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Book reading & signing for “Naming Mt. Thoreau” on September 30, 2018

Sunday, May 27th, 2018 by Arya, Communications Director
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In celebration of their new book, Naming Mt. Thoreau, editor Laurie Glover, and contributors including Gary Snyder, Tom Killion, Kim Stanley Robinson, and more will be doing a reading and book signing this fall in Lee Vining.

Naming Mt. Thoreau is a beautiful and thoughtfully-crafted collection of essays, poems, and reflections. In the fall of 2014 this notable group of friends gathered to summit USGS Sierra Nevada peak 12,691 with the idea of renaming it “Mt. Thoreau” in honor of naturalist, philosopher, transcendentalist, and author Henry David Thoreau. Actually going through the process to formally name a peak is a daunting task, and this group felt that the act of getting together with a common purpose, climbing the peak, and then writing about it was a better—and more apt—path to the same goal. (more…)

“No Word for Wilderness” book signing event Saturday evening

Friday, May 25th, 2018 by Lily, Information Center & Bookstore Manager
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Join us Saturday, May 26, for a book signing and discussion with award-winning author Roger Thompson. Roger will be presenting his newest book No Word for Wilderness: Italy’s Grizzlies and the Race to Save the Rarest Bears on Earth.

This engaging examination of the threats facing the wild bears of Italy presents themes that are relevant to the protection of all endangered species and focuses on the ever-changing dynamics between humans and other species. Stop in at the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore from 3:00–5:00pm on Saturday, May 26 to enjoy light refreshments, meet Roger, learn about his work, and pick up a copy of this brand-new book. We hope to see you there!

2018 Andrea Lawrence Award presented to Phil Pister

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018 by Lily, Information Center & Bookstore Manager
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Community members, friends, and family of Andrea Mead Lawrence gathered at Mammoth Mountain’s Parallax Restaurant last Friday to present longtime golden trout and desert fish conservationist Phil Pister with the Andrea Lawrence Award.

Geoff McQuilkin and Quentin Lawrence with Phil Pister, recipient of the 2018 Andrea Lawrence Award. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Phil spent his career with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (at the time called Fish & Game) protecting the biodiversity of fish populations in the Eastern Sierra and beyond. Phil is perhaps best known for saving the Owens pupfish from near extinction by scooping the last-surviving, inch-long fish from their shrinking pond and carrying them to safety in two buckets. On this topic, in the magazine Natural History, Phil wrote, “I literally held within my hands the existence of an entire vertebrate species. If I had tripped over a piece of barbed wire or stepped into a rodent burrow, the Owens pupfish would now be extinct! But good fortune smiled upon us, and the recovery continues today.”

While saving a species from extinction is worthy of an award in and of itself, Phil has (more…)

Sign up for a Mono Lake canoe tour today

Friday, April 27th, 2018 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Celebrate the Mono Lake Committee’s fortieth anniversary this summer by taking a guided canoe tour!

Experience Mono Lake in a new way by joining a guided canoe tour this summer. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

Canoeing on Mono Lake is an unforgettable experience. See the lake in a completely new way as you float over bubbling springs forming new tufa towers, examine some of the trillions of tiny brine shrimp that inhabit the lake, and experience the peace and tranquility of this wild place. Prepare to take in breathtaking views of the Mono Basin and the dramatic Sierra Nevada crest, which rises 6,000 feet above the lake. (more…)

Adopt-A-Highway cleanup for Earth Day

Monday, April 23rd, 2018 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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This past Saturday, to celebrate Earth Day, Mono Lake Committee staff Andrew, Robbie, and myself, plus board member Sherryl Taylor picked up litter along our adopted one-mile stretch of Highway 395, just south of Lee Vining. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the opportunity to spend time in the warm spring sun.

Sherryl, Gabby, and Robbie tackle the west side of our adopted stretch of Highway 395. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

After two hours we had collected five bags of trash and two of recyclables, and the highway was looking much better. Thank you to Sherryl and all of the volunteers who continue to make this project possible. If you are interested in helping out at our next Adopt-A-Highway cleanup, please call Jessica at (760) 647-6595.

