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The Mono-logue » Natural History

‘Natural History’ Category

Lee Vining Creek Trail closes after record runoff

Friday, June 23rd, 2017 by Andrew, Project Specialist
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Over the past couple of years, I’ve walked the Lee Vining Creek trail more times than I can count. In the fall, I enjoy the golden aspens along the calm stream. In winter, I’ve trekked across the trail in deep snow on skis and on foot, marveling at the beauty and silence of that quiet season. Spring means the emergence of wildflowers and the beginning of the runoff season, while in summer all the plants burst back to life, lizards dart across the trail again, birds fly above, and the creek is raging as the runoff reaches its peak.

Lee Vining Creek’s braided channels are full and rushing with water during this peak runoff season. Unfortunately, the Lee Vining Creek Trail has been washed out and is closed temporarily. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Walking the trail yesterday, this trail I have followed numerous times before, I felt transported to an entirely new place. (more…)

Birders flock to Mono Lake for the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 by Andrew, Project Specialist
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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…)

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…)

Seven times more water in the snowpack than this time last year

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

The ASO survey data arrived from the June 5 flight, and in a nutshell? There’s A LOT of water still contained up in the snowpack. The data for the Rush Creek watershed indicates that 64% of the April 1st snowpack remains, containing about 78,000 acre-feet of water. At this time last year—a drought year—only about 10,500 acre-feet of water was left in the meager Rush Creek snowpack. This year at the start of June there’s over seven times more water up in the snowpack, much of which will melt and flow into Mono Lake!

Check back during this runoff season for more stream restoration updates here on the Mono-logue—you can also find them all by clicking on the “2017 runoff” tag, below.

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.”

Rush Creek’s Channel 8 is full of water

Monday, June 12th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Photo by Bartshe Miller.

The Mono Lake Committee’s 2017 seasonal staff have arrived and are getting two weeks of training about all things Mono Lake. On Friday, June 9 they were in the field with Executive Director Geoff and Education Director Bartshe, checking out the streams in the south part of the basin: Lee Vining, Parker, Walker, and Rush creeks.

Here they are at a section of lower Rush Creek known as “Channel 8.” In most years, the channel right behind where the staff are standing is dry. But this year there’s enough water to fill the channel from bank to bank, rejuvenating the water table, depositing new sediment, spreading seeds, and bringing new life back to the Rush Creek bottomlands.

Check back during this runoff season for more stream restoration updates here on the Mono-logue—you can also find them all by clicking on the “2017 runoff” tag, below.

Over 800 cfs of water in lower Rush Creek, on its way to Mono Lake

Sunday, June 11th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Wednesday afternoon (June 7) at the Rush Creek culvert on Test Station Road: On this hot afternoon the creek was running at about 820 cubic feet per second when Education Director Bartshe Miller took the UC Santa Cruz Natural History Field Quarter class on a tour of the Mono Basin’s complex plumbing. It’s great to see the water so brown and turbid—that means sediments are getting moved downstream toward the Rush Creek delta, where they will get deposited, improving the delta habitat for birds and animals.

Check back during this runoff season for more stream restoration updates here on the Mono-logue—you can also find them all by clicking on the “2017 runoff” tag, below.

Flooded meadows in Lee Vining Canyon

Saturday, June 10th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Photo courtesy of Sally Miller.

Upper Lee Vining Creek has been flooding the meadows in Lee Vining Canyon for a few weeks, as water flowing at volumes between 300 and 500 cubic feet per second cascades from the reservoirs and melting snow near Tioga Pass. The creek alternates between deceptively tranquil flat water in the meadows and roaring rapids in the rocky sections of the canyon, bringing sediment and beneficial flooding to lower Lee Vining Creek, the creek delta, and eventually Mono Lake.

Check back during this runoff season for more stream restoration updates here on the Mono-logue—you can also find them all by clicking on the “2017 runoff” tag, below.

There’s still time to register for the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua

Saturday, June 10th, 2017 by Andrew, Project Specialist
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The sixteenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua kicks off next week with over 300 participants, over 50 presenters, and more than 100 programs! Many programs are still open, including some free programs open to all, so take a look and sign up for them before they fill. You can find full trip descriptions for all of the open trips on the Chautauqua website.

Bullock’s Orioles are one of the species you could spot at the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

OPEN PROGRAMS: (more…)

Sonora Pass (Highway 108) opening tomorrow at noon

Thursday, June 8th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Update at 11:24am on Friday: Sonora Pass will not be opening today. Crews will reevaluate tomorrow.

The latest news from Caltrans is that Sonora Pass (Highway 108) is scheduled to open tomorrow, Friday, June 9, at noon. Opening the road is subject to current weather conditions.

The Tioga Pass road at the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park, just before crews plowing from east and west met and punched through. Photo courtesy of Yosemite National Park.

According to the Caltrans email, there is no estimated date for opening Tioga Pass (Highway 120) yet. Caltrans crews plowing from the east have met up with Yosemite National Park crews plowing from the west, and work will now continue to remove snow from the shoulders, remove rocks from the road, and repair any damaged sections of road. In particular, extensive damage occurred to guardrails from the unusually heavy snowpack, so those are being repaired and/or replaced before the road can be opened.

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