Sunday, March 19th, 2017 by Gabrielle, Project SpecialistcloseAuthor: Gabrielle, Project SpecialistName: Gabrielle Renteria Title: Project Specialist About: Gabby’s love for the Sierra Nevada started when she began visiting Yosemite National Park every year as a child. During her summer as a Mono Lake Intern she shared her passion for nature, Mono Lake, and the Sierra with visitors, and she's now staying through the winter as a Project Specialist. When she’s not working you can find her drinking yerba, hiking, fishing, or rolling around in the grass. Gabby hopes to become an Interpretive Ranger for the National Park Service so she can continue to share the great outdoors with others!See All Posts by Gabrielle (13) Contact Gabrielle
After what feels like an endless winter, signs of spring are starting to pop up all over the Mono Basin. Daytime highs in the mid to high 60’s mean that most of the snow around Mono Lake and in town has melted away. Morning commutes are feeling more and more like the crisp summer mornings I came to love while leading canoe tours and Nora, our Lead Naturalist Guide, has led the way, declaring it officially sandal weather.
We’re not the only ones enjoying the warmer weather; the songs of Red-winged Blackbirds, Cassin’s Finches, and Spotted Towhees can be heard through town. And a quick trip to the lake reveals that California Gulls have already begun to arrive for their summer nesting season.
Red-winged Blackbird. Photo by Nora Livingston.
Although we look forward to the warm and busy summer months ahead, we are excited to see that Mother Nature still has snow to share with Mono Lake. The forecastcalls for a storm starting Tuesday and our hopes are high for a few more like it!
As of March 15 the lake is at 6378.2 feet above sea level and with all the snow we got this winter it will only continue to rise. It will be a great season and we cannot wait to share it with you.
Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 by Robbie, Project SpecialistcloseAuthor: Robbie, Project SpecialistName: Robert Di Paolo Title: Project Specialist About: A 2012 graduate from Humboldt State University with a degree in Environmental Science, Robbie loves hiking, camping, and bike touring, all of which are great Eastern Sierra activities. He also likes to play music, primarily guitar and singing, but also flute and alto saxophone. If you're interested in volunteering with the Committee's restoration program or are interested in our social media efforts, contact Robbie.See All Posts by Robert (37) Contact Robert
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.
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…)
Sunday, November 27th, 2016 by Andrew, Project SpecialistcloseAuthor: Andrew, Project SpecialistName: Andrew Youssef Title: Project Specialist About: Originally from outside Atlanta, Georgia, Andrew attended Vanderbilt University to study psychology. After graduating, he taught middle-school science in Glendale, Arizona where he enjoyed working with youth and sharing his passion for the sciences. While living out West, Andrew also developed a love for the wilderness and the outdoors after visiting and exploring many iconic National Parks. During summer 2014, Andrew volunteered in the Interpretation Division of Yosemite National Park, working at the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center, and also gave many different naturalist programs for visitors of all ages. He was a Mono Lake Intern during the summer of 2015 and ran the canoe program during the summer of 2016, and is now staying on for a second winter as Project Specialist. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, hiking, and birding.See All Posts by Andrew (28) Contact Andrew
Seven inches of snow fell overnight Saturday, blanketing everything in the Mono Basin with snow, including the islands. Photo by Andrew Youssef.
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…)
Thursday, November 24th, 2016 by Elin, Communications CoordinatorcloseAuthor: Elin, Communications CoordinatorName: Elin Ljung Title: Communications Coordinator About: Elin's job consists of some of her favorite things: finding typos, experimenting with layouts, and figuring out how best to communicate the Committee's work to the world. She also oversees the Field Seminar program. Elin grew up in on California’s Central Coast dreaming of the two weeks each summer that her family would spend in the Eastern Sierra, and as soon as she graduated from St. Olaf College in 2005 she moved to Mono Lake full-time. She prefers to travel at high speed on either telemark skis or a mountain bike, or be completely still, immersed in a good book.See All Posts by Elin (271) Contact Elin
Long live Mono Lake! Photo by Arya Degenhardt.
