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Refreshing ‘Ologists: Songbirds of Yosemite with Michelle Desrosiers

Thursday, August 10th, 2017 by Molly, Mono Lake Intern
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If you have ever wondered about how songbirds are studied and why, you should come to the Mono Lake Committee this Wednesday, August 16 at 4pm to hear from this week’s Refreshing ‘Ologist, Michelle Desrosiers.

This week’s Refreshing ‘Ologist Michelle Desrosiers studies songbirds in Yosemite. Photo courtesy of Chris McCreedy.

Scientists in the park have been monitoring the status of songbirds as well as collecting information about their natural history to better inform conservation and management decisions. Songbirds serve as indicators of functioning ecosystem processes due to their position in the food chain, their diverse habitat requirements as a taxonomic group, and their accessibility to study.

In Yosemite scientists use songbirds to (more…)

Mono Lake Volunteer spotlight: Jo Bacon

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017 by Aviva, Mono Lake Intern
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“Volunteering has always been a part of my life, ever since I joined Girl Scouts,” says Mono Lake Volunteer Jo Bacon. Part of the original class of volunteers in 2004 and named Volunteer of the Year in 2011, Jo is a stalwart volunteer with a passion for engaging the public and protecting the Mono Basin.

Mono Lake Volunteer Jo Bacon, left, with Volunteer Coordinator Janet Carle. Photo by Rose Catron.

She originally discovered the wonders of the Eastern Sierra in the 1970s on a trip to cross country ski and eventually moved to Mammoth Lakes full-time in 2002 after more than 25 years in Riverside, California. Since her move, Jo has certainly made her mark on the Eastern Sierra community. She served as mayor of Mammoth Lakes for eight years then another two on the planning commission, along with doing interpretive work for the Mammoth Ranger District and some naturalist work in the area.

She was drawn to the Mono Basin originally by (more…)

Saddlebag Lake Reservoir spills

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
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Water courses down the Saddlebag Lake Reservoir spillway, possibly for the first time ever. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

For the first time since at least as far back as 1983, Saddlebag Lake Reservoir on Lee Vining Creek is spilling. This is a rare event—and possibly a first—for the highest lake you can drive to in California.

Saddlebag Dam, at 10,090′ elevation, was built in 1921 to enlarge an existing alpine lake for hydropower generation purposes. The dam was raised and a spillway was added in 1925. The reservoir is oversized compared to the volume of water produced in its watershed, and given the agreement between Southern California Edison (SCE) and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP), which requires it to be very low every spring. It is unclear if it has ever spilled before now. Last week it was inches away from its spillway, at the end of the day on Monday it was very full at 9,400 acre-feet of water, and on Tuesday it spilled! (more…)

Refreshing ‘Ologists: Restoring carbon in Tuolumne Meadows with Lydia Baldwin

Saturday, August 5th, 2017 by Molly, Mono Lake Intern
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Ever wonder about the carbon storing potential of Tuolumne Meadows? If you have, you’re not so different from our researcher for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists. Come listen to Lydia Baldwin present her research in Tuolumne Meadows on Wednesday August 9 at 4:00pm to learn more!

Tuolumne Meadows in spring 2015. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Wet meadows throughout the Sierra Nevada that were historically disturbed are currently losing both soil-water holding capacity and the ability to store carbon. These wetlands formerly functioned as sinks of carbon dioxide, but now they could act as significant contributors of CO2 into the atmosphere. Furthermore, the maintenance and addition of carbon to soil can also enhance its capacity to hold water. This refreshing ‘ologist is testing whether the reestablishment of a sedge-dominated community at Tuolumne Meadows, a high-elevation wet meadow in Yosemite National Park, will restore the meadow to a carbon-accumulating ecosystem.

Join us to hear Lydia explain how she monitors gross primary production and plant respiration to create a model of growing season carbon dynamics to determine if these treatments increase the meadow’s carbon storage. Be ready to learn and ready to eat because admission and snacks are both free!

Mono Lake volunteer spotlight: Cathy Foye

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017 by Aviva, Mono Lake Intern
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Cathy & Rich Foye, left and center, with fellow Mono Lake Volunteer Rosemarie Willimann. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

If you have taken a Saturday canoe tour this summer you will probably recognize our awesome volunteer Cathy Foye, who, every weekend, is prepped with a scope set on an Osprey nest perfectly perched on a tufa tower in Mono Lake.

