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The Mono-logue

Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists: Astronomy of the zodiac with David Hurst

July 28th, 2014 by Lily, Mono Lake Intern

For many centuries a unique band of stars called the zodiac has attracted the attention of humankind as we’ve gazed into the night sky. If you, like so many others, are fascinated by the stars then please join us Wednesday, July 30th at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee Theater & Gallery for an afternoon lecture on the zodiac.

Stars over Mono Lake, in a photo taken without the use of any artificial light. Photo courtesy of Thomas Piekunka.

In Wednesday’s lecture astronomer David Hurst will shed light on why the zodiac has captivated our interest for hundreds of years. He will also offer tips on how to view these stars in the Eastern Sierra night sky. We hope to see you there!

Highway 395 closed 12 miles north of Mono Lake

July 26th, 2014 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

A detour route is available to bypass the closed section of Highway 395.

Highway 395 closed this morning between the junction of Highway 270 to Bodie and the town of Bridgeport, which is 30 miles north of Mono Lake. The cause of the road closure is a HAZMAT spill from a truck, which must be cleaned up before the road can be reopened. We have not heard any estimate for when the highway might reopen.

It is possible to take a detour around the closed section of Highway 395—the detour takes 3.5 hours.

By taking Highway 167 east to Hawthorne, Nevada, then Highway 95 to Yerington, Nevada, and then Highway 182 back into California to Bridgeport, you can continue north on Highway 395 toward Carson City, Reno, and Lake Tahoe. If you’re coming from the north, reversing the process will allow you to get to Mono Lake, Yosemite, and points south.

Call us any time for updated road conditions—we’ll be glad to tell you what we know: (760) 647-6595.

American Dipper chick leaves home

July 25th, 2014 by Erv, Birding Intern

“Cranial kinesis.” It’s a great term to throw around at your next cocktail party.

Lee Vining Creek's American Dipper chick flapping right before it takes its first flight. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Not as complicated as it sounds, it’s something most birds possess. It means the upper bill is hinged to the skull, allowing the bird to open and close its jaws more rapidly than would be possible if only the lower jaw moved. When both jaws open the bird can aim without … more »

Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists: Drought impacts on streamflow on the Upper Owens River and Big Springs

July 21st, 2014 by Julie, Mono Lake Intern

There is no denying that California is facing a serious water problem due to three consecutive years of drought. Curious about a hydrologist’s thoughts on the matter? Join us at the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore this Wednesday, July 23 at 4:00pm for an hour with Sue Burak, local resident and recent graduate of the Hydrologic Science department at the University of Nevada, Reno, to find out.

Satellite view of snow cover over Sierra Nevada mountain range, January 2013 vs. January 2014. Photos courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Sue is currently working on drought issues with the Desert Research Institute and come winter she gathers snow and avalanche information from snowpits and studies avalanche formation all while closely tracking the weather. During her presentation Sue will explain the impacts of the drought, primarily on the streamflow of the Upper Owens River and Big Springs. She will also talk about how to define drought in order to get the root of common drought misconceptions. Light snacks and beverages will be provided. Meet in the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore in the Theater & Gallery at 4:00pm to join in on the fun. I look forward to seeing you there!

The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada: A necessity for life in the Sierra

July 21st, 2014 by Barbara, Information Center & Bookstore Manager

For those times when I’m exploring the Sierra Nevada without my favorite Yosemite park ranger (or, come to think of it, even when I’m with her since she swears by this book), a necessity almost as crucial as sunblock is John Muir Laws’ The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada.

A modest-sized paperback, small enough to fit in your backpack on top of rain gear or snacks, this is the source to answer all of your “what is this?!?” quandaries. And since I recently moved here from the East Coast, I have a lot of those quandaries. For example, on some recent hikes, I encountered the following:

Pussypaws. Photo by Barbara Ball.

From The Laws Field Guide, I find that this is pussypaws—very common—a cushion plant: Calyptridium monospermum if you enjoy learning the scientific names.

