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Lee Vining Creek Trail closes after record runoff

June 23rd, 2017 by Andrew, Project Specialist
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Over the past couple of years, I’ve walked the Lee Vining Creek trail more times than I can count. In the fall, I enjoy the golden aspens along the calm stream. In winter, I’ve trekked across the trail in deep snow on skis and on foot, marveling at the beauty and silence of that quiet season. Spring means the emergence of wildflowers and the beginning of the runoff season, while in summer all the plants burst back to life, lizards dart across the trail again, birds fly above, and the creek is raging as the runoff reaches its peak.

Lee Vining Creek’s braided channels are full and rushing with water during this peak runoff season. Unfortunately, the Lee Vining Creek Trail has been washed out and is closed temporarily. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Walking the trail yesterday, this trail I have followed numerous times before, I felt transported to an entirely new place. … more »

Birders flock to Mono Lake for the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua

June 22nd, 2017 by Andrew, Project Specialist
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Last weekend, more than 300 people and many more birds flocked to the Mono Basin for the sixteenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. The Chautauqua brings birders together to enhance appreciation and understanding of the Mono Basin’s diverse and abundant bird life and to educate the public about this area’s value to birds and people. This year’s event featured over 100 programs to choose from, including field trips, lectures, workshops, and more.

Locating Hermit Thrushes near 10,000 feet above sea level at Virginia Lakes. Photo by Elin Ljung.

This year, Chautauqua participants saw an impressive 151 species of birds. Some exciting finds this weekend included Indigo Buntings near Lundy Canyon, a pair of Sandhill Cranes and a Long-tailed Jaeger in Bridgeport, and the rare Chestnut-sided Warbler near June Lake.

In addition to birds, the Chautauqua celebrates many other … more »

From East Coast to West Coast

June 21st, 2017 by Michael, Mono Lake Intern
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After hearing about Mono Lake from a former intern, I had to check out the area for myself.

This year’s seasonal staff get an orientation to the Mono Basin’s complex plumbing from Executive Director Geoff McQuilkin, center. Photo by Michael Morris.

I was raised in Massachusetts and was lucky enough to attend college at the University of Vermont, but I had never traveled west past South Dakota before! The aspect that I love most about my time so far in the Mono Basin is how new everything is, from the massive mountains to the crazy weather. Here are some photos from my first few weeks as a summer intern: … more »

Tioga Pass “lower gate” will open on Monday, June 19 at 2:00pm

June 17th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Caltrans will open the “lower gate” on Highway 120 west, Tioga Pass, on Monday, June 19 at 2:00pm.

This gate will be opened on Monday, June 19, 2017 at 2:00pm. Photo by Elin Ljung.

The lower gate is located 3.5 miles west of Highway 395, and when it is open visitors and locals can access the high country near the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park. The park gate will remain closed; access to Tuolumne Meadows and beyond is still not possible by car.

The area of Tioga Pass around the park gate is still mostly snow-covered, lakes are covered in old unstable ice, and creeks and rivers are running very fast and cold, so be prepared for those conditions if you plan to recreate there once the lower gate is open.

Picnic and free concert at Mono Lake County Park on Sunday, June 18

June 15th, 2017 by Julissa, Canoe Coordinator
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The 16th annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua culminates on Sunday, June 18 with a free celebration at Mono Lake County Park, just five miles north of Lee Vining. This picnic and concert in the park is a fun event for people of all ages and a great way to get out and celebrate Father’s Day!

On Sunday, join us on Mono Lake County Park’s shady lawn while listening to live music by the Bodie 601 Band. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Join us to relax and unwind while dining on tasty BBQ and listening to wonderful live music. The Bodie 601 Band is best described as a combination of traditional folk, bluegrass, and alternative music with fiery fiddle soloing, smoking hot guitar styling, thumping upright bass, and powerful rhythm. Plan to buy a $10 picnic lunch that supports Lee Vining High School or bring your own and enjoy the lush summer scenery at the park. … more »

Seven times more water in the snowpack than this time last year

June 14th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

The ASO survey data arrived from the June 5 flight, and in a nutshell? There’s A LOT of water still contained up in the snowpack. The data for the Rush Creek watershed indicates that 64% of the April 1st snowpack remains, containing about 78,000 acre-feet of water. At this time last year—a drought year—only about 10,500 acre-feet of water was left in the meager Rush Creek snowpack. This year at the start of June there’s over seven times more water up in the snowpack, much of which will melt and flow into Mono Lake!

Check back during this runoff season for more stream restoration updates here on the Mono-logue—you can also find them all by clicking on the “2017 runoff” tag, below.

Sonora Pass (Highway 108) opening today at 2:00pm

June 13th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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This just in from Caltrans—Sonora Pass (Highway 108) is scheduled to open today at 2:00pm.

From the press release: “The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) would like to notify the traveling public that State Route (SR) 108 over Sonora Pass is scheduled to open today at 2 p.m. Snow and debris have been removed and work to ensure the traveling public’s safety is finishing up.

“The State Route opening is dependent on favorable weather. If the area is impacted by inclement weather Caltrans may have to re-close the highway.

“Caltrans would like to also remind travelers of the truck restrictions recently enacted on SR 108 and advise big rig drivers to continue to use an alternate route.”

Rush Creek’s Channel 8 is full of water

June 12th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Photo by Bartshe Miller.

The Mono Lake Committee’s 2017 seasonal staff have arrived and are getting two weeks of training about all things Mono Lake. On Friday, June 9 they were in the field with Executive Director Geoff and Education Director Bartshe, checking out the streams in the south part of the basin: Lee Vining, Parker, Walker, and Rush creeks.

Here they are at a section of lower Rush Creek known as “Channel 8.” In most years, the channel right behind where the staff are standing is dry. But this year there’s enough water to fill the channel from bank to bank, rejuvenating the water table, depositing new sediment, spreading seeds, and bringing new life back to the Rush Creek bottomlands.

Check back during this runoff season for more stream restoration updates here on the Mono-logue—you can also find them all by clicking on the “2017 runoff” tag, below.

Over 800 cfs of water in lower Rush Creek, on its way to Mono Lake

June 11th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Wednesday afternoon (June 7) at the Rush Creek culvert on Test Station Road: On this hot afternoon the creek was running at about 820 cubic feet per second when Education Director Bartshe Miller took the UC Santa Cruz Natural History Field Quarter class on a tour of the Mono Basin’s complex plumbing. It’s great to see the water so brown and turbid—that means sediments are getting moved downstream toward the Rush Creek delta, where they will get deposited, improving the delta habitat for birds and animals.

Check back during this runoff season for more stream restoration updates here on the Mono-logue—you can also find them all by clicking on the “2017 runoff” tag, below.

Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore summer hours

June 11th, 2017 by Lily, Information Center & Bookstore Manager
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Starting Thursday, June 15 the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore will be open from 8:00am–9:00pm daily.

Starting Thursday, June 15 the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore will be open 8:00am–9:00pm daily. Photo by Lily Pastel.

Stop by to get information about what to do in the area, find out where to stay or camp, learn about Mono Lake’s fascinating history, or pick up a field guide, novel, or souvenir. Watch the 30-minute Mono Lake Story film, peruse our gallery of artwork by Eastern Sierra printmaker Katherine Case, and enjoy the view of Mono Lake from the front patio.

We look forward to welcoming you to Mono Lake and Lee Vining!

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