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Uncovering 20 years of Mono Lake naturalist notes

Saturday, August 1st, 2015 by Andrew, Mono Lake Intern
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Last week, while looking around the office, I uncovered a binder hidden among the office supplies entitled “The Birds and the Bees, the Weather and the Trees of the Mono Basin.” Assuming it would be a collection of handouts on the natural history of the area, I was delighted to find that in fact it was a collection of handwritten naturalist notes from Mono Lake Committee staff members over the years.

Naturalists flock to the Mono Basin for its incredible beauty and diversity of life from Osprey to brine shrimp. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Naturalists flock to the Mono Basin for its incredible beauty and diversity of life from Osprey to brine shrimp. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

The notebook contains observations as early as 1994 (by some of our staff members who are still here, more than 20 years later) with a focus on birds, flowers, and other sightings in the region. I’ve spent quite a bit of time drooling over all the rare birds and other creatures documented in the binder, but for this post I decided to narrow my focus to this week in history. (more…)

The unBEARable truth

Friday, July 31st, 2015 by Gabby, Information Center & Bookstore Assistant
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Welcome to the Sierra Nevada, home to 40% of California’s black bear population! Here in the Mono Basin bears are our neighbors and it’s important that we keep good relationships with them. To do this we have to ensure they aren’t eating human food.

In a rare sight, a blonde black bear was spotted running on the east shore of Mono Lake in late August, 2007. Photo courtesy of Chris McCreedy.

In a rare sight, a blonde black bear was spotted running on the east shore of Mono Lake in late August, 2007. Photo courtesy of Chris McCreedy.

The moment a bear gets its first taste of high-calorie human food, its life expectancy gets cut in half. Before long bears start coming further into town, putting themselves in danger and causing serious property damage.

The good news is that we can prevent all of this. All we have to do is keep our food out of their reach. Here are some bear safety tips:

  • Never leave food or garbage outside
  • Use and lock bear-proof dumpsters and trash cans when throwing things out
  • Never, ever, ever leave food in your car (bears open cars as easily as we open cans!)
  • Never leave trash, sunscreen, chapstick, grocery bags, wrappers, or coolers in your car (bears in this area have learned to recognize these things as signs of food)
  • Use bear boxes to store food when camping or leaving a trailhead
  • Use approved bear canisters when camping in the the backcountry (you can rent these at the Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center or the Wilderness Centers in Tuolumne Meadows and Yosemite Valley)
  • Most importantly, remember that bears don’t want to hurt you but they are incredibly powerful creatures

Be bear aware to keep our bears wild and healthy!

Local Caltrans crews repair damaged Lee Vining Creek Trail

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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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.

Before and after. Photos by Arya Degenhardt and Greg Reis.

Looking down the eroded trail on July 13, and looking back up on July 16 after the trail was repaired. Photos by Arya Degenhardt and Greg Reis.

Guided canoe tours: The best way to experience Mono Lake

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015 by Sara, Mono Lake Intern
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If you’re a Mono Lake Intern, mornings start early on the weekends. Six-thirty finds three sleepy interns and the Canoe Coordinator all making their way, eyes half-closed, through the crisp morning air in Lee Vining to meet at the back door of the Mono Lake Committee. Despite the early hour and memories of warm and cozy beds, spirits are high. It’s canoe tour day!

Caption caption. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Canoe tour days involve a sunrise wake-up call for Mono Lake Interns. Luckily, sunrise is one of Mono Lake’s best times of day. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Every Saturday and Sunday the ritual repeats. Canoe days are hard work. It takes a lot of energy to load and unload the fleet of shiny silver canoes from the canoe truck, to spend the entire day paddling Mono Lake’s (hopefully!) glassy waters, and all the while maintain the excitement of sharing the wonders of the Mono Basin with a fresh group of visitors—three times in a row. Yet there isn’t one among us who would even think about trading a canoe tour shift. On days like this, we all feel like we have the best job in the world. (more…)

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