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Summer 2017 Mono Lake Newsletter now online

Thursday, June 1st, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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The benchmarks in this issue of the Mono Lake Newsletter show the smallest change in lake level that I think we’ve ever published (see page 13).

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.

Do you do Trail Chic?

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017 by Arya, Communications Director
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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

And then there are the fashions … in years past we’ve seen (more…)

Tioga Pass: Memorial Day weekend update

Thursday, May 25th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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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.

A photo from Sunday, May 21, 2017 taken at Ellery Lake looking back east at Ellery Bowl with bikers for scale. Photo courtesy of Nathan Taylor.

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…)

Fence post: An update from Mono Lake’s landbridge

Friday, April 21st, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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The temporary electrified fence protecting Mono Lake’s nesting California Gulls has been up and running for about three weeks now. After a long and snowy winter the gulls’ calls signal spring’s arrival, and it’s gratifying to know that as they build nests and lay eggs out on the islands, they are protected from coyote predation.

Gull researcher Kristie Nelson works on one of the fence sections that extends into Mono Lake. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.

The fence stretches for about one mile across the landbridge, and is made up of five sections that overlap—an electrified long middle section, two shorter electrified sections at the ends near the water’s edge, and two passive sections at (more…)

April 1 Mono Lake level: 6378.3 feet above sea level and rising

Monday, April 10th, 2017 by Robbie, Restoration Field Technician
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April 1, the beginning of the runoff year, is a particularly important day for Mono Lake. Each April 1 Mono Lake Committee and Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) staff walk down to Mono Lake and read the lake level, together. It is particularly important because it is the April 1 lake level that determines how much water is allowed to be diverted from Mono Basin streams to the City of Los Angeles for the year.

Brian Norris from DWP and Robbie Di Paolo from the Mono Lake Committee read the lake level gauge together on April 1, 2017. Photo by Bartshé Miller.

The first time I participated in one of these April 1 lake level readings was in 2015 when the lake had dropped to a level that triggered a 70% reduction of water exports. The second time, the lake narrowly cleared the level that would have halted water exports altogether. Years of drought lowered the lake and heightened concern over available exports, but this year was different. This year Mono Lake is on the rise. (more…)

Winter & Spring 2017 Mono Lake Newsletter now online

Thursday, March 9th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Nimble. That’s the word of the year so far for the Mono Lake Committee. We were braced to face a sixth year of drought, with plans and contingencies in place to protect Mono Lake to the best of our ability. And then the calendar ticked over into 2017 and the weather faucets turned on! Suddenly, thankfully, our plans needed some new math.

I guess it shouldn’t surprise me—since 1978 we’ve worked to find solutions to human-created problems, which sometimes requires changing horses mid-stream. (more…)

Want to volunteer for Mono Lake? This year is your chance.

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017 by Jessica, Office Director
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Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve Park Ranger Dave Marquart teaches volunteers at South Tufa. Photo courtesy of Karen Gardner.

The Mono Lake Volunteers play an increasingly essential role in educating people about Mono Lake. The group, which has grown to more than 60 people of all ages, contributes to visitors’ experiences at South Tufa and the State Reserve boardwalk at County Park. Each summer, volunteers spend thousands of hours in the Eastern Sierra giving Mono Lake tours to summer visitors from all over the world, helping with Mono Lake Committee membership mailings, pulling invasive plant species to help restore Mono Lake’s tributaries, and more.

This year, in an effort to make it easier for new volunteers to join, we have a new training schedule. (more…)

Wild & Scenic Film Festival LA tickets on sale now!

Saturday, February 18th, 2017 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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Tickets for the annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Los Angeles are on sale now! We are excited to have screenings at two locations this year; the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo on Thursday March 9 from 7:00-10:00pm and the Sierra Madre City Hall Council Chambers on Saturday, March 11 from 2-3pm for a matinee and from 7:00-10:00pm as well.

This year’s festival features ten beautiful and fun films about nature, conservation, and activism through the lens of skiing, surfing, mountaineering, photography, whitewater rafting, and more.

Tickets can be purchased here or by calling us at (760) 647-6595. For more information, including film lineups and parking information, check out the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Los Angeles website. You can also follow the festival on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news.

All proceeds from the event go to the Mono Lake Committee’s Outdoor Education Center programs that bring students from Los Angeles to the Mono Basin to learn about the source of their water through five days of life changing outdoor experiences.

See you there!

Open house: Gulls, landbridge, and all of this water for Mono Lake

Friday, February 10th, 2017 by Arya, Communications Director
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Even with all of this snow and rain, we still need to build a temporary fence to protect the gulls. Have questions? Stop by the open house on Wednesday—we’ve got answers, ways you can help, and cookies too.

  • When: Wednesday, February 15, 5-7pm
  • Where: Mono Lake Committee Bookstore
  • What: Open house, presentation at 6pm
  • Why: Because you love California Gulls (and Epic Cafe cookies)

#longlivethegulls

We still need to build a fence to protect Mono Lake’s California Gulls

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Those who have been watching Mono Lake drop during the last five years of drought know that we here at the Mono Lake Committee have been preparing to protect nesting California Gulls from opportunistic coyotes with a temporary electric fence across the emerging landbridge.

California Gull parents and chicks on a nesting island in Mono Lake last summer. Photo by Sara Matthews.

And then this January happened! We got record amounts of snow and rain brought by atmospheric rivers—enough to see a visible rise in the level of Mono Lake. We started to hear the perceptive question: “Does this mean you don’t have to build the fence?”

We’re still going to build the fence. There are two main reasons…. (more…)

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