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‘Mono Lake Committee News’ Category

2018 lake level forecast: Will Mono Lake rise or drop this year?

Friday, April 20th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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In April, once a new runoff year (April 1 to March 31) has begun, the Mono Lake Committee forecasts what Mono Lake’s level is likely to do over the next year. And the answer? According to our forecast, Mono Lake is likely to drop a little less than a foot.

This graph shows the range of possible Mono Lake elevations for the time period of April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019. The “highest likely” and “lowest likely” projections are produced by Committee modeling using historical wet and dry hydrology sequences that can reasonably be expected given current conditions. Mono Lake Committee graph (click to enlarge).

To forecast Mono Lake’s level for a whole runoff year, we read the lake level gauge on April 1 to get the starting point, and then factor the runoff forecast into the equation to predict what Mono Lake might do going forward. When we read the lake level gauge on April 1 together with staff from the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power the lake was 6381.9 feet above sea level. As of April 16 the runoff forecast is 85% of average. Using those two data points, plus historical wet and dry hydrology sequences that can be reasonably expected given current conditions, our modeling indicates that the most probable lake level for March 31, 2019 is 6381.1 feet above sea level.

Local Mono Lake Committee Scholarship application now online

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 by Arya, Communications Director
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Each year the Mono Lake Committee supports local students pursuing higher education and displaying a connection to Mono Lake with two $1,000 scholarships. High school seniors living in Mono County with firm plans to attend a 2- or 4-year college within a year of graduation are eligible to apply.

Students are asked to visit Mono Lake and answer the question: Why do places like Mono Lake matter?

The application can be found here, and the deadline to apply is Friday May 11, 2018 by 5:00pm.

You can find essays written by past recipients here. If you have questions regarding the application or would like to donate to the scholarship fund please contact Gabrielle Renteria by email or by calling (760) 647-6595 x103.

Project Specialist Gabrielle and Executive Director Geoff with Mono Lake Committee scholarship recipient Charles at the 2017 Lee Vining High School graduation. Photo courtesy of David Carle.

Mono Lake Committee supports Prop 68

Monday, April 16th, 2018 by Arya, Communications Director
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The Mono Lake Committee is encouraging California voters to support Proposition 68, the California Clean Water & Safe Parks Act, in the upcoming June election. The measure was created with bipartisan support in the legislature and provides $4 billion to address important park, water, and natural resource needs. Among the many statewide benefits, including important clean water and parks access provisions for underserved communities, Prop 68 contains components that are important for Mono Lake.

Members of the Los Angeles community group East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice vising the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

Funding for existing State Parks could improve infrastructure at the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve and funding dedicated to the Sierra Nevada Conservancy will benefit resource management in the Mono Basin. There is funding for climate change planning, habitat resiliency, and watershed restoration project, which will support priorities that the Committee sees as critical to protecting Mono Lake’s long-term health. (more…)

Practice the new Chautauqua registration system today

Sunday, April 8th, 2018 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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We’re excited to announce a brand-new registration system for the 17th Annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. You may recognize it if you’ve attended the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival or the Monterey Bay Birding Festival. The new system makes it faster to sign up for trips and easier to register groups, all without needing a username or password.

This year’s Chautauqua has one hundred field trips to choose from, spanning a range of topics including birds, botany, butterflies, bats, art, and more! Photo by Elin Ljung.

(more…)

Mill Creek return ditch passes test: Possible solution to returning diverted water back to the creek

Thursday, April 5th, 2018 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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In an effort to explore ways to return water to Mill Creek and therefore satisfy its legal obligations, Southern California Edison (SCE) released water from the Lundy hydroelectric plant into the Mill Creek return ditch last September, successfully returning water to the creek (see Fall 2017 Mono Lake Newsletter). The return ditch has been part of the hydropower system for a century. SCE was motivated to do this flow test because of the languishing problem of how to comply with Mill Creek water rights.

