On Saturday, November 21 at 10:00am, Lee Vining community members will gather at the Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center and walk to Mono Lake to show support and hope for positive global climate progress at the Paris Climate Summit. Join us to support a renewable energy future and a commitment to care for our planet with personal action in solidarity with concerned citizens around the world. (more…)
Mono’s streams fare better than expected: Record summer precipitation spared streams worst of the droughtTuesday, November 10th, 2015 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
A surprising thing happened this year in Lee Vining: record-breaking spring and summer precipitation which, thankfully, minimized drought-related stress on vegetation and trout in Mono Lake’s tributary streams. Instead of the brown-gray colors of drought, we saw unusually green vegetation for most of the summer—even the wildflowers were surprisingly robust. The rain was mostly
associated with thunderstorms, when twenty-degree drops in ambient air temperature weren’t unusual. This cooling effect, in the form of rain and air temperature, helped keep the creeks cool enough for trout.
But as soon as the effects of the precipitation dropped off in August, vegetation immediately responded to the extremely dry conditions—an indication that the plants had been living off surface moisture and not a healthy groundwater system.
Committee expands monitoring program
In an effort to better understand the effects of the drought, the Mono Lake Committee added bi-monthly monitoring of (more…)
On Sunday, September 27 the community of Lee Vining will host a Solar Walk to celebrate and learn from businesses and residents that have installed solar systems as a renewable energy source. We will visit several local solar installations in Lee Vining beginning at the Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center at 1:00pm. From there we will make stops at the Lee Vining Community Center, Channel Shell gas station, and the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore.
“Solar Pioneer” tokens of appreciation, made by local schoolchildren, will be presented in appreciation of leadership in using the renewable power of the Eastern Sierra sun. After the walk, local solar installer Sierra Solar will display solar panels and information on incentives and the process in front of the El Mono Motel & Latte Da Coffee Café. Mono Basin homeowners who have installed solar panels will share their experience and cost savings as well.
We hope you will join our community in celebrating the potential of solar as we move into a future of renewable energy.
To join the walk, simply meet at the Forest Service Scenic Area Visitor Center in Lee Vining at 1:00pm and plan on walking about 1/2 a mile. Children are encouraged to attend!
Starting yesterday, September 11, 2015, the Inyo National Forest has extended current fire restrictions to now include all wilderness areas of the Inyo National Forest.
The Hoover, John Muir, Ansel Adams, Boundary Peak, White Mountains, Golden Trout, and South Sierra wilderness areas are no longer exempt from fire restrictions. (more…)
Caltrans Rockfall Project work suspended for the rest of the year; no more traffic delays north of Lee ViningFriday, August 14th, 2015 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
As of Wednesday, August 12, the contractor completed Stage 1 of the Lee Vining Rockfall Safety Project and all equipment, including one-lane traffic control signals and barricades, have been removed from the project site. Since early May, Highway 395 north of Lee Vining had been reduced to one-lane to allow the crew room to maneuver—scaling rocks off the slopes, installing anchored mesh, and applying blends of soil amendments and seeds for successful revegetation.
Stage 1 is completed and four of the six project slopes are done. Stage 2 will address slopes 3 and 4 and will begin in spring 2016 as soon as weather conditions allow for work.
The project was originally planned to take two seasons to complete and although it appeared for a while that the entire project would be finished this year, the contractor is playing it safe by not transitioning to the next phase and allowing an entire season for Stage 2. Traffic delays are done for now and all of us—including the contractor—will know what to expect next spring.
On Wednesday afternoon, August 5, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife Commission voted 3–2 to end the trapping of bobcats throughout the entire state. This vote ends an archaic—and some would argue inhumane—practice of live-trapping bobcats in order to export pelts to China and Russia for high-end fashion demand.
Over two years ago, the Bobcat Protection Act of 2013 directed the Commission to consider two alternatives to protect bobcats: Option 1 would designate “no-trapping zones,” primarily around protected natural areas; and Option 2, which would make it unlawful to trap bobcats anywhere in California. After just as many years of staff reports, public meetings, and passionate and emotional discussions, the Commission followed the overwhelming majority of public sentiment and voted to ban trapping altogether.
During this process, the Mono Lake Committee submitted two letters and attended (more…)
On Monday, July 13 after several days of heavy rains, the Lee Vining Creek Trail at the south end of town was so damaged by erosion and undercutting it was no longer safe to use.
Within 24 hours of putting a call in to the Lee Vining Caltrans maintenance facility, the trail was fixed and safe again for visitors to use. Thank you to Randy Walker and local Caltrans workers for the swift and expert response! The creek trail—a local and visitor favorite—is once again available for those wanting to explore the beauty of Lee Vining Creek below town.
It is with heavy hearts and punch-to-the-gut reactions that we convey the news of James Wilson’s passing this past Wednesday at Renown Hospital in Reno. He died from complications of a stroke suffered the week before. He was 67 years old. He is survived by his wife Kay, his daughter Rosanne, son-in-law Bayard, and grandson Ansel.
For residents and frequent visitors to the Eastern Sierra, James’ accomplishments are familiar and numerous. He was the founder of Wilson’s Eastside Sports in Bishop, co-founder of Friends of the Inyo, active member of Eastern Sierra Audubon, the California Wilderness Coalition, and the Bishop Rotary Club; the list goes on and on. Suffice it to say that James was involved in almost every environmental issue that emerged in the region for over 30 years, bringing his calm, principled, and collaborative approach to the table. He was driven by his passionate love for the Eastern Sierra and his strong desire to protect its wild places, encouraging others to get out and experience it firsthand.
As a dedicated and steadfast conservation leader in the Eastern Sierra, an avid birder and naturalist, and friend to many, James Wilson will be deeply missed.
After three years of meetings and discussions, in-depth analysis and testing, expert recommendations and collaboration, the Lee Vining Rockfall Safety Project is underway.
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) project will improve motorist safety by reducing rockfall incidents along a one-mile section of Highway 395 near Old Marina. The project will stabilize and revegetate six eroded slopes using a combination of anchored mesh, soil rehabilitation, and revegetation tailored specifically to the Mono Basin’s unique soil composition. (more…)
The expansive views from almost any vantage point in the Mono Basin tell a stark and undeniable story of four consecutive years of drought, above-average temperatures, and the combined effects on Mono Lake. For residents and regular visitors, the expanded exposed lakebed, growing landbridge, and dramatically changing topography of key visitation sites are hard to miss. While less immediately visible, the effects of the drought on the streams of the Mono Basin are no less severe.
Another grim year for Rush Creek
The Rush Creek watershed encompasses a complex water management system that is exacerbating the effects of the already-challenging drought. Water originating from the Sierra snowpack travels (more…)