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Shop for Mono Lake this holiday season

Thursday, November 9th, 2017 by Lily, Information Center & Bookstore Manager

The holiday season is upon us! It’s time to start making your lists—and checking them twice. There are many great gifts to choose from in the Mono Lake Committee’s online bookstore, and as with all purchases made from the Committee, 100% of profits go towards protection, restoration, and education programs here at Mono Lake!

We invite you to peruse our online store and 2017 Fall Catalog to help you start checking gifts off your list. Purchases can be made directly online, or if you would like to call with your order you can phone (760) 647-6595 Monday through Friday 9:00am–5:00pm to be assisted by one of our staff “elves.”

Don’t see that perfect gift in our online store or catalog? Don’t fret, even items purchased through the Amazon Associates program can help support our work here at Mono Lake. Just make sure to follow this link to have 5% of your purchase donated to the Mono Lake Committee.

Make sure to check back here, on the Mono-logue, for access to special offers throughout the holiday season.

Huge runoff raises Mono Lake, reshapes streams

Saturday, October 21st, 2017 by Geoff, Executive Director

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

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…)

Summer 2017 Mono Lake Newsletter now online

Thursday, June 1st, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

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.

Counting snowflakes—all of them: Talking with Dr. Tom Painter about the Airborne Snow Observatory

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017 by Geoff, Executive Director

Just how much water is contained in the Sierra Nevada snowpack? NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, along with the California Department of Water Resources and the USDA Agricultural Research Service, have developed the high-tech Airborne Snow Observatory (ASO) to answer that question with greater precision and clarity than ever before.

Using a plane with an imaging spectrometer and a precise LIDAR measurement system, ASO scientists can calculate how much water is contained in every square meter of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. Photo courtesy of Tom Painter, NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Flying out of nearby Mammoth Lakes, a plane equipped with an imaging spectrometer and an incredibly precise LIDAR laser measurement system has been gathering vast quantities of data that allow scientists to calculate how much water is contained in every square meter of snowpack in the high Sierra. Knowing how much water is stored in the snowpack and waiting to flow down Rush Creek, for example, is incredibly valuable. The details of how ASO works are fascinating and the big-picture implications for Mono Lake and all of California water management are exciting. I talked with ASO Principal Investigator Dr. Tom Painter in May during a break in his schedule between flights, project development, and a roster of presentations worldwide. (more…)

Record winter snowpack melt underway

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 by Geoff, Executive Director

Mono Lake, and all of us here at the Mono Lake Committee, have just been through the biggest winter on record. It is an abrupt and welcome end to drought conditions (though not to all the effects of the drought), made all the more enjoyable by the way it crept up unannounced and surprised us with its intensity.

So much snow arrived in the Mono Basin this winter that even ephemeral streams far east of the Sierra flowed with water this spring. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Stories abound of Highway 395 being closed for days, snow blanketing every facet of the Sierra Nevada crest, and backcountry snowfields that measure taller than any building in Mono County. Speculation about an opening date for Tioga Pass—certain to be among the latest ever—is a popular springtime guessing game in town.

So what does it all mean for Mono Lake, its tributary streams, and the operation of the Los Angeles Aqueduct? Here’s the exciting outlook:

Mono Lake on the rise

With a deep snowpack fueling runoff that is forecast at 206% of average, Mono Lake is expected to rise (more…)

Charting weather extremes and understanding climate change impacts

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017 by Bartshé, Education Director

A wet winter has brought needed relief to a drought-stricken Mono Lake. However, a glimpse at Lee Vining weather data reveals that predictions about climate change in California and the Sierra Nevada are becoming real.

January 2017 set a record for wettest month in Lee Vining’s weather data history: 11.23 inches of precipitation. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Warming temperatures, along with more extreme and less-frequent precipitation, are reflected in our local weather. The record-setting drought of the last five years still casts a shadow across the Mono Basin. Multi-year impacts to the watershed and ecosystem have accumulated due to record high temperatures, remarkably low runoff, and wildfires. As climate forces further change, monitoring, assessment, and adaptation will be critical to the future restoration and protection of Mono Lake. (more…)

Mono Lake to stay above critical level

Thursday, March 30th, 2017 by Geoff, Executive Director

The big water question of this year for Mono Lake—I expected—was going to be the same as 2016: Would Los Angeles be halted from exporting water due to Mono Lake’s low level, or would the already-reduced export allotment continue?

Mono Lake won’t drop below 6377 feet above sea level this year, which means that Los Angeles is allowed to export a total of 4,500 acre-feet of water. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

The rule is well established: When the lake drops below, or is forecasted to drop below, 6377 feet above sea level, water exports must halt. So our action plan was for detailed lake level forecasting and analysis (last year the lake remained a mere two inches above that critical level) and a fair amount of discussion with the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP), to be sure any export cutback happened smoothly. In fact, I visited with the head of DWP’s aqueduct system and water operations in December to talk about this very topic.

But then came January and February, and the weather patterns of the Pacific gave us a rather wonderfully different reality (more…)

Winter & Spring 2017 Mono Lake Newsletter now online

Thursday, March 9th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

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…)

Holiday shopping: Your favorite Mono Lake creatures

Friday, December 9th, 2016 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist


The holidays are quickly approaching and what better way to celebrate than with some familiar Mono Basin faces. Our 2016 Fall Catalog has a variety of holiday decorations and cards to choose from.


Holiday cards: This year, have your seasons greetings delivered by your favorite Mono Basin critters illustrated by Wendy Morgan. Each card in the set of 10 says “May you have a Happy Holiday and a Joyous New Year!” printed in red inside. Available animals include black bears, Great Horned Owls, White-crowned Sparrows, and a pika. (more…)

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