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Mono Lake Committee goes net-zero with solar

July 25th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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In 2010 the Mono Lake Committee started the process of converting to solar power with nine solar panels installed on the roof of the “ice house” office building, and then added an additional 33 panels to the roof of the bookstore building in 2012. We also took a number of conservation measures, such as switching to LED bulbs in the bookstore, and have been monitoring our usage carefully. By 2016 we had completed our big conservation steps and reduced our annual grid power demand by over 80%.

Despite these reductions, we had a goal to generate all the power needed for the bookstore and offices right here on the property. In late June 2017, Sierra Solar installed 16 more panels, and now that the grid-intertie has been completed, we are expecting to achieve net zero power demand on the grid on an annual basis!

Four panels fit on the canopy over the main bookstore doors, generating power and providing visitors with a visual example of our commitment to sustainable energy. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Most of the Committee’s solar panels are largely invisible to members and visitors since they’re atop the bookstore and ice house office roofs. We asked Jim at Sierra Solar to check … more »

Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentations return with avalanche forecaster Sue Burak

July 22nd, 2017 by Molly, Mono Lake Intern
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Join us for this summer’s first Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation, next Wednesday, July 26 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery!

While clearing the snow that fell on Tioga Pass Road this past winter (pictured), Caltrans was lucky to have hydrologist Sue Burak provide her expertise to help with avalanche training and assessments. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Come hear hydrologist Sue Burak give an inside look at the work of an avalanche forecaster, the science behind the forecasts, and the headaches of an avalanche forecaster during a winter when nature put the hammer down in a presentation entitled “Atmospheric Rivers Bring It On: Big Storms & Big Avalanches in a Record-Breaking Winter.” Admission is free and there will be free snacks! … more »

Mono Lake rose a record amount in June 2017

July 20th, 2017 by Julissa, Canoe Coordinator
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Over the past winter, the Mono Basin received record levels of snowfall—estimated runoff was at 206% above average for Rush and Lee Vining creeks at the end of May. According to ASO Principal Investigator Dr. Tom Painter, over a three-week span during January the Sierra Nevada received more water than the entire Colorado River basin receives in an average year. In the first week of July Saddlebag Lake Resort reported 12 feet of snow still on the ground—that is a lot of snow for July.

Mono Lake’s shoreline on June 3, just as high volumes of snowmelt were beginning to flow down the tributary streams to the lake. Mono Lake Committee wildlife camera photo. (Comparison photo after the jump!)

With spring in our pocket and summer upon us, the time has come for warmer weather, and Mono Lake has been at times rising a twentieth of a foot per day. This added up to … more »

Free patio activities at the Mono Lake Committee

July 19th, 2017 by Julissa, Canoe Coordinator
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We are excited to announce that we are offering free educational interpretive programs and activities on the front patio of the Mono Lake Committee, Tuesday through Saturday at 11:00am. We will explore topics such as how the Mono Basin formed, bird adaptation, Mono Lake’s changing habitats, following animal tracks, and we’ll also make recycled crafts.

Join Mono Lake Intern Charlotte on the patio to learn about volcanoes and more local geology! Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Our forming the Mono Basin program will focus on the different types of rock in the Mono Basin. It will introduce visitors to the varied landscape of the Mono Basin and what makes it so unique. Join us for a chance to make your very own tufa! … more »

Star gazing in the Mono Basin

July 17th, 2017 by Charlotte, Mono Lake Intern
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Being far from civilization, having few trees, and the framing of the mountains makes the Mono Basin an amazing place for star gazing. The stars have always created a sense of wonder in the human mind, leading us to explore them with our imagination far before space travel technology. Spending time in the basin has reinvigorated my sense of love and wonder for the night sky. If you’re like me, then I would recommend setting your sights on these stargazing spots.

Starry night skies and moonlit tufa at South Tufa. Photo courtesy of Bristlecone Media.

1) South Tufa
South Tufa can be pretty busy during the day, but once night falls it turns into a peaceful place to stargaze. With the tufa towers surrounding you and the sounds of the lapping water, you will be transported … more »

Mono Lake and me: 20 years in the making

July 12th, 2017 by Aviva, Mono Lake Intern
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As a human geography major I often explain what I study as the intersection of how place impacts people and how people impact place. This is why I was so drawn to interning for the Mono Lake Committee—the Mono Basin has been a second home for me most of my life. What I did not realize until I was a teenager was that the Committee is the reason this landscape is still here—for birds, animals, and humans alike. I spent so many vacations in Lundy Canyon, the north shore sand dunes, or walking at South Tufa, yet I always took for granted how much work has gone into preserving this basin and enabling me and countless others to enjoy this slice of paradise.

