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…)
‘Recent Photos’ Category
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.
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…)
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…)
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.
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…)
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…)
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.
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.
For days we have all been constantly checking the weather forecast, refreshing radar maps, and hoping that the predictions of an inch or two of snow would deliver. This morning, I pulled open my blinds and my jaw dropped. There was about half a foot of snow on the ground and I was thrilled. Having grown up in Georgia, any amount of snow is exciting for me, but this amount of snow—especially during this five-year drought—made me giddy. In my excitement, I actually took out my cross-country skis and skied along the road to the office before it was plowed! Along the Highway 395 corridor, between seven and 12 inches of snow fell overnight. (more…)
It was interesting to contrast the damage caused by the Marina Fire with the damage caused by heavy machinery; I’m sure the combination of the two events is even more detrimental. While I made observations and took photographs, I was especially concerned by two things—the bird habitat adjacent to the excavation and the wide swath of flood water rushing down from what used to be a creek channel that now spreads the water across the landscape haphazardly on it’s way to Mono Lake. (more…)