This Thanksgiving Day, we are thankful for your generous donations, faithful support, visits to our Lee Vining headquarters, emails asking about our work, views of our website, comments on our Mono-logue posts, Instagram photos, Facebook and Twitter comments, phone calls from far away, and above all, for your love for this place. Together we are standing strong for Mono Lake. Thank you and happy Thanksgiving.
Friday, November 18th, 2016 by Nora, Lead Naturalist GuidecloseAuthor: Nora, Lead Naturalist GuideName: Nora Livingston Title: Lead Naturalist Guide About: Nora is a passionate naturalist who got her interpretive start as a Mono Lake Intern in 2008 and went on to seven years of seasonal ornithologist work in the most beautiful corners of California and beyond. She has since led many popular birding field trips for the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. It is her utmost joy to share her love of birds and nature with anyone and everyone to help foster a deeper respect for this unique planet. Contact Nora if you would like to set up a custom guided field trip, or if you have questions about the Chautauqua.See All Posts by Nora (18) Contact Nora
In early November I ventured down to the shoreline of Mono Lake below the Tioga Lodge to use my former-biologist eyes to assess the damage done to State Park land and Post Office Creek.
In late October a heavy excavator tore up State Park land along the shore of Mono Lake below Tioga Lodge and Highway 395. Photo by Bartshe Miller.
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…)
Sunday, September 25th, 2016 by Gabrielle, Project SpecialistcloseAuthor: Gabrielle, Project SpecialistName: Gabrielle Renteria Title: Project Specialist About: Gabby’s love for the Sierra Nevada started when she began visiting Yosemite National Park every year as a child. During her summer as a Mono Lake Intern she shared her passion for nature, Mono Lake, and the Sierra with visitors, and she's now staying through the winter as a Project Specialist. When she’s not working you can find her drinking yerba, hiking, fishing, or rolling around in the grass. Gabby hopes to become an Interpretive Ranger for the National Park Service so she can continue to share the great outdoors with others!See All Posts by Gabrielle (13) Contact Gabrielle
Dear travelers and locals alike,
If you’ve ever spent time driving Highway 395, especially during fall or spring, you’ve most likely had the chance to see one of the Eastern Sierra’s many mule deer.
Family of mule deer at County Park. Photo by Sandra Noll.
These beautiful animals are part of the Round Valley mule deer herd. Every spring they migrate to higher elevations to give birth and feed on the foliage of alpine meadows, returning each (more…)
Wednesday, September 7th, 2016 by Sandra, Birding InterncloseAuthor: Sandra, Birding InternName: Sandra Noll Title: Birding Intern About: Sandra Noll and her partner Erv Nichols travel extensively as volunteers for nature. The retired couple exchanges their skills as naturalists, photographers, and interpretive guides for an RV hook-up or lodging at a wide variety of National and State Parks, Fish & Wildlife Service Refuges, Audubon Centers, and now the Mono Lake Committee for a third summer. Whether from an information desk, viewing deck, or lecture hall, leading bird walks, night hikes, or canoe excursions, their passion connects people with our nation's special landscapes and wildlife.See All Posts by Sandra (21) Contact Sandra
Hard to fathom that season of guided bird walks has come to an end. Erv and I led our last County Park bird walk yesterday and State Park ranger Dave Marquart led his last on Sunday. It seems we just arrived to serve our third summer as Mono Lake Committee Birding Interns!
An adult Osprey perches atop a tufa tower near its nest . Photo by Sandra Noll.
It has been a great season of birds from “locals” and early spring migrants through the nesting season to, most recently, early fall migrants. These include large numbers of Eared Grebes and phalaropes beginning to stage on Mono Lake where they molt and gain weight for the final legs of their migrations to wintering areas further south. Mono Lake’s status as an internationally important bird area is especially apparent this time of year.
It has been a delight and privilege to introduce visitors from the US and around the world to this beautiful, bountiful place and the work of the Mono Lake Committee to protect, restore, and educate. And it is my pleasure to leave you with a few highlights!
