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Fall 2014 Mono Lake Newsletter now available online

October 29th, 2014 by Arya, Communications Director

On behalf of the entire Mono Lake Committee staff I’m excited to announce that the Fall 2014 edition of the Mono Lake Newsletter is now available online! Every time we ready the Newsletter to go to press I write a short letter from the editor that appears on page 2—it’s a welcome message, and an introduction to the issue. Here’s how it goes this time:


Recently my friend John Anderson came by for a visit and said a surprising thing: “The lake is so high!” It was the only time I heard that this year. As a member of the 1979 California Gull research crew when the lake level was 6373.4 feet above sea level, his comment makes more sense, and was a good reminder to keep things in perspective here at 6379.3. … more »

Mono Lake at 20 symposium in Sacramento

October 28th, 2014 by Arya, Communications Director

Water nerds unite! You’re not going to want to miss this opportunity: the Mono Lake at 20: Past, Present, and Future symposium on November 17, 2014 in Sacramento, California.

What: 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the California State Water Resources Control Board’s landmark Decision 1631 to amend the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power’s water rights in order to protect Mono Lake and its tributary streams. So we have joined with UC Berkeley’s Wheeler Institute for Water Law & Policy and stakeholders in the Mono Lake cases to convene this symposium to discuss where things stand after 20 years, including: … more »

Winter Photography field seminar: Register starting on November 1st

October 25th, 2014 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Winter at Mono Lake is a very special season, complete with snowy Sierra peaks, poconip fog that coats tufa towers in rime ice, and bright bluebird days. Spend a weekend based in Lee Vining for the Mono Lake Committee’s annual winter photography field seminar to take advantage of the many photographic opportunities that winter provides.

A Jeffrey pine tree coated in rime ice in the poconip fog. Photo courtesy of Rick Knepp.

The Forgotten Season: Winter Photography in the Mono Basin
January 16–18, 2015
$225 per person / $200 for Mono Lake Committee members

Check the detailed itinerary to get a complete picture of the weekend as you make your plans. Registration will open on Saturday, November 1 for both Mono Lake Committee members and non-members. To sign up, call (760) 647-6595 or register online.

Instructor Rick Knepp is a former Mono Lake Committee staff member, popular seminar leader, and veteran of Mono winters. His experience will allow participants to take advantage of many winter photographic opportunities. Come prepared for cold winter weather. This seminar will take place regardless of weather or road conditions. There will be no refunds due to weather. Cost is for tuition only; participants must arrange their own accommodations. This seminar is limited to 15 participants.

Students face their fears at the Outdoor Education Center

October 21st, 2014 by Melissa, Outdoor Education Intern

From a very young age most of us are afraid of the dark. As we get older we usually don’t find the dark to be as scary as when we were little, but most of us would probably admit that it’s a fear that doesn’t completely go away. As a human, being afraid of the dark is totally understandable because we can’t see as well in the dark as we do when there’s light. Plus, it’s a fear that’s constantly instilled in us through horror movies, scary stories, and Halloween. At the Mono Lake Committee Outdoor Education Center (OEC) we try to get students to face their fears, including fear of the dark.

The 2014 Homeboy crew at the Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center. Photo by Melissa Boyd.

Many students come to the OEC from large urban areas, such as Los Angeles, and most of them have never been in a wilderness setting. When they first get here they are a bit nervous and quiet, so, to get them out of their shells and comfortable with us and the surroundings, we take them on a “night walk.”

For the night walk we take the students to the beautiful Jeffrey pine forest near Mono Mills and walk with them along an old volcanic ash road in the early evening after the sun has set. We all walk silently along the road for about … more »

Book review: Relicts of a Beautiful Sea lends new understanding of the desert around us

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

The Inyo Mountain slender salamander is found in just five locations (all in the Inyo Mountains) and has been classified as endangered since 1996. The Devil’s Hole pupfish only lives in Devil’s Hole in the Amargosa Valley—a body of water smaller than your bedroom and with water averaging 93 degrees Fahrenheit. These species have adapted and descended from ancestors living in the Great Basin when it was an enormous sea.