Robbie carries a bag of litter collected from the highway. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

2018 lake level forecast: Will Mono Lake rise or drop this year?

Friday, April 20th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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In April, once a new runoff year (April 1 to March 31) has begun, the Mono Lake Committee forecasts what Mono Lake’s level is likely to do over the next year. And the answer? According to our forecast, Mono Lake is likely to drop a little less than a foot.

This graph shows the range of possible Mono Lake elevations for the time period of April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019. The “highest likely” and “lowest likely” projections are produced by Committee modeling using historical wet and dry hydrology sequences that can reasonably be expected given current conditions. Mono Lake Committee graph (click to enlarge).

To forecast Mono Lake’s level for a whole runoff year, we read the lake level gauge on April 1 to get the starting point, and then factor the runoff forecast into the equation to predict what Mono Lake might do going forward. When we read the lake level gauge on April 1 together with staff from the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power the lake was 6381.9 feet above sea level. As of April 16 the runoff forecast is 85% of average. Using those two data points, plus historical wet and dry hydrology sequences that can be reasonably expected given current conditions, our modeling indicates that the most probable lake level for March 31, 2019 is 6381.1 feet above sea level.

Local Mono Lake Committee Scholarship application now online

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 by Arya, Communications Director
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Each year the Mono Lake Committee supports local students pursuing higher education and displaying a connection to Mono Lake with two $1,000 scholarships. High school seniors living in Mono County with firm plans to attend a 2- or 4-year college within a year of graduation are eligible to apply.

Students are asked to visit Mono Lake and answer the question: Why do places like Mono Lake matter?

The application can be found here, and the deadline to apply is Friday May 11, 2018 by 5:00pm.

You can find essays written by past recipients here. If you have questions regarding the application or would like to donate to the scholarship fund please contact Gabrielle Renteria by email or by calling (760) 647-6595 x103.

Project Specialist Gabrielle and Executive Director Geoff with Mono Lake Committee scholarship recipient Charles at the 2017 Lee Vining High School graduation. Photo courtesy of David Carle.

Mono Lake Committee supports Prop 68

Monday, April 16th, 2018 by Arya, Communications Director
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The Mono Lake Committee is encouraging California voters to support Proposition 68, the California Clean Water & Safe Parks Act, in the upcoming June election. The measure was created with bipartisan support in the legislature and provides $4 billion to address important park, water, and natural resource needs. Among the many statewide benefits, including important clean water and parks access provisions for underserved communities, Prop 68 contains components that are important for Mono Lake.

Members of the Los Angeles community group East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice vising the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

Funding for existing State Parks could improve infrastructure at the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve and funding dedicated to the Sierra Nevada Conservancy will benefit resource management in the Mono Basin. There is funding for climate change planning, habitat resiliency, and watershed restoration project, which will support priorities that the Committee sees as critical to protecting Mono Lake’s long-term health. (more…)

Practice the new Chautauqua registration system today

Sunday, April 8th, 2018 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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We’re excited to announce a brand-new registration system for the 17th Annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. You may recognize it if you’ve attended the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival or the Monterey Bay Birding Festival. The new system makes it faster to sign up for trips and easier to register groups, all without needing a username or password.

This year’s Chautauqua has one hundred field trips to choose from, spanning a range of topics including birds, botany, butterflies, bats, art, and more! Photo by Elin Ljung.

(more…)

Mill Creek return ditch passes test: Possible solution to returning diverted water back to the creek

Thursday, April 5th, 2018 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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In an effort to explore ways to return water to Mill Creek and therefore satisfy its legal obligations, Southern California Edison (SCE) released water from the Lundy hydroelectric plant into the Mill Creek return ditch last September, successfully returning water to the creek (see Fall 2017 Mono Lake Newsletter). The return ditch has been part of the hydropower system for a century. SCE was motivated to do this flow test because of the languishing problem of how to comply with Mill Creek water rights.

The Mill Creek return ditch carried flows of up to 16 cubic feet per second during a 61-day test last fall, returning water to the creek consistent with long-established water rights. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Prior to releasing water into the ditch, SCE evaluated the system and did routine maintenance to stabilize the earthen banks. SCE staff were on site during (more…)

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