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2018 lake level forecast: Will Mono Lake rise or drop this year?

April 20th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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In April, once a new runoff year (April 1 to March 31) has begun, the Mono Lake Committee forecasts what Mono Lake’s level is likely to do over the next year. And the answer? According to our forecast, Mono Lake is likely to drop a little less than a foot.

This graph shows the range of possible Mono Lake elevations for the time period of April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019. The “highest likely” and “lowest likely” projections are produced by Committee modeling using historical wet and dry hydrology sequences that can reasonably be expected given current conditions. Mono Lake Committee graph (click to enlarge).

To forecast Mono Lake’s level for a whole runoff year, we read the lake level gauge on April 1 to get the starting point, and then factor the runoff forecast into the equation to predict what Mono Lake might do going forward. When we read the lake level gauge on April 1 together with staff from the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power the lake was 6381.9 feet above sea level. As of April 16 the runoff forecast is 85% of average. Using those two data points, plus historical wet and dry hydrology sequences that can be reasonably expected given current conditions, our modeling indicates that the most probable lake level for March 31, 2019 is 6381.1 feet above sea level.

Returning a rescued Eared Grebe to Mono Lake

April 19th, 2018 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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On Monday, in the midst of a fiercely cold and windy snow storm, a traveling couple found an Eared Grebe in a snowbank on the side of Highway 395 near Deadman Summit. These compassionate souls scooped the small bird up into a towel and emptied their lunch out of their cooler and placed the bird inside. They drove on and brought the little guy into the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore to ask for our advice.

This male Eared Grebe in breeding plumage had flown into a snowbank, but was uninjured. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

Luckily, this is not our first rodeo. We know that Eared Grebes often try to land on wet asphalt because it reflects light and resembles a body of water. Perhaps it was too windy for this poor flyer to stay in the sky on his way north to his breeding grounds. … more »

Local Mono Lake Committee Scholarship application now online

April 18th, 2018 by Arya, Communications Director
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Each year the Mono Lake Committee supports local students pursuing higher education and displaying a connection to Mono Lake with two $1,000 scholarships. High school seniors living in Mono County with firm plans to attend a 2- or 4-year college within a year of graduation are eligible to apply.

Students are asked to visit Mono Lake and answer the question: Why do places like Mono Lake matter?

The application can be found here, and the deadline to apply is Friday May 11, 2018 by 5:00pm.

You can find essays written by past recipients here. If you have questions regarding the application or would like to donate to the scholarship fund please contact Gabrielle Renteria by email or by calling (760) 647-6595 x103.

Project Specialist Gabrielle and Executive Director Geoff with Mono Lake Committee scholarship recipient Charles at the 2017 Lee Vining High School graduation. Photo courtesy of David Carle.

Mono Lake Committee supports Prop 68

April 16th, 2018 by Arya, Communications Director
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The Mono Lake Committee is encouraging California voters to support Proposition 68, the California Clean Water & Safe Parks Act, in the upcoming June election. The measure was created with bipartisan support in the legislature and provides $4 billion to address important park, water, and natural resource needs. Among the many statewide benefits, including important clean water and parks access provisions for underserved communities, Prop 68 contains components that are important for Mono Lake.

Members of the Los Angeles community group East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice vising the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

Funding for existing State Parks could improve infrastructure at the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve and funding dedicated to the Sierra Nevada Conservancy will benefit resource management in the Mono Basin. There is funding for climate change planning, habitat resiliency, and watershed restoration project, which will support priorities that the Committee sees as critical to protecting Mono Lake’s long-term health. … more »

Fishing season opener, Mono Basin campgrounds opening

April 12th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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As we gear up for fishing season opener on Saturday, April 28, most campgrounds along the June Lake Loop are set to open the week before, dependent on the weather.

Fishing season opens on Saturday, April 28 this year. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Lower Lee Vining Creek
Lower Lee Vining, Aspen, and Big Bend campgrounds do not have estimated opening dates yet, but the Inyo National Forest hopes to get them open before fishing opener. There is no estimated opening date for the Lundy Canyon campground yet. … more »

Practice the new Chautauqua registration system today

April 8th, 2018 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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We’re excited to announce a brand-new registration system for the 17th Annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. You may recognize it if you’ve attended the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival or the Monterey Bay Birding Festival. The new system makes it faster to sign up for trips and easier to register groups, all without needing a username or password.

This year’s Chautauqua has one hundred field trips to choose from, spanning a range of topics including birds, botany, butterflies, bats, art, and more! Photo by Elin Ljung.

… more »

Mill Creek return ditch passes test: Possible solution to returning diverted water back to the creek

April 5th, 2018 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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In an effort to explore ways to return water to Mill Creek and therefore satisfy its legal obligations, Southern California Edison (SCE) released water from the Lundy hydroelectric plant into the Mill Creek return ditch last September, successfully returning water to the creek (see Fall 2017 Mono Lake Newsletter). The return ditch has been part of the hydropower system for a century. SCE was motivated to do this flow test because of the languishing problem of how to comply with Mill Creek water rights.

The Mill Creek return ditch carried flows of up to 16 cubic feet per second during a 61-day test last fall, returning water to the creek consistent with long-established water rights. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Prior to releasing water into the ditch, SCE evaluated the system and did routine maintenance to stabilize the earthen banks. SCE staff were on site during … more »

Diverse watchdog duties keep the Mono Lake Committee busy

April 4th, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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The Mono Lake Committee is serious about protecting and restoring Mono Lake, its tributary streams, and surrounding lands. That means being on constant alert as a watchdog, and recent months have provided some interesting examples of what that requires.

The Committee keeps a close eye on daily Mono Basin streamflows at multiple locations, such as the recovering Rush Creek bottomlands. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

Sometimes the Committee chases issues that have lengthy histories and require continuous pressure to move toward resolution—the 2013 Stream Restoration Agreement with the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) is one example. Years of work … more »

Mono Basin snowpack increases to 76% of average

April 3rd, 2018 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
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Snow surveys conducted around every April 1st coincide with the average date of peak snowpack. This year, the surveys were completed at the end of March and revealed a large increase in snowpack over the previous month—from 50% of average to 76% of average!

Map by Robbie DiPaolo.

Map of snow survey locations compiled by Robbie DiPaolo. The Lee Vining Creek watershed above the DWP diversion dam and the Rush Creek watershed above the SCE powerhouse are outlined in red.

… more »

Official April 1 Mono Lake level: 6381.86 feet

April 2nd, 2018 by Arya, Communications Director
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Technically, we did it on March 31, but for all intents and purposes, it’s the April 1 official joint reading of Mono Lake’s level with Mono Lake Committee and Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) staff together. This reading on this day is particularly important because the number recorded translates into how much water DWP is allowed to divert from Mono Basin streams over the course of the coming year.

Mono Lake Committee and Los Angeles Department of Water & Power staff walking down to the lake shore for the annual joint lake level reading. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

… more »

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