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California budget deal could close 50 state parks

July 23rd, 2009 by Geoff, Executive Director
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With a state budget vote scheduled for tonight, more details of the budget deal are coming out including the now-available Assembly Floor Report. Here’s the analysis of the budget’s effect on the State Park system (emphasis added):

Reduces the Department of Parks and Recreation’s operations budget by $8 million (General Fund). This reduction will be partnered with a combination of special fund loans and reversions of prior year unexpended funds that, together, will have a total General Fund savings of $70 million. This proposal will result in the closure of roughly 50 state parks. The Department will determine through a cost benefit analysis which parks will be closed and when.

American White Pelican atop tufa

July 22nd, 2009 by tdomf_e48ef
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Date of sighting: July 22nd, 2009

Perching gracefully on a tufa spire, eyeing brine shrimp, Phalaropes, and our steadily approaching kayaks. When it flew, I noticed its stark black ribbon of feathers and light orange beak. Lovely.

What to do at Mono Lake?

July 22nd, 2009 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Coming to Mono Lake for vacation? Bringing friends to Mono Lake for a visit? Looking for something fun to do while you’re here? Look no further: you can plan your whole Mono Lake visit right here.

Mono Lake Committee intern Claire Skinner explains Mono Lake's history to a group of visitors at South Tufa. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Mono Lake Committee intern Claire Skinner explains Mono Lake's history to a group of visitors at South Tufa. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Together, the Mono Lake Committee, US Forest Service, and Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve provide 50 interpretive programs each week! That’s enough for all your friends and family to get out and about and experience the splendor of the Mono Basin many different ways.

For newcomers to the Mono Basin, start the visit with … more »

Most state parks appear to get lifeline in California budget deal

July 22nd, 2009 by Geoff, Executive Director
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State Park Closure Action Alert CenterCalifornia legislative leaders and the Governor struck a budget deal Monday night to close California’s $26.3 billion deficit. It appears the deal mostly, but not entirely, averts shutting down the State Park system as previously threatened. The deal requires legislative approval and is scheduled for a vote on Thursday.

Apparently the deal includes the full $70 million cut to the State Park system, as proposed by the Governor, but then backfills with other funds to produce a net $8 million cut. State Parks will also have to accommodate the planned three furlough days per month for state employees, which reduces work hours by 15%.

The result is that some parks are still expected to close, perhaps on the order of 30. Which ones are as yet unknown, though reports suggest decisions will be based on popularity, use, costs, and legal requirements.

Mono Lake and Bodie are both incredibly popular, serving over a half million visitors annually, so we are optimistic that both will remain open and staffed, though probably at reduced levels.

But it’s never over until it’s over. And the budget saga is far from done. … more »

Add your Chautauqua photos to the flock

July 20th, 2009 by Arya, Communications Director
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Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua participants asked to be able to see photos taken during the event, and voila, a special Flickr group just for you! We’ve posted a bunch of shots from this year, now it’s your turn to add to the flock. We’d love to see some birds, mammals, reptiles and such from you critter … more »

Budget deal close, world watches parks’ future

July 20th, 2009 by Geoff, Executive Director
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Reports indicate a California budget deal should be assembled today, with a vote likely later this week. The fate of the State Park system in that deal has yet to be announced.

In the meantime, the threat to the State Park system has drawn national and international attention–and concern. Here are recent articles and editorials that underscore the value of parks:

New York Times: California’s Budget Crisis and the Parks

The Guardian (United Kingdom): California poised to shut gates on great outdoors as parks struggle with budgets

Artist reception tomorrow: Ane Carla Rovetta

July 17th, 2009 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Artist Ane Carla Rovetta with one of her paintings in the Mono Lake Committee gallery. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

Artist Ane Carla Rovetta with one of her paintings in the Mono Lake Committee gallery. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

Join us in the Mono Lake Committee gallery tomorrow, Saturday, July 18 from 3:00–5:00 pm for an artist reception for pastel painter Ane Carla Rovetta! Ane Carla’s show, “Impressions from the silent sage … Great Basin paintings,” is now on display in the Mono Lake Committee gallery, and has garnered rave reviews for several months.

Ane Carla Rovetta’s formal training was as a zoologist. Like the artisans of the European Renaissance, she is committed to the practice of art and science as kindred disciplines. Ane Carla has spent … more »

Pastel painting in the Mono Basin

July 16th, 2009 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Negit Island from Lundy Canyon. Original pastel painting by Ane Carla Rovetta.

Negit Island from Lundy Canyon. Original pastel painting by Ane Carla Rovetta.

Imagine spending a summer weekend at Mono Lake equipped with a full set of pastel chalks and guided by the infectious enthusiasm of artist Ane Carla Rovetta—the result? Lessons in color organization, value exercises to warm up your artistic aptitudes, and several pastel paintings to take home with you at the end of the class. Sign up now for…

Capturing the Sageland in Pastel
July 24–26
instructor: Ane Carla Rovetta

Ane Carla’s talent and energetic teaching style will … more »

State Parks fate unknown as budget deal nears

July 15th, 2009 by Geoff, Executive Director
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State Park Closure Action Alert CenterNews from Sacramento increasingly suggests a budget deal is close to completion. Something may well be announced this week, perhaps as soon as today. But the fate of California’s State Park system in that deal remains unknown.

Recently the Legislature approved the State Park Access Pass as a funding source to operate parks, but the majority vote of support is not enough to clear the 2/3 budget approval requirement. So now it is up to legislative leaders and the Governor to find a way to fund parks operations within the budget deal they will propose–or justify shutting down 80% of the parks.

Stay tuned for news as details emerge. There’s still time to send a letter of concern in support of Mono Lake, Bodie, and all state parks.

Yelp us!

July 13th, 2009 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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This post was written by Erika Obedzinski, 2009 Office Director.

Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore.

Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore.

It’s summertime and we know many of you have visited Mono Lake already this season, or may be planning to soon. If you have a few minutes, we’d love it if you could write a review of your experience visiting the Mono Lake Committee Information Center and Bookstore on Yelp!

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