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Free patio activities at the Mono Lake Committee

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 by Julissa, Canoe Coordinator
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We are excited to announce that we are offering free educational interpretive programs and activities on the front patio of the Mono Lake Committee, Tuesday through Saturday at 11:00am. We will explore topics such as how the Mono Basin formed, bird adaptation, Mono Lake’s changing habitats, following animal tracks, and we’ll also make recycled crafts.

Join Mono Lake Intern Charlotte on the patio to learn about volcanoes and more local geology! Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Our forming the Mono Basin program will focus on the different types of rock in the Mono Basin. It will introduce visitors to the varied landscape of the Mono Basin and what makes it so unique. Join us for a chance to make your very own tufa! (more…)

Mono Lake and me: 20 years in the making

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017 by Aviva, Mono Lake Intern
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As a human geography major I often explain what I study as the intersection of how place impacts people and how people impact place. This is why I was so drawn to interning for the Mono Lake Committee—the Mono Basin has been a second home for me most of my life. What I did not realize until I was a teenager was that the Committee is the reason this landscape is still here—for birds, animals, and humans alike. I spent so many vacations in Lundy Canyon, the north shore sand dunes, or walking at South Tufa, yet I always took for granted how much work has gone into preserving this basin and enabling me and countless others to enjoy this slice of paradise.

Me at age nine, with my mom and our loyal lab Jasper. Photo courtesy of Malcolm North.

My love for the outdoors stated here and I’m sure for many other people, so it is now so exciting to work (more…)

Scaling back the fence thanks to a rising Mono Lake

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 by Jenny, Birding Intern
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I recently had the opportunity to go out to the landbridge to help with maintenance of the gull fence. I woke up at 5:00am in order to get out there in time, and by 6:30am we were ready to head out, chest waders and all.

The north shore of the landbridge is a surreal, other-worldly landscape. Photo by Jennifer Rieke.

This was my first time to the north shore of Mono Lake and it was quite a contrast to the scenic southern shore I am used to. With Black Point behind us, we trudged over salt flats towards Negit Island. Passing skeletons of last year’s giant blazing stars and coyote scat, we approached the electric fence when suddenly I heard it—the clamor of the gull colony! I put my binoculars up to see the islets overflowing with California Gulls. This was a place I had only imagined in my mind, and now it was coming to life. (more…)

Free summer activities at Mono Lake

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017 by Charlotte, Mono Lake Intern
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With the end of June approaching, it is now officially summer in the Mono Basin! The Mono Lake Committee, in partnership with local agencies and organizations, has lined up a great selection of programs and tours at Mono Lake. No matter your interest or background, there’s sure to be a program perfect for you! Below is a brief list of these programs, which will be available from June 28 to September 1, 2017.

Join a State Park, Forest Service, or Mono Lake Committee guide for a South Tufa Walk every day at 10:00am, 1:00pm, and 6:00pm. Photo by Sandra Noll.

South Tufa Walks: 10:00am, 1:00pm, and 6:00pm every day
Unearth the mysteries of Mono Lake’s water, geology, and wildlife. You’ll even have the chance to create tufa and eat alkali fly pupae! Meet at the South Tufa Kiosk for this free 1 to 1.5-hour tour and don’t forget sunscreen, water, and a hat. To get to South Tufa from Lee Vining, drive South on Highway 395 for about 5 miles and then east on Highway 120 for 5 miles. Look for signs for “South Tufa.” (more…)

Tioga Pass will open on Thursday, June 29 at 8:00am

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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According to Yosemite National Park, Tioga Pass will open for the season to all vehicular traffic on Thursday, June 29 at 8:00am.

Current conditions at the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park. Tioga Pass will open for the season on Thursday, June 29 at 8:00am. Photo courtesy of Yosemite National Park.

There will be minimal services available—no drinking water, gasoline, food, lodging, or cell phone service (911 emergency calls will not be operational). The Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center will be open from 8:30am to 4:30pm. Tamarack Flat is the only campground currently open along the Tioga Road, and it fills nearly every day on a first-come, first served basis.

For hikers and backpackers: “Anyone planning to hike or backpack near Tuolumne Meadows and in all high elevation areas of Yosemite should be prepared for winter hiking and camping conditions. Trails are still impacted by snow and ice. River crossings are high and swift moving. There are several high water areas currently impacting the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and the John Muir Trail (JMT) in Yosemite National Park. Trail conditions may vary at any time.”

Cyclists and pedestrians may use the road tomorrow, Wednesday, June 28. Find the full text of the Yosemite press release here.

Well, I guess we know who will be winning our office Tioga Pass poll!

When will Tioga Pass open? Here’s our office poll….

Monday, June 26th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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The Tioga Pass area on the summer solstice, June 20, 2017. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

The question of the year so far is “When will Tioga Pass open?” Your guess is as good as ours. In fact, here’s the office poll—compare your guess to ours!

  • Jess: June 16 soft opening; June 17 official
  • Elin: June 23 at noon
  • Bartshe: June 23
  • Ellen: June 24
  • Nora: June 26
  • Gabby: June 27
  • Greg: June 28 at noon
  • Lisa: June 29
  • Arya: June 30
  • Andrew: June 30
  • Geoff: July 1
  • Julissa: July 6

At 9,945 feet above sea level, Tioga Pass is the highest point on Highway 120 and the California State Highway system. There are 26 avalanche zones that this year had snowdrifts upwards of 50 feet, often concealing rocks and trees. Once the road is clear of snow, crews must repair any damage to the pavement, shoulders, and guardrails. The latest Tioga Pass opening date was July 8, 1933, and the earliest was April 29, 1988 … we’re all wondering what it will be this year!

Updated on Tuesday, June 27 at 4:30pm to add that it looks like Lisa will be the winner, unless we get a strange summer snowstorm!

Birders flock to Mono Lake for the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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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…)

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

Saturday, 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

Thursday, 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…)

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

Tuesday, 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.”

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The Mono Lake Committee is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.