Each year the Mono Lake Committee supports local students pursuing higher education who display a personal connection with Mono Lake and the Mono Lake story with two $1,000 scholarships. Mono County resident high school seniors who have firm plans to attend a two- or four-year college within a year of graduation qualify.
Caltrans has released the second road report for the Lee Vining Rockfall Safety Project on Highway 395 along Mono Lake just north of Lee Vining.
Updates are also posted regularly on Twitter and Facebook.
Click here for all project updates and background.
Text from the official update is below.
Did you catch the New York Times article that featured our very own Mono Lake?
Dr. Scott Stine’s work at Mono Lake, studying old, tufa-encased tree stumps contributed to the understanding of past “megadroughts” in California. Trees once grew along the shores of an ancient, lower Mono Lake. The last 150 years, especially the end of the 20th Century, was much wetter than normal when looking back through the climate of recent centuries.
New York Times: In California, a Wet Era May Be Ending
At yesterday’s Local Transportation Commission meeting in Mammoth Lakes, the local Caltrans district supervisor gave the word: the lower gate on the Tioga Road (Highway 120 west) will be opened tomorrow, April 15.
When the lower gate is open, folks can access the area near the east entrance to Yosemite National Park, including Ellery Lake and Tioga Lake, plus backcountry skiing in the high country.
The campgrounds in the Tioga Pass area are not yet open, and neither are Saddlebag Lake Resort and Tioga Pass Resort. Visitors should use caution in the spring conditions—do not walk out on frozen lakes.
Spring is here with high winds, new green leaves on the trees, almost-blooming desert peach, and fishing season opening on Saturday, April 25. That means that Inyo National Forest campgrounds will be opening soon (Mono Basin campgrounds in bold):
Campgrounds open by April 24:
Since it’s such a severe drought, and there’s almost no snow in the Sierra Nevada, Tioga Pass should be open, right? Well, not quite….
But this is the time of year to start keeping an eye on the pass. Right now we know that Yosemite National Park will begin snow removal on the Tioga Pass Road on April 15. Even though this year there’s very little snow, crews also have to move downed trees, rocks, and other debris off the road to get it open.
At last Wednesday’s local government meeting here in Lee Vining we got the official word from the Yosemite National Park Superintendent via our Mono County Supervisor that Tioga Pass will open on … more »
Warm March took snowpack to lowest levels on record; Tioga Pass and Gem Lake have biggest March declines ever measuredApril 3rd, 2015 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
Yesterday I was refreshing the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Webpage almost every hour. Over and over again I saw the dramatic pattern across the state—higher double-digit percentages at the highest elevations of almost every watershed, and lower or zero snowpack at the lower elevations.
Finally, this morning, the rest of the Mono Basin data appeared! The good news is that the snowpack in most of the Mono Basin isn’t as bad as the 6% of average at Tioga Pass and Saddlebag Lake. The bad news is that with only 14% of average snow water content, the snowmelt runoff will be lower than anyone anticipated.
Gem Pass, at the highest elevation, tops the charts with 25% of average snow water content. Everywhere else, snow surveyors measured the lowest snow water content ever measured on April 1st. Ellery Lake is 21% of average, and Gem Lake is 12% of average. Also in the Mono Basin, but reported under the San Joaquin River drainage, is Agnew Pass, which lost 7.5 inches of water in March, and currently is only 3% of average (1 inch of water content).
The following is a summary of the five Mono Basin snow courses:
- Gem Pass lost 2 inches of water in March, and at 8.5″ is about the same as 1977, although not as dry as 1931.
- Gem Lake lost 5.5 inches of water in March, and at 3.5″ is driest on record (beating 5.9″ in 1976).
- Tioga Pass lost 6 inches of water in March, and at 1.5″ is driest on record (beating 7.4″ in 1977).
- Saddlebag Lake lost 6 inches of water in March, and at 2″ is driest on record (beating 9.9″ in 1977).
- Ellery Lake lost 1.5 inches of water in March, and at 6″ is driest on record (beating 9.7″ in 1977).
In a move that made national news, yesterday Governor Jerry Brown announced the first mandatory water restrictions in California history, as the April 1st snow surveys currently being compiled are tallying the lowest-ever snowpack on record. Under Brown’s order, the California Water Resources Control Board will implement mandatory restrictions to reduce water use by 25%.
It’s no surprise that there are a wide range of opinions about the drought, cutbacks, and even water conservation, but Brown’s announcement still sends an important message: we’re all in this together, and we all have a role to play in stepping it up when it comes to water conservation.
What are your favorite water conservation resources? We’d love to know.
Here are some of the Mono Lake Committee staff’s favorites: … more »
This morning Mono Lake Committee staff met with Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) personnel to conduct the official annual April 1 reading of the lake level together. The consensus: Mono Lake stands at 6379.01 feet above sea level.
The lake has declined to a level at which water exports to Los Angeles are, by the terms of the State Water Board’s rules, automatically reduced by 70%. DWP will be limited to 4,500 acre-feet of water export, a lake-protecting restriction that no one, until recently, thought would ever be activated again. It was a solemn, though not unexpected outcome, given that California’s drought is entering its fourth year and the Mono Lake watershed is officially classified as being under “exceptional” drought. … more »
As early as late February, it seemed likely that this was going to be the driest year on record. Mono Basin snowpack was lower than any year but 1991, and that year had a “Miracle March” that was absent from the long-range forecasts. Sure enough, the dry pattern didn’t change, and March was very dry.
On Thursday I began checking the snow surveys web page for the April 1st snow survey results, which are conducted within a few days of April 1st. On Friday, results for one of the five Mono Basin “snow courses” appeared. And it was a shocking result: Tioga Pass snow water content is at only 6% of average. … more »