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Atmospheric river brings approximately six inches of water to Mono Lake so far

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Mono Lake Committee hydrologists estimate that the series of atmospheric river storms we’ve been experiencing over the last week has brought enough water to the Mono Basin to raise Mono Lake by six inches.

geoff-in-la-times-video

Committee Executive Director Geoff McQuilkin at the shore of a rising Mono Lake. Photo courtesy of Brian van der Brug, Los Angeles Times.

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, this lake level rise is very good news for the Mono Lake ecosystem, and it also means that some water will flow south to Los Angeles in 2017. Before these storms, the lake was low enough that it was looking likely that no water exports would be allowed.

As Committee Executive Director Geoff McQuilkin says in today’s LA Times video, “This event is going to keep the lake protected and it’s going to keep that water flowing to the city.” Thanks, atmospheric river—that’s a win-win!

Highway 395 closed due to blizzard conditions

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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The atmospheric river keeps on giving! For nearly a week now, Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra have been receiving heavy snow and rain, which is great news for these drought-parched areas. But it does bring complications for people living and traveling here.

The Mono Lake Committee is open today, despite Highway 395 being closed. Photo by Lily Pastel.

The Mono Lake Committee is open today, despite Highway 395 being closed. Photo by Lily Pastel.

Highway 395 is closed today from Mammoth Lakes to Bridgeport due to blizzard conditions, which are predicted to last until (more…)

2016 Mono Lake Committee Annual Report

Saturday, January 7th, 2017 by Arya, Communications Director
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The Mono Lake Committee’s 2016 Annual Report is now available online.

2016 Annual Report cover

Cover photo courtesy of Thomas Piekunka.

The report is full of photos of the Mono Lake Committee in action in our focus areas of protection, restoration, education, and scientific research. It also has the Committee’s (more…)

2017 Mono Lake Calendar essay: Leopold’s capacity for self-renewal

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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This essay, written by Bill Trush, appears in the 2017 Mono Lake Calendar.

Lee Vining Creek delta. Photo by Rick Kattelmann.

Lee Vining Creek delta. Photo by Rick Kattelmann.

Each field season traveling south to “the lake” I stop at the Highway 395 overlook located just before the highway twists its way down to the Mono Basin floor. If I am lucky, no one else is there. I get out of the car, stretch (after the ten-hour drive from Humboldt County), then find just the right boulder to sit on, or two boulders to nestle between, depending on the wind. This is my time to get reacquainted. I have been privileged to study an incredible ecosystem that has schooled me patiently and made me a better scientist. I particularly like arriving near nightfall.

Hello Mono Lake. Nice to be here again. Remember me? I inhale deeply to taste and smell the thin air. I strain to see Rush and Lee Vining creeks on the far side of the lake. Just as I thought, both creeks are still there. I note the lake (more…)

Mono Lake’s California Gulls in Audubon Magazine

Thursday, December 8th, 2016 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Mono Lake’s California Gulls and coyotes appear in the winter issue of Audubon Magazine, in an article by Jane Braxton Little: Amidst California Drought, Coyotes Creep Closer to Mono Lake’s Gull Colonies.

audubon-magazine-gull-article

Little spoke with Committee Executive Director Geoff McQuilkin and local Point Blue Conservation Science researcher Kristie Nelson about plans to install a temporary electric fence across the emerging landbridge, intended to deter coyotes from reaching the gulls’ nesting islets. You can support the fence project here.

Little hit the nail on the head, writing, “Even if the fence thwarts the coyotes, the basic predicament at Mono Lake isn’t predators eating prey: It’s the loss of water.” So while we prepare to build the fence we’ll also be watching the weather closely for any sign of a break in this record-setting California drought.

Resource damage below Tioga Lodge: Observations and photographs

Friday, November 18th, 2016 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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In early November I ventured down to the shoreline of Mono Lake below the Tioga Lodge to use my former-biologist eyes to assess the damage done to State Park land and Post Office Creek.

