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Birds galore in the Mono Basin

Thursday, May 9th, 2019 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

On Saturday, May 4, I participated in the eBird Global Big Day, which encourages birders around the world to contribute to citizen science efforts by birding and entering checklists into eBird on a single day.

Green-tailed Towhee singing from a pinyon pine. Photo by Nora Livingston.

I decided to use this Big Day as a chance to scout my local hotspots and catch up with migration. In the past two weeks, neotropical migrants have been moving north to their breeding grounds, so there have been new species arriving daily. As the (more…)

Mono Basin roads and services begin to open for the season

Friday, April 19th, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

After a winter with above-average snowfall, warm spring temperatures have finally arrived! With Easter this weekend and fishing season opening next weekend (Saturday, April 27), roads and services are beginning to open up for the summer season.

Snow removal happening on Highway 120 West (Tioga Pass) on April 10, 2019. Photo courtesy of the Tuolumne Winter Rangers.

Visitor centers

The Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area Visitor Center opened for the season yesterday. Open Thursday through Monday, 8:30am to 4:30pm, with limited services. The Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore is open every day from 9:00am to 5:00pm. (more…)

April reading of Mono Lake’s level with DWP

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

As is tradition in early April, this morning staff from the Mono Lake Committee and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) met at Mono Lake’s shore to read the lake level gauge at the start of this new runoff year.

Mono Lake Committee and DWP staff determine Mono Lake’s level together each year in early April. Photo by Elin Ljung.

The lake’s surface was a bit unsettled due to a spring rainstorm passing through, but Maureen (Committee) and Jason (DWP) watched the fluctuations carefully and settled on an official lake level reading of 6382.07 feet above sea level. (more…)

How much is Mono Lake going to rise or fall this year?

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019 by Arya, Communications Director

It’s that time of year again, when all eyes are on the Sierra snowpack, the level of Mono Lake, and spreadsheets.

How much will Mono Lake rise or fall this year? Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Just imagining this winter’s snowpack flowing down Mono Basin streams this spring brings a gleeful sigh of relief. But … spreadsheets? Yep, because spreadsheets, forecast models, experts, and in-depth Mono Basin hydrologic knowledge, when carefully woven together, are how we figure out the big question for Mono Lake: how much is the lake going to rise or fall this year?

You can see the full (more…)

Winter & Spring 2019 Mono Lake Newsletter now online

Thursday, March 14th, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

When my husband and I were planning our courthouse wedding five years ago, we asked Judge Stan Eller to officiate. Judge Eller retired last year from a long, storied career that included preventing DWP from shutting off Rush Creek after a big flood returned water to it in the mid-1980s for the first time in decades (see page 11). I wanted to feel connected to Mono Lake on that very important day for us, and as Judge Eller pronounced us married, I did.

So many people feel connected to Mono Lake, and never more than during exciting periods of weather. This February has brought more days with snow than without, and we hear from (more…)

Peak streamflows on Mono Lake’s tributaries exceed expectations

Thursday, June 7th, 2018 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist

Peak snowmelt runoff on Mono Lake’s tributary streams is occurring!

Restoration Field Technician Robbie Di Paolo retrieves a temperature logging device in high flows on Rush Creek. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Lundy Lake Reservoir is spilling, and the Rush Creek peak flow of 380 cubic feet per second (cfs) below Grant Lake Reservoir is being released over the next five days. So far, snowmelt runoff above the aqueduct has peaked at 272 cfs on Rush Creek, 238 cfs on Lee Vining Creek, 46 cfs on Parker Creek, and 23 cfs on Walker Creek. The flows should begin to subside soon given the rapid melting and limited snowpack. (more…)

Tioga Pass will open Monday, May 21 at 9:00am

Friday, May 18th, 2018 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator

News from Yosemite National Park: Tioga Pass (Highway 120) will open all the way through the park on Monday, May 21 at 9:00am.

Tioga Pass will open Monday, May 21, 2018 at 9:00am for the season. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

It’s official! Tioga Pass will open Monday, May 21, 2018 at 9:00am.

Additional information about the road opening:

  • Tioga Road is a seasonal road through Yosemite National Park, typically open from late spring to early fall. All motorists should drive with caution and be aware of possible hazards in the roadway, including rocks, debris, and water. Tioga Road may be impacted by incoming storm activity, including snow and icy driving conditions, over the next week. Tioga Road may temporarily close due to weather and unsafe driving conditions at any time.
  • To check current road conditions for Tioga Pass call (209) 372-0200 (press 1, then 1). 
  • There will be limited services available along Tioga Road.
  • All campgrounds along Tioga Road remain closed.
  • There is no anticipated opening date for the Tuolumne Meadows store and the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center. The Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center will open on Monday, and will also serve as a temporary visitor center. There is no gasoline available along Tioga Road.
  • The closest gas station to the west is located at Crane Flat.

If you plan to travel over Tioga Pass, we highly recommend calling the road conditions line (209) 372-0200 (press 1, then 1) before you leave. Other helpful links:

Additional Mono Basin campgrounds open for the season

Saturday, April 28th, 2018 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator

Several Mono Basin campgrounds have opened this weekend for fishing season opener. Most campgrounds along the June Lake Loop are now open, in addition to a few campgrounds in Lee Vining and Lundy canyons.

Lundy Canyon campground is now open for the season. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

(more…)

2018 lake level forecast: Will Mono Lake rise or drop this year?

Friday, April 20th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

In April, once a new runoff year (April 1 to March 31) has begun, the Mono Lake Committee forecasts what Mono Lake’s level is likely to do over the next year. And the answer? According to our forecast, Mono Lake is likely to drop a little less than a foot.

This graph shows the range of possible Mono Lake elevations for the time period of April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019. The “highest likely” and “lowest likely” projections are produced by Committee modeling using historical wet and dry hydrology sequences that can reasonably be expected given current conditions. Mono Lake Committee graph (click to enlarge).

To forecast Mono Lake’s level for a whole runoff year, we read the lake level gauge on April 1 to get the starting point, and then factor the runoff forecast into the equation to predict what Mono Lake might do going forward. When we read the lake level gauge on April 1 together with staff from the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power the lake was 6381.9 feet above sea level. As of April 16 the runoff forecast is 85% of average. Using those two data points, plus historical wet and dry hydrology sequences that can be reasonably expected given current conditions, our modeling indicates that the most probable lake level for March 31, 2019 is 6381.1 feet above sea level.

Fishing season opener, Mono Basin campgrounds opening

Thursday, April 12th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

As we gear up for fishing season opener on Saturday, April 28, most campgrounds along the June Lake Loop are set to open the week before, dependent on the weather.

Fishing season opens on Saturday, April 28 this year. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Lower Lee Vining Creek
Lower Lee Vining, Aspen, and Big Bend campgrounds do not have estimated opening dates yet, but the Inyo National Forest hopes to get them open before fishing opener. There is no estimated opening date for the Lundy Canyon campground yet. (more…)

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