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Mono Lake: A geography of hope

March 28th, 2015 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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Two weeks ago, I was one of over 200 people who attended the Geography of Hope Conference in Point Reyes Station. Founded in 2008 by Point Reyes Books, the Geography of Hope Conference takes its name from Wallace Stegner’s famous quote, “We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.”

The Geography of Hope Conference broadside. Graphics by Laurie Durnell & Kathy Evans of The Grove Consultants, Intl. and Sirima Sataman of Ink.Paper.Plate Studio.

The Geography of Hope Conference broadside. Graphics by Laurie Durnell & Kathy Evans of The Grove Consultants, Intl. and Sirima Sataman of Ink.Paper.Plate Studio.

As it is for many of our members, Mono Lake is my “geography of hope.” … more »

Mono Basin Forest Service Visitor Center reopens

March 26th, 2015 by Robbie, Project Specialist
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The Mono Basin National Forest Service Scenic Area Visitor Center will reopen for the year this Saturday, March 28.

The Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area Visitor Center reopens for the year on March 28. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

The Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area Visitor Center reopens for the year on March 28. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

The Visitor Center is located north of Lee Vining out on the bluff overlooking Mono Lake and Lee Vining Creek. It’s the place to get permits, see the video Of Ice & Fire, and enjoy the view of Mono Lake from the back patio. The Visitor Center is open Thursday–Monday from 9:00am until 4:30pm.

Are you ready for Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua registration?

March 25th, 2015 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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April 15 is a big day at the Mono Lake Committee—it’s both tax day and also “Chautauqua day.” Every year on April 15 registration for the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua begins at 6:30am sharp, and it’s always an exciting morning.

Don't miss registration for the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua: Tuesday, April 15 at 6:30am sharp! Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

Don’t miss registration for the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua: Tuesday, April 15 at 6:30am sharp! Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

As the birding festival continues to grow in popularity, even 14 years in, many field trips fill within minutes of registration opening. It helps to have your field trip and program choices prioritized for registration day. You can see the complete schedule online now, and more updates will follow as we get closer to registration day.

Caltrans Hwy 395 rockfall project report #1

March 25th, 2015 by Arya, Communications Director
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Caltrans-rockfall-update-graphic

Caltrans has released the first road report for the Lee Vining Rockfall Safety Project on Highway 395 along Mono Lake just north of Lee Vining:

Lee Vining Rockfall Safety project update #1

Capture 1

Updates are also posted regularly on Twitter and Facebook.
Click here for project background.
Text from the official update is below.

Caltrans-rockfall-update-graphic

… more »

2015 Andrea Lawrence Award Dinner honors Ted Schade, features Marcie Edwards

March 24th, 2015 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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This year’s Andrea Lawrence Award Dinner is coming up on Friday, April 24 … reserve your ticket today!

Andrea-Lawrence-Award-Dinner-2015-header

The keynote speaker this year will be Marcie Edwards, General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. It has become a bit of a tradition for DWP General Managers to speak at the event, with Ron Nichols’ remarks in 2011 and David Nahai’s in 2008, and now we look forward to hearing … more »

Ooolation Singers to return to Mono Basin for 15th year

March 22nd, 2015 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Those of you who love music and Mono Lake should know about the Ooolation Outdoor Singing Camp.

Ooolation Singers at Mono Lake at dusk. Photo courtesy of Ooolation.

Ooolation Singers at Mono Lake at dusk. Photo courtesy of Ooolation.

This year’s Ooolation camp will be the 15th in a row, bringing energetic young people and uplifting singing to the Mono Basin July 24–August 4, 2015. … more »

Caltrans’ rockfall project on 395 to begin this year

March 19th, 2015 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) project to improve motorist safety by reducing rockfall incidents along a one-mile section of Highway 395 near Old Marina is scheduled to begin in June. The project will stabilize six eroded slopes using a combination of anchored mesh material and an aggressive soil rehabilitation and revegetation plan.

Caltrans' rockfall project will address dangerous roadside slopes. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

Caltrans’ rockfall project will address dangerous roadside slopes. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

Once the project begins, people traveling on Highway 395 north of Lee Vining can expect routine traffic delays of up to 20 minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even though construction won’t be occurring 24 hours a day, the highway will be reduced to a single lane with temporary traffic signals that will remain in place for the duration of the project.

In addition, the project will include two eight-day periods of complete road closure for up to one hour, Monday–Thursday mornings between 6:00am–7:00am. … more »

Conway Ranch easement finalized: Another era for the north Mono Basin begins

March 16th, 2015 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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After two years of public meetings with diverse stakeholders, numerous field visits, and countless rounds of legal review and revision, the Conway Ranch Conservation Easement was signed and recorded by the Eastern Sierra Land Trust (ESLT) and Mono County on December 1, 2014.

A new easement allows for both open space preservation and also limited economic activity at Conway Ranch. Photo by Emily Prud'homme.

A new easement allows for both open space preservation and also limited economic activity at Conway Ranch. Photo by Emily Prud’homme.

The two parties successfully worked out myriad easement details with the dual goals of protecting open space and wildlife habitat while allowing for limited economic activities, specifically fish rearing and sheep grazing. … more »

Drier, warmer, lower: DWP water export reduction likely

March 12th, 2015 by Bartshé, Education Director
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A superlative drought continues for California and the impacts are unprecedented. Wherever you live in the state you can’t easily ignore the feeling that winter has been mostly absent. Rain and snow have largely missed California four years in a row. Record dry and warm conditions have combined to produce the worst drought in the state’s recorded weather history. By some measures it’s the most acute in 1,200 years.

The central Sierra Nevada sits at the epicenter of the worst drought conditions. Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra remain at the boundary of exceptional and extreme drought categories as defined by the US Department of Agriculture. It has been so dry that Lee Vining and the Mono Basin have lost roughly the equivalent of an entire year’s worth of precipitation within the last three. So far this water year, we are running at 23% of normal with more than half of the winter past us. Record warm temperatures in the Sierra continue with increased sublimation, evaporation, and further dehydration of soils. … more »

Warmest winter ever, again

March 8th, 2015 by Bartshé, Education Director
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California just logged its warmest winter in history by the widest margin in history. December 2014 through February 2015 hosted average temperatures soaring 5.9°F above the long-term mean. This record increase topped the previous record gain by 1.5°F.

The state’s last record warm winter was … all the way back in 2014. Before this year, December 2013–February 2014 was the warmest winter in California history by 4.4°F above average (a 0.8°F increase over the previous record, which was, until this year, the highest record increase).

California Average Temperatures December-February

Record high winter temperatures in California, December 2014-February 2015.

What about Lee Vining? We are still compiling the data, but it’s probable that Lee Vining tracked with the rest of the state. In February 2015 alone, 26 of 28 days brought well-above average temperatures to the town, typically reaching 6–24 degrees above average. For several consecutive days in February temperatures hovered at 67°F (a record high for February). Such extreme winter warmth rapidly melts snowpack while accelerating soil moisture loss in snowless terrain.

And what about the Sierra Nevada snowpack? Statewide it’s currently the lowest in history, sitting at 17% of average for April 1.

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