Me at age nine, with my mom and our loyal lab Jasper. Photo courtesy of Malcolm North.

My love for the outdoors stated here and I’m sure for many other people, so it is now so exciting to work … more »

Scaling back the fence thanks to a rising Mono Lake

July 11th, 2017 by Jenny, Birding Intern
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I recently had the opportunity to go out to the landbridge to help with maintenance of the gull fence. I woke up at 5:00am in order to get out there in time, and by 6:30am we were ready to head out, chest waders and all.

The north shore of the landbridge is a surreal, other-worldly landscape. Photo by Jennifer Rieke.

This was my first time to the north shore of Mono Lake and it was quite a contrast to the scenic southern shore I am used to. With Black Point behind us, we trudged over salt flats towards Negit Island. Passing skeletons of last year’s giant blazing stars and coyote scat, we approached the electric fence when suddenly I heard it—the clamor of the gull colony! I put my binoculars up to see the islets overflowing with California Gulls. This was a place I had only imagined in my mind, and now it was coming to life. … more »

Seminar spotlight: Mono Basin Mammals

July 10th, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Small mammals like squirrels, chipmunks, kangaroo rats, and mice scurry around us humans all the time here in the Mono Basin, but how often do you actually get to really see them? If you’re interested in seeing the Mono Basin’s mammals up close (you might even get to hold one!), you’re in luck—there is still space available in the Mono Basin Mammals field seminar next week.

Mono Basin Mammals • July 21–23 • $165 per person/$150 for members • sign up here • view full itinerary here

Biologist and Field Seminar instructor John Harris has studied the Mono Basin’s mammals since the 1970s. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Instructor John Harris has studied the Mono Basin’s mammals for decades, and has led many popular field seminars for the Mono Lake Committee and at the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. John catches the mammals in live traps, thereby allowing seminar participants to see these fascinating creatures up close.

The group visits the Tioga Pass high country to look for marmots and pikas during the seminar. Photo by Elin Ljung.

If you have never seen the tuft on a kangaroo rat’s tail, been able to compare the stripes of different chipmunk species, or watched families of pikas busily gathering grass for the winter, this seminar will show you all that and more. More mammals occur in the Mono Basin than in many states, from its desert sand dunes to Sierra forests and alpine meadows. This class will include live-trapping, field observation, learning about tracks, and identifying skulls, with a focus on identification and adaptations to Mono’s varied environments. Sign up now for a fascinating weekend in the Mono Basin, in the company of its smallest mammals.

More mammals occur in the Mono Basin than in many entire states, and identifying those varied species is much easier with John’s help. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Mono Basin Mammals • July 21–23 • $165 per person/$150 for members • sign up here • view full itinerary here

Visitor questions at Mono Lake

July 10th, 2017 by Molly, Mono Lake Intern
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South Tufa tours are a great way to learn about the mysteries of Mono Lake. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Since I started giving walking and canoe tours this summer, I have been asked some really thought-provoking questions. Some have straightforward answers and some are more abstract, but I love every question I am asked because it helps me think about the lake differently and it helps me understand what people are really interested in.

I would like to share some of my favorite questions so far because if one person asked, others must be wondering too.

1. What if you put a shark into Mono Lake? … more »

Experience Mono Lake by canoe!

July 6th, 2017 by Julissa, Canoe Coordinator
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View from the canoe tour starting destination at Navy Beach. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Whether you are a local or simply passing through right now is the best time to get out on Mono Lake. Since January of this year the lake has risen over two feet and we are expecting it to continue to rise another foot-and-a-half. It is a magical, serene, and beautiful place to experience by canoe.

The Mono Lake Committee offers hour-long canoe tours with knowledgeable guides paddling you through tufa groves. We offer these tours every Saturday and Sunday at 8:00am, 9:30am, and 11:00am through the first weekend in September. Reserve your spot online today!

Canoe guides lead you through tufa groves while looking for brine shrimp. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

It is astonishing how much the lake has risen in the past month. I go out every week as often as I can, even on my days off and before work, just to see how different the changing water level makes tufa disappear under the water’s surface. There is so much to see from the Sierra Nevada’s still-snow-covered peaks, the lake teeming with brine shrimp, and the new nesting Osprey chicks. There is so much to explore and be grateful for in what the Mono Lake Committee and friends have done to ensure that this splendid lake is not lost or forgotten. We’d love it if you would join us for an amazing morning out on Mono Lake so you can experience the magic yourself.

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