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April 1 Mono Lake level close to critically low threshold

April 1st, 2016 by Geoff, Executive Director
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This morning Mono Lake Committee staff met with Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) personnel to conduct the official annual April 1 reading of the lake level together. The consensus: Mono Lake stands at 6378.11 feet above sea level.

Mono Lake is now just 13 inches above the ecologically precipitous 6377-foot elevation at which the nesting islands become landbridged, lake salinity hits new highs, air quality problems worsen, and stream delta habitat conditions degrade.

Measuring Mono Lake's April 1 elevation

DWP’s Steve Rich and Robbie Di Paolo from the Mono Lake Committee read the lake level gauge together this morning. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

With those concerns in mind, the State Water Board rules are more nuanced this year for determining whether or not DWP can export water to Los Angeles. Not only does the lake have to be above 6377 feet for today’s measurement, it also has to be forecast to stay above 6377 every day of the coming year. … more »

New gallery show: Luminous Landscapes by Ann Piersall

March 30th, 2016 by Lily, Information Center & Bookstore Manager
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"Tufa" by Ann Piersall

“Tufa” by Ann Piersall.

We are thrilled to announce that paintings by local artist and scientist, Ann Piersall, will be featured in the Mono Lake Committee’s gallery from now through mid-August.

Ann hails from the mountains of western Montana, and now resides in Bishop, California, on the eastside of the beautiful Sierra Nevada. She worked seasonally as a ranger, ski patroller, cartographer, mountain guide, and science technician in Montana, Alaska, Colorado, and Kyrgyzstan before transitioning to working full-time in air pollution control and meteorology. Ann’s art is inspired by the colors, geometry and adventures of the places that she loves.

Ann’s style is bold, geometric, and beautiful—and this show highlighting the Eastern Sierra and Mono Lake is not to be missed!

Join us for an evening artist’s reception to open the new show, titled “Luminous Landscapes,” on Sunday, April 3 from 5:00 to 7:00pm. Come enjoy wine and cheese, meet Ann, and delight in her beautiful work in the Mono Lake Theater & Gallery.

"Virginia Lakes" by Ann Piersall

“Virginia Lakes” by Ann Piersall.

Book your Mono Lake canoe tour today

March 28th, 2016 by Andrew, Project Specialist
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Join the Mono Lake Committee for a guided canoe tour this summer!

Experience Mono Lake in a new way by joining a guided canoe tour this summer. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

Experience Mono Lake in a new way by joining a guided canoe tour this summer. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

Canoeing on Mono Lake is an unforgettable experience. See the lake in a completely new way as you float over bubbling springs forming new tufa towers, examine some of the trillions of tiny brine shrimp that inhabit the lake, and experience the peace and tranquility of this wild place. Prepare to take in breathtaking views of the Mono Basin and the dramatic Sierra crest, which … more »

2015 Mono Lake California Gull report

March 26th, 2016 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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This Winter & Spring 2016 Mono Lake Newsletter article was written by Kristie Nelson, Point Blue Conservation Science.

Monitoring of the Mono Lake California Gull colony by Point Blue Conservation Science researchers and volunteers to help understand how wildlife populations respond to ecological change over time continued in 2015.

A banded California Gull (Larus californicus) with its chick at Mono Lake. Photo courtesy of West Vane.

A banded California Gull (Larus californicus) with its chick at Mono Lake. Photo courtesy of West Vane.

It was a very successful year for the gulls: both population size and chick production were above-average. Chicks were numerous and heavy, which indicates that they were … more »

Eared Grebe survey results from 2015

March 24th, 2016 by Robbie, Project Specialist
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Mono Lake is a critical migratory staging ground for Eared Grebes (Podiceps nigricollis). Surveys have confirmed that 30–50% of the entire continent’s population of Eared Grebes utilize Mono Lake, with over one million birds visiting on their fall migration route to feed on brine shrimp. Since 2008 the Mono Lake Committee has collaborated with Canadian research biologist Sean Boyd from the Pacific Wildlife Research Centre in British Colombia to carry out annual aerial Eared Grebe surveys.