Or: … more »

Mono Lake Interns then and now: From fly pupae to moringa

July 17th, 2014 by Julie, Mono Lake Intern

Over the years the Mono Lake Committee has attracted hundreds of young, passionate environmentalists looking for involvement in Mono Lake’s story. Whether in college, fresh out of school or like this year’s two Birding Interns, retired folks looking to help out, the seasonal staff plays a huge role in keeping the Mono Lake Committee a well-oiled machine during the summer months. I am not alone in feeling that what I have given the Committee cannot compare to what the people, experiences, and natural world in the Eastern Sierra has given me. The incredible Mono Lake story is infectious and continues to inspire me as I head further into the field of environmental studies.

The departures of seasonal staff occurs in two waves each year—in the end of August and the beginning of November. Once departed, it largely becomes a mystery where these individuals full of fun Mono Lake facts end up. Luckily, many keep in touch. One retired intern in particular is pretty much forced into keeping in touch with me. My sister Lisa Curtis was a Mono Lake Intern seven years ago … more »

Turf wars: Los Angeles doubles down on water conservation

July 14th, 2014 by Bartshé, Education Director

If you’re a Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) residential customer and you have a lawn, now is your chance to cash in and conserve water. Currently, DWP is offering $3 per square foot of lawn if you replace your thirsty grass with California friendly plants.

DWP’s “Cash In Your Lawn” incentive is the largest for any major US city, and is twice the amount that Las Vegas offers its customers. There is no competition here—both cities are serious about water conservation and recycling and have a track record of moving in the right direction when it comes to urban water efficiency. However, three dollars a square foot (up from two dollars) demonstrates a new level of commitment that DWP is willing to go to further for conservation after three very dry years. … more »

Seminar spotlight: Introduction to High Country Plants & Habitats

July 13th, 2014 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Join us for this year’s Introduction to High Country Plants & Habitats field seminar, held annually in the Mono Basin’s high-elevation meadows at the peak of their summer bloom! Plants, animals, insects, geology, and weather all interact quickly during the short growing season, and this seminar is a guide to it all.

Introduction to High Country Plants & Habitats • August 1–3 • $165 per person/$150 for members • sign up here

Instructor Ann Howald has a clear and enthusiastic teaching style that brings participants back year after year. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Instructor Ann Howald is a retired consulting botanist who specializes in rare plant and conservation issues. Her engaging way of … more »

Seminar spotlight: Mono Basin Mammals

July 12th, 2014 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Small mammals like squirrels, chipmunks, kangaroo rats, and mice scurry around us humans all day and night here in the Mono Basin, but how often do you actually get to really see them? If you’re interested in seeing the Mono Basin’s mammals up close (you might even get to hold one!), you’re in luck—there are a few spaces left in the Mono Basin Mammals field seminar coming up in a couple of weeks.

Mono Basin Mammals • July 25–27 • $155 per person/$140 for members • sign up here

The field seminar instructor is biologist John Harris, who has studied the Mono Basin's mammals since the 1970s. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Instructor John Harris has studied the Mono Basin’s mammals for decades, and has led many popular field seminars for the Mono Lake Committee and at the annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. John catches the mammals in live traps, thereby … more »

Mono views: From peaks to paintings

July 11th, 2014 by Erica, Mono Lake Intern

This is a unique place where animals like the tiny pika and lazy marmot dwell in rocky habitats. It is a place where visitors enjoy gazing at the tufa towers as they hike along Mono Lake’s shore. Glaciers and volcanic activity have been powerful forces shaping the landscape over time. Recreational activities in the Mono Basin include everything from hiking and mountaineering to fishing and birding.

A stunning view of Mono Lake from Mt. Dana. Photo by Erica Stephens.

Thanks to dedicated people of the past like David Gaines, who took initial action to protect Mono Lake and helped found the Mono Lake Committee, we all have the opportunity to enjoy this amazing area. As Gaines said, “The birds and the animals, trees, grasses and rocks; water and wind are our allies. They awaken our senses, arouse our passions, renew our spirits, and fill us with vision, courage and joy. We are Mono Lake.”

Here are a variety of perspectives from friends, coworkers and people I met along trails who are inspired and … more »

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