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The Mono-logue » Eastern Sierra Policy

‘Eastern Sierra Policy’ Category

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…)

Wilson Fire, Clark Fire updates

Friday, August 5th, 2016 by Arya, Communications Director
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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.

Clark Fire from South Tufa

The Clark Fire seen from the shore of Mono Lake on Thursday, August 4 around 6:30pm during a South Tufa tour. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

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…)

Comment-writing workshop on Wednesday for the Inyo National Forest draft forest management plan

Friday, July 22nd, 2016 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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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.

Make your voice heard for Mono Lake and the Inyo National Forest. Photo by Nora Livingston.

Make your voice heard for Mono Lake and the Inyo National Forest. Photo by Nora Livingston.

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…)

Mono Lake in another drought year

Sunday, June 19th, 2016 by Geoff, Executive Director
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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.

Newsletter-Su-pull-quote

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…)

Cassin’s, Wilson’s, Brewer’s…. What’s the deal with bird names?

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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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. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Steller’s Jay. Photo by Sandra Noll.

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…)

Great article about Mono Lake and the drought

Saturday, May 7th, 2016 by Robbie, Restoration Field Technician
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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.

Mono Lake tufa towers are seen Monday, Nov. 15, 2004, near Lee Vining, Calif. The ancient towers, composed of calcium carbonate, were formed underwater when fresh water springs mixed with minerals in the lakewater, and became visible when lake water receded over the past 60 years due to water diversion to Los Angeles. Now, residents and the U.S. Forest Service say the Mono Lake protections are imperiled by a plan to subdivide 120 acres for luxury homes on the lake's western shore. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Photo of Pirate Ship Tufa at South Tufa from the article “Mono Lake Facing Another Crisis.” Photo by Ben Margot, Associated Press.

Breaking news: Drones prohibited from flying over Mono Lake’s State Park

Thursday, May 5th, 2016 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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California State Parks has issued a decisive and progressive special order just in time for summer: Unmanned aircraft—“drones”—are now prohibited from flying over land and water in the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. No longer will birds, wildlife, and visitors need to endure the buzzing disruption of drones along Mono Lake’s shore.

Specifically, Order Number 683-16-018 states, “Unmanned aircraft, also known as ‘drones,’ ‘quad-copters’ and similar are hereby restricted from non-permitted operation over the state lands and water under the operational control of California State Parks.”

The special order comes in response to last summer’s myriad drone disturbances—drones flying over nesting Osprey, flushing foraging shorebirds, and hovering over people on walking tours. Working hand-in-hand with the State, Mono Lake Committee staff documented incidents over the last year and based on these observations it became clear that recreational drone use was a problem at Mono Lake. With this new order Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve now joins the ranks of Yosemite National Park and designated wilderness areas as “no-fly zones” for drones.

Increasing recreational drone use at Mono Lake has been disrupting wildlife, like these nesting Osprey. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Increasing recreational drone use at Mono Lake has been disrupting wildlife, like these nesting Osprey. Photo by Erv Nichols.

April 1 Mono Lake level close to critically low threshold

Friday, April 1st, 2016 by Geoff, Executive Director
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This morning Mono Lake Committee staff met with Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) personnel to conduct the official annual April 1 reading of the lake level together. The consensus: Mono Lake stands at 6378.11 feet above sea level.

Mono Lake is now just 13 inches above the ecologically precipitous 6377-foot elevation at which the nesting islands become landbridged, lake salinity hits new highs, air quality problems worsen, and stream delta habitat conditions degrade.

Measuring Mono Lake's April 1 elevation

DWP’s Steve Rich and Robbie Di Paolo from the Mono Lake Committee read the lake level gauge together this morning. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

With those concerns in mind, the State Water Board rules are more nuanced this year for determining whether or not DWP can export water to Los Angeles. Not only does the lake have to be above 6377 feet for today’s measurement, it also has to be forecast to stay above 6377 every day of the coming year. (more…)

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