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The Mono-logue » Stream Restoration

‘Stream Restoration’ Category

An extreme runoff year from the top down

Friday, May 26th, 2017 by Bartshé, Education Director
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Tioga Pass is closed, but there is a lot activity in the Mono Basin as the peak runoff season is soon to arrive. Streamflows will soon reach levels not seen in decades as 206% of average runoff—the May 1 forecast—comes rushing down in the Mono Basin.

The May 1, 2017 runoff forecast is 206% of normal for the Mono Basin.

(Click to enlarge.) A 180-degree view from Mono Lake to Lundy Canyon and points south from a local peak on May 24, 2017. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.

This much water is an inspiration to witness, especially after five years of brutal drought conditions. Water is moving down some drainages and steep canyons that rarely, if ever, transport water during the runoff season. Creeks are already flowing at dangerously high levels and attempting to cross Mono Basin streams along fallen logs or other unusual crossing sites during peak flows could be a life or death decision—use extreme caution.

This is a benchmark year, and there is a lot of work for Mono Lake Committee staff documenting stream flows, coordinating critical information with Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, Southern California Edison, stream scientists, and other authorities to make sure that everyone can anticipate the challenges and changes ahead for Mono Lake and its tributary streams. Stay tuned—we plan on sharing as much information and as many images as possible here on the Mono-logue, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We have not forgotten the drought years, but forgive us if we temporarily revel in amnesia.

Record winter snowpack melt underway

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 by Geoff, Executive Director
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Mono Lake, and all of us here at the Mono Lake Committee, have just been through the biggest winter on record. It is an abrupt and welcome end to drought conditions (though not to all the effects of the drought), made all the more enjoyable by the way it crept up unannounced and surprised us with its intensity.

So much snow arrived in the Mono Basin this winter that even ephemeral streams far east of the Sierra flowed with water this spring. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Stories abound of Highway 395 being closed for days, snow blanketing every facet of the Sierra Nevada crest, and backcountry snowfields that measure taller than any building in Mono County. Speculation about an opening date for Tioga Pass—certain to be among the latest ever—is a popular springtime guessing game in town.

So what does it all mean for Mono Lake, its tributary streams, and the operation of the Los Angeles Aqueduct? Here’s the exciting outlook:

Mono Lake on the rise

With a deep snowpack fueling runoff that is forecast at 206% of average, Mono Lake is expected to rise (more…)

2017 Mono Lake Calendar essay: Leopold’s capacity for self-renewal

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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This essay, written by Bill Trush, appears in the 2017 Mono Lake Calendar.

Lee Vining Creek delta. Photo by Rick Kattelmann.

Lee Vining Creek delta. Photo by Rick Kattelmann.

Each field season traveling south to “the lake” I stop at the Highway 395 overlook located just before the highway twists its way down to the Mono Basin floor. If I am lucky, no one else is there. I get out of the car, stretch (after the ten-hour drive from Humboldt County), then find just the right boulder to sit on, or two boulders to nestle between, depending on the wind. This is my time to get reacquainted. I have been privileged to study an incredible ecosystem that has schooled me patiently and made me a better scientist. I particularly like arriving near nightfall.

Hello Mono Lake. Nice to be here again. Remember me? I inhale deeply to taste and smell the thin air. I strain to see Rush and Lee Vining creeks on the far side of the lake. Just as I thought, both creeks are still there. I note the lake (more…)

Fall color along Mono Lake’s tributary streams

Sunday, October 9th, 2016 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Mono Lake’s tributary streams are wondrous in every season. Right now their bright foliage runs like ribbons of fire from the folds of the Sierra all the way to the shores of Mono Lake.

Aspens are lighting up along Mono Lake's tributary streams. Photo from October 7, 2016 by Nora Livingston.

Aspens are lighting up along Mono Lake’s tributary streams. Photo from October 7, 2016 by Nora Livingston.

Dry for decades due to excessive water diversions by the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, Mono Basin streams were rewatered and brought back to life thanks to (more…)

Successful Lee Vining Creek cleanup

Friday, September 2nd, 2016 by Andrew, Project Specialist
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Each year, all across the Sierra Nevada, environmental groups organize river cleanups as part of the Great Sierra River Cleanup. The goal is to remove as much trash as possible from the watersheds we love. This past week, Mono Lake Committee staff and volunteers picked up trash near Lee Vining Creek.

Mono Lake Committee staff and volunteers picked up over 60 pounds of trash around Lee Vining Creek! Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Mono Lake Committee staff and volunteers picked up over 60 pounds of trash around Lee Vining Creek! Photo by Andrew Youssef.

(more…)

New Mono Lake Committee monitoring programs for best management

Monday, August 8th, 2016 by Robbie, Project Specialist
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Over the last two years working for the Mono Lake Committee, I have been collecting a variety of hydrologic data in the Mono Basin and it’s been really inspiring to see how this data leads to real and positive changes for Mono Lake. By measuring streamflows, water table depths, and most recently water temperatures, the Committee is able to use scientific evidence to suggest management actions.

