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Leaving a legacy at Mono Lake

Tuesday, October 31st, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Last spring, I sat down with Mono Lake Committee members Vern Gersh and Terry McLaughlin just before their retirement and talked with them about what Mono Lake means to them and why they decided to put the Committee in their estate plans.

As I talked with them, I was inspired by their passion and love for this place. They shared with me stories from their years of living in Lee Vining and working at the Committee, from enjoying beautiful evening walks to see the sunset to getting stuck in “Mono muck” after their first time paddling a kayak on the lake.

Over the past few months, I’ve put together a short video featuring Terry and Vern’s story. In the video, you’ll hear them reflect on the sublime beauty of the Mono Basin, the remarkable ecological productivity of Mono Lake, and the important role the Mono Lake Committee plays to ensure that this place continues to be protected and restored.

Vern’s parting words at the end of the video still resonate with me: “It’s not necessarily leaving things to the people that are on the earth, but it’s also leaving a portion of the earth to the people who are still here.”

Winter field seminars at Mono Lake

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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This coming winter we are pleased to offer three field seminars to take advantage of this very special season—one winter ecology and two winter photography seminars!

Poconip ice fog shrouds Mono Lake, with just a sliver of sun illuminating the base of Black Point. Photo courtesy of Joe Decker.

___________________________________________

Winter Ecology of the Mono Basin •
January 13–14, 2018 • Nora Livingston

Mono Basin Winter Photography •
January 26–28, 2018
 • Joe Decker

Mono Lake by Moonlight •
March 2–4, 2018
 • Joe Decker
___________________________________________

Registration will open on Wednesday, November 1 for Mono Lake Committee members only, and on December 1 for non-members. To sign up, call (760) 647-6595 or register online. (more…)

Huge runoff raises Mono Lake, reshapes streams

Saturday, October 21st, 2017 by Geoff, Executive Director
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Last year we were drought weary and went into winter with low expectations. Those expectations were proven wrong—very wrong. 2017 became the winter of storm after storm after storm that led to a spring and summer of genuine awe at the depth of the snowpack and magnitude of the runoff.

During peak flow season Mono Lake Committee staff and hydrology consultants spent days out along the streams, tracking—and reveling in—the incredible amounts of water. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

It is hard to fathom the scale of what happened. In three weeks in January, scientists note, more than the equivalent of the entire average annual flow of the Colorado River fell as snow onto the Sierra Nevada. And it didn’t stop there. By April the Mono Basin watershed had seen snowfall equivalent to four drought winters—2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015—all stacked on top of each other.

When longer days and warmer temperatures arrived, the snow began to melt and a remarkable runoff season began. The Mono Basin runoff forecast (more…)

Fall 2017 Mono Lake Newsletter now online

Saturday, October 14th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Just add water.

Sometimes I think of the Mono Basin as ready-made pancake mix—all you have to do is add water.

The Mono Lake Committee’s 16,000 members have been working on perfecting the mix since 1978. We envisioned a future with a healthy Mono Lake and streams, we fought for that future all the way to the California Supreme Court, worked with the State Water Board to set in place the rules that will make a healthy future a reality, and made sure the protections didn’t exist only on paper. Flour, baking soda, salt, sugar… And then, this year, we got to add the water!

So much water that (more…)

Early-bird Mono Lake Free Drawing winner, plus more chances to win

Thursday, October 5th, 2017 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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Last week we drew the winner of the early-bird Free Drawing prize—congratulations to Orlene Kelting of Hawthorne, California, who won tickets to the Taste of Yosemite event!

I drew the winning name for this year’s early bird prize: a Taste of Yosemite Package for two! Photo by Maureen McGlinchy.

It’s not too late to get your tickets in for a chance to win as well—we’ll be drawing all the other winners in mid-December. This year you can win one of over two dozen incredible prizes including vacation packages, a Cali4nia ski pass, Patagonia gear, and much more. (more…)

Mono Lake Calendar call for submissions

Sunday, October 1st, 2017 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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The Mono Lake Committee invites you to submit photographs for the 2019 Mono Lake Calendar—we are seeking photographs of the highest caliber that capture the spirit and reflect the unique qualities of Mono Lake and the Mono Basin.

We are looking for images of scenes within the watershed boundary of Mono Lake, and possible subjects include, but are not limited to: plants, geologic features, streams, mountains, weather, fall colors, and wildlife. Images of sand tufa will not be considered due to the degradation affecting these features. Where possible, images identifiable within the context of Mono Lake’s and/or the Mono Basin’s unique scenic beauty will receive preference. In striving to represent the natural beauty of Mono Lake, images that are obviously or heavily filtered or manipulated will not be considered. (more…)

Seminar spotlight: Fire Ecology of the Eastern Sierra

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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This post was written by Michael Morris, 2017 Mono Lake Intern.

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.

Smoke was visible at South Tufa in August 2016 as the Clark Fire burned south of the Mono Basin. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Fire Ecology of the Eastern Sierra • September 9–10 • $155 per person/$140 for members • sign up here • view full itinerary here (more…)

Mono Lake Committee goes net-zero with solar

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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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!

Four panels fit on the canopy over the main bookstore doors, generating power and providing visitors with a visual example of our commitment to sustainable energy. Photo by Elin Ljung.

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…)

Scaling back the fence thanks to a rising Mono Lake

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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This post was written by Jenny Rieke, 2017 Birding Intern.

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.

The north shore of the landbridge is a surreal, other-worldly landscape. Photo by Jennifer Rieke.

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…)

Tioga Pass “lower gate” will open on Monday, June 19 at 2:00pm

Saturday, June 17th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Caltrans will open the “lower gate” on Highway 120 west, Tioga Pass, on Monday, June 19 at 2:00pm.

This gate will be opened on Monday, June 19, 2017 at 2:00pm. Photo by Elin Ljung.

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.

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