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Upcoming guided trips: June 25–July 1

June 21st, 2016 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide
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Are you on your way to the Mono Basin for a quick escape from the daily grind? We have spaces available on a few guided trips next week that will be the perfect addition to your vacation! Combine multiple trips for an extended guided getaway. The Mono Lake Guided Trip program offers naturalist trips to enhance your knowledge and connection to this beautiful area and its fascinating natural history.

Sierra wave sunset over Mono Lake. Photo by Nora Livingston.

Sierra wave sunset over Mono Lake. Photo by Nora Livingston.

Twilight Birding & Owling on Saturday, June 25, is a wonderful way to spend the evening at Mono Lake. We will spend a few hours birding as daylight turns to twilight, when vivid colors wrap … more »

Mono Lake in another drought year

June 19th, 2016 by Geoff, Executive Director
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When the California State Water Resources Control Board protected Mono Lake in 1994 by revising Los Angeles’ water rights in a landmark decision, it linked lake level and water exports together. The closer the lake is to its mandated ecologically sound level, the more water Los Angeles is authorized to export.

This approach, advocated by the Mono Lake Committee to protect Mono Lake and meet real water needs in the city, also works in reverse: the lower the lake, the less water can be exported.

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Last year, with the level of Mono Lake falling due to drought, the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) reduced exports by 70%, as required by the State Water Board rules. This year, … more »

Idle Hands String Band playing at Mono Lake County Park on Sunday

June 16th, 2016 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Come celebrate the summer solstice and Father’s Day at Mono Lake County Park this Sunday, June 19 at noon to picnic on the lawn and enjoy a free concert with the Idle Hands String Band!

Idle Hands String Band will be playing a free concert at Mono Lake County Park on Sunday, June 19. Photo courtesy of Idle Hands String Band.

Idle Hands String Band will be playing a free concert at Mono Lake County Park on Sunday, June 19. Photo courtesy of Idle Hands String Band.

The Idle Hands String Band specializes in traditional American string music from the mid 1800s to the present including Old Time, Bluegrass, Folk and progressive Folk, with guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, fiddle, dobro, and mountain dulcimer.

You can bring your own lunch, but a delicious lunch will be for sale for $10 per meal at the park: sirloin burgers, turkey burgers, and garden burgers with cheese and all the toppings, plus salad, watermelon, dessert, and a drink. All proceeds from lunch benefit Lee Vining High School.

We hope you’ll join us and enjoy the live music and great food with new and old friends this Sunday!

To get to County Park from Lee Vining, head north on Highway 395 approximately 5 miles and turn right on Cemetery Road. Go down the hill and look for parking directions. Carpooling from Lee Vining is highly recommended.

Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore summer hours

June 14th, 2016 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Starting Thursday, June 16, the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore will be open from 8:00am to 9:00pm every day.

The bookstore is busy all summer long---stop by any day, 8:00am to 9:00pm Photo by Erv Nichols.

The bookstore is busy all summer long—stop by any day, 8:00am to 9:00pm Photo by Erv Nichols.

Stop by to get information about what to do in the area, find out where to stay or camp, learn about Mono Lake’s fascinating history, or pick up the newest field guide or a T-shirt. Watch the 30-minute Mono Lake Story film, enjoy paintings and prints in the gallery by local artist Ann Piersall, and enjoy the view of Mono Lake from the front patio.

Our helpful seasonal staff can tell you where to find the best spots for sunset photography, show you menus from local restaurants, and give you advice on where to see birds and wildlife, among many other bits of information. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Our helpful seasonal staff is here with lots of advice to make your trip as fun as possible—stop by! Photo by Erv Nichols.

We’re looking forward to seeing you this summer!

Mono Lake Committee seasonal staff are here and summer is in full swing

June 12th, 2016 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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Summer is here! With the warm weather comes many changes; deer and birds are migrating, bears have woken from hibernation, and the Mono Lake Committee’s flock of seasonal staff has finally arrived. Training began June 1 and we’ve been busy from day one, excitedly preparing for the months ahead.

Andrew, Sara, and Grace paddle the route that Mono Lake Committee canoe tours take during the summer months. Photo by Gabby Renteria.

Our first day was filled with the usual: introductions, paperwork, and an awesome talk from Mike Hogan who is working hard to make sure the Caltrans Rockfall Project not only solves the issue of falling rocks but also leaves the hills on the west side of Mono Lake beautiful and habitable for the many animals here in the Mono Basin.

After that we wasted no time and jumped straight in with two days of canoe training. The first day was spent practicing … more »

Chautauqua event: The high country responds to a changing climate

June 9th, 2016 by Janet, Volunteer Coordinator
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Wondering what has happened to our snow and what to expect in the future? An afternoon seminar on climate issues affecting the Sierra Nevada—and all of us—will be held on Thursday, June 16 from 1:00–5:00pm at the Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center theater in Lee Vining.

