Snow surveys conducted around every April 1st coincide with the average date of peak snowpack. This year, the surveys were completed at the end of March and revealed a large increase in snowpack over the previous month—from 50% of average to 76% of average!
Technically, we did it on March 31, but for all intents and purposes, it’s the April 1 official joint reading of Mono Lake’s level with Mono Lake Committee and Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) staff together. This reading on this day is particularly important because the number recorded translates into how much water DWP is allowed to divert from Mono Basin streams over the course of the coming year.
Buy your ticket now so you can join us in early May halfway up Mammoth Mountain … for the tenth Andrea Lawrence Award Dinner!
Andrea Lawrence Award Dinner
5:30pm on Friday, May 4, 2018
Parallax Restaurant, McCoy Station
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area
This year we’ll present the Andrea Lawrence Award to Phil Pister, retired California Department of Fish & Wildlife fishery biologist for the Eastern Sierra. Phil is a visionary desert pupfish and golden trout conservationist, has been an agent of positive ecological change, and is an advocate for and teacher of environmental ethics—he embodies the spirit of the award, which celebrates passionate engagement in community and the land.
Take a beautiful gondola ride up to McCoy Station for an evening of delicious food, inspiring company, and exceptional views as we celebrate Phil. Reserve your tickets with a $75 donation online here, or by calling (760) 647-6595 by Monday, April 16. We hope to see you there!
Dust off your field guides and get ready to welcome the birds back to their summer breeding grounds! The seventeenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua is June 15–17 this year.
This year’s event boasts one hundred exciting field trips, workshops, and presentations. We are also excited to announce the return of esteemed artist and naturalist John Muir Laws, who will be giving a presentation about how to think like a naturalist, as well as multiple drawing workshops and field trips.
Remember, the Chautauqua supports bird research and conservation in the Eastern Sierra, so you can feel good about celebrating the rich diversity of birds of this region with field trips, friends, and fun!
Registration opens Sunday, April 15 at 6:30am. We encourage you to register online at that time if you have particular events you’d like to attend, as many classes fill almost instantaneously.
We hope to see you at the Chautauqua this year!
On Sunday, March 4, the Eastern Sierra lost a lifelong champion with the passing of writer and conservationist Genny Smith at age 96.
Genny played a key role in protecting Mono Lake, getting involved in 1982 as a Board member of the young Mono Lake Committee at a time when court battles with the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power were heating up. She was a strong advocate for protecting the special wild places that make California so wonderful, and she had the determination and strategic thinking to turn such lofty goals into real accomplishments. She helped hone the strategy of recruiting members to the cause, making sure that the Committee was building a coalition of people who cared about Mono Lake for the long haul. In later years as a Board Member Emeritus she was always available to give advice—and inspiration—on the continuing efforts to protect this place. … more »
Every March, Mono Lake Committee staff make their annual migration to the southern end of the aqueduct to host the Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Los Angeles. The event serves as a way to connect with members and friends in Los Angeles as well as a fundraiser for the Committee’s Outdoor Education Center programs.
This year, in an effort to reach more potential members, we switched to two new venues—the Monica Film Center in Santa Monica and the Sierra Madre Playhouse. The showings at both venues were a huge success! … more »
The theme of this issue of the Mono Lake Newsletter is vigilance. Really, it has run through every Newsletter, starting 40 years ago with a group of sharp-eyed, shaggy biologists who took note of what was happening to Mono Lake. Ever since those early days, we’ve kept watch.
You’ll see our continued vigilance in the pages that follow—we noticed a leaking stream, an unusual development proposal, a new threat to the California Gulls, and a flow violation at Rush Creek. We watched the Mill Creek return ditch flow test carefully. We visit the streams regularly, we keep an eye on daily streamflow reports, and we scrutinize the lake level.
We look around, and we look ahead. As this winter seems … more »
35th year for California Gull study: Research documents changes in gull population and nesting habitatMarch 8th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
In 2017 Point Blue Conservation Science continued its Mono Lake California Gull monitoring study with the goal of better understanding how the gulls respond to changes in lake conditions over time. Indeed, 2017 was a year of change for both the gulls and this critical long-term study, which is supported by the Mono Lake Committee (read the full report online here).
Following two years of testing, the nesting gull counts were done using aerial photography instead of the previous method of ground counts. Results indicate that counting nesting gulls from the aerial photographs matched ground count tallies by 96%, and the new survey method is less disruptive to the gulls.
Lowest-ever number of nesting gulls
The population of nesting California Gulls (Larus californicus) in 2017 was the lowest ever recorded at … more »
Half a lifetime for a person, 40 years is negligible for a 760,000-year-old lake. As an old timer (or the “OG”—Original Gangster—as I was recently called by a young staff member), here’s my brief summary of the first four decades of the Mono Lake Committee—our story, as I will someday tell my grandkids.
In the 1970s, only a handful of sightseers, residents, and birdwatchers understood that Mono Lake was declining fast due to excessive creek diversions. In 1976, a dozen undergraduates inventoried the basin to describe a simple but very productive ecosystem that would be lost if it dried up, which it was on track to do.
So our group of shaggy biologists organized a non-profit to use legal, legislative, and educational means specifically to help Mono Lake. Love of the lake overcame our hesitation of things unfamiliar. Why else would we be on the 40th floor of a San Francisco law office building trying to understand the finer points of 501(c)(3) versus 501(c)(4) non-profits in our best no-holes jeans? … more »
If you’ve always wanted to spend a summer at Mono Lake, now is your chance—we still have open seasonal staff positions for summer 2018, including Mono Lake Intern, Canoe Program Coordinator, Outdoor Education Instructor, and Information Center & Bookstore Assistant.
Summer at Mono Lake is the busiest and most activity-filled season, and seasonal staff jobs include leading interpretive tours, helping visitors in the bookstore, and canoeing on Mono Lake, among many other varied tasks. We accept applications from people of all ages, whether you’re looking for an internship between college semesters, or you’re interested in a post-retirement summer of work.