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The Mono-logue

Breaking news: Drones prohibited from flying over Mono Lake’s State Park

May 5th, 2016 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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California State Parks has issued a decisive and progressive special order just in time for summer: Unmanned aircraft—“drones”—are now prohibited from flying over land and water in the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. No longer will birds, wildlife, and visitors need to endure the buzzing disruption of drones along Mono Lake’s shore.

Specifically, Order Number 683-16-018 states, “Unmanned aircraft, also known as ‘drones,’ ‘quad-copters’ and similar are hereby restricted from non-permitted operation over the state lands and water under the operational control of California State Parks.”

The special order comes in response to last summer’s myriad drone disturbances—drones flying over nesting Osprey, flushing foraging shorebirds, and hovering over people on walking tours. Working hand-in-hand with the State, Mono Lake Committee staff documented incidents over the last year and based on these observations it became clear that recreational drone use was a problem at Mono Lake. With this new order Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve now joins the ranks of Yosemite National Park and designated wilderness areas as “no-fly zones” for drones.

Increasing recreational drone use at Mono Lake has been disrupting wildlife, like these nesting Osprey. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Increasing recreational drone use at Mono Lake has been disrupting wildlife, like these nesting Osprey. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Supporting local Lee Vining businesses

May 4th, 2016 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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Mono Cone swirl cone. Happy me! Selfie by Nora Livingston.

Mono Cone swirl cone. Happy me! Selfie by Nora Livingston.

Lee Vining is getting busier as spring brings more visitors with the arrival of fishing season. In preparation for the fishing season opener (April 30), a few more businesses in town opened their doors after a winter of hibernation. I made it my goal today to support as many local businesses as possible, because we all work together as a town to both provide for locals and bring visitors here to boost the town economy and garner love for this community and its surrounding beauty (like Mono Lake!). If people didn’t visit Lee Vining and support the businesses, it would be a lot harder to protect the lake because a whole lot fewer people would know it existed.

The best part of the day was … more »

Blooming desert peach: Spring is on its way

April 30th, 2016 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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It definitely feels like springtime here in the Mono Basin—the days are warming up and the cloudless sky is electric blue; the birds are returning, preparing to croon their overtures, practicing for their unabridged performances; the trees are bursting with minute glittering gems of new leaves that dance ecstatically in the breeze; and the blooming desert peach is glazing the hillsides pink.

A six-petaled Desert Peach flower (usually they are five-petaled). Photo by Nora Livingston.

A six-petaled desert peach flower (usually they are five-petaled). Photo by Nora Livingston.

When I breathe in, I feel the spring absorbing into my lungs; my skin, my nerves, my blood is rich with it. It is nice to be reminded each spring that regeneration is cyclical, so that we always have something to look forward to even … more »

Update: Tioga Pass “lower gate” not opening Friday at noon

April 28th, 2016 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Earlier this week, Caltrans had reported that it planned to open the lower gate on Tioga Pass Road tomorrow for fishing season opener, allowing easier access to the high country and freshwater lakes near Yosemite National Park’s eastern entrance. However, due to inclement weather predicted for the area, Caltrans will not be opening the lower gate tomorrow.

According to the press release, “Caltrans will reassess the weather and road conditions next week to determine if the highway is safe for the traveling public.” Keep checking back here on the Mono-logue for updates—we will report all Tioga Pass news that we get.

Join us for weekly Mono Lake bird walks starting on Friday, May 20

April 27th, 2016 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Migratory and nesting birds are returning to the Mono Basin in droves as the weather warms. Join us for free guided bird walks at Mono Lake County park starting on Friday, May 20 to see owls, woodpeckers, sparrows, gulls, raptors, shorebirds, warblers, wrens, and more up close!

A something something sandpiper?? forages for food along Mono Lake's shore. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

Least Sandpiper. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

The guided walks take place at 8:00am every Friday and Sunday morning throughout the summer, and are offered … more »

Tioga Pass “lower gate” scheduled to open Friday at noon

April 26th, 2016 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Update: The lower gate is NOT opening on Friday at noon.

