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Practice the new Chautauqua registration system today

Sunday, April 8th, 2018 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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We’re excited to announce a brand-new registration system for the 17th Annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. You may recognize it if you’ve attended the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival or the Monterey Bay Birding Festival. The new system makes it faster to sign up for trips and easier to register groups, all without needing a username or password.

This year’s Chautauqua has one hundred field trips to choose from, spanning a range of topics including birds, botany, butterflies, bats, art, and more! Photo by Elin Ljung.

(more…)

Mill Creek return ditch passes test: Possible solution to returning diverted water back to the creek

Thursday, April 5th, 2018 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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In an effort to explore ways to return water to Mill Creek and therefore satisfy its legal obligations, Southern California Edison (SCE) released water from the Lundy hydroelectric plant into the Mill Creek return ditch last September, successfully returning water to the creek (see Fall 2017 Mono Lake Newsletter). The return ditch has been part of the hydropower system for a century. SCE was motivated to do this flow test because of the languishing problem of how to comply with Mill Creek water rights.

The Mill Creek return ditch carried flows of up to 16 cubic feet per second during a 61-day test last fall, returning water to the creek consistent with long-established water rights. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Prior to releasing water into the ditch, SCE evaluated the system and did routine maintenance to stabilize the earthen banks. SCE staff were on site during (more…)

Diverse watchdog duties keep the Mono Lake Committee busy

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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The Mono Lake Committee is serious about protecting and restoring Mono Lake, its tributary streams, and surrounding lands. That means being on constant alert as a watchdog, and recent months have provided some interesting examples of what that requires.

The Committee keeps a close eye on daily Mono Basin streamflows at multiple locations, such as the recovering Rush Creek bottomlands. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

Sometimes the Committee chases issues that have lengthy histories and require continuous pressure to move toward resolution—the 2013 Stream Restoration Agreement with the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) is one example. Years of work (more…)

Mono Basin snowpack increases to 76% of average

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
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Snow surveys conducted around every April 1st coincide with the average date of peak snowpack. This year, the surveys were completed at the end of March and revealed a large increase in snowpack over the previous month—from 50% of average to 76% of average!

Map by Robbie DiPaolo.

Map of snow survey locations compiled by Robbie DiPaolo. The Lee Vining Creek watershed above the DWP diversion dam and the Rush Creek watershed above the SCE powerhouse are outlined in red.

(more…)

Official April 1 Mono Lake level: 6381.86 feet

Monday, April 2nd, 2018 by Arya, Communications Director
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Technically, we did it on March 31, but for all intents and purposes, it’s the April 1 official joint reading of Mono Lake’s level with Mono Lake Committee and Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) staff together. This reading on this day is particularly important because the number recorded translates into how much water DWP is allowed to divert from Mono Basin streams over the course of the coming year.

Mono Lake Committee and Los Angeles Department of Water & Power staff walking down to the lake shore for the annual joint lake level reading. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

(more…)

Buy your ticket now for the tenth Andrea Lawrence Award Dinner

Saturday, March 31st, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Buy your ticket now so you can join us in early May halfway up Mammoth Mountain … for the tenth Andrea Lawrence Award Dinner!

Andrea Lawrence Award Dinner
5:30pm on Friday, May 4, 2018
Parallax Restaurant, McCoy Station
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

This year we’ll present the Andrea Lawrence Award to Phil Pister, retired California Department of Fish & Wildlife fishery biologist for the Eastern Sierra. Phil is a visionary desert pupfish and golden trout conservationist, has been an agent of positive ecological change, and is an advocate for and teacher of environmental ethics—he embodies the spirit of the award, which celebrates passionate engagement in community and the land.

Take a beautiful gondola ride up to McCoy Station for an evening of delicious food, inspiring company, and exceptional views as we celebrate Phil. Reserve your tickets with a $75 donation online here, or by calling (760) 647-6595 by Monday, April 16. We hope to see you there!

Seventeenth Annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua

Monday, March 19th, 2018 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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Dust off your field guides and get ready to welcome the birds back to their summer breeding grounds! The seventeenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua is June 15–17 this year.

This year’s event boasts one hundred exciting field trips, workshops, and presentations. We are also excited to announce the return of esteemed artist and naturalist John Muir Laws, who will be giving a presentation about how to think like a naturalist, as well as multiple drawing workshops and field trips.

Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay perched on a pinyon pine. Photo by Nora Livingston.

Remember, the Chautauqua supports bird research and conservation in the Eastern Sierra, so you can feel good about celebrating the rich diversity of birds of this region with field trips, friends, and fun!

The program information and grid schedule are all posted online, so it’s time to start planning your weekend. Hotels fill up quickly in the summer, so we recommend booking as early as possible.

Registration opens Sunday, April 15 at 6:30am. We encourage you to register online at that time if you have particular events you’d like to attend, as many classes fill almost instantaneously.

We hope to see you at the Chautauqua this year!

Farewell to Mono Lake advocate Genny Smith, 1922-2018

Saturday, March 17th, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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Genny Smith, 1922–2018. Photo courtesy of Genny Smith.

On Sunday, March 4, the Eastern Sierra lost a lifelong champion with the passing of writer and conservationist Genny Smith at age 96.

Genny played a key role in protecting Mono Lake, getting involved in 1982 as a Board member of the young Mono Lake Committee at a time when court battles with the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power were heating up. She was a strong advocate for protecting the special wild places that make California so wonderful, and she had the determination and strategic thinking to turn such lofty goals into real accomplishments. She helped hone the strategy of recruiting members to the cause, making sure that the Committee was building a coalition of people who cared about Mono Lake for the long haul. In later years as a Board Member Emeritus she was always available to give advice—and inspiration—on the continuing efforts to protect this place. (more…)

This year’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Los Angeles—a wild success

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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Every March, Mono Lake Committee staff make their annual migration to the southern end of the aqueduct to host the Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Los Angeles. The event serves as a way to connect with members and friends in Los Angeles as well as a fundraiser for the Committee’s Outdoor Education Center programs.

Committee staff with a student volunteer who will be participating in the OEC program this May. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

This year, in an effort to reach more potential members, we switched to two new venues—the Monica Film Center in Santa Monica and the Sierra Madre Playhouse. The showings at both venues were a huge success! (more…)

Winter & Spring 2018 Mono Lake Newsletter now online

Monday, March 12th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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The theme of this issue of the Mono Lake Newsletter is vigilance. Really, it has run through every Newsletter, starting 40 years ago with a group of sharp-eyed, shaggy biologists who took note of what was happening to Mono Lake. Ever since those early days, we’ve kept watch.

You’ll see our continued vigilance in the pages that follow—we noticed a leaking stream, an unusual development proposal, a new threat to the California Gulls, and a flow violation at Rush Creek. We watched the Mill Creek return ditch flow test carefully. We visit the streams regularly, we keep an eye on daily streamflow reports, and we scrutinize the lake level.

We look around, and we look ahead. As this winter seems (more…)

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The Mono Lake Committee is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.