In late October a heavy excavator tore up State Park land along the shore of Mono Lake below Tioga Lodge and Highway 395. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

In late October a heavy excavator tore up State Park land along the shore of Mono Lake below Tioga Lodge and Highway 395. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

It was interesting to contrast the damage caused by the Marina Fire with the damage caused by heavy machinery; I’m sure the combination of the two events is even more detrimental. While I made observations and took photographs, I was especially concerned by two things—the bird habitat adjacent to the excavation and the wide swath of flood water rushing down from what used to be a creek channel that now spreads the water across the landscape haphazardly on it’s way to Mono Lake. (more…)

Tioga Inn project at the Mobil Station moves forward after 23 years

Monday, November 14th, 2016 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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A significant development project at the junction of Highways 120 and 395 is moving forward—the Tioga Inn project.

tioga-inn-site-map

After a 23-year hiatus, Mobil Station owners Dennis & Jane Domaille have recently begun to work with Mono County to secure the necessary approvals to add components to an already-existing specific plan, which was approved in 1993. The specific plan already allows a two-story 120-room hotel and a 100-seat restaurant. The Domailles are proposing to change the plan to allow a three-story 120-room hotel, two large restaurants, and other details. The existing Whoa Nellie Deli would remain in operation. (more…)

DWP completes this year’s export of 4,500 acre-feet of water from the Mono Basin

Saturday, November 5th, 2016 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
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When Mono Lake is between 6377 and 6380 feet above sea level, and the final May lake level forecast (and any subsequent projections) shows that it will stay above 6377 feet, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) is permitted to export 4,500 acre-feet of water that year. Any time Mono Lake falls below, or is projected to fall below 6377 feet, exports must stop.

Photo by Bartshe Miller.

A blustery day in mid-October kicked up clouds of alkali dust over Mono Lake’s eastern shore. Mono Lake may drop below 6377 feet above sea level next year, which means no water may be exported to Los Angeles. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Operations plan guidelines state that the water should be exported late in the summer, and this year, DWP exported this water September through early November, allowing more water to remain in Grant Lake Reservoir during the summer—a good thing that kept the reservoir higher during recreation season and likely kept water temperatures cooler for fish in Rush Creek. (more…)

Agencies respond quickly to illegal work along Mono Lake’s shore

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Two weeks ago, we reported on illegal work happening near Mono Lake’s west shore across from the Tioga Lodge, and the agency response has moved quickly since then.

Equipment operators illegally clearing willows in the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve, the boundary of which is delineated by the stakes in the foreground. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Equipment operators illegally clearing willows in the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve, the boundary of which is delineated by the stakes in the foreground. Mono Lake Committee photo.

The illegal work being done included heavy equipment clearing three acres of willows and near-shore habitat on highly protected State Park land, even after State Park staff repeatedly advised the equipment operators of the park boundary, which was well marked. Quick action by Mono Lake Committee staff and multiple agencies halted the activity before more willows and wetland were disturbed, but the damage is alarming. Last week State Parks staff from the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve and Sacramento began a detailed assessment of the resource damage and will be pursuing appropriate penalties. (more…)

Illegal grading on Mono Lake’s shore

Thursday, October 20th, 2016 by Geoff, Executive Director
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If you’ve driven by Mono Lake on Highway 395 in the past few days, you probably saw a large excavator working down by the lakeshore across from the Tioga Lodge and wondered what was going on. We did too, and knowing that it’s a sensitive, and protected, area, we checked into it. What we found was disturbing.

2016-10-19-tioga-lodge-state-land-violations

A newly constructed dirt road departs the Tioga Lodge property and goes well into the shoreline area, which is protected as part of the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. The excavator was at work clearing willows and vegetation from approximately three acres of protected land. Needless to say, this kind of blatant violation is unacceptable and Mono Lake Committee staff jumped on the issue immediately.  (more…)

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