Track 7: Stan Matlick, retired Bishop rancher

Three generations of Matlick family ranched in Bishop on land they originally homesteaded in the 1870s. Stan Matlick, the grandson of the original settler, was an outspoken critic of the Inyo-LA Long Term Water Agreement and remained an active, candid voice on these issues until his death in 2013. According to family lore, Stan’s grandfather once forced LADWP representatives off his property by gunpoint.

Stan’s father, Edwin Matlick was instrumental in winning the Hillside Decree, a historic 1940 court order against the City of Los Angeles exempting the “Bishop Cone” area surrounding the town of Bishop from groundwater pumping for export. Stan Matlick himself continued the fight during the 1980s when the decree was challenged in court by LADWP. Matlick financed the litigation and court costs himself, eventually winning the suit. The Bishop Cone is the only area currently with protections from groundwater pumping and export within the Owens Valley.

During my initial interview with Stan he recalled a popular family story involving his grandfather, Allen Matlick.  LADWP representatives originally approached his grandfather in the early 1900s inquiring if he would sell his ranch. As the story goes, Al confronted the men on his front porch with rifle in hand threatening to “kill ’em” if they didn’t get off his land immediately. A female relative supposedly witnessed the entire exchange while hiding in bushes nearby. Frightened, the girl ran home telling her mother, “Grandpa has a gun and he is going to kill a bunch of men!”[1] Al didn’t shoot them, nor did he sell his ranch that day.

The Matlicks are one of the few homesteading families who have managed to keep control of their original land holdings and water rights within the Owens Valley over the past 100 years.

Mr. Matlick passed on May 16th, 2013 in Bishop, California. Please read Sierra Wave’s obituary for him at: http://www.sierrawave.net/24836/stan-matlick-1931-2013/.


Notes:
[1] Carol Stephens, Matlick Family History. See: http://www.owensvalleyhistory.com/bishop_residents2/page48c.html (Allen Matlick pdf). Last accessed 2/24/2014.

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