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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, Project Specialist
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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…)

Donate now to protect Mono Lake’s gull colony

Friday, March 17th, 2017 by Andrew, Project Specialist
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It’s really starting to feel like spring in the Mono Basin—the days are getting longer, afternoon temperatures are nearing 70°, and we’ve started seeing the first California Gulls return to Mono Lake to nest. Right now, there is only a small, watery barrier separating the California Gull nesting grounds from the mainland, making it just a short swim for coyotes to get to the islands and wreak havoc on the gull colony.

The good news is that plans are advancing for the construction of a temporary fence across the landbridge on Mono Lake’s north shore to block coyote access to the islands until enough snow melts to raise the lake above the threshold of concern later this summer. Thanks to the generosity of 76 donors, we have already funded a significant amount for the fence, but we still need your help. We’ve made the short video above for you to enjoy and share with your friends to encourage them to join this collective effort. You can also watch the full campaign video below or visit the Long Live the Gulls campaign page to donate and learn more. Thank you for your support—we, and the gulls, appreciate it! (more…)

Sign up for 2017 Field Seminars on February 1

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 by Andrew, Project Specialist
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Learn all about the region's fascinating geological history with Yosemite geologist Greg Stock in Geology of the Mono Basin. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Learn all about the region’s fascinating geological history with Yosemite geologist Greg Stock in Geology of the Mono Basin. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

The complete list of all the Mono Lake Committee’s 2017 Field Seminars is now available online here. Registration opens at 9:00am on Wednesday, February 1.

This year’s slate of 28 Field Seminars spans many topics: basketry, oil painting, woodpeckers, moonlight photography, geology, mining history, fire ecology, butterflies, and more. (more…)

A skiing adventure to check Mono Lake’s level

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 by Robbie, Project Specialist
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This January is proving to be the wettest January in our weather recording history. In Lee Vining, we saw 5.5 inches of snow on January 4, and we received a combined 3.92 inches of rain on January 8 and 9. With all this water pouring into Mono Lake, I set out with my coworker Andrew to measure the lake level on cross country skis.

Mono Lake Committee Project Specialist Andrew Youssef. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

An amused Andrew shuffles towards Lee Vining Creek. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

It was Wednesday, January 11 at 10:00am. The sky was blue, the wind was calm, and the day before had enveloped the basin in (more…)

A snowy January at Mono Lake

Thursday, January 19th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Thanks to the recent snowfall, it looks like real winter in the Mono Basin for the first time in years! Photo by Nora Livingston.

Thanks to the recent snowfall, it looks like real winter in the Mono Basin for the first time in years! Photo by Nora Livingston.

So far January has been a wonderfully snowy month, bringing precipitation to the Mono Basin that we haven’t seen for six years, since the beginning of the recent drought. We thought some photos of the snow-covered basin might be in order…. (more…)

2016 Mono Lake Committee Annual Report

Saturday, January 7th, 2017 by Arya, Communications Director
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The Mono Lake Committee’s 2016 Annual Report is now available online.

2016 Annual Report cover

Cover photo courtesy of Thomas Piekunka.

The report is full of photos of the Mono Lake Committee in action in our focus areas of protection, restoration, education, and scientific research. It also has the Committee’s (more…)

January full moon photography workshop at Mono Lake

Saturday, December 17th, 2016 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Start the year with a full moon photography seminar at the shore of Mono Lake!

The Forgotten Season • January 13–15, 2017 •

Early morning light sifts through bands of poconip ice fog at Mono Lake. Photo courtesy of Joe Decker.

Early morning light sifts through bands of poconip ice fog at Mono Lake. Photo courtesy of Joe Decker.

The towering snow-covered Sierra, frosted tufa towers, eerie poconip fog, and bright moonlight will make for unique photographic opportunities.

Experienced workshop instructor Joe Decker will be teaching the seminar, which will feature a special gourmet dinner from chef Linda Dore at her new restaurant, Epic Cafe. The combination of stunning winter scenery, expert instruction, and tasty food is not one to be missed.

To sign up, register online or call (760) 647-6595.

Mono Lake’s California Gulls in Audubon Magazine

Thursday, December 8th, 2016 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Mono Lake’s California Gulls and coyotes appear in the winter issue of Audubon Magazine, in an article by Jane Braxton Little: Amidst California Drought, Coyotes Creep Closer to Mono Lake’s Gull Colonies.

audubon-magazine-gull-article

Little spoke with Committee Executive Director Geoff McQuilkin and local Point Blue Conservation Science researcher Kristie Nelson about plans to install a temporary electric fence across the emerging landbridge, intended to deter coyotes from reaching the gulls’ nesting islets. You can support the fence project here.

Little hit the nail on the head, writing, “Even if the fence thwarts the coyotes, the basic predicament at Mono Lake isn’t predators eating prey: It’s the loss of water.” So while we prepare to build the fence we’ll also be watching the weather closely for any sign of a break in this record-setting California drought.

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