So far in 2017, Mono Lake has risen an astounding 4.5 vertical feet before leveling off in the past month. About 3 feet of that total lake rise occurred from mid-May to mid-August. Watch below for a quick 20-second timelapse showing the incredible lake rise this summer, or scroll down and see the full two-and-half-minute timelapse video.
The Mono Lake Committee’s invasive removal project has been running all summer long, and there is one more opportunity to get involved!
Ava and I have been leading invasive plant removal workdays at Old Marina—focusing on removing invasive white sweet clover. Join us on Wednesday, August 30 from 9:00am to 12:00pm for the last restoration day of the season! We will meet at the Mono Lake Committee, then carpool to the location we’ll be weeding. Please bring close-toed shoes, sun protection, plenty of water, and a snack. And of course, be sure to stick around afterwards for a picnic lunch. (more…)
Our refreshing ‘ologist for this week is researching techniques in parks to be used for monitoring and managing aquatic wildlife. Join us this Wednesday, August 23 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery to hear about how scientist Colleen Kamoroff uses eDNA in water samples to learn more about an area and the species that occupy it.
DNA obtained from filtered water samples is often referred to as aquatic environmental DNA or eDNA. eDNA is a promising tool for monitoring (more…)
Thank you to botanist Ann Howald and all the volunteers who joined us on August 8 to remove invasive white sweet clover at Mono Lake!
The event was incredibly productive due to all of your hard work and effort. Together we pulled 177.75 pounds of white sweet clover, Melilotus albus, at the Old Marina boardwalk. Luckily (more…)
For the first time since at least as far back as 1983, Saddlebag Lake Reservoir on Lee Vining Creek is spilling. This is a rare event—and possibly a first—for the highest lake you can drive to in California.
Saddlebag Dam, at 10,090′ elevation, was built in 1921 to enlarge an existing alpine lake for hydropower generation purposes. The dam was raised and a spillway was added in 1925. The reservoir is oversized compared to the volume of water produced in its watershed, and given the agreement between Southern California Edison (SCE) and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP), which requires it to be very low every spring. It is unclear if it has ever spilled before now. Last week it was inches away from its spillway, at the end of the day on Monday it was very full at 9,400 acre-feet of water, and on Tuesday it spilled! (more…)
As July winds down and August approaches, we find ourselves faced with increasing quantities of a prolific invasive plant species in the Mono Basin. Dense patches of sweet white clover can be seen along streambeds, roadsides, edges of parking lots, and areas where soil has recently been disrupted, which softens the ground for the opportunistic and tenacious seeds. Unseen below the ground, its roots begin the process of nitrogen fixation, changing the chemical properties of the soil. Removing invasive plant species has been part of an ongoing restoration process to clear the ground so that native species may flourish.
The Mono Lake Committee has been involved in removal projects for several years to reduce the amount of sweet white clover (Melilotus albus) growing in the Mono Basin. These efforts often entail taking groups of interns, volunteers, visiting students from the Outdoor Education Center, and interested community members into the field for some hands-on learning.
For those who are in town and willing to help (more…)
Want to see Mono Lake rising before your eyes? Check out this timelapse from May 25 to June 25, when the lake rose an incredible 1.2 vertical feet!
You’ll see wildlife along the shore investigating the changing habitat as lagoons form, tufa blocks get submerged, and the grass floods. You might also notice that the lake rise speeds up in early June, when warm weather started melting snow in the high country more quickly, sending record volumes of water down the streams and to the lake.
Mono Lake has risen 2.8 feet so far this calendar year and is projected to rise another 1.5 feet by year’s end. It’s a remarkable time to be at Mono Lake when it’s rising so fast—make plans to visit this summer and see for yourself!
Unlike Mono Lake’s other tributaries, Rush Creek hasn’t experienced high restorative flows of water since the decision was made to restore the creeks in the mid-1990s. Until this year! Rush has been receiving its highest flows in 50 years, near and exceeding a volume of 800 cubic feet per second. The work that all this water is doing is visible at the delta, where the creek meets Mono Lake in a plume of fresh, turbid water. The foreground of the photo above is a laminar flow of fresh water where sediment drops out and builds the delta habitat.
Check back during this runoff season for more stream restoration updates here on the Mono-logue—you can also find them all by clicking on the “2017 runoff” tag, below.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve walked the Lee Vining Creek trail more times than I can count. In the fall, I enjoy the golden aspens along the calm stream. In winter, I’ve trekked across the trail in deep snow on skis and on foot, marveling at the beauty and silence of that quiet season. Spring means the emergence of wildflowers and the beginning of the runoff season, while in summer all the plants burst back to life, lizards dart across the trail again, birds fly above, and the creek is raging as the runoff reaches its peak.
Walking the trail yesterday, this trail I have followed numerous times before, I felt transported to an entirely new place. (more…)