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2016 Andrea Lawrence Award presented to Dan & Leslie Dawson

May 21st, 2016 by Lily, Information Center & Bookstore Manager
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On May 13th community members, friends, and family of Andrea Mead Lawrence gathered at Mammoth Mountain’s Parallax Restaurant to commemorate Andrea’s life and those who embody her spirit of community and conservationism through the presentation of the Andrea Lawrence Award.

Geoff McQuilkin and Quentin Lawrence with Leslie & Dan Dawson, recipients of the 2016 Andrea Lawrence Award. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Geoff McQuilkin and Quentin Lawrence with Leslie & Dan Dawson, recipients of the 2016 Andrea Lawrence Award. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Andrea was a visionary environmental leader, two-time Olympic gold medalist, mother of five, 16-year Mono County Supervisor, and Mono Lake Committee board member. Since her passing in 2009, the Mono Lake Committee has hosted the Andrea Lawrence Award Dinner to celebrate her influential life and those who continue to improve and protect the Eastern Sierra through their passionate engagement with community and the land.

The 2016 award was presented to Dan & Leslie Dawson, who recently retired from the Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve, for their 37 years of tireless work improving upon and expanding both the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab (SNARL) and Valentine Camp—together referred to as the Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve, which is part of the University of California Natural Reserve System. … more »

Free bird walks at Mono Lake County Park begin this weekend

May 19th, 2016 by Sandra, Birding Intern
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Several events mark the beginning of the Mono Lake Committee’s summer season. One of them is the start of weekend bird-walks at Mono Lake County Park, a joint program with California State Parks.

A Western Tanager in its brilliant breeding plumage.  Photo by Sandra Noll.

A Western Tanager in its brilliant breeding plumage. Photo by Sandra Noll.

You are invited to join experienced guides every Friday and Sunday at 8:00am (meet at the County Park parking lot) for a two-hour guided walk through a variety of habitats including an aging woodland with dead snags, sagebrush scrub, grassland, riparian oasis, and the shore of Mono Lake. As you can imagine, this variety of habitats supports a wide variety of birds.

These following photos of a few of the species seen on a preview walk earlier this week are … more »

Tioga Pass opening today at noon

May 18th, 2016 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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News from Yosemite National Park: Tioga Pass (Highway 120) will open all the way through the park today at noon.

Mono Lake seen from the Yosemite high country. Photo courtesy of karlcbl via Instagram.

Mono Lake seen from the Yosemite high country. Photo courtesy of karlcbl via Instagram.

This is good news for us Eastsiders who are eager to visit the Yosemite high country, and for folks on the west side who have been waiting to visit Mono Lake all winter. The spring weather is perfect these days—come on over!

See more information about hiking conditions, campgrounds, and services from the National Park Service press release below: … more »

Lower gate on Highway 120 opens; Tioga Pass remains closed

May 12th, 2016 by Andrew, Project Specialist
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Near Tioga Pass, the snow is over six feet deep from the plowing operations. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Near Tioga Pass, the snow is over six feet deep along the road. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

This morning, Caltrans opened the lower gate on Highway 120 up to Tioga Pass. Highway 120 is still closed, however, beyond Tioga Pass into Yosemite National Park.

I excitedly made the trip up the road during my lunch break today for the first time since November and found considerable snow still on the ground above 9,000 feet … more »

Great article about Mono Lake and the drought

May 7th, 2016 by Robbie, Project Specialist
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Journalist Jane Braxton Little recently wrote a comprehensive article about Mono Lake—we recommend giving it a read. She does a great job of capturing where Mono Lake stands today in the face of California’s historic drought. Click the link to read the article Mono Lake Facing Another Crisis.

Mono Lake tufa towers are seen Monday, Nov. 15, 2004, near Lee Vining, Calif. The ancient towers, composed of calcium carbonate, were formed underwater when fresh water springs mixed with minerals in the lakewater, and became visible when lake water receded over the past 60 years due to water diversion to Los Angeles. Now, residents and the U.S. Forest Service say the Mono Lake protections are imperiled by a plan to subdivide 120 acres for luxury homes on the lake's western shore. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Photo of Pirate Ship Tufa at South Tufa from the article “Mono Lake Facing Another Crisis.” Photo by Ben Margot, Associated Press.

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 »

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