a number of systems – literally from the mountains to the sea. He was as an inspiring teacher and mentor to man undergraduate and graduate students. In addition, he was a gifted artist, scientific illustrator and cartographer. Tony held the rank of Full Professor at UCLA. He served as the Chair of the UCLA Department of Geography from 1974 to 1977, and Dean of Social Sciences from 1977 to 1983. His final administrative role, as Director of the UC White Mountain Research Center, was nothing short of transformative. At the Center he undertook a highly successful reorganization and renovation of operations and facilities. With our multiple research stations, extending to over 14,000 feet in elevation, this would have been daunting to many. He tackled it with gusto. He was a strong advocate for WMRC at both UCLA and at the UC Office of the President. Professor Orme’s achievements at the White Mountain Research Center was in many ways an incredible capstone to a distinguished career of research, education and service.

Professor Orme is survived by his wife Amalie, a Professor of Geography at CSU Northridge and frequent user of WMRC facilities, his sons Mark and Kevin, and daughter Devon. His daughter, who is an Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences at Montana State University, recently gave birth to a daughter. Tony was an important part of the WMRC family, and central to its survival and continued growth. He will forever be remembered by us all for his vision, energy and dedication to this very special place.

The mission of the White Mountain Research Center is to support research and teaching in the White-Inyo mountains, the Owens Valley, the eastern Sierra Nevada and surrounding areas. WMRC operates three full-service field stations to support college-level instruction and research throughout the entire region.

White Mountain Research Center Newsletter

WMRC publishes a newsletter once a year. We hope this newsletter will inspire new research scientists, field classes, workshops and conferences to join us at the White Mountain Research Center.

View the Fall/Winter 2019 newsletter

View the Fall/Winter 2018 newsletter

View the Fall 2017 newsletter

View the Fall 2016 newsletter

View the Spring 2016 newsletter

View the Fall 2015 newsletter

View the Spring 2015 newsletter

View the Fall 2014 newsletter

View the Spring 2014 newsletter