The Mill Creek return ditch carried flows of up to 16 cubic feet per second during a 61-day test last fall, returning water to the creek consistent with long-established water rights. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Prior to releasing water into the ditch, SCE evaluated the system and did routine maintenance to stabilize the earthen banks. SCE staff were on site during (more…)

Diverse watchdog duties keep the Mono Lake Committee busy

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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The Mono Lake Committee is serious about protecting and restoring Mono Lake, its tributary streams, and surrounding lands. That means being on constant alert as a watchdog, and recent months have provided some interesting examples of what that requires.

The Committee keeps a close eye on daily Mono Basin streamflows at multiple locations, such as the recovering Rush Creek bottomlands. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

Sometimes the Committee chases issues that have lengthy histories and require continuous pressure to move toward resolution—the 2013 Stream Restoration Agreement with the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) is one example. Years of work (more…)

Official April 1 Mono Lake level: 6381.86 feet

Monday, April 2nd, 2018 by Arya, Communications Director
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Technically, we did it on March 31, but for all intents and purposes, it’s the April 1 official joint reading of Mono Lake’s level with Mono Lake Committee and Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) staff together. This reading on this day is particularly important because the number recorded translates into how much water DWP is allowed to divert from Mono Basin streams over the course of the coming year.

Mono Lake Committee and Los Angeles Department of Water & Power staff walking down to the lake shore for the annual joint lake level reading. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

(more…)

Buy your ticket now for the tenth Andrea Lawrence Award Dinner

Saturday, March 31st, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Buy your ticket now so you can join us in early May halfway up Mammoth Mountain … for the tenth Andrea Lawrence Award Dinner!

Andrea Lawrence Award Dinner
5:30pm on Friday, May 4, 2018
Parallax Restaurant, McCoy Station
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

This year we’ll present the Andrea Lawrence Award to Phil Pister, retired California Department of Fish & Wildlife fishery biologist for the Eastern Sierra. Phil is a visionary desert pupfish and golden trout conservationist, has been an agent of positive ecological change, and is an advocate for and teacher of environmental ethics—he embodies the spirit of the award, which celebrates passionate engagement in community and the land.

Take a beautiful gondola ride up to McCoy Station for an evening of delicious food, inspiring company, and exceptional views as we celebrate Phil. Reserve your tickets with a $75 donation online here, or by calling (760) 647-6595 by Monday, April 16. We hope to see you there!

Seventeenth Annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua

Monday, March 19th, 2018 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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Dust off your field guides and get ready to welcome the birds back to their summer breeding grounds! The seventeenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua is June 15–17 this year.

This year’s event boasts one hundred exciting field trips, workshops, and presentations. We are also excited to announce the return of esteemed artist and naturalist John Muir Laws, who will be giving a presentation about how to think like a naturalist, as well as multiple drawing workshops and field trips.

Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay perched on a pinyon pine. Photo by Nora Livingston.

Remember, the Chautauqua supports bird research and conservation in the Eastern Sierra, so you can feel good about celebrating the rich diversity of birds of this region with field trips, friends, and fun!

The program information and grid schedule are all posted online, so it’s time to start planning your weekend. Hotels fill up quickly in the summer, so we recommend booking as early as possible.

Registration opens Sunday, April 15 at 6:30am. We encourage you to register online at that time if you have particular events you’d like to attend, as many classes fill almost instantaneously.

We hope to see you at the Chautauqua this year!

Farewell to Mono Lake advocate Genny Smith, 1922-2018

Saturday, March 17th, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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Genny Smith, 1922–2018. Photo courtesy of Genny Smith.

On Sunday, March 4, the Eastern Sierra lost a lifelong champion with the passing of writer and conservationist Genny Smith at age 96.

Genny played a key role in protecting Mono Lake, getting involved in 1982 as a Board member of the young Mono Lake Committee at a time when court battles with the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power were heating up. She was a strong advocate for protecting the special wild places that make California so wonderful, and she had the determination and strategic thinking to turn such lofty goals into real accomplishments. She helped hone the strategy of recruiting members to the cause, making sure that the Committee was building a coalition of people who cared about Mono Lake for the long haul. In later years as a Board Member Emeritus she was always available to give advice—and inspiration—on the continuing efforts to protect this place. (more…)

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The Mono Lake Committee is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.