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Early bird special for Mono Lake canoe tours

July 22nd, 2018 by Alison, Canoe Coordinator
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Each weekend the Mono Lake Interns wake with the sun and meet at 6:30am, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready for a day of paddling on Mono Lake. When they arrive at Navy Beach, they are almost always greeted by a calm, glassy lake and an empty parking lot.

Early morning is one of the best times to enjoy Mono Lake, especially from a canoe. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Mono Lake in the early morning is a magical place: the Sierra Crest is lit up by first light and its image is reflected on the lake’s still surface … more »

How the Mono Lake Committee changed my life

July 21st, 2018 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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I was 11 years old when I first set eyes on Mono Lake. My family had just finished our annual camping trip to Yosemite and decided to take the “long” way home and spend a night in the Eastern Sierra.

Seasonal staff training in 2015. Photo by Erv Nichols.

I can vividly remember the surprise I felt as our car made its way to the bottom of Tioga Pass. How had I never seen or heard of this ginormous lake before?! We didn’t make it to the lake’s salty shore that year or even into a visitor center to learn more about it—but it was a day that would shape my future, although I didn’t know it at the time. … more »

“The Longest Straw” showing at the Aquarium of the Bay

July 19th, 2018 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have been hoping to see the film The Longest Straw but can’t make it to tomorrow’s screening here in Lee Vining, you’re in luck…

On Wednesday, August 8 at 6:00pm the Bay Institute will be hosting a screening at the Aquarium of the Bay! Film director and star Samantha Bode will be there, along with the Mono Lake Committee’s Information & Restoration Specialist Greg Reis, for a Q&A and discussion after the film. Tickets cost $15 and include access to the Aquarium, a reception with light refreshments, and the screening. For more information or to purchase tickets click here.

Wildfires affect air quality in the Mono Basin and Yosemite National Park

July 18th, 2018 by Alison, Canoe Coordinator
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The sky remains hazy in the Eastern Sierra as smoke from two wildfires continues to affect air quality.

Smoke from the Ferguson Fire in Mono Basin. Photo by Eric Bergdoll.

The Ferguson Fire started on Friday, July 13 and is currently burning over 21,000 acres in the Sierra National Forest just west of Yosemite National Park near the small community of El Portal. Highway 140 is closed, cutting off access to Yosemite via the Arch Rock Entrance. Air quality monitoring in Yosemite Valley rated the air quality as unhealthy or even … more »

Monitoring California Gulls on Mono Lake’s islands

July 15th, 2018 by Nigel, Birding Intern
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Last week, I traveled to the Negit and Paoha islets in the middle of Mono Lake to help with the ongoing California Gull research project. (Please note that the islands are closed to the public until August 1 to protect the nesting gulls.)

Counting gull chicks in a fenced-off plot on the Paoha Islets. Photo by Nigel Bates.

This project, conducted by Point Blue Conservation Science and supported by the Mono Lake Committee, has monitored long-term trends in the breeding gull population for the past 35 years. Mono Lake supports one of the largest California Gull colonies in the world, so the success of this population is critical to the survival of the species. I joined Point Blue lead researcher Kristie Nelson and Institute for Bird Populations intern Sarah Hecocks for three days of data collection at the gull colony. … more »

We are all connected: Dust from the Gobi Desert found in the Sierra Nevada

July 12th, 2018 by Alexis, Mono Lake Intern
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Aerial view of Gobi Desert dust traveling over China west toward California. Photo courtesy of NASA.

The Sierra Nevada is such a high and rocky mountain range that one might wonder how trees like Jeffrey pines and giant sequoias are able to grow. Dust collected in Yosemite National Park contains nutrients such as phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which are not typically found in areas where there is a lot of granite rock. In work published last year, researchers reported that phosphorous and other nutrients travel to the Sierra Nevada via dust carried in the jet stream.

A team from UC Riverside and UC Merced conducted a study in Yosemite Valley to establish where the dust and minerals originated. After analyzing the dust they concluded that the … more »

Join us on a free bird walk!

