July 21st, 2015 by Mono Lake Committee StaffcloseAuthor: Mono Lake Committee StaffName: Mono Lake Committee Staff Title: Mono Lake Committee Staff About: The Mono Lake Committee is a 16,000 member non-profit citizens' group dedicated to protecting and restoring the Mono Basin ecosystem, educating the public about Mono Lake and the impacts on the environment of excessive water use, and promoting cooperative solutions that protect Mono Lake and meet real water needs without transferring environmental problems to other areas.See All Posts by Mono Lake Committee (503) Contact Mono Lake Committee
This post was written by Erv Nichols, Birding Intern in 2014, 2015, & 2016.
I love Mono Lake…. That being said, let me tell some reasons why.
Early morning at Old Marina. Photo by Erv Nichols.
Mono Lake is beautiful. It has the beauty of wisdom only learned through age and hardship with the scars and wrinkles that serve as medals to that. And this is never more evident than on a stormy, cloud-filled, grey morning. On these mornings, dreary to most, I can be found in the early hours wandering the shores from Castle Tufa to Old Marina with just thousands of birds for company. Or maybe along an old shoreline high above the present lake where Native Americans long ago left their mark in the form of rock petroglyphs.
Since coming here two years ago with my partner and working for the Mono Lake Committee, I have made it my duty and passion to record these moments as best I can. Usually with my camera at hand, but sometimes just in my mind’s eye hoping Mono will reveal some of her ancient wisdom to me. Maybe before I leave here I will learn more of her secrets.
Just north of the Walker Creek diversion pond there were dozens of cliff swallows on the road and in the tops of bushes. Our approaching cars flushed them into the air, but as we left they settled back down in the tops of bushes. I haven’t seen this behavior before and suspect they were eating insects.
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July 18th, 2015 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy DirectorcloseAuthor: Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy DirectorName: Lisa Cutting Title: Eastern Sierra Policy Director About: Lisa concentrates on the Mono Basin's policy issues such as protecting the integrity of the Scenic Area, coordinating with regional agency staff, and working with the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and scientists on the ongoing restoration of Mono Lake and its tributary streams. Lisa uses sleuthing-out good fly fishing spots as another excuse for hiking, and it's always a treat when her dog Tucker comes to visit the office!See All Posts by Lisa (30) Contact Lisa
It is with heavy hearts and punch-to-the-gut reactions that we convey the news of James Wilson’s passing this past Wednesday at Renown Hospital in Reno. He died from complications of a stroke suffered the week before. He was 67 years old. He is survived by his wife Kay, his daughter Rosanne, son-in-law Bayard, and grandson Ansel.
Kay & James Wilson pictured last September at the Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center. Along with Kay, James was a steadfast supporter of the Mono Lake Committee’s work on behalf of Mono Lake. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.
For residents and frequent visitors to the Eastern Sierra, James’ accomplishments are familiar and numerous. He was the founder of Wilson’s Eastside Sports in Bishop, co-founder of Friends of the Inyo, active member of Eastern Sierra Audubon, the California Wilderness Coalition, and the Bishop Rotary Club; the list goes on and on. Suffice it to say that James was involved in almost every environmental issue that emerged in the region for over 30 years, bringing his calm, principled, and collaborative approach to the table. He was driven by his passionate love for the Eastern Sierra and his strong desire to protect its wild places, encouraging others to get out and experience it firsthand.
As a dedicated and steadfast conservation leader in the Eastern Sierra, an avid birder and naturalist, and friend to many, James Wilson will be deeply missed.
The last of the day’s light reflected in a pond in Lundy Canyon this past Wednesday, the evening that James passed away. Photo by Lisa Cutting.
July 17th, 2015 by Arya, Communications DirectorcloseAuthor: Arya, Communications DirectorName: Arya Harp Title: Communications Director About: Arya oversees the Committee's communications program, which includes the Mono Lake Newsletter and the Mono Lake Calendar. She loves her job because she gets to share the inspiring work of the Mono Lake Committee with members and visitors alike. Her favorite things to do in the Mono Basin include ice skating on nearby lakes, skiing the Mono Craters, and getting to smell the sagebrush when it rains.See All Posts by Arya (178) Contact Arya
It’s T-minus one week until the Trail Chic fashion show fundraiser … is your runway gear ready? Here’s one minute of inspiration from years past for you:
July 16th, 2015 by Greg, Information & Restoration SpecialistcloseAuthor: Greg, Information & Restoration SpecialistName: Greg Reis Title: Information & Restoration Specialist About: Since his internship with the Mono Lake Committee in 1995, Greg has been deeply involved with Mono Basin restoration and research. He studied Forestry & Natural Resources at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and has followed
the thalweg of hydrology, resource management, watershed management, and habitat restoration ever since. Greg lives in the Bay Area with his wife and two kids, where he also works for The Bay Institute's Rivers and Delta Program.See All Posts by Greg (184) Contact Greg
At the Cain Ranch weather station, five miles south of Lee Vining, as of July 13, 1.57 inches of rain had fallen in July. That makes this month already the second-wettest July on record after the 1.98 inches of rain in July 1965. Records at this location began in 1931. Rain fell on all but two days between July 1 and 10, and while it has been dry there since July 10, it still has been raining in other parts of the Mono Basin almost every day.
