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2015 Mono Lake Committee Scholarships awarded

Sunday, June 14th, 2015 by Arya, Communications Director
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We are proud to announce the recipients of the 2015 Mono Lake Committee ScholarshipOlivia Nelson of Lee Vining High School and Carson Bold of Mammoth High School wrote essays that won them $1,000 each to help with their education expenses.

2015-06-12 MLC Scholarship Carson Bold

Arya Degenhardt presented Carson Bold with a Mono Lake Committee Scholarship at the Mammoth High School scholarship breakfast. Photo courtesy of Susan Morning.

Students were asked to go to the shore of Mono Lake and spend at least 15 minutes sitting quietly, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells while reflecting on the question, “Why does Mono Lake matter?” Olivia and Carson wrote essays that best demonstrated a connection with the lake and the question we asked. (more…)

Blue revolution in Southern California

Sunday, June 7th, 2015 by Bartshé, Education Director
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Over half of all urban water use goes toward outdoor use. In Southern California, residential lawns provide a frontier of opportunity to conserve water. The worst drought in the state’s history and some strategic financial incentives have sparked a water-saving landscape revolution.

How big is 172 million square feet? It’s the equivalent of all of Los Angeles International Airport and a chunk of El Segundo. Imagine every square foot of this circle yielding 42 gallons of water each year.

How big is 172 million square feet? It’s the equivalent of all of Los Angeles International Airport and a chunk of El Segundo. Imagine every square foot of this circle yielding 42 gallons of water each year.

Throughout Southern California public utilities are offering financial incentive to replace water-intensive lawns with more water efficient landscapes. Turf replacement in the Southland is so successful that (more…)

One drop and a dozen options: Sierra Watershed Progressive

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015 by Robbie, Project Specialist
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This is a follow-up post to the “One drop, a dozen options” article in the Summer 2015 Mono Lake Newsletter. The article mentions longtime Mono Lake Committee member Regina Hirsch and her business Sierra Watershed Progressive with respect to the greywater system she helped us create in 2012. But there are a ton of awesome projects that Regina and Sierra Watershed Progressive have tackled and I wanted to highlight two of them here: (more…)

Summer 2015 Mono Lake Newsletter now available online

Monday, June 1st, 2015 by Arya, Communications Director
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Newsletter-2015-SummerThis is the first time in 37 years that we have featured the Milky Way on the cover of the Mono Lake Newsletter. Tufa and Milky Way, by photographer and Mono Lake Committee member Thomas Piekunka, is not only a stunning view of the night sky over Mono Lake, it was shot without artificial light. Knowing that the photograph was taken with sensitivity for the subject—without disrupting wildlife (people included) with bright lights at night—makes it that much more beautiful.

That idea, that knowing more about something can make it more beautiful, is actually a pretty good theme for this issue of the Mono Lake Newsletter. Let’s face it, drought doesn’t look good on Mono Lake. Dusty exposed lakebed and weak trickles of water in cobbled creek channels are hard to see. With the final snowpack numbers in we’ve had to face up to some stark realities about what the coming summer is going to mean for the Mono Basin—a potential two-foot vertical drop in lake level not being the least of it.

Today the lake is at 6,379 feet above sea level. Without the Mono Lake Committee, the lake would be at 6350′. That’s not only 29 vertical feet of water, it’s the difference between a landscape with a recovering ecosystem, and one without. So, when I look out at Mono Lake knowing it could be that much worse, I can still see a landscape that has undoubtedly stalled out, but is, in the bigger scheme of things, on the road to recovery. Mono Lake has protections in place and a dedicated group of people who really, really care about it, work for it every single day, and are determined to figure out the best things for it no matter what the circumstances. I’m pretty sure there is extra beauty in that.

Maybe you should come see for yourself—walk the shoreline, check out the night sky, or scout out some water and follow the lead of the dipper below.

American Dippers are North America’s only truly aquatic songbird, and catch their food underwater by swimming and walking on the bottom of streams. A family of dippers takes up residence along Lee Vining Creek each summer—if you listen closely you can hear them singing and see them diving for food and feeding chicks. Photo courtesy of Marie Read.

