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…)
‘Eastern Sierra Policy’ Category
A significant development project at the junction of Highways 120 and 395 is moving forward—the Tioga Inn project.
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…)
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.
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…)
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.
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…)
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.
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…)
Well, it’s definitely fire season in the Eastern Sierra.
The Clark Fire is burning near Bald Mountain, east of Highway 395 and north of Owens River Road. The fire was caused by lightning and was detected yesterday afternoon—it is currently estimated to be about 1,600 acres and is 10% contained. The smoke plume from the fire is visible from Mono Lake and Lee Vining.
The Wilson Fire north of Mono Lake, south of Highway 167, and three miles east of Highway 395 is mostly contained, with fire crews mopping-up and watching for flare-ups as winds pick up. It is suspected that this was a human-caused fire, though this is still being investigated. (more…)
Since 2013 the Inyo National Forest has been working on a draft forest plan, as part of a process to update the 28-year-old forest plan that has been in effect since 1988. The updated, draft Forest Management Plan was released in late May, initiating a public comment period, which closes August 25, 2016.
We invite you to join us for a comment-letter-writing evening, this coming Wednesday, July 27 at 6:00pm,
location TBD (in the Lee Vining/Mono City area) at the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore. We will provide you with all the information and tools you need to write a comment letter to the Forest Service that will help improve the future of the Inyo National Forest. We’ll also provide food and refreshments!
Throughout this process the Mono Lake Committee has been (more…)
When the California State Water Resources Control Board protected Mono Lake in 1994 by revising Los Angeles’ water rights in a landmark decision, it linked lake level and water exports together. The closer the lake is to its mandated ecologically sound level, the more water Los Angeles is authorized to export.
This approach, advocated by the Mono Lake Committee to protect Mono Lake and meet real water needs in the city, also works in reverse: the lower the lake, the less water can be exported.
Last year, with the level of Mono Lake falling due to drought, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) reduced exports by 70%, as required by the State Water Board rules. This year, (more…)
This post was written by Matt Rice, 2015 & 2016 Mono Lake Intern.
Being new to birding, I find myself flipping through guidebooks and being overwhelmed by the variety of species of birds that the Mono Basin has to offer. Tired of the confusion, I decided to make a list of all the birds I might encounter this summer. During this process, I came across some birds that shared the same common names, like Wilson and Brewer, and I decided to do a little research on who these birds were named after. I found the histories of these ornithologists fascinating and thought that I would share some of my favorites!
Steller’s Jay: Named after the German botanist, zoologist, physician, and explorer Georg Wilhelm Steller (1709–1746). Steller was enlisted by Vitus Bering as a (more…)
Journalist Jane Braxton Little recently wrote a comprehensive article about Mono Lake—we recommend giving it a read. She does a great job of capturing where Mono Lake stands today in the face of California’s historic drought. Click the link to read the article Mono Lake Facing Another Crisis.