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Scaling back the fence thanks to a rising Mono Lake

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 by Jenny, Birding Intern
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I recently had the opportunity to go out to the landbridge to help with maintenance of the gull fence. I woke up at 5:00am in order to get out there in time, and by 6:30am we were ready to head out, chest waders and all.

The north shore of the landbridge is a surreal, other-worldly landscape. Photo by Jennifer Rieke.

This was my first time to the north shore of Mono Lake and it was quite a contrast to the scenic southern shore I am used to. With Black Point behind us, we trudged over salt flats towards Negit Island. Passing skeletons of last year’s giant blazing stars and coyote scat, we approached the electric fence when suddenly I heard it—the clamor of the gull colony! I put my binoculars up to see the islets overflowing with California Gulls. This was a place I had only imagined in my mind, and now it was coming to life. (more…)

See Mono Lake’s rise on the landbridge

Friday, June 30th, 2017 by Arya, Communications Director
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The landbridge is a particularly excellent place to see Mono Lake’s incredibly fast rise right now (click on the images for larger versions):

Dawn on June 15 out on the landbridge, where Mono Lake lapped at the end of the temporary electrified fence that is protecting the nesting California Gull colony from coyote predation. Mono Lake Committee wildlife camera photo.

Twelve days later Mono Lake had risen over half a foot, and it was time for the end of the fence to be adjusted. Mono Lake Committee wildlife camera photo.

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.

Time lapse: Mono Lake rising

Thursday, June 29th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Want to see Mono Lake rising before your eyes? Check out this time lapse 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!

When will Tioga Pass open? Here’s our office poll….

Monday, June 26th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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The Tioga Pass area on the summer solstice, June 20, 2017. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

The question of the year so far is “When will Tioga Pass open?” Your guess is as good as ours. In fact, here’s the office poll—compare your guess to ours!

  • Jess: June 16 soft opening; June 17 official
  • Elin: June 23 at noon
  • Bartshe: June 23
  • Ellen: June 24
  • Nora: June 26
  • Gabby: June 27
  • Greg: June 28 at noon
  • Lisa: June 29
  • Arya: June 30
  • Andrew: June 30
  • Geoff: July 1
  • Julissa: July 6

At 9,945 feet above sea level, Tioga Pass is the highest point on Highway 120 and the California State Highway system. There are 26 avalanche zones that this year had snowdrifts upwards of 50 feet, often concealing rocks and trees. Once the road is clear of snow, crews must repair any damage to the pavement, shoulders, and guardrails. The latest Tioga Pass opening date was July 8, 1933, and the earliest was April 29, 1988 … we’re all wondering what it will be this year!

Updated on Tuesday, June 27 at 4:30pm to add that it looks like Lisa will be the winner, unless we get a strange summer snowstorm!

From East Coast to West Coast

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017 by Michael, Mono Lake Intern
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After hearing about Mono Lake from a former intern, I had to check out the area for myself.

This year’s seasonal staff get an orientation to the Mono Basin’s complex plumbing from Executive Director Geoff McQuilkin, center. Photo by Michael Morris.

I was raised in Massachusetts and was lucky enough to attend college at the University of Vermont, but I had never traveled west past South Dakota before! The aspect that I love most about my time so far in the Mono Basin is how new everything is, from the massive mountains to the crazy weather. Here are some photos from my first few weeks as a summer intern: (more…)

Tioga Pass: Memorial Day weekend update

Thursday, May 25th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Tioga Pass will not be open for this holiday weekend, and there is still no estimated opening date. But plowing crews have rounded the corner near Ellery Lake, making good progress toward the Yosemite National Park entrance gate.

A photo from Sunday, May 21, 2017 taken at Ellery Lake looking back east at Ellery Bowl with bikers for scale. Photo courtesy of Nathan Taylor.

Warm weather is aiding the crews as they work, but avalanches remain a hazard. As work progresses, pedestrians, bicyclists, skiers, etc. are advised to stay out of these areas (the photos in this post were taken on a Sunday, when crews do not work). (more…)

Find Mono Lake on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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If you’re not already plugged into the Mono Lake Committee’s social media, click over to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

On Facebook, join discussions about our work, see upcoming events, check in when you get here, and leave us a review at the end of your stay. Stay up-to-date on our work via Twitter, and enjoy stunning photos of Mono Lake on Instagram. Tag your photos with #monolake to join a great stream of Mono Lake photos, and for a chance to be featured on our account.

Fence post: An update from Mono Lake’s landbridge

Friday, April 21st, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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The temporary electrified fence protecting Mono Lake’s nesting California Gulls has been up and running for about three weeks now. After a long and snowy winter the gulls’ calls signal spring’s arrival, and it’s gratifying to know that as they build nests and lay eggs out on the islands, they are protected from coyote predation.

Gull researcher Kristie Nelson works on one of the fence sections that extends into Mono Lake. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.

The fence stretches for about one mile across the landbridge, and is made up of five sections that overlap—an electrified long middle section, two shorter electrified sections at the ends near the water’s edge, and two passive sections at (more…)

Removing snow and rumors along the Tioga Pass Road

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017 by Bartshé, Education Director
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Tioga Pass Road at 8,000' on April 4, 2017.

Snow is minimal below 8,000 feet on the east side of  Highway 120, but snow depth increases exponentially above 8,500 feet. Photo by Bartshé Miller.

As everyone in California knows, it’s been a remarkable year for precipitation. At the highest elevations above Mono Lake in the vicinity of Tioga Pass, we may be facing a snowpack over 200% of average. April 1 snow surveys revealed nearby sites at all-time record snow depth and water content, while other sites, including Tioga Pass itself, fell just short of past record levels. Snow depth in the region likely moved upward with recent April storms, cold temperatures, and generally unsettled spring weather. (more…)

April 1 Mono Lake level: 6378.3 feet above sea level and rising

Monday, April 10th, 2017 by Robbie, Restoration Field Technician
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April 1, the beginning of the runoff year, is a particularly important day for Mono Lake. Each April 1 Mono Lake Committee and Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) staff walk down to Mono Lake and read the lake level, together. It is particularly important because it is the April 1 lake level that determines how much water is allowed to be diverted from Mono Basin streams to the City of Los Angeles for the year.

Brian Norris from DWP and Robbie Di Paolo from the Mono Lake Committee read the lake level gauge together on April 1, 2017. Photo by Bartshé Miller.

The first time I participated in one of these April 1 lake level readings was in 2015 when the lake had dropped to a level that triggered a 70% reduction of water exports. The second time, the lake narrowly cleared the level that would have halted water exports altogether. Years of drought lowered the lake and heightened concern over available exports, but this year was different. This year Mono Lake is on the rise. (more…)

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