American Dippers are North America’s only truly aquatic songbird, and catch their food underwater by swimming and walking on the bottom of streams. A family of dippers takes up residence along Lee Vining Creek each summer—if you listen closely you can hear them singing and see them diving for food and feeding chicks. Photo courtesy of Marie Read.

Seventh Andrea Lawrence Award Dinner honors Ted Schade, features Marcie Edwards

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015 by Lily, Canoe Coordinator
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On April 24th community members, friends, and family of Andrea Mead Lawrence gathered at Mammoth Mountain’s Parallax Restaurant to commemorate Andrea’s life and those who embody her spirit of community and conservationism through the presentation of the Andrea Lawrence Award.

Quentin Lawrence, Ted Schade, and Geoff McQuilkin with Ted's Andrea Lawrence Award. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

Quentin Lawrence, Ted Schade, and Geoff McQuilkin with Ted’s Andrea Lawrence Award. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

Andrea was a visionary environmental leader, two-time Olympic gold medalist, mother of five, 16-year Mono County Supervisor, and Mono Lake Committee board member. Since her passing in 2009, the Mono Lake Committee has hosted the Andrea Lawrence Award Dinner to celebrate her influential life and those who continue to improve and protect the Eastern Sierra through their passionate engagement with community and the land. (more…)

Love Mono Lake? Volunteer this summer!

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015 by Jessica, Office Manager
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The Mono Lake Committee, US Forest Service, Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association, California State Parks, and the Bodie Foundation are teaming up to sponsor the twelfth season of our Mono Lake Volunteer Program this summer. Volunteers will have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and share their knowledge of the Eastern Sierra. It’s a great way to learn about Mono Lake while getting to know fellow volunteers and giving back to the area.

The Mono Lake Volunteer program partners celebrate last year's new volunteer graduates. Photo by Rose Catron.

The Mono Lake Volunteer program partners celebrate last year’s new volunteer graduates. Photo by Rose Catron.

Mono Lake volunteers are an essential part of the interpretation and overall guest experience at Mono Lake. Every year, volunteers connect with (more…)

April 1 lake level means reduced water exports to LA, more protection for Mono Lake

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 by Geoff, Executive Director
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This morning Mono Lake Committee staff met with Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) personnel to conduct the official annual April 1 reading of the lake level together. The consensus: Mono Lake stands at 6379.01 feet above sea level.

DWP's Brian Norris and Greg Reis from the Mono Lake Committee read the lake level gauge together this morning. Photo by Elin Ljung.

DWP’s Brian Norris and Greg Reis from the Mono Lake Committee read the lake level gauge together this morning. Photo by Elin Ljung.

The lake has declined to a level at which water exports to Los Angeles are, by the terms of the State Water Board’s rules, automatically reduced by 70%. DWP will be limited to 4,500 acre-feet of water export, a lake-protecting restriction that no one, until recently, thought would ever be activated again. It was a solemn, though not unexpected outcome, given that California’s drought is entering its fourth year and the Mono Lake watershed is officially classified as being under “exceptional” drought. (more…)

Conway Ranch easement finalized: Another era for the north Mono Basin begins

Monday, March 16th, 2015 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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After two years of public meetings with diverse stakeholders, numerous field visits, and countless rounds of legal review and revision, the Conway Ranch Conservation Easement was signed and recorded by the Eastern Sierra Land Trust (ESLT) and Mono County on December 1, 2014.

A new easement allows for both open space preservation and also limited economic activity at Conway Ranch. Photo by Emily Prud'homme.

A new easement allows for both open space preservation and also limited economic activity at Conway Ranch. Photo by Emily Prud’homme.

The two parties successfully worked out myriad easement details with the dual goals of protecting open space and wildlife habitat while allowing for limited economic activities, specifically fish rearing and sheep grazing. (more…)

Winter & Spring 2015 Mono Lake Newsletter now available online

Sunday, March 1st, 2015 by Arya, Communications Director
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Newsletter-2015-Winter-&-SpringWe were talking about the dropping level of Mono Lake. Geoff was at his desk, Lisa was perched in her regular spot on the blue steps, Bartshe was leaning on the door jamb, Jess and Elin were on folding chairs, and Greg and I were on the speaker phone delicately balanced on a small stool—all within the space of about ten square feet.

