Fire has been shaping Eastern Sierra landscapes for centuries. Human interactions with fire in the Western United States have greatly influenced wildfire type, severity, and its effect on forest ecosystems, creating management challenges across the region. If you are interested in learning more about wildfire and its role in shaping forest ecosystems, you’re in luck! There are still spots available in Malcolm North’s Fire Ecology of the Eastern Sierra field seminar, coming up September 9–10.
‘Member News’ Category
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!
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…)
I recently had the opportunity to go out to the landbridge to help with maintenance of the gull fence. I woke up at 5:00am in order to get out there in time, and by 6:30am we were ready to head out, chest waders and all.
This was my first time to the north shore of Mono Lake and it was quite a contrast to the scenic southern shore I am used to. With Black Point behind us, we trudged over salt flats towards Negit Island. Passing skeletons of last year’s giant blazing stars and coyote scat, we approached the electric fence when suddenly I heard it—the clamor of the gull colony! I put my binoculars up to see the islets overflowing with California Gulls. This was a place I had only imagined in my mind, and now it was coming to life. (more…)
Caltrans will open the “lower gate” on Highway 120 west, Tioga Pass, on Monday, June 19 at 2:00pm.
The lower gate is located 3.5 miles west of Highway 395, and when it is open visitors and locals can access the high country near the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park. The park gate will remain closed; access to Tuolumne Meadows and beyond is still not possible by car.
The area of Tioga Pass around the park gate is still mostly snow-covered, lakes are covered in old unstable ice, and creeks and rivers are running very fast and cold, so be prepared for those conditions if you plan to recreate there once the lower gate is open.
Starting Thursday, June 15 the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore will be open from 8:00am–9:00pm daily.
Stop by to get information about what to do in the area, find out where to stay or camp, learn about Mono Lake’s fascinating history, or pick up a field guide, novel, or souvenir. Watch the 30-minute Mono Lake Story film, peruse our gallery of artwork by Eastern Sierra printmaker Katherine Case, and enjoy the view of Mono Lake from the front patio.
We look forward to welcoming you to Mono Lake and Lee Vining!
Grant Lake Reservoir has been spilling since last Wednesday, May 31, for the first time since 2011. Wish you could see it for yourself? You can! Here’s a time lapse of the spill in action:
After five years of drought it has been a joy to see Grant re-filling this spring, culminating with the spillway’s torrent of water cascading down the concrete ramp to join Rush Creek.
Water reaches Rush Creek from Grant in two ways. (more…)
Each year, students applying for the Mono Lake Committee Scholarship are asked to visit Mono Lake and answer the question “Why are places like Mono Lake important?” We are pleased to announce that Reina Childs of Coleville High School and Charles DeBaillets of Lee Vining High School wrote thoughtful essays that earned them $1,000 each towards their education expenses.
Reina wrote in her essay, “Places like Mono Lake allow people to open up their senses that are so often closed in life, and to finally let go of the weight they bear, if only for a moment.” Reina plans to attend Marymount Manhattan University this fall and hopes to one day be an international nurse. (more…)
Out on the landbridge where we installed the temporary fence to keep the nesting gulls safe, wildlife cameras capture the lake’s rise on some of the very flattest exposed lakebed, so even small changes in lake level are clearly visible. The 2.3-inch-rise shown in the photos is only the beginning this year.
After five years of streams slowing to a trickle and Mono Lake dropping, this is a year of renewal and revival for the Mono Basin’s resilient natural systems. Streams are overflowing their banks, meadows are flooded, and thirsty cottonwoods are plunging their roots into the saturated soil. Mono Lake is rising fast—water is lapping higher on the tufa towers and salt-tolerant plants along the shore now have wet feet.
It’s a year of benchmarks for human-engineered systems too. Grant Lake Reservoir will flow over the spillway, too full to contain the immense volumes of snowmelt from the upper Rush Creek watershed. Mono Lake will sequentially flood the posts of the temporary fence, shortening the length needed to protect the gulls. Salty lake water will change the paths at South Tufa, forcing visitors to walk higher above the new shore.
This is a year not to be missed. It has already joined the ranks of other big years: 1969, 1983, 1995 … 2017.
So come to Mono Lake, find a spot on the shore, and take note. The water’s edge wasn’t there yesterday, and it won’t be there tomorrow—Mono Lake is refilling before our eyes. At the end of your stay in the Mono Basin, return to your benchmark spot and see how the shoreline has changed. You’ll be able to say that you were here during the amazing summer of 2017 and saw it happening.
Trail Chic is a fashion show fundraiser for the Mono Lake Committee’s Outdoor Education Center Access Fund. Our friends from Barefoot Wine & Bubbly will be pouring wine and bubbly (for a donation), there will be a silent auction with an affordable selection of wines and outdoor gear, and entrance to the event is free.
When: Saturday, August 26, 2017 at 7:30pm
Where: Lee Vining Community Center
Tioga Pass will not be open for this holiday weekend, and there is still no estimated opening date. But plowing crews have rounded the corner near Ellery Lake, making good progress toward the Yosemite National Park entrance gate.
Warm weather is aiding the crews as they work, but avalanches remain a hazard. As work progresses, pedestrians, bicyclists, skiers, etc. are advised to stay out of these areas (the photos in this post were taken on a Sunday, when crews do not work). (more…)