July 10th, 2018 by Nigel, Birding Intern
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Looking for something fun to do on a weekend morning in the Mono Basin? The Mono Lake Committee and California State Parks offer free bird walks at 8:00am every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday throughout the summer. Join a naturalist for a leisurely 2-hour excursion through some of the most productive bird habitats in the area. The Friday and Sunday morning walks are at Mono Lake County Park, and the Saturday morning walk explores Lundy Canyon. All experience levels are welcome! We’ll provide loaner binoculars if you don’t have a pair.

The lush riparian habitat at County Park is a great place to spot Western Tanagers. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Fridays and Sundays: Meet at Mono Lake County Park (5–10 minute drive from Lee Vining). Take Highway 395 north from Lee Vining for 5 miles, then turn right on Cemetery Road (signs for County Park/Mono Lake Access). Follow Cemetery Road for a 1/2-mile to the parking lot on the right.

Saturdays: Meet at the Lundy Lake Resort (15 minute drive from Lee Vining). Take Highway 395 north from Lee Vining for 7 miles, then turn left on Lundy Lake Road. Follow the Lundy Lake Road for 5 miles to the Lundy Lake Resort, where you can park on the shoulder just before the main cluster of buildings.

For more information, contact the Mono Lake Committee at (760) 647-6595, stop by the Information Center and Bookstore in Lee Vining, or email Birding Intern Nigel. We hope to see you out in the field!

Scanning for birds along Cemetery Road at County Park. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Save the tufa!

July 6th, 2018 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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Tufa is otherworldly, oddly enchanting, and one of Mono Lake’s most iconic and popular features. Tufa towers are important nesting sites for birds—from Osprey to owls—while underwater tufa is habitat for alkali flies. For years, photographs of tufa have played an important role in spreading the message that Mono Lake, and the tufa itself, needs protecting.

Fragile rock

Growing only underwater, tufa is a precipitate formed when calcium-rich spring water mixes with carbonate-rich Mono Lake water—slowly building up around seeps and springs. Though tufa towers are rock formations, they are fragile—they crumble, topple, and erode from wave action, high desert weather, and, unfortunately, from people being careless around them. … more »

Moving toward a brighter future: Lee Vining begins construction of Pioneer Solar Pavilion

July 5th, 2018 by Max, Mono Lake Intern
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Exciting times are shining on Lee Vining early this summer with the groundbreaking of the Pioneer Solar Pavilion at Hess Park. The pavilion will provide protection from the harsh Eastern Sierra sun and wind, while providing solar power and free wi-fi, as well as a space for outdoor events. Visitors to the pavilion will find a unique blend of past and future, with panels detailing historically significant Mono Basin pioneer families juxtaposed against modern solar panels generating power for Mono County, which will own and maintain the pavilion.

A volunteer posing with the fresh dirt of the pavilion’s groundbreaking. Photo courtesy of Janet Carle.

As well as providing shelter, educating visitors will be a main function of the pavilion. Interpretive panels on a variety of topics such as renewable energy, the Mono Basin pioneer families, Mono Lake, and upcoming events near Lee Vining will be a part of the structure. Additionally, a monitor will show real-time data of the energy being generated by the rooftop panels and the reduction of carbon emissions achieved. … more »

Discover more on Mono Lake Mobile: monolakemobile.org

July 4th, 2018 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Have you ever been down at Mono Lake wondering: How many brine shrimp live in Mono Lake? Why do the tufa towers at Old Marina look different than the ones at South Tufa? What else can I do during my visit?

When you visit Mono Lake, pull up monolakemobile.org on your phone for a self-guided tour of South Tufa, directions, and more. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

You can find the answers to all of these questions and more by visiting monolakemobile.org on your phone. Designed to be mobile-friendly and used while visiting the lake, Mono Lake Mobile is the best way to learn about the lake on your own schedule and at your own pace. You can take a self-guided tour of South Tufa (complete with audio narration) and learn about other great sites to visit around Mono Lake including Old Marina and County Park.

You can also … more »

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