During the discussion I was struck by the fact that when we talk about the lake level we almost always use “we” instead of “it.” “If the lake drops one foot we’ll be at….” “If we get the wettest March on record, where would that put us on April 1?” The whole staff does it. Mono Lake Committee founder David Gaines famously wrote, “We are Mono Lake.” And I don’t want to be overly groovy about it, but here we are many years and many lake levels later saying the same thing without even realizing we’re doing it. But it’s so true—when the lake rises we are proud. When the lake drops we take it hard.

So … we are at 6379′. If we are still below 6380′ on April 1 water exports from the Mono Basin will be reduced from 16,000 to 4,500 acre-feet. That’s a lot of water, and the fact that this reduction in water supply to Los Angeles is happening after three consecutive years of drought is anything but a lucky coincidence. Many people over many years have worked tirelessly, and with enough foresight to plan ahead for this lake level. And many people have conserved water with hopes of avoiding the lake getting this low again. This keeps us going, and inspires us no matter what lake level we’re at.

And the Wild & Scenic Los Angeles film lineup is….

Monday, February 23rd, 2015 by Arya, Communications Director
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Mono-logue-banner

The Oscars are behind us, which means that it’s time to slip on your comfy jeans and beloved fleece for the Mono Lake Committee’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival in El Segundo on March 5th.

And the official film lineup for the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Los Angeles is….

  • The Ridge — Ride to the top of Inaccessible Pinnacle in the Isle of Skye with street cyclist Danny MacAskill. The feat itself is breathtaking, the scenery, spectacular, the cycling, stunning. (8 minutes)
  • Yosemite Nature Notes: Birdsongs — “It would be a pretty boring Yosemite without birdsong” ruminates ornithologist and ranger Sarah Stock. Take a quick trip to Mono Lake’s backyard with Yosemite National Park rangers—see the species as the rangers identify them by their songs. It’s amazing! (6 minutes)
  • American Lawn — This film is unique in how it looks at the relationships Americans have with their lawns. There isn’t an ounce of didactic in the film, making it a refreshingly thought-provoking experience. (11 minutes)
  • Delta Dawn — Did you know that on March 23, 2014 hydrologists released a gigantic pulse of water from the last dam on the Colorado River, and for a short period of time, the Colorado reached the sea? The film is a joyous celebration, and adventure, and a reminder that we can work to undo the mistakes of the past. (16 minutes)
  • The Longest Straw (teaser) — This spring, a crew of young filmmakers will be backpacking all 338 miles of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, meeting with community members along the way. You’ll recognize the Mono Lake Committee’s Outdoor Education Program leader Santiago Escruceria in this teaser for the feature-length film. Their passion is contagious, and their dedication is inspiring, and you’ll get to meet them in person at the festival. (5 minutes)
  • Project Wild Thing — “This film will change your life” writes The Guardian. A marketing professional takes on the challenge of marketing the outdoors in an effort to get kids (and all of us, really) outside. It’ll get under your skin the way dirt should get under your fingernails. (58 minutes)

Will you join us? We hope so. There will also be a special live Mighty Wurlitzer performance; the signature attraction of the Old Town Music Hall. All we can say is that you don’t want to miss it!

Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Los Angeles
Thursday, March 5th at 7:00pm
Old Town Music Hall, El Segundo
Free and easy parking next door; great restaurants nearby.

Tickets are on sale here: $12 in advance, $15 at the door, $10 for students.
The festival is a benefit for Mono Lake and the Los Angeles watershed.

The Mighty Wurlitzer inside of the Old Town Music Hall.

The Mighty Wurlitzer inside of the Old Town Music Hall. Photo courtesy of the Old Town Music Hall.

Special thanks to event sponsors: Chevron, Environment Now, Old Town Music Hall, Klean Kanteen, Clif Bar, Patagonia, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Earthjustice, and Orion Magazine.

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


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