Each year, all across the Sierra Nevada, environmental groups organize river cleanups as part of the Great Sierra River Cleanup. The goal is to remove as much trash as possible from the watersheds we love. This past week, Mono Lake Committee staff and volunteers picked up trash near Lee Vining Creek.
‘Stream Restoration’ Category
Over the last two years working for the Mono Lake Committee, I have been collecting a variety of hydrologic data in the Mono Basin and it’s been really inspiring to see how this data leads to real and positive changes for Mono Lake. By measuring streamflows, water table depths, and most recently water temperatures, the Committee is able to use scientific evidence to suggest management actions.
Last summer was the first year of our Grant Lake Reservoir monitoring program, which measured temperature and dissolved oxygen throughout the water column at key (more…)
This post was written by Sara Matthews, 2015 & 2016 Mono Lake Intern.
If you’re in the area on Monday, July 25, consider joining Mono Lake Committee staff and naturalist Ann Howald to help pull invasive plant species!
We’ll be spending the morning out in the field working to restore Mill Creek, one of Mono Lake’s important tributary streams. As a special treat, guest naturalist Ann Howald will be joining us. Ann is a retired consulting botanist who has taught popular Committee field seminars for over ten years, so she is certain to enrich the experience for all.
We are meeting at the Mono Lake Committee at 8:00am on Monday, July 25. The day’s adventure will include traversing through mixed sagebrush communities, willow lined riparian areas, and perhaps even in a cold stream! Please be sure to bring shoes that can get wet, sun protection, and plenty of water.
A picnic lunch will be provided so if you think you may be able to make it, please RSVP to me by email so we can plan accordingly. However, last minute drop-ins are also welcome! Contact me by email or at (760) 647-6595 with any questions.
Type the word “monitoring” into the Mono Lake Committee’s website search bar and 673 results appear. To say that scientific monitoring and environmental advocacy work go hand in hand for the Committee is an understatement.
Ever since the Committee’s founders conducted the fundamental and pivotal ecological study of Mono Lake in 1976, scientific research and monitoring have been the basis for all of the work that has followed. In crafting policy positions, all aspects of an issue must be analyzed and understood, since arriving at a balanced (more…)
This post was written by Sandra Noll, Birding Intern in 2014, 2015, & 2016.
Not far from the Mono Lake Committee headquarters and bookstore, the Lee Vining Creek trail offers multi-sensory delights this time of year. Early morning and late evening are best for birding but anytime of day is great for wildflowers.
Yellows predominate from the profuse tiny blossoms of bitterbrush and buckwheat to the stately single stems of western wallflower and from button-like rayless daisies to sunflower-like blossoms within the long fuzzy leaves of woolly mule’s ears.
On May 18, 2015 I wanted to assess the types and quantities of invasive plants that were present at Mill Creek. Melilotus albus (sweet clover) was quickly identified as the most prolific and abundant invasive plant species present along Mill Creek, which I documented with GPS points and photos. With the help of volunteers and school groups, we were able to remove over 730 pounds of sweet clover from Mill Creek in 2015 from mid-June to mid-August by manually pulling and clipping the invasive plants. Now in 2016 the difference is noticeable.
Areas of Mill Creek where we focused sweet clover removal efforts in 2015 are now showing native plants retaking the prized riparian habitat in 2016 (as demonstrated by the photo above), which is exactly what we want to be seeing.
Unfortunately, we can’t take all the credit. Seasonal variation has a big impact on what plants dominate a landscape year to year and compared to the last three years, we had much more snow this year. That snow probably helped a lot with inhibiting sweet clover growth and development. But I believe with continued efforts, we are giving the native plants a chance to secure their place along Mill Creek for years to come.
Special thanks to outdoor clothing company Patagonia Inc. for their support of the Mono Lake Committee’s restoration stewardship program.
It’s the early afternoon and I’m standing in Mill Creek on July 30, 2015. The sun is warm when you stand in its rays and the cool softly flowing water is refreshing and welcomed. Standing still I can see bees and butterflies dancing among violet pink, periwinkle blue, and bright yellow wildflowers. It’s hard to believe that two months ago, this particular stretch of Mill Creek was almost entirely dominated by invasive white sweet clover (Melilotus albus).
White sweet clover plants can live for 2–3 years before casting thousands of seeds and dying. The seeds are hard and light (ideal for stream transportation) and have been shown (more…)
Despite some snow on the peaks and forecasters still calling for an El Niño weather pattern, Grant Lake Reservoir remains at a precariously low level. With three Southern California Edison (SCE) reservoirs upstream, and four years of drought to catch up from, Grant will be the last reservoir to benefit from this year’s runoff. Since lower Rush Creek is dependent on Grant Lake Reservoir for its water, and because special water management rules are triggered when Grant drops to a certain level, the Mono Lake Committee was busy in December ensuring that the best possible situation was secured for Rush Creek for the remainder of the winter.
Grant can only go so low
In 1994, the California State Water Resources Control Board, by way of Decision 1631, had the foresight to protect flows in Rush Creek from scenarios in which Grant Lake Reservoir gets abnormally low. (more…)
The strong 2015–2016 El Niño winter is likely to turn out below-average in the Mono Basin. The 90% of average February 1st snowpack, and an 80% of average preliminary runoff forecast based on that snowpack, were followed by a dry February. In the next week, March 1st snow surveys will reveal how bad things are. A wet March might be able to catch things back up to average, but it would take a very wet spring to shift the snowpack and snowmelt runoff above average at this point. From 1980–2010, the lowest March snowpack that resulted in above-average runoff was 110%. (more…)
The 2013 Mono Basin Stream Restoration Agreement is a major milestone in the long-running effort to recover the health of Rush, Lee Vining, Parker, and Walker creeks after the damage caused by decades of excessive water diversions. The current priority is for the terms of the Agreement to be incorporated into the official water license issued by the California State Water Resources Control Board to the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.
While progress has been slow, completion and formal approval of the newly revised license draws ever closer. Once the license is issued, the many benefits of the (more…)