Illegal grading on Mono Lake’s shoreOctober 20th, 2016 by Geoff, Executive Director
If you’ve driven by Mono Lake on Highway 395 in the past few days, you probably saw a large excavator working down by the lakeshore across from the Tioga Lodge and wondered what was going on. We did too, and knowing that it’s a sensitive, and protected, area, we checked into it. What we found was disturbing.
A newly constructed dirt road departs the Tioga Lodge property and goes well into the shoreline area, which is protected as part of the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. The excavator was at work clearing willows and vegetation from approximately three acres of protected land. Needless to say, this kind of blatant violation is unacceptable and Mono Lake Committee staff jumped on the issue immediately.
Earlier in the summer the Tioga Lodge began work on its property to manage trees that burned in the Marina Fire. But it turns out this recently ballooned into a large grading operation, including damage to a creek, both on the private property and on adjacent State Park land—without permits. The activity garnered attention, and the Committee has been in contact with California State Parks, Mono County, the Department of Fish & Wildlife, and the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board—the main agencies with roles in enforcing the rules and protections in the area.
Mono County officials posted a cease and desist notice to stop the illegal activity on Wednesday afternoon. State Park and Department of Fish & Wildlife law enforcement officers visited the site soon after. The equipment operators have stopped working, the excavator is being removed, and no further disturbance is expected.
Restoration of damaged habitat will be needed. We support the prompt action already taken, and will keep Committee members posted on the status of this surprising development.