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The Mono-logue » Mill Creek Restoration

‘Mill Creek Restoration’ Category

Help remove invasive plants in the Mono Basin

Sunday, July 30th, 2017 by Ava, Mono Lake Intern
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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.

Volunteers helping remove white sweet clover and other invasive plants along Mill Creek. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

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…)

New Mono Lake Committee monitoring programs for best management

Monday, August 8th, 2016 by Robbie, Restoration Field Technician
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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 Mono Lake Committee Staff
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This post was written by Sara Matthews, 2015 & 2016 Mono Lake Intern.

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…)

Native plant conditions at Mill Creek improve

Monday, May 23rd, 2016 by Robbie, Restoration Field Technician
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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.

Invasive plants at Mill Creek inspire stewardship

Friday, April 22nd, 2016 by Robbie, Restoration Field Technician
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It’s the early afternoon and I’m standing in Mill Creek on July 30, 2015. The sun is warm when you stand in its rays and the cool softly flowing water is refreshing and welcomed. Standing still I can see bees and butterflies dancing among violet pink, periwinkle blue, and bright yellow wildflowers. It’s hard to believe that two months ago, this particular stretch of Mill Creek was almost entirely dominated by invasive white sweet clover (Melilotus albus).

Wildflowers along Mill Creek. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

Wildflowers along Mill Creek. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

White sweet clover plants can live for 2–3 years before casting thousands of seeds and dying. The seeds are hard and light (ideal for stream transportation) and have been shown (more…)

More delays for Mill Creek: Administrative technicality delays return conveyance construction

Friday, November 13th, 2015 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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Unfortunately, the saga continues for the lawful return of water to Mill Creek.

The Mono Lake Committee has been monitoring Mill Creek water in the Mono Basin since 1999. Photo by Sara Matthews.

The Mono Lake Committee has been monitoring Mill Creek water in the Mono Basin since 1999. Photo by Sara Matthews.

After Mono County denied Southern California Edison (SCE) an easement necessary to rehabilitate the existing Mill Creek return conveyance, SCE was forced to file for an extension from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to explore other pipe routes. Over the summer, FERC denied the request on the grounds that it did not demonstrate that the submitted proposals were within the scope of the originally authorized construction. Fortunately, this technicality can easily be resolved by (more…)

2015 Mono Lake Committee Annual Report

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 by Arya, Communications Director
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The Mono Lake Committee’s 2015 Annual Report is now available online.

The 2015 Mono Lake Committee Annual Report is now available online. Cover photo courtesy of Phil Lindsay.

The 2015 Mono Lake Committee Annual Report is now available online. Cover photo courtesy of Phil Lindsay.

It is chock-full of photos of the Mono Lake Committee in action in our focus areas of protection, restoration, education, and (more…)

Lee Vining High School students monitor Mill Creek’s health

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015 by Santiago, Outdoor Experiences Manager
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Usually the Mono Lake Committee’s Outdoor Education Center hosts groups of kids and young adults from Los Angeles in the Mono Basin for five days and takes them to explore the wonders of the Eastern Sierra while learning about water conservation. This past week the OEC team had the privilege to work with a group of teenagers from just next door: Lee Vining High School biology students.

Lee Vining high school biology students inspect Mill Creek's macroinvertebrates during their field day along Mill Creek. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

Lee Vining high school biology students inspect macroinvertebrates during their field day along Mill Creek. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

For several years the OEC program and biology students from the high school have been monitoring Mill Creek, Mono Lake’s northernmost tributary stream that enters Mono Lake just west of Black Point, to gauge (more…)

Volunteer opp: remove invasive plants on Mill Creek

Thursday, July 9th, 2015 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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This post was written by Matt Rice, 2015 & 2016 Mono Lake Intern.

An important piece of the Mono Lake Committee’s mission is to restore Mono Lake’s tributary streams and their riparian (streamside) habitats. These environments provide a lush area for many of the native plants of the Mono Basin to grow and flourish. Since the streams were damaged by years of excessive water diversions, they are in the process of recovering, and non-native invasive plants can sometimes encroach, outcompete the native vegetation, and slow the restoration process.

invasives - native cow clower - RDi IMG_0569

Native cow clover recolonizing riparian habitat along Mill Creek. Photo by Robert Di Paolo.

This summer the Mono Lake Committee is continues to focus on removing invasive plants along Mill Creek, the third largest tributary to Mono Lake located in the north Mono Basin. White sweet clover is the main target as this fast-growing weed  quickly dominates sections of Mill Creek and poses the greatest threat to native plants. Already this summer we have removed over 300 pounds of invasive white sweet clover and the native flowers and plants are noticeably establishing in the previously invaded habitat, which is both encouraging and beautiful to witness.

invasives 2014-08-04 high country plants seminar RD_1639

Botanist Ann Howald will join the restoration crew on July 21st to talk about rare plants and conservation issues. Photo by Robert Di Paolo.

Come join us this July on Tuesday the 14th and Tuesday the 21st to see for yourself and to help keep this important habitat healthy, beautiful, and diverse. On the 21st we will be accompanied by guest naturalist Ann Howald, a botanist who specializes in rare plants and conservation issues and who has lead the High Country Plant Field Seminar for the Mono Lake Committee for over a decade. She has an amazing wealth of knowledge of the Sierra Nevada and this will be a rare chance to pick her brain.

To join us: meet at 8:30 am at the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore,  located on the corner of Highway 395 and Third Street in Lee Vining. If you are interested in volunteering for either of the restoration events this July or if you have any questions about July or August events, please contact Robbie Di Paolo at (760) 647-6386 x122.

invasives 2015-07-01 OEC invasive activity MB_1666

Outdoor Education Center participants, Pacoima Beautiful, after a day of invasive plant removal. Photo by Melissa Boyd.

Special thanks to the California State Parks Foundation for their support of the Mono Lake Volunteer program this year. Special thanks to outdoor clothing company Patagonia Inc. for their support of the Mono Lake Committee’s restoration stewardship program.

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