This wet July continues the wet May–June centered on Mono County. This map from the Western Regional Climate Center shows April–June precipitation in percent of average.
Lee Vining Creek above the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) diversion dam experienced its peak flow of about 124 cubic feet per second on July 11, from rain and melting fresh snow. Below the dam, the minimum flow is being released, and the floodwaters are being diverted to Grant Lake Reservoir, which has been slowly rising since May.
Aside from brief floods due to thunderstorms, the Mono Basin’s creeks are dropping to the very low levels that were otherwise expected this summer. If the thunderstorms stop, we will start seeing new low flow records later this month, especially in watersheds without glaciers, such as Walker Creek. The April–September snowmelt runoff forecast issued by DWP in May predicted 19% of average runoff, with a lower bound of 7% and an upper bound of 32%. Nineteen percent is less than half of the runoff measured in 1977, the driest year on record; 32% is still much drier than the driest year on record. Thanks to the recent wet weather, Mono Basin runoff is on track to reach 32%.
July 15th, 2015 by Elin, Communications CoordinatorcloseAuthor: Elin, Communications CoordinatorName: Elin Ljung Title: Communications Coordinator About: Elin's job consists of some of her favorite things: finding typos, experimenting with layouts, and figuring out how best to communicate the Committee's work to the world. She also oversees the Field Seminar program. Elin grew up in on California’s Central Coast dreaming of the two weeks each summer that her family would spend in the Eastern Sierra, and as soon as she graduated from St. Olaf College in 2005 she moved to Mono Lake full-time. She prefers to travel at high speed on either telemark skis or a mountain bike, or be completely still, immersed in a good book.See All Posts by Elin (308) Contact Elin
It’s one of the worst droughts on record, so that means there aren’t any flowers in the Mono Basin this year, right? Wrong!
Species of paintbrush are blooming brightly at many Mono Basin elevations, from riparian corridors where interns measure streamflow to alpine meadows. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.
July 13th, 2015 by Geoff, Executive DirectorcloseAuthor: Geoff, Executive DirectorName: Geoffrey McQuilkin Title: Executive Director About: Geoff's goals for the Committee are: ensuring Mono Lake's continuing protection, restoring Mono Lake's tributary streams, developing a permanent education program, and ensuring that the strong tradition of scientific research at Mono Lake continues. A graduate of Harvard in the history of science, Geoff has worked for the Committee since 1992 and was an intern and volunteer before that. He's happy to live close to the lake with his wife Sarah and their daughters Caelen, Ellery, and Cassia.See All Posts by Geoffrey (144) Contact Geoffrey
The Mono Lake Committee has now fully divested from fossil fuels. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.
A worldwide fossil fuel divestment movement has begun involving governments, educational institutions, foundations, faith-based groups, individuals, and non-profit organizations. Participants range from Stanford University to the City of Seattle to the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation to Britain’s Prince Charles. We’re pleased to inform members that the Mono Lake Committee is part of the movement.
As inspirational climate leader and Mono Lake Committee member Bill McKibben says, divestment is a simple, direct action that counters “the scary new math of climate change.”
The Committee’s savings account hardly rivals those of big institutions. But similar to our solar panel installation several years ago, we need to continue to do our part to counter carbon pollution—an issue close to home as we grapple with the effects of a changing climate at Mono Lake.
While coal, gas, and oil companies were never a special focus in the Committee’s investments, they were often present in the diversified funds we used to safeguard endowment gifts, member bequests, and other savings. But no longer. The Mono Lake Committee has now fully divested from fossil fuels.
July 11th, 2015 by Bartshé, Education DirectorcloseAuthor: Bartshé, Education DirectorName: Bartshé Miller Title: Education Director About: Bartshé directs the Mono Lake Committee's Outdoor Education Center programs, canoe program, and interpretive programs, and manages the Mono Basin Field Station. He has been an Eastern Sierra resident since 1993.See All Posts by Bartshé (63) Contact Bartshé
After four years of drought in California snow has become a rare sight in the Sierra Nevada, but in July?! Last week an upper-level low-pressure system moved westward across California and generated thunderstorms, rain, hail, and a local dose of real snow to the Tioga Pass region, especially in the Lee Vining Creek headwaters. The area around Saddlebag Lake, in particular, received a solid coating of snow, estimated between 6-10″ in the early morning hours of July 9. The morning was reminiscent of January, except for highlights of bright green vegetation struggling through an unfamiliar white blanket. With a strong El Nino building in the Pacific, might this be a harbinger of the winter ahead? California, the Sierra Nevada, and Mono Lake are greatly in need of anything close to a normal snowpack, but as this past week illustrates, there is no normal with precipitation in California, just variability.
Mt. Dana, above Tioga Pass on July 9, 2015.
Mt. Excelsior and ridge in fresh snow behind Saddlebag Lake, July 9, 2015.
Saddlebag Lake, Shepherd Crest (upper-left) and the Tioga Ridge on July 9, 2015. Note heavy snow near the ridge and Dore Pass (from upper-middle to upper- right). Photo by Bartshe Miller.
Mