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The Mono-logue » Staff Musings

‘Staff Musings’ Category

A summer for the birds at Mono Lake

Friday, September 15th, 2017 by Jenny, Birding Intern
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As the summer season comes to a close, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on my time at Mono Lake, and the incredible birds I’ve seen along the way.

California Gull perched on tufa. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

My summer internship began with the sixteenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua, an event that brings birders together to enhance appreciation and understanding of the Mono Basin’s incredible bird life. The event includes a variety of field trips, workshops, and presentations with renowned bird guides, naturalists, and artists. This year we had (more…)

The sun sets on an intern’s time at Mono Lake

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017 by Molly, Mono Lake Intern
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I had been in the computer lab at Colorado State University all day working on my final GIS project when I received the call that I was being offered a position as an intern with the Mono Lake Committee for the summer. I couldn’t have been more thrilled to hear that I would be spending my summer with the Mono Lake Committee. I got an A on that project, graduated with my BS in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, and moved to Lee Vining in a flash.

During this beautiful day of training early in the summer, all the new seasonal staff were learning about Mono Lake’s ecology from Education Director Bartshe Miller. Photo by Ava Stavros.

I had never been to Mono Lake before so I really didn’t know what I was in for, but my expectations for the summer were exceeded ten-fold. I will never forget the first time I saw Mono Lake: I was driving in from Highway 120 East and when the lake came into my view I couldn’t believe how huge it was. I knew it was going to be big, but it is truly vast. My first thought was (more…)

An intern’s goodbye to Mono Lake

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017 by Charlotte, Mono Lake Intern
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With college starting soon, I have to say goodbye to Mono Lake a little earlier than my other seasonal coworkers. This summer has been one of the best of my life, so it will be a bittersweet goodbye. As a final goodbye to this amazing corner of the world, here are some of my favorite photos and memories from this summer.

Mono Lake Intern Charlotte standing by the bronze bear in Lee Vining. Photo by Aviva North.

(more…)

Observing four years of an ever-changing Mono Lake

Monday, August 21st, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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June 2014—Mono Lake level: 6380.4 feet above sea level

One of my first visits to Mono Lake on a full moon in 2014. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Just three years ago, during the middle of California’s historic drought, I visited Mono Lake for the first time. The large, salty lake in the middle of the high desert amazed me and I vividly remember admiring the incredible tufa towers for the first time one summer evening. That was before I worked for the Mono Lake Committee, before I understood the significance of Mono Lake’s level, and the last time I would see the lake with that much water until this month (August 2017). (more…)

Star gazing in the Mono Basin

Monday, July 17th, 2017 by Charlotte, Mono Lake Intern
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Being far from civilization, having few trees, and the framing of the mountains makes the Mono Basin an amazing place for star gazing. The stars have always created a sense of wonder in the human mind, leading us to explore them with our imagination far before space travel technology. Spending time in the basin has reinvigorated my sense of love and wonder for the night sky. If you’re like me, then I would recommend setting your sights on these stargazing spots.

Starry night skies and moonlit tufa at South Tufa. Photo courtesy of Bristlecone Media.

1) South Tufa
South Tufa can be pretty busy during the day, but once night falls it turns into a peaceful place to stargaze. With the tufa towers surrounding you and the sounds of the lapping water, you will be transported (more…)

Mono Lake and me: 20 years in the making

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017 by Aviva, Mono Lake Intern
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As a human geography major I often explain what I study as the intersection of how place impacts people and how people impact place. This is why I was so drawn to interning for the Mono Lake Committee—the Mono Basin has been a second home for me most of my life. What I did not realize until I was a teenager was that the Committee is the reason this landscape is still here—for birds, animals, and humans alike. I spent so many vacations in Lundy Canyon, the north shore sand dunes, or walking at South Tufa, yet I always took for granted how much work has gone into preserving this basin and enabling me and countless others to enjoy this slice of paradise.

Me at age nine, with my mom and our loyal lab Jasper. Photo courtesy of Malcolm North.

My love for the outdoors stated here and I’m sure for many other people, so it is now so exciting to work (more…)

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…)

Great Mother’s Day gift: A guided trip at Mono Lake

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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My mother, Kerry, at Black Point. Photo by Nora Livingston.

My mother loves the Mono Basin. She lives on the coast in the lush hills of West Marin, but she craves the dry expanse of sagebrush and the quiet aspen canyons of the Eastside, so she visits me as often as she can in the summertime. She and my dad set up their tent in Lee Vining Canyon and spend their days exploring Mono Lake, basking in the glory of the Sierra, and painting flowers with watercolors. She, like many of our visitors, likes to make the most out of her time here, filling her days with adventure, diving deeper into her experience here in the Eastern Sierra.

Last year, I gave my mom the gift of attending the Miwok-Paiute Basketry field seminar so she could learn the art of weaving willows from Julia and Lucy Parker. She was thrilled. She enjoyed the seminar immensely, and was very proud of her beautiful basket. In fact, she loved it so much, she signed up for the seminar again this year!

Why not give your mother the gift of learning and exploration for Mother’s Day this year? (more…)

Spring is springing at Mono Lake

Sunday, March 19th, 2017 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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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 forecast calls 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.

A skiing adventure to check Mono Lake’s level

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017 by Robbie, Restoration Field Technician
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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…)

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