Friday, August 19th, 2016 by Adam, Mono Lake InterncloseAuthor: Adam, Mono Lake InternName: Adam Dalton Title: Mono Lake Intern About: Adam is a recent Grinnell College graduate (Economics and Chinese Studies) from Mason City, Iowa. He is happy to be back in the Mono Basin for a second summer internship before heading to the University of Utah in the fall to pursue a Master’s degree in Community and Metropolitan Planning with a focus on environmental planning. Outside of work he can be found running, hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and playing electric guitar.See All Posts by Adam (3) Contact Adam
“My unorthodox journey to the Eastern Sierra and first two weeks of work at the Mono Lake Committee have been life-changing experiences (especially for someone who had never lived on his own or seen the American West before)….” —me, two years ago
Gabby, Grace, Adam and Connor hear about the LA Aqueduct from Geoff during intern training. Photo by Erv Nichols.
Over two years ago the Mono Lake Committee took a chance and hired me, despite my intended economics major, failure to travel west of Omaha, Nebraska, and previous work experience consisting solely of foodservice-based work study at Grinnell College and technology replacement duties for Mason City, Iowa’s community school district. As you can see in my previous Mono-logue post, I was absolutely blown away by my initial experiences in the Mono Basin.
A lot has changed in my life since I first interned at the Mono Lake Committee two years ago; I’ve graduated from (more…)
Wednesday, August 17th, 2016 by Lisa, Outdoor Education InstructorcloseAuthor: Lisa, Outdoor Education InstructorName: Lisa Godenick Title: Outdoor Education Instructor About: Lisa loves interacting with people of all ages in an outdoor setting. This past spring she graduated with her Master’s in Public Health with an emphasis in Social and Behavioral Health from the University of Nevada, Reno. A former Yosemite dweller, Lisa honed her love for the Sierra through backpacking, hiking, and climbing in Yosemite during her weekends. She enjoys practicing and teaching yoga, playing the ukulele and singing along, and cooking nutritious food. Lisa is always ready for an adventure and is excited to be one of the outdoor educators at Mono Lake for the season!See All Posts by Lisa (3) Contact Lisa
The full moon begins to show its subtle beauty as I sit atop Sagehen Mountain looking towards the White Mountains. We are here with Pacoima Beautiful, the first environmental justice non-profit in the Northeast San Fernando Valley.
This was the first moonrise some of the Pacoima Beautiful students had ever seen. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.
There are ten students and four leaders, and we are all huddled together beneath the stars in awe of the moonrise; nothing separates us from the Milky Way. The air feels cool, but not cold, despite the wind. After contemplation, the students embark on a solo walk back to the vehicles. This is a chance for everyone in the group to meditate and practice presence, something difficult to come by in our modern world. (more…)
Wednesday, August 10th, 2016 by Sandra, Birding InterncloseAuthor: Sandra, Birding InternName: Sandra Noll Title: Birding Intern About: Sandra Noll and her partner Erv Nichols travel extensively as volunteers for nature. The retired couple exchanges their skills as naturalists, photographers, and interpretive guides for an RV hook-up or lodging at a wide variety of National and State Parks, Fish & Wildlife Service Refuges, Audubon Centers, and now the Mono Lake Committee for a third summer. Whether from an information desk, viewing deck, or lecture hall, leading bird walks, night hikes, or canoe excursions, their passion connects people with our nation's special landscapes and wildlife.See All Posts by Sandra (21) Contact Sandra
The presence of wildfires has made me think about the seemingly contradictory aspects of destruction and rebirth a lot this summer.
The Marina Fire’s smoldering aftermath on the west side of Highway 395 evidences stark contrast to the unaffected trees, grasses and shrubs east of the highway. All photos by Sandra Noll.
June’s Marina Fire came uncomfortably close to Mono Lake Committee headquarters in Lee Vining. It was the nearest I have personally been to wildfire and, while awed and inspired by the response of firefighters from multiple agencies and the impressive accuracy of helicopter and aircraft pilots dropping water and fire retardant in turbulent winds and updrafts, I was also fearful with a dramatic new awareness of fire’s destructive capacity. This fire’s aftermath, still quite visible from (more…)