The lower gate on Highway 120 west, Tioga Pass, is scheduled to be opened on Friday, April 29. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

The lower gate on Highway 120 west, Tioga Pass, is scheduled to be opened on Friday, April 29. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Via press release from Caltrans:

“The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has been working on clearing snow, removing rocks, and repairing the road to open State Route 120 West to the east Yosemite Park entrance gate. It is anticipated that the road will reopen from winter closure on Friday, April 29th, 2016 at noon, weather and safety permitting. Caltrans’ number one priority is safety for the traveling public and highway maintenance crews. State Route 120 west will remain closed at the Yosemite Park entrance.

“This partial opening is dependent upon favorable weather and verification that the highway is safe for users. If the area is impacted by inclement weather Caltrans may not be able to open the highway as anticipated. Please check local highway conditions before planning to use SR 120 west.”

Mono Lake Committee Scholarship deadline extended

April 25th, 2016 by Ellen, Membership Coordinator
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The deadline for submitting applications for the Mono Lake Committee scholarship has been extended to Friday, May 13 at 5:00pm. Completed applications can be mailed to PO Box 29, Lee Vining, CA 93541 or hand delivered to our Information Center & Bookstore, open every day from 9:00am to 5:00pm.

Each year the Committee awards two $1,000 scholarships to local students who display a personal connection with Mono Lake and the Mono Lake story. Mono County resident high school seniors who have firm plans to attend a two- or four-year college within a year of graduation qualify.

Last year the scholarship selection team of Robbie, Ellen, Arya, and Elin fueled their deliberations with Mono Cone. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Each year the scholarship selection team gets out of the office to talk through the essays with a fresh change of scenery. Last year that also included fresh Mono Cone! Photo by Elin Ljung.

Invasive plants at Mill Creek inspire stewardship

April 22nd, 2016 by Robbie, Project Specialist
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It’s the early afternoon and I’m standing in Mill Creek on July 30, 2015. The sun is warm when you stand in its rays and the cool softly flowing water is refreshing and welcomed. Standing still I can see bees and butterflies dancing among violet pink, periwinkle blue, and bright yellow wildflowers. It’s hard to believe that two months ago, this particular stretch of Mill Creek was almost entirely dominated by invasive white sweet clover (Melilotus albus).

Wildflowers along Mill Creek. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

Wildflowers along Mill Creek. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

White sweet clover plants can live for 2–3 years before casting thousands of seeds and dying. The seeds are hard and light (ideal for stream transportation) and have been shown … more »

“Those carpet squares were older than the State Water Board decision….”

April 20th, 2016 by Ellen, Membership Coordinator
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Last November the 20-year-old carpet in the Mono Lake Committee ice house office building was replaced with low-VOC, durable carpet squares, thanks to the generosity and practical sense of Board Chair Sally Gaines. You can read more about it on page 26 in the 2016 Winter & Spring Mono Lake Newsletter.

The recarpeted, repainted, gallery with a new show from local artist Ann Piersall. Photo by Elin Ljung.

The re-carpeted, re-painted gallery with a new show from local artist Ann Piersall. Photo by Elin Ljung.

The carpet in the office and gallery in our main building was also 20 years old, but not quite as worn, so at first we had no plans to replace it. But, as often happens, the contrast between the new and the old made us realize that it was time to do so. Fortunately, … more »

The Mono Lake shrimp are back!

April 17th, 2016 by Robbie, Project Specialist
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Brine shrimp (Artemia monica) have emerged from the bottom of Mono Lake and they’re already growing fast! Come check them out along the shores of Mono Lake or in our aquarium at the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore (open seven days a week). Enjoy the algae while you can little guys, humans aren’t the only migratory species that’s excited about your arrival….

Artemia monica swirling around bubbling tufa in the MLC's aquarium. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

Artemia monica swirling around bubbling tufa in the Mono Lake Committee’s aquarium. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

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