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Your donation to protect Mono Lake’s gulls will be matched

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 by Andrew, Project Specialist
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If you haven’t yet donated to the Long Live the Gulls campaign, now is the moment—we have only five days left to reach our goal of $15,000. Plus, a generous anonymous donor called yesterday and will be matching all gifts, dollar for dollar, starting today through the end of the fundraiser on March 28, so your contribution will go twice as far!

Thousands of California Gulls flock to Mono Lake each year to nest on the islands, which coyotes can now access by swimming across a narrow channel of water, after five years of drought dropped Mono Lake about seven feet. Please donate to the Long Live the Gulls campaign today to protect the gulls. Photo by Sara Matthews.

Thank you to the 158 donors who have already joined this collective effort to help protect the gulls until Mono Lake rises above the threshold of concern this summer. Thanks to your donations the materials for the temporary electrified fence are now more than 75% funded.

Please donate today to double your impact and protect Mono Lake’s gull colony—one of the largest California Gull colonies in the world—from coyote predation before nesting begins in April. Thank you for your support and long live the gulls!

Sixteenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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Get your binoculars ready for the sixteenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua, coming June 16–18, 2017!

Audubon’s Warbler. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

We hope you’ll be here to celebrate and support the rich diversity of bird life, the legacy of avian research, and the ongoing conservation efforts in the Eastern Sierra—all while having a darn good time. This year we are offering many new programs and field trips as well as our most popular events from previous Chautauquas. (more…)

Mono Lake likely to rise four feet over the next year

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
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Last week the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) released its preliminary runoff forecast based on record-breaking March 1st snow surveys: 195% of average runoff for the April 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018 runoff year. This volume of runoff is very similar to 1983, the wettest runoff year on record. Due to the warm storms in January and February, the lower-elevation snowpack below about 9,000 feet above sea level is much lower than in 1983, so we are assuming that record runoff is a high-end scenario. That forecast also assumes median precipitation over the next year.

Based on 1983 as a high end, 1995 as a probable scenario, and 2006 as a lowest possible scenario, we modeled the likely rise in Mono Lake based on those past year inflows and probable reservoir operations this year. The result? A 3.8-foot rise in Mono Lake is likely over the next year. Expected Grant Lake Reservoir operations add about half a foot to our forecast.

A 3.8 foot rise in Mono Lake is likely over the next year. (Click on the graph to enlarge it.) Graph by Greg Reis.

All three scenarios have little or no rise before May and a similar rise in May and June, since snow can only melt so fast, (more…)

Mono Lake Committee job opening

Monday, March 20th, 2017 by Bartshé, Education Director
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The Mono Lake Committee is hiring a Facilities Superintendent position in Lee Vining, California. This is a part-time, year-round caretaker position.

The position performs routine maintenance and upkeep for the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore, offices, Mono Basin Field Station, and Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center. Winter operation may include snow removal when winters bring measurable snow to town. The work schedule is variable at 5–20 hours per week, and is often dictated by seasonal needs. Housing is available on site at the Mono Basin Field Station. Some basic maintenance/caretaker/property management background is preferable. See the complete job description, and for more information contact Bartshé Miller, Education Director.

Spring is springing at Mono Lake

Sunday, March 19th, 2017 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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After what feels like an endless winter, signs of spring are starting to pop up all over the Mono Basin. Daytime highs in the mid to high 60’s mean that most of the snow around Mono Lake and in town has melted away. Morning commutes are feeling more and more like the crisp summer mornings I came to love while leading canoe tours and Nora, our Lead Naturalist Guide, has led the way, declaring it officially sandal weather.

We’re not the only ones enjoying the warmer weather; the songs of Red-winged Blackbirds, Cassin’s Finches, and Spotted Towhees can be heard through town. And a quick trip to the lake reveals that California Gulls have already begun to arrive for their summer nesting season.

Red-winged Blackbird. Photo by Nora Livingston.

Although we look forward to the warm and busy summer months ahead, we are excited to see that Mother Nature still has snow to share with Mono Lake. The forecast calls for a storm starting Tuesday and our hopes are high for a few more like it!

As of March 15 the lake is at 6378.2 feet above sea level and with all the snow we got this winter it will only continue to rise. It will be a great season and we cannot wait to share it with you.