Conservation biologist Christopher Norment’s talk and book signing at the Mono Lake Committee on October 15 brought wonder, understanding, and a new appreciation for life in its many forms. Norment’s book, Relicts of a Beautiful Sea: Survival, Extinction and Conservation in a Desert World, looks at the Great Basin and the sea it once was. A review by T. DeLene Beeland, author of … more »

Harrison “Hap” Dunning honored with 2014 Defender of the Trust Award

October 15th, 2014 by Arya, Communications Director

The Mono Lake Committee has a celebrated tradition of honoring individuals who champion Mono Lake and advocate for the public trust with the Defender of the Trust Award. The California Supreme Court’s definition of the public trust doctrine in its landmark 1983 Mono Lake decision goes: “The public trust is an affirmation of the duty of the state to protect the people’s common heritage of streams, lakes, marshlands and tidelands….”

2014 Defender of the Trust awardee Hap Dunning, right, with Mono Lake Committee Executive Director Geoff McQuilkin. Photo by Elin Ljung.

On September 27, 2014 the Committee honored Harrison “Hap” Dunning with the 2014 Defender of the Trust Award here in the Mono Basin. Hap accepted the award during a dinner in his honor. IStorm Over Mono, author John Hart wrote, “The notion that [the public trust doctrine] might be applied to curtail water rights was truly novel. There appears to have been just one other person in California in the mid-1970s who was aware of this possibility: Harrison C. Dunning, a law professor at the University of California at Davis….”

Since the 1970s, Hap has been a leading voice for California water law reform. … more »

Fall color update: Mill Creek webcam shows peak color

October 12th, 2014 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist

As the sun dips lower in the sky and we enter mid-October, the aspen, cottonwood, and willow trees of the Mono Basin, as well as other deciduous trees and plants, become more colorful at low elevations. You can track these changes from anywhere on our three webcams.

Mill Creek on 10/9/14 from the Mill Creek Webcam.

Mill Creek on October 9, 2014 from the Mill Creek Webcam.

The Mono Lake Webcam shows that Lee Vining Creek is very colorful near Mono Lake. The Lee Vining Webcam shows a lot of color in town. And the Mill Creek Webcam, looking down Mill Creek toward Mono Lake, has the best … more »

Author reading at the Mono Lake Committee: Relicts of Beautiful Sea with Christopher Norment

October 11th, 2014 by Barbara, Information Center & Bookstore Manager

Along a tiny spring in a narrow canyon near Death Valley, seemingly against all odds, an Inyo Mountain slender salamander makes its home. “The desert,” writes author Christopher Norment, “is defined by the absence of water, and yet in the desert there is water enough, if you live properly.” Relicts of a Beautiful Sea explores the existence of rare, unexpected, and sublime desert creatures such as the black toad and four pupfishes unique to the desert West.

Join us here at the Mono Lake Committee this coming Wednesday, October 15 at 1:00pm for a chance to meet Norment and hear him read excerpts from his book. Here at the edge of the desert West, it should be a fun afternoon with great conversation! … more »

Call for photo submissions: 2016 Mono Lake Calendar

October 10th, 2014 by Arya, Communications Director

Since 1986, the magnificent geological and ecological wonders of Mono Lake have been celebrated in the Mono Lake Calendar, published by the Mono Lake Committee. Sales of the calendar help to fund the efforts of our non-profit organization to protect and restore Mono Lake and its tributary streams.

The call for submissions for the 2016 Mono Lake Calendar is open until Friday, November 21, 2014.

We’ve simplified and streamlined the submission requirementscheck them out and send us your photos today!

… more »

Your Amazon purchases can help support the Mono Lake Committee

October 7th, 2014 by Barbara, Information Center & Bookstore Manager

“The holidays are coming!”

“Okay, yes, they’re coming eventually, but give it a break, okay? Christmas is still over two months away, so let’s not get too excited about it yet.”

“Yes, but if I start ordering stuff now, I get it out of the way and avoid the crowds. Especially if I order online.”

“Well, umm, yeah….”

If you’re like me, when you make your holiday or other purchases, your first priorities are supporting local businesses and also causes you believe in (like the Mono Lake Committee!). And if you’re like me, you probably … more »

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