Aerial Eared Grebe survey data suggests that a shift toward an earlier peak in grebe population numbers at Mono Lake may be occurring.

Aerial Eared Grebe survey data suggests that a shift toward an earlier peak in grebe population numbers at Mono Lake may be occurring.

It had previously been observed that Eared Grebes were most prolific at Mono Lake in mid-October (as recently as 2013), but … more »

Get your ducks in a row: Chautauqua registration is April 15th

March 23rd, 2016 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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Mallard mama with ducklings. Photo by Nora Livingston.

If you are planning to come to the Fifteenth Annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua, now is the time to gather your ducklings and make sure you’re prepared for registration—you don’t want to miss out on a trip because you haven’t decided which trips to register for! Registration opens on Friday, April 15, at 6:30am sharp. Many field trips fill within minutes, so rise before the sun, sip your coffee with your list of events in hand, and be ready to go at 6:30am. The schedule is up on the website now, and the full program with trip descriptions and leader biographies will be up very soon, so make sure you have your field trip and program choices prioritized for registration day. Check out our Facebook page for real-time updates. We look forward to seeing you in June!

Announcing Mono Lake Guided Trips

March 22nd, 2016 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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We are excited to share our new Guided Trips program—a new way to visit the Mono Basin and the Eastern Sierra with an experienced guide to get the most out of this incredible place and fall in love with the region like we have, while also supporting Mono Lake.

Lead Naturalist Guide Nora Livingston (third from left) leads a group of birders at the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

Lead Naturalist Guide Nora Livingston (third from left) leads a group of birders at the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

Our new program has over 45 day-trips scheduled from May to October, ranging in focus from birds to volcanoes and everything in between. Walk with us and learn to identify wildflowers, butterflies, birds, and mammals. Transport your mind into the past while we visit historical Paiute, mining, and logging sites. Slip into the lake in a canoe as the full moon rises—serenity is waiting.

We also offer custom guided trips for an even more personalized visit. We will work with you to design … more »

2016 Mono Lake Committee Scholarship now open for applicants

March 21st, 2016 by Robbie, Project Specialist
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Each year the Mono Lake Committee supports local students pursuing higher education who display a personal connection with Mono Lake and the Mono Lake story with two $1,000 scholarships. Mono County resident high school seniors who have firm plans to attend a two- or four-year college within a year of graduation qualify.

Carson Bold won one of the 2015 Mono Lake Committee Scholarships; Communications Director Arya Degenhardt presented it to him at graduation. Photo courtesy of Susan Morning.

Carson Bold was a recipient of one of the 2015 Mono Lake Committee Scholarships; Communications Director Arya Degenhardt presented it to him at graduation. Photo courtesy of Susan Morning.

If you are interested in applying, you can find the application here. The application deadline is: Friday, April 29, 2016 at 5:00pm. … more »

El Niño delivers more drought to the Eastern Sierra

March 19th, 2016 by Bartshé, Education Director
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Despite a strong El Niño and recent rain and snow in California, drought conditions continue to plague the Eastern Sierra and Mono Lake. As of March 16 extreme and exceptional drought conditions persist in Mono and Inyo counties, a drought that is now in its fifth year. Recent winter storms brought very little precipitation east of the Sierra crest and the outlook for the rest of March looks generally dry.

CA_droughtconditions_March15_2016

Extreme and exceptional drought conditions persist up and down the Eastern Sierra and throughout a large portion of California.

This means that many precipitation measuring stations east and west of Highway 395 will end up between 40% and 75% of normal for April 1. The one exception … more »

Rush Creek dodges another setback: Mono Lake Committee action prompts flow adjustment

March 16th, 2016 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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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.

A snow-covered Grant Lake Reservoir at the lowest it has been since 2009, showing the current low volume of water (approximately 11,000 acre-feet) and exposed banks. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

A snow-covered Grant Lake Reservoir at the lowest it has been since 2009, showing the current low volume of water (approximately 11,000 acre-feet) and exposed banks. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

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 »

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