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‘Eastern Sierra Policy’ Category

The future of Sierra Nevada snow: Dr. Alex Hall on the climate future of the Sierra

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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What will happen to the Sierra Nevada’s snowpack as climate change impacts accumulate through the 21st century? This question is vital to both the ecological health of the Range of Light and to water delivery systems throughout California. And, it matters a great deal to Mono Lake and its many miles of tributary streams, which depend on Sierra runoff for their vitality.

A view of the Eastern Sierra from Virginia Canyon to Mt. Conness, including Mono Lake. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.

Forecasts of the future rely on complex climate modeling, and I talked with Dr. Alex Hall, Professor of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences at UCLA, about the work he and his team have been conducting to produce actionable climate science. Dr. Hall heads the Center for Climate Science, where they have developed cutting-edge downscaling techniques to create geographically detailed climate projections for the Los Angeles area and the Sierra Nevada.

Geoff: Thanks for taking time to talk, Alex. You have just released a major report, Climate Change in the Sierra Nevada: California’s Water Future. What are the big takeaway messages?

Alex: Temperatures across the Sierra Nevada are warming (more…)

Screenings of “The Longest Straw” film at Mono Lake

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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“The Longest Straw” plays June 22, July 6, & July 20 at the Mono Lake Committee in Lee Vining. Photo courtesy of Samantha Bode.

In 2015 we had the pleasure of meeting Samantha Bode. She had just finished hiking the length of the Los Angeles Aqueduct—338 miles from Los Angeles to Mono Lake—for a documentary she was making.

In Sam’s documentary, The Longest Straw, she talks to community leaders, residents, and advocates in Los Angeles as well as the communities most affected by the exportation of water south. The film premiered at the New Urbanism Film Festival last October and we are excited to be hosting three showings here in the Mono Basin this summer.

Free screenings will be held on June 22, July 6, and July 20 at 7:00pm at the (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…)

Diverse watchdog duties keep the Mono Lake Committee busy

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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The Mono Lake Committee is serious about protecting and restoring Mono Lake, its tributary streams, and surrounding lands. That means being on constant alert as a watchdog, and recent months have provided some interesting examples of what that requires.

The Committee keeps a close eye on daily Mono Basin streamflows at multiple locations, such as the recovering Rush Creek bottomlands. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

Sometimes the Committee chases issues that have lengthy histories and require continuous pressure to move toward resolution—the 2013 Stream Restoration Agreement with the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) is one example. Years of work (more…)

The Mono Lake Committee 2017 Annual Report

Saturday, November 25th, 2017 by Arya, Communications Director
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Each year printed copies of the Mono Lake Committee Annual Report are sent out to Defense Trust level members and Guardians of the Lake monthly-giving club members, but it is has information that is important to members at all giving levels, friends, anyone who is curious, and the general public. So without further ado, click here to see the Mono Lake Committee 2017 Annual Report.

Did you get a yearbook in high school? The Annual Report feels a little bit like the grown-up version of getting the yearbook … (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…)

Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep disease risk eliminated

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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Yesterday the Mono County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 with one recusal not to renew a grazing lease for domestic sheep on Conway and Mattly ranch properties owned by Mono County. The current domestic sheep grazing lease expires in November 2017 so after this grazing season domestic sheep will no longer be grazed in the north Mono Basin.

Photo courtesy of the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation.

The California Department of Fish & Wildlife and US Fish & Wildlife Service presented extensive scientific evidence that laid out the case for terminating domestic sheep grazing within one mile of endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep habitat because domestic sheep are known to transmit a deadly pneumonia to bighorn sheep. With Sierra bighorn residing in and around Lundy Canyon close to Conway Ranch, the scientists determined the risk of wild sheep contracting pneumonia from domestic sheep was simply too high.

As US Fish & Wildlife Service representative Lee Ann Carranza said, “We have been trying for nearly 20 years (more…)

Mono Lake Committee launches #LongLivetheGulls campaign

Monday, February 20th, 2017 by Arya, Communications Director
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This spring, when tens of thousands of California Gulls return to their island nesting ground at Mono Lake, they will be in danger of having their once-safe colony raided by coyotes. During the drought, Mono Lake dropped 7 vertical feet—exposing a landbridge to the gulls’ nesting islands. It’s hard to believe that all of this snow and rain we’re getting won’t fix the problem naturally. The lake is rising, but the snow we’ve gotten this winter won’t melt and raise the lake in time to protect them when they lay their eggs in April. Help us put up a fence to save the gulls before it’s too late!

 

 

We’ve started a crowdfunding campaign to raise (more…)

Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep agenda item postponed until the March 7 Mono County Board of Supervisors meeting

Sunday, February 19th, 2017 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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Please note that Mono County has postponed the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep discussion until the March 7 Board of Supervisors meeting because of predicted bad weather. The new meeting will now occur in Bridgeport, not Mammoth.

Photo courtesy of the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation.

While a live feed will be available in Mammoth, people are strongly encouraged to travel to Bridgeport to see the wildlife agencies’ bighorn sheep presentation live and give remarks to the Board of Supervisors in person. Also, if you have not yet sent your letter in support of the bighorn to the Supervisors, you have more time to get it in—please do write a letter. The Supervisors have been receiving letters and appreciate hearing from the public.

Visit the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation for more information including a summary of the issue, details on the meeting location and time, and addresses where you can submit letters. If you have any questions please contact me by email or call (760) 647-6595, extension 142.

Important opportunity to protect Mono Basin bighorn sheep

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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If you’ve ever seen an endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep in the wild, you know how amazing they are. Now is your chance to support these animals with a letter or a call to the Mono County Board of Supervisors.

Photo courtesy of the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation.

Next Tuesday, February 21*, Mono County Supervisors will consider whether or not to renew expiring domestic sheep grazing leases for Conway Ranch, a property that is located close to bighorn sheep territory in Lundy Canyon. Domestic sheep and goats can transmit bacteria to the bighorn that causes pneumonia and eventually death (up to 90% of animals in a bighorn herd can die). The only reliable way to prevent disease transmission is by geographically separating the species. Currently, state and federal wildlife agencies have determined that the domestic sheep are too close to the Lundy bighorn herd. (more…)

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