Lee Vining Community Center—bare and brown no more

The Lee Vining Community Center received a facelift this past week after a group of volunteers and a visiting group of firefighters turned the bare, brown grounds around the center into a beautiful, landscaped garden.

According to organizer Ilene Mandelbaum, the new space is now “a green and inviting place to visit, with lush flowers and well-mulched shrubs and trees,” instead of the wind-blown bare spot it was just a week ago.

In the past, the site has proven to be very challenging to vegetate with windy and hot conditions, heavy clay soils and aggressive weeds, she said.

But on June 5, a mob of community volunteers and agency workers carried out a “planting day” and turned things around. 

“We had a fantastic turn-out, with a lot of expertise and muscle power,” said  Mandelbaum, a Mono Basin planning committee member and the chair of the community’s Landscaping Committee. She said over the years, the plants used in the landscaping have been purchased by the community with funds raised for this very purpose.

 “We could not have pulled it off without the professional experience of volunteers,” she said.


  • Marianne and John Denny of Mono Works selected the plants from the Chalfant Nursery and directed the planting.
  • Joe Blanchard, Mono County Facilities Director, provided his Parks and Recreation landscaping crew and equipment.
  • Program Director Paul McFarland’s Friends of the Inyo Stewardship Crew helped out.
  • Yvette Garcia’s LVES 4th grade class did everything they could to help.
  • A “Hot Shot” fire crew, the “Zig Zags” of Mt. Hood Oregon, were sent over by an Inyo National Forest fire fighter, Stuart Volkland, and tackled the big, daunting, clean up tasks.
  • Rose Catron, Lee Vining Chamber of Commerce Secretary, provided refreshments.