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Following Mill Creek water rights

July 3rd, 2019 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

Mill Creek, Mono Lake’s third-largest tributary, is unique in the Mono Basin because it was never diverted to Los Angeles. Mill Creek is also the heart of one of the Eastern Sierra’s natural treasures, Lundy Canyon, where it flows from the Sierra crest through waterfalls, fields of wildflowers, and beaver dams, into and out of Lundy Lake Reservoir, and through rare wooded wetlands before it reaches Mono Lake.

Mill Creek and the Wilson system flow through the north part of the Mono Basin. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Upper Mill Creek is healthy as evidenced by streamside forests and flows consistent with other Eastern Sierra streams. But downstream of Lundy Reservoir—especially in the … more »

Celebrating World Migratory Bird Day with local students

July 2nd, 2019 by Rose, Education Director

World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) was established in 1993 to connect people who live in important migratory bird wetland habitats from across the globe. It is a celebration of these various ecosystems, the birds that inhabit them, and the people who are trying to help save these wetlands.

Lee Vining Elementary School students birding at the County Park boardwalk for World Migratory Bird Day. Photo by Rose Nelson.

This spring the Mono Lake Committee partnered with students from our local Lee Vining Elementary School to celebrate WMBD and discuss this year’s theme:  Protect Birds: Be the Solution to Plastic Pollution. The goal of WMBD 2019 is to … more »

The sound of the fury

July 1st, 2019 by Kevin, Information Center & Bookstore Assistant

There are a number of ways to picture from afar the torrent of water heading downhill from the Sierra Nevada toward Mono Lake right now. One is to review data on the rapidly dwindling snowpack at Tioga Pass, some of which is destined for the lake.  Another is to check in on DWP’s real time streamflow monitoring, which quantifies in cubic feet per second how much water the creeks are carrying. And depending on shadows and leaf, it is even possible to glimpse Mill Creek itself from an overhead webcam.

All of these tools provide critical information for the Mono Lake Committee, DWP, and stream scientists. But they also all seem sterile in comparison to actually standing next to a creek flowing at 50, 100, or even 350 cubic feet per second. The reason, I think, is that they have no sound. And to traipse along one of the swollen creeks pouring out of the Sierra and into the Mono Basin this summer is to be awash in sound.

The author recording Lee Vining Creek. Photo by Kevin Brown.

To capture this auditory landscape, I spent a recent morning along the Lee Vining Creek Trail—not a half-mile from the Committee office—with my microphone, headphones, and field recorder. … more »

It’s the season for interpretive activities at Mono Lake

June 30th, 2019 by AnnaLisa, Mono Lake Intern

Summer is a busy time in the Mono Basin, and the birds aren’t the only ones making the most of the warmer temperatures and longer days! Whether it is your first or fiftieth visit to the area, there are a variety of exciting interpretive programs for the whole family available at and near Mono Lake this summer.

Join a 10:00am or 6:00pm free South Tufa tour to learn about Mono Lake from a naturalist guide. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Gain an understanding of the ecology and history of the lake by stopping by charismatic South Tufa for one of the free, hour-long tours at 10:00am and 6:00pm every day, where you’ll have the hands-on opportunity to get to know the fascinating ecosystem and political history of the lake with the guidance of a naturalist. While the tours are free, South Tufa is … more »

Genny Smith memorial naturalist hikes

June 29th, 2019 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

Join us on July 13 and August 24 for hikes in memory of naturalist Genny Smith. Photo courtesy of Andrew Aldrich.

Genny Smith was the Naturalist Queen of the Eastern Sierra. She wandered many Eastern Sierra trails in search of flowers, birds, mammals, and quiet serenity, and in turn learned about the important interactions between all of the life in these habitats and the ancient geology that sets the stage. These experiences inspired her … more »

Tioga Pass to open fully on Monday, July 1

June 27th, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

News from Yosemite National Park: Tioga Pass will open fully on Monday, July 1 at 8:00am. Until the full opening on Monday morning vehicular access will continue to be available at 10:00–11:00am and 3:00–4:00pm.

A view of the Tioga Pass area from the slopes of Mt. Dana on June 23, 2019. Photo by Joslyn Rogers.

July 1 is one of the latest dates for Tioga Pass to fully open, and later than in 2017 when the road opened on June 29 with more snow in the high country that year than this year. This is only the fifth time it has opened fully in July since record keeping began in 1933—other July opening dates happened in … more »

Another Chautauqua in the books

June 25th, 2019 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

Last weekend, the eighteenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua took flight in the basin as hundreds of birders and nature enthusiasts flocked to the area to seek out friends—both feathered and human—knowledge, and fun.

Birders take in the evening at Rattlesnake Gulch surrounded by flowers and granite spires. Photo courtesy of Karen DeMello.

This birding festival brings birders and naturalists together to enhance appreciation and understanding of the Mono Basin’s diverse and abundant bird life and to educate the public about this area’s value to birds and people. This year’s event featured over 100 programs to fill the days, including field trips, lectures, workshops, and more.

This year’s coterie of birders and field trip leaders tallied … more »

Capturing the Spirit of Birds: A presentation and book signing with photographer Marie Read

June 24th, 2019 by Lily, Information Center & Bookstore Manager

What does it take to create photographs that reveal the essential spirit of birds? For wildlife photographer Marie Read it means capturing their behavior—in this presentation she’ll show you how it’s done.

Join us for a presentation and book signing with Marie:

Friday, June 28
3:00–4:30pm
Mono Lake Committee gallery
in Lee Vining

Reserve your seat here

Marie will share the back stories to her compelling images, many of which appear in her latest book, Mastering Bird Photography: the Art, Craft, and Technique of Photographing Birds and Their Behavior. Whether you’re a bird watcher or an experienced photographer, Marie’s tips will help you improve your own images.

Signed copies of Mastering Bird Photography and Marie’s previous book, Sierra Wings: Birds of the Mono Lake Basin, will be available for purchase after the talk. For questions and more information contact me by email or at 760-647-6595.

2019 Mono Lake Committee Scholarship recipients

June 22nd, 2019 by Rose, Education Director

Since 2008, the Mono Lake Committee has supported local students by awarding two $1,000 scholarships to Mono County high school seniors. This year we asked applicants to get close to the shoreline of Mono Lake without distractions and jot down what they saw, heard, smelled, and felt around them. Then to reflect on the question: Why do places like Mono Lake matter?

The answers were quite moving from all applicants, but two essays rose to the top. We are pleased to announce this year’s recipients—Orion Ellis from Mammoth High School and Sophia McKee from Lee Vining High School.

Rose Nelson with scholarship recipients Orion Ellis and Sophia McKee. Photos by Rose Nelson.

… more »

Tioga Pass open on a limited basis starting Friday, June 21

June 19th, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

As road crews continue to work to get Tioga Pass (Highway 120) all the way open, Yosemite National Park has announced that there will be limited access to the road starting on Friday.

The gate at the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

The Tioga Road will be open to all vehicles, including bicycles, from 10:00am to 11:00am and from 3:00pm to 4:00pm, with no parking allowed on the road and no day use recreation permitted. This is a pass-through option only, for visitors interested in crossing the Sierra.

There is still no estimated date for the road to open fully. For more information, see the full press release from the National Park Service.

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