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Defending the public trust at Mono Lake

Thursday, November 8th, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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2018 Defender of the Trust Peter Vorster. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

The California Supreme Court begins its landmark 1983 Mono Lake decision with these powerful words: “The public trust is an affirmation of the duty of the state to protect the people’s common heritage of streams, lakes, marshlands and tidelands…”

Every other year, to celebrate the history of the public trust at Mono Lake, we organize a special three-day Defense Trust Weekend for the Mono Lake Committee’s high donors. The weekend is full of field trips, good food, and time spent with fellow Mono Lake enthusiasts and Committee Board and staff.

This year we had an open house in the Committee office, a Rush Creek tour with experts including (more…)

A glimpse into Lee Vining’s nightlife: Foxes, raccoons, and more!

Sunday, October 21st, 2018 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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Last week, diners at Epic Cafe at the south end of town observed a red fox running through the cafe’s lawn at night, sniffing for scraps dropped by messy eaters.

Here’s the red fox seen at Epic Cafe. Notice its black ears, black feet, and white tip of the tail. It is larger than a gray fox, with longer legs and a bushier tail.

Not only is this stunning creature beautiful for visitors to observe, it is also quite rare in the area and the sighting sparked the interest of local agencies, including Yosemite National Park and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. It has the potential to be an extremely rare Sierra Nevada red fox (Vulpes vulpes necator), a subspecies of the more widespread red fox (Vulpes vulpes)It could also be a non-native subspecies with Great Basin or fur farm ancestry. The only way to tell for sure is to gather genetic data—either fur or scat. (more…)

Refreshing ‘Ologists: Mono Basin fisheries project with Ross Taylor

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018 by Joslyn, Project Specialist
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Join us on Wednesday, September 26 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation.

Scientists electrofishing in the Mono Gate One Return Ditch. Photo courtesy of Ross Taylor.

Ross Taylor, State Water Board-appointed Lead Fisheries Scientist, will be here to discuss fisheries monitoring and development of flow recommendations for Mono Basin streams. If you can join us, register here for this free program! (more…)

Refreshing ‘Ologists: Effects of climate change on mountain ecosystems with Connie Millar

Sunday, September 9th, 2018 by Joslyn, Project Specialist
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Join us on Wednesday, September 12 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation. Connie Millar, US Forest Service Senior Research Ecologist, will be here to discuss the effects of climate change on mountain ecosystems. If you can join us, register here for this free program!

A pika near Virginia Lakes. Connie will be discussing her research on pikas, which are particularly vulnerable to rising temperatures. Photo courtesy of Ken Hickman.

Connie will provide an overview of her research into the responses of mountain ecosystems—in particular, pines and pikas—to changing climates. With information on how species responded to (more…)

Mono Lake Committee initiates study of Mono Basin glaciers

Friday, September 7th, 2018 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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Jace Shuler, a junior math major at Boston College, started a study of Mono Basin glaciers when he worked at the Mono Lake Committee this summer. This post was written by Jace.

When I tell people that I spent the summer studying and mapping the glaciers in the Mono Basin, the question I always seem to get is, “There are glaciers around Mono Lake?” The short answer is, yes, there are, and they are of great interest to the Mono Lake Committee.

The first step of my project with the Committee was to identify what exists in the area, both in terms of glaciers and data about those glaciers. From there (more…)

Refreshing ‘Ologists: Insects & conservation with Kristie Nelson

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018 by Joslyn, Project Specialist
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Join us on Wednesday, September 5 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation. Kristie Nelson, Lead Scientist for Point Blue Conservation Science, will be here to discuss insects and their ability to conserve the planet.

A wasp and a Sierra Blue butterfly pollinating. Photo courtesy of Kristie Nelson.

Insects comprise over 80% of Earth’s organisms, yet relatively few people pay attention to them, and declining populations or localized extinctions risk not being noticed. For example (more…)

Refreshing’ Ologists: Mono Basin glaciers with Jace Shuler

Saturday, August 18th, 2018 by Joslyn, Project Specialist
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Join us on Wednesday, August 22 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation. Jace Shuler will be presenting his findings from his undergraduate research project on glaciers in the Mono Basin.

Changes in the Kuna glacier (left) and the Koip glacier (right) between 1985 (top) and 2014 (bottom). Photos courtesy of Jace Shuler.

Jace will discuss the status of the four glaciers in the Mono Basin—Conness, Dana, Kuna, and Koip glaciers. He has been using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and aerial photos to examine how the surface area of the glaciers has changed since 1951, as well as working on how we can use the same tools to forecast the glaciers’ future. It’s important to educate both the public and policymakers about the effects of climate change on the Mono Basin, and Jace’s work contributes to that effort.

Refreshing ‘Ologists: Greater Sage-Grouse in Mono County with Mary Meyerpeter

Saturday, August 11th, 2018 by Joslyn, Project Specialist
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Join us on Wednesday, August 15 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for this week’s Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation.

Mary Meyerpeter (right) taking measurements from a bi-state Greater Sage-Grouse in the Bodie Hills before its relocation to Parker Meadow. Photo courtesy of Dan Hottle, USFWS.

USGS biological science technician Mary Meyerpeter will be here to discuss her research on the bi-state Greater Sage-Grouse around Mono County. As part of a multi-agency project, Mary and other researchers are translocating the Sage-Grouse from the Bodie Hills to leks (breeding areas) in Parker Meadow.

The bi-state Greater Sage-Grouse are a genetically distinct (more…)

Schedule for Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists at the Mono Lake Committee

Friday, August 10th, 2018 by Joslyn, Project Specialist
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Refreshments with Refreshing’ Ologists is a summer lecture series with scientists presenting their current work in the region.

Join us for Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists on Wednesdays at 4:00pm at the Mono Lake Committee. Photo by Arya Harp.

• August 15Greater Sage-Grouse in Mono County: Population Rescue through Brood Translocation Techniques with US Geological Survey Biological Science Technician Mary Meyerpeter
• August 22: Tracking Glaciers of the Mono Basin with researcher Jace Shuler
• September 5Bugging Out: How Looking at Butterflies & Insects Will Help Conserve the Planet with biologist Kristie Nelson
• September 12Effects of Climate Change on Mountain Ecosystems: Science & Spin with US Forest Service Senior Research Ecologist Connie Millar
• September 26: Mono Basin Fisheries Project with State Water Board-appointed Lead Fisheries Scientist Ross Taylor (more…)

Monitoring California Gulls on Mono Lake’s islands

Sunday, July 15th, 2018 by Nigel, Birding Intern
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Last week, I traveled to the Negit and Paoha islets in the middle of Mono Lake to help with the ongoing California Gull research project. (Please note that the islands are closed to the public until August 1 to protect the nesting gulls.)

Counting gull chicks in a fenced-off plot on the Paoha Islets. Photo by Nigel Bates.

This project, conducted by Point Blue Conservation Science and supported by the Mono Lake Committee, has monitored long-term trends in the breeding gull population for the past 35 years. Mono Lake supports one of the largest California Gull colonies in the world, so the success of this population is critical to the survival of the species. I joined Point Blue lead researcher Kristie Nelson and Institute for Bird Populations intern Sarah Hecocks for three days of data collection at the gull colony. (more…)

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