Mono Lake Intern Gabby measuring streamflow on Mill Creek. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

Last summer was the first year of our Grant Lake Reservoir monitoring program, which measured temperature and dissolved oxygen throughout the water column at key (more…)

Healing Mono Lake’s tributary streams: Come help us remove invasive plants

Thursday, July 21st, 2016 by Sara, Mono Lake Intern
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If you’re in the area on Monday, July 25, consider joining Mono Lake Committee staff and naturalist Ann Howald to help pull invasive plant species!

Join us on Monday to help pull invasive plant species from along Mono Lake's tributary streams. Photo by Julie Curtis.

Join us on Monday to help pull invasive plant species from along Mono Lake’s tributary streams. Photo by Julie Curtis.

We’ll be spending the morning out in the field working to restore Mill Creek, one of Mono Lake’s important tributary streams. As a special treat, guest naturalist Ann Howald will be joining us. Ann is a retired consulting botanist who has taught popular Committee field seminars for over ten years, so she is certain to enrich the experience for all.

We are meeting at the Mono Lake Committee at 8:00am on Monday, July 25. The day’s adventure will include traversing through mixed sagebrush communities, willow lined riparian areas, and perhaps even in a cold stream! Please be sure to bring shoes that can get wet, sun protection, and plenty of water.

A picnic lunch will be provided so if you think you may be able to make it, please RSVP to me by email so we can plan accordingly. However, last minute drop-ins are also welcome! Contact me by email or at (760) 647-6595 with any questions.

Mono Lake Committee’s ecological monitoring program at 38 years

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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Type the word “monitoring” into the Mono Lake Committee’s website search bar and 673 results appear. To say that scientific monitoring and environmental advocacy work go hand in hand for the Committee is an understatement.

The Committee collects streamf ow and water diversion data for Mono Basin streams monthly all year, and weekly in summer. Photo by Erv Nichols.

The Committee collects streamflow and water diversion data for Mono Basin streams monthly all year, and weekly in summer. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Ever since the Committee’s founders conducted the fundamental and pivotal ecological study of Mono Lake in 1976, scientific research and monitoring have been the basis for all of the work that has followed. In crafting policy positions, all aspects of an issue must be analyzed and understood, since arriving at a balanced (more…)

Wildflowers in full bloom along Lee Vining Creek

Saturday, June 4th, 2016 by Sandra, Birding Intern
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Not far from the Mono Lake Committee headquarters and bookstore, the Lee Vining Creek trail offers multi-sensory delights this time of year. Early morning and late evening are best for birding but anytime of day is great for wildflowers.

Yellows predominate from the profuse tiny blossoms of bitterbrush and buckwheat to the stately single stems of western wallflower and from button-like rayless daisies to sunflower-like blossoms within the long fuzzy leaves of woolly mule’s ears.

The Lee Vining Creek trail flanked by yellow bitterbrush and sagebrush. Photo by Sandra Noll.

The Lee Vining Creek trail flanked by yellow bitterbrush and sagebrush. Photo by Sandra Noll.

(more…)

Native plant conditions at Mill Creek improve

Monday, May 23rd, 2016 by Robbie, Project Specialist
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On May 18, 2015 I wanted to assess the types and quantities of invasive plants that were present at Mill Creek. Melilotus albus (sweet clover) was quickly identified as the most prolific and abundant invasive plant species present along Mill Creek, which I documented with GPS points and photos. With the help of volunteers and school groups, we were able to remove over 730 pounds of sweet clover from Mill Creek in 2015 from mid-June to mid-August by manually pulling and clipping the invasive plants. Now in 2016 the difference is noticeable.

Image on the left shows an island in Mill Creek totally dominated by invasive Sweet Clover on May 18th, 2015. The image on the right shows the same island on May 13th, 2016 with only a small patch of Sweet Clover in the center of the island; the rest of the vegetation consists of native clovers, moss, and willow saplings.

Image on the left shows an island in Mill Creek totally dominated by invasive sweet clover on May 18, 2015. The image on the right shows the same island on May 13, 2016 with only a small patch of sweet clover in the center of the island; the rest of the vegetation consists of native clovers, moss, grass, and willow saplings. Photos by Robbie Di Paolo.

Areas of Mill Creek where we focused sweet clover removal efforts in 2015 are now showing native plants retaking the prized riparian habitat in 2016 (as demonstrated by the photo above), which is exactly what we want to be seeing.

Unfortunately, we can’t take all the credit. Seasonal variation has a big impact on what plants dominate a landscape year to year and compared to the last three years, we had much more snow this year. That snow probably helped a lot with inhibiting sweet clover growth and development. But I believe with continued efforts, we are giving the native plants a chance to secure their place along Mill Creek for years to come.

Special thanks to outdoor clothing company Patagonia Inc. for their support of the Mono Lake Committee’s restoration stewardship program.

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