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Leaving a legacy at Mono Lake

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Last spring, I sat down with Mono Lake Committee members Vern Gersh and Terry McLaughlin just before their retirement and talked with them about what Mono Lake means to them and why they decided to put the Committee in their estate plans.

As I talked with them, I was inspired by their passion and love for this place. They shared with me stories from their years of living in Lee Vining and working at the Committee, from enjoying beautiful evening walks to see the sunset to getting stuck in “Mono muck” after their first time paddling a kayak on the lake.

Over the past few months, I’ve put together a short video featuring Terry and Vern’s story. In the video, you’ll hear them reflect on the sublime beauty of the Mono Basin, the remarkable ecological productivity of Mono Lake, and the important role the Mono Lake Committee plays to ensure that this place continues to be protected and restored.

Vern’s parting words at the end of the video still resonate with me: “It’s not necessarily leaving things to the people that are on the earth, but it’s also leaving a portion of the earth to the people who are still here.”

Tioga Pass temporarily closing tonight

Thursday, October 19th, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Caltrans has announced that Tioga Pass (Highway 120) will temporarily close this evening at 5:00pm at the lower gate due to incoming inclement weather. The road will be reevaluated on Friday.

Additionally, State Route 108 (Sonora Pass) will close from Kennedy Meadows to the east side winter closure gate (west of Pickel Meadows) at 3:00pm today. State Route 4 (Ebbetts Pass) will close from Lake Alpine to gate #3 (west of Silver Creek campground) at 9:00pm today.

Tioga Pass will temporarily close today at 5:00pm due to an incoming storm. Photo from May 2017 by Bartshe Miller.

Always check current road conditions and weather before making a trip to the Eastern Sierra, and give us a call for the most current Tioga Pass information: (760) 647-6595.

Voices of the Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 by Rose, Outdoor Education Instructor
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After a year of preparation, student anticipation has been building. Questions, excitement, and a little anxiety about traveling far from home whirl in young minds.

OEC students from Sherman Oaks investigate Mono Lake’s salty, slippery water at the shoreline. Photo by Antonia Chihuahua.

These students make the decision to get in a van and drive over 300 miles; a drive into a journey of where their water comes from. This journey is one of emotional, physical, a mental challenges: the touch of snow, breathing clean air, feeling the elevation of the Mono Basin, seeing wildlife for the first time, submerging themselves in salty alkaline water, strolling the rim of a volcano, and building bonds with their communities, the natural world, and themselves.

It is a journey we will take you on with their voices; the voices of the Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center. What follows is an accumulation of thoughts and feelings—a poetic language—of the various students of the OEC. (more…)

Shorter store hours this Sunday & Monday

Friday, October 6th, 2017 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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This Sunday and Monday, October 8 and 9, the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore will be open for shorter hours as we celebrate a special event—a wedding for one of our staff! We will be open 9:00am–12:00noon on Sunday and 1:30–5:00pm on Monday.

The Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

If you miss us and are in need of information, be sure to check out the Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center, open daily 8:00am–5:00pm. They are located at the north end of Lee Vining past the high school.

Closing dates for Mono Basin campgrounds

Friday, October 6th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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As shorter days and colder weather descend on the Mono Basin, eight campgrounds are closing for the season this weekend.

Tioga Lake campground, which is closing for the season this Sunday, October 8. Photo courtesy of James Kaiser.

In Lee Vining Canyon, Aspen campground closes on Saturday, October 7, and Big Bend campground closes on Sunday, October 8, but Lower Lee Vining campground will remain open until October 31. The Tioga-area campgrounds will also close on Sunday, October 8: Ellery Lake, Tioga Lake, Junction, Sawmill Walk-in, Saddlebag Lake, and Saddlebag Trailhead Group Camp. Lundy Canyon campground will be open through mid-November depending on snow conditions. (more…)

Mono Lake Committee book signing: Author & artist Obi Kaufmann

Monday, September 25th, 2017 by Lily, Information Center & Bookstore Manager
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We hope you’ll take a break from your fall color viewing and join us for a book signing with California author, artist, and naturalist Obi Kaufmann on Sunday, October 1 at the Mono Lake Committee.

Obi will be presenting and signing his new book, The California Field Atlas, which is a striking volume full of watercolor maps and illustrations of California’s spectacular geography and wildlife, with fascinating information about this amazing and diverse state. Come in and pick up a signed copy of the book for yourself or a friend, chat with the author, and enjoy refreshments from 3:00–5:00pm. We hope to see you there!

Map of the ecological regions of California from The California Field Atlas by Obi Kaufman.

Results are in for the 37th annual Tioga Pass Run

Saturday, September 16th, 2017 by Michael, Mono Lake Intern
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Last Sunday, September 10, 132 runners and walkers challenged themselves to ascend the 12.4 miles of the Tioga Pass during this year’s annual Tioga Pass Run. This was another successful year for the epic event, where the participants start in front of the Mono Lake Committee in Lee Vining and finish at the entrance to Yosemite National Park, gaining 3,165 feet of elevation along the way to the top.

Runners make their way up Highway 120 west with the horizon dominated by the Dana Plateau. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Kenny Palmer of Mammoth Lakes won the overall race this year with a time of 1:37:31. Jessica Francois, a Lee Vining local and (more…)

Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore hours will change on Saturday, September 16

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017 by Ava, Mono Lake Intern
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Fall is slowly making its way into the Mono Basin, evident in the dropping temperatures, a few scattered aspen branches turning gold, and the sudden quiet in the town of Lee Vining. Following the birds, our seasonal interns begin their migrations to new locations after a few productive months at the Mono Lake Committee. With the passing of summer, most of our guest visitations have also slowed down considerably.

Scattered clouds over the Information Center & Bookstore yesterday (and check out those new solar panels we installed in June!). Photo by Ava Stavros.

The Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore hours will change on Saturday, September 16—we will be open from 9:00am to 5:00pm daily.

Be sure to stop by to get the latest information on all things Mono Lake, check for updates on the changing autumn foliage as it arrives, and browse the bookstore for holiday gifts before the rush. We have had a beautiful summer here, and we are so happy to have gotten to share it with all of you!

The sun sets on an intern’s time at Mono Lake

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017 by Molly, Mono Lake Intern
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I had been in the computer lab at Colorado State University all day working on my final GIS project when I received the call that I was being offered a position as an intern with the Mono Lake Committee for the summer. I couldn’t have been more thrilled to hear that I would be spending my summer with the Mono Lake Committee. I got an A on that project, graduated with my BS in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, and moved to Lee Vining in a flash.

During this beautiful day of training early in the summer, all the new seasonal staff were learning about Mono Lake’s ecology from Education Director Bartshe Miller. Photo by Ava Stavros.

I had never been to Mono Lake before so I really didn’t know what I was in for, but my expectations for the summer were exceeded ten-fold. I will never forget the first time I saw Mono Lake: I was driving in from Highway 120 East and when the lake came into my view I couldn’t believe how huge it was. I knew it was going to be big, but it is truly vast. My first thought was (more…)

Lee Vining gets Trail Chic for a great cause

Friday, September 8th, 2017 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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This year’s Trail Chic fashion show was a huge success!

The fashion show is a ton of fun and raises funds for the Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center Access Fund that helps us bring underserved youth to the Mono Basin for five-day trips full of life-changing outdoor activities while they learn about the source of their water.

Some of the runway models pose before show time. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Thank you to everyone who attended, all of our runway models, Patagonia for donating silent suction items, and the Mono Market for donating trail snacks. A special thanks to Randy Arnold and Barefoot Wine & Bubbly for donating the wine that helps make this event so successful! (more…)

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