Donate now to protect Mono Lake’s gull colony

Friday, March 17th, 2017 by Andrew, Project Specialist
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It’s really starting to feel like spring in the Mono Basin—the days are getting longer, afternoon temperatures are nearing 70°, and we’ve started seeing the first California Gulls return to Mono Lake to nest. Right now, there is only a small, watery barrier separating the California Gull nesting grounds from the mainland, making it just a short swim for coyotes to get to the islands and wreak havoc on the gull colony.

The good news is that plans are advancing for the construction of a temporary fence across the landbridge on Mono Lake’s north shore to block coyote access to the islands until enough snow melts to raise the lake above the threshold of concern later this summer. Thanks to the generosity of 76 donors, we have already funded a significant amount for the fence, but we still need your help. We’ve made the short video above for you to enjoy and share with your friends to encourage them to join this collective effort. You can also watch the full campaign video below or visit the Long Live the Gulls campaign page to donate and learn more. Thank you for your support—we, and the gulls, appreciate it! (more…)

Winter & Spring 2017 Mono Lake Newsletter now online

Thursday, March 9th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Nimble. That’s the word of the year so far for the Mono Lake Committee. We were braced to face a sixth year of drought, with plans and contingencies in place to protect Mono Lake to the best of our ability. And then the calendar ticked over into 2017 and the weather faucets turned on! Suddenly, thankfully, our plans needed some new math.

I guess it shouldn’t surprise me—since 1978 we’ve worked to find solutions to human-created problems, which sometimes requires changing horses mid-stream. (more…)

Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep disease risk eliminated

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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Yesterday the Mono County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 with one recusal not to renew a grazing lease for domestic sheep on Conway and Mattly ranch properties owned by Mono County. The current domestic sheep grazing lease expires in November 2017 so after this grazing season domestic sheep will no longer be grazed in the north Mono Basin.

Photo courtesy of the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation.

The California Department of Fish & Wildlife and US Fish & Wildlife Service presented extensive scientific evidence that laid out the case for terminating domestic sheep grazing within one mile of endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep habitat because domestic sheep are known to transmit a deadly pneumonia to bighorn sheep. With Sierra bighorn residing in and around Lundy Canyon close to Conway Ranch, the scientists determined the risk of wild sheep contracting pneumonia from domestic sheep was simply too high.

As US Fish & Wildlife Service representative Lee Ann Carranza said, “We have been trying for nearly 20 years (more…)

Mono Basin March 2017 snowpack breaks March and April records

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
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After the wettest February since 1986 at some survey sites, Mono Basin snowpack is more than double the March 1st average!

Snow water equivalent (SWE) ranges between 205% and 244% of average at the five snow survey sites in the Mono Basin (called snow courses). Gem Pass, Ellery Lake, and Saddlebag Lake have the highest March SWE on record. At the lowest-elevation snow survey site—Gem Lake at 9,150 feet above sea level—SWE was about 10 inches shy of the 1969 record, but it had reached the 1983 amount. The Tioga Pass snow course was 5 inches shy of the 1983 record. In the map below showing the snow courses, portions of the Lee Vining Creek (top) and Rush Creek (bottom) watersheds are outlined.

At Ellery Lake and Saddlebag Lake, in the Lee Vining Creek headwaters, March 1st SWE was already higher than the record April 1st SWE set in 1983. Map by Robbie DiPaolo.

At Ellery Lake and Saddlebag Lake, in the Lee Vining Creek headwaters, March 1st SWE was already higher than the record April 1st SWE set in 1983! Map by Robbie DiPaolo.

(more…)

Important meeting for Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep protection

Saturday, March 4th, 2017 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep

Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep. Photo courtesy of Chris Cleveland.

Please help protect Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep by attending the Mono County Board of Supervisors meeting this Tuesday, March 7 at the Bridgeport County Courthouse. Originally this was on the agenda for the February 21 meeting, but that meeting was cancelled due to weather.

On Tuesday, the Board will consider whether or not to renew domestic sheep grazing leases for Conway and Mattly ranches in the Mono Basin. The Mono Lake Committee is urging bighorn sheep supporters to express their opposition to (more…)

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