350 MONO group Steps for Snow event, raising awareness

The Mono Basin 350.org climate awareness group at last fall’s Steps for Snow event. Photo courtesy of Janet Carle.

This afternoon series of talks with local experts will focus on how the high country of the Sierra Nevada is responding to a changing climate. High school student Caelen McQuilkin will discuss the American pika; Mono Lake Committee Executive Director Geoff McQuilkin will describe how Mono Lake is responding to warmer, drier winters; US Forest Service scientist Connie Millar will provide an ecosystem-wide overview; Yosemite geologist Greg Stock will speak on what glaciers tell us about climate change; and Yosemite wildlife biologist Sarah Stock will discuss how human intervention reversed the fate of two threatened animals in Yosemite National Park.

These excellent speakers will help us understand the future of the Sierra and what we all can do to encourage progress toward a sustainable climate on our planet.

This event, sponsored by 350 Mono, a local climate action group, is free and open to the public. We invite Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua attendees especially—stop by to hear about how a changing climate is affecting the Eastern Sierra and Mono Basin.

Wildflowers in full bloom along Lee Vining Creek

June 4th, 2016 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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This post was written by Sandra Noll, Birding Intern in 2014, 2015, & 2016.

Not far from the Mono Lake Committee headquarters and bookstore, the Lee Vining Creek trail offers multi-sensory delights this time of year. Early morning and late evening are best for birding but anytime of day is great for wildflowers.

Yellows predominate from the profuse tiny blossoms of bitterbrush and buckwheat to the stately single stems of western wallflower and from button-like rayless daisies to sunflower-like blossoms within the long fuzzy leaves of woolly mule’s ears.

The Lee Vining Creek trail flanked by yellow bitterbrush and sagebrush. Photo by Sandra Noll.

The Lee Vining Creek trail flanked by yellow bitterbrush and sagebrush. Photo by Sandra Noll.

… more »

Cassin’s, Wilson’s, Brewer’s…. What’s the deal with bird names?

June 1st, 2016 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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This post was written by Matt Rice, 2015 & 2016 Mono Lake Intern.

Being new to birding, I find myself flipping through guidebooks and being overwhelmed by the variety of species of birds that the Mono Basin has to offer. Tired of the confusion, I decided to make a list of all the birds I might encounter this summer. During this process, I came across some birds that shared the same common names, like Wilson and Brewer, and I decided to do a little research on who these birds were named after. I found the histories of these ornithologists fascinating and thought that I would share some of my favorites!

Steller's Jay. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Steller’s Jay. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Steller’s Jay: Named after the German botanist, zoologist, physician, and explorer Georg Wilhelm Steller (1709–1746). Steller was enlisted by Vitus Bering as a … more »

For the love of Mono Lake’s Osprey

May 30th, 2016 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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This post was written by Erv Nichols, Birding Intern in 2014, 2015, & 2016.

For me, the love of Ospreys really began last year, my second year here with the Mono Lake Committee. I was as familiar with them as I was with all the other birds of Mono—being, along with my partner Sandra—half the Birding Intern team. But somewhere about mid-summer I developed a real fondness for their behavior, grace, and devotion to their young.

Osprey pairs build nests atop tufa towers where they are safe from predators. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Osprey pairs build nests atop tufa towers where they are safe from predators. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Soon I was spending my free hours at Old Marina or the far reaches of South Tufa to observe the interactions of male, female, and chicks on the tufa nests they prefer. These nests are huge, six to eight feet across constructed from branches flown in from the nearby woods. Sometimes they will actually fly into a dead tree and snap off a preferred branch with a loud “CRAACK!” holding on to it with their strong talons and carrying it back as far as five miles to place in just the right spot. (Honestly, I have actually seen this!) … more »

Summer 2016 Mono Lake Newsletter now online

May 25th, 2016 by Arya, Communications Director
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Newsletter-Su-coverA full moon canoe tour on Mono Lake should be on your bucket list. There’s nothing like it. With the cool salty air off the water, the moonglade, the tufa towers even more otherworldly, birds and bats skirting through the quiet open sky—it’s like floating in the middle of a giant unbelievable black and white photograph.

While you’ve got your bucket list out, I recommend turning to page 14 of this Newsletter. The full moon canoe tour is just the beginning—the Mono Lake Committee is offering a whole slew of new guided trips and tours in addition to our regular offerings. We’ve pulled together some of the most knowledgeable, experienced, and fun people around to guide folks who are curious and want to see, learn, and do more in the Mono Basin. … more »

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The Mono Lake Committee is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.