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Eastern Sierra loses James Wilson

Saturday, July 18th, 2015 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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It is with heavy hearts and punch-to-the-gut reactions that we convey the news of James Wilson’s passing this past Wednesday at Renown Hospital in Reno. He died from complications of a stroke suffered the week before. He was 67 years old. He is survived by his wife Kay, his daughter Rosanne, son-in-law Bayard, and grandson Ansel.

Kay & James Wilson pictured last September at the Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

Kay & James Wilson pictured last September at the Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center. Along with Kay, James was a steadfast supporter of the Mono Lake Committee’s work on behalf of Mono Lake. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

For residents and frequent visitors to the Eastern Sierra, James’ accomplishments are familiar and numerous. He was the founder of Wilson’s Eastside Sports in Bishop, co-founder of Friends of the Inyo, active member of Eastern Sierra Audubon, the California Wilderness Coalition, and the Bishop Rotary Club; the list goes on and on. Suffice it to say that James was involved in almost every environmental issue that emerged in the region for over 30 years, bringing his calm, principled, and collaborative approach to the table. He was driven by his passionate love for the Eastern Sierra and his strong desire to protect its wild places, encouraging others to get out and experience it firsthand.

As a dedicated and steadfast conservation leader in the Eastern Sierra, an avid birder and naturalist, and friend to many, James Wilson will be deeply missed.

The last of the day's light reflected in a pond in Lundy Canyon last Wednesday, on the evening that James passed away. Photo by Lisa Cutting.

The last of the day’s light reflected in a pond in Lundy Canyon this past Wednesday, the evening that James passed away. Photo by Lisa Cutting.

Seminar spotlight: Introduction to High Country Plants & Habitats

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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It’s one of the worst droughts on record, so that means there aren’t any flowers in the Mono Basin this year, right? Wrong!

Caption caption. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

Species of paintbrush are blooming brightly at many Mono Basin elevations, from riparian corridors where interns measure streamflow to alpine meadows. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

It’s one of the best wildflower years in the Eastern Sierra, thanks to the above-average precipitation we’ve received in May, June, and so far in July. The flowers are responding enthusiastically, so don’t miss the Introduction to High Country Plants & Habitats field seminar, scheduled for the peak of the summer bloom. Plants, animals, insects, geology, and weather all interact quickly during the short growing season, and this seminar is a guide to it all.

Introduction to High Country Plants & Habitats • July 31–August 2 • $165 per person/$150 for members • sign up here (more…)

Mono Lake Committee divests from fossil fuels

Monday, July 13th, 2015 by Geoff, Executive Director
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The Mono Lake Committee has now fully divested from fossil fuels. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

The Mono Lake Committee has now fully divested from fossil fuels. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

A worldwide fossil fuel divestment movement has begun involving governments, educational institutions, foundations, faith-based groups, individuals, and non-profit organizations. Participants range from Stanford University to the City of Seattle to the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation to Britain’s Prince Charles. We’re pleased to inform members that the Mono Lake Committee is part of the movement.

As inspirational climate leader and Mono Lake Committee member Bill McKibben says, divestment is a simple, direct action that counters “the scary new math of climate change.”

The Committee’s savings account hardly rivals those of big institutions. But similar to our solar panel installation several years ago, we need to continue to do our part to counter carbon pollution—an issue close to home as we grapple with the effects of a changing climate at Mono Lake.

While coal, gas, and oil companies were never a special focus in the Committee’s investments, they were often present in the diversified funds we used to safeguard endowment gifts, member bequests, and other savings. But no longer. The Mono Lake Committee has now fully divested from fossil fuels.

This post was also published as an article in the Summer 2015 Mono Lake Newsletter.

A toast to Randy Arnold and 25 Barefoot years at Mono Lake

Friday, July 10th, 2015 by Arya, Communications Director
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Randy Arnold. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

Randy Arnold, Barefoot Wine ambassador and Mono Lake champion. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

In spring 2003, the Mono Lake Committee got an intern application that stood out—Randy Arnold, 13-year ambassador for Barefoot Winery and 20-year Mono Lake Committee volunteer and member, wanted to be the Birding Intern. We were probably as surprised as his employers—Barefoot Wine founders Bonnie Harvey and Michael Houlihan, who had just given their #1 employee a sabbatical to follow his dream of working for Mono Lake.

Fast-forward to 2015 and Randy is celebrating his 25th anniversary with Barefoot. He continues to make good on the promise he made at age 14 (when he first visited Mono Lake on his way to 4-H summer camp) to return to the Eastern Sierra as often as possible. (more…)

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…)

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