Born and raised in Southern California, Cathy had actually never explored the Eastern Sierra until her now husband, and fellow volunteer, Rich Foye, took her on vacation. Their favorite parts of visiting were the guided canoe tours and weekly star talks offered during the summer. During their 25 years together in Fullerton they became frequent visitors to the Eastern Sierra, initially attracted to Mammoth Lakes, where they permanently moved to in 2009. (more…)

Help remove invasive plants in the Mono Basin

Sunday, July 30th, 2017 by Ava, Mono Lake Intern
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As July winds down and August approaches, we find ourselves faced with increasing quantities of a prolific invasive plant species in the Mono Basin. Dense patches of sweet white clover can be seen along streambeds, roadsides, edges of parking lots, and areas where soil has recently been disrupted, which softens the ground for the opportunistic and tenacious seeds. Unseen below the ground, its roots begin the process of nitrogen fixation, changing the chemical properties of the soil. Removing invasive plant species has been part of an ongoing restoration process to clear the ground so that native species may flourish.

Volunteers helping remove white sweet clover and other invasive plants along Mill Creek. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

The Mono Lake Committee has been involved in removal projects for several years to reduce the amount of sweet white clover (Melilotus albus) growing in the Mono Basin. These efforts often entail taking groups of interns, volunteers, visiting students from the Outdoor Education Center, and interested community members into the field for some hands-on learning.

For those who are in town and willing to help (more…)

Refreshing ‘Ologists: Carnivore management & research with Jonathan Fusaro

Saturday, July 29th, 2017 by Molly, Mono Lake Intern
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If you’re interested in how carnivores are being managed in the Eastern Sierra, join us this coming Wednesday, August 2 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery.

Coyotes, like this one scampering through Mono Lake’s shallows, are one of the many carnivores in the Eastern Sierra. Photo courtesy of Justin Hite.

California Department of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) environmental scientist Jonathan Fusaro will explain carnivore research and management, as well as what DFW’s Bishop field office is doing for research and management of carnivores locally. Jonathan studied black bear populations for his master’s degree in wildland resources from the University of Utah. Now Jonathan works closely with researchers to manage black bears and is heavily involved with the Eastern Sierra Black Bear Project.

If you want to find out more about the management and research of carnivores, come to the Committee gallery this Wednesday afternoon. Admission and snacks are free. Hope to see you there!

New Mono Lake Committee gallery show: TERRASCOPE by Patricia Hewett

Thursday, July 27th, 2017 by Lily, Information Center & Bookstore Manager
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We are excited to announce that abstract landscapes by San Francisco artist Patricia Hewett will be featured in the Mono Lake Committee’s gallery from July 29 through January.

“Tufa Spires” art courtesy of Patricia Hewett.

In addition to being an artist, Patricia is also a SCUBA diver and avid explorer both above and below the water. Her new show, TERRASCOPE, will feature her most recent gouache and ink paintings of the Mono Basin and Eastern Sierra. Her hypnotizing work demonstrates her ability to create striking representations of her surroundings, and it beautifully captures the Mono Basin’s unique essence.

Join us for an evening artist’s reception to open the new show on Saturday, January 29, 5:00–7:00pm. Come enjoy wine and cheese, meet Patricia, and delight in her one-of-a-kind work in the Mono Lake Committee gallery.

Mono Lake Committee goes net-zero with solar

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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In 2010 the Mono Lake Committee started the process of converting to solar power with nine solar panels installed on the roof of the “ice house” office building, and then added an additional 33 panels to the roof of the bookstore building in 2012. We also took a number of conservation measures, such as switching to LED bulbs in the bookstore, and have been monitoring our usage carefully. By 2016 we had completed our big conservation steps and reduced our annual grid power demand by over 80%.

Despite these reductions, we had a goal to generate all the power needed for the bookstore and offices right here on the property. In late June 2017, Sierra Solar installed 16 more panels, and now that the grid-intertie has been completed, we are expecting to achieve net zero power demand on the grid on an annual basis!

Four panels fit on the canopy over the main bookstore doors, generating power and providing visitors with a visual example of our commitment to sustainable energy. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Most of the Committee’s solar panels are largely invisible to members and visitors since they’re atop the bookstore and ice house office roofs. We asked Jim at Sierra Solar to check (more…)

Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentations return with avalanche forecaster Sue Burak

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017 by Molly, Mono Lake Intern
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Join us for this summer’s first Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation, next Wednesday, July 26 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery!

While clearing the snow that fell on Tioga Pass Road this past winter (pictured), Caltrans was lucky to have hydrologist Sue Burak provide her expertise to help with avalanche training and assessments. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Come hear hydrologist Sue Burak give an inside look at the work of an avalanche forecaster, the science behind the forecasts, and the headaches of an avalanche forecaster during a winter when nature put the hammer down in a presentation entitled “Atmospheric Rivers Bring It On: Big Storms & Big Avalanches in a Record-Breaking Winter.” Admission is free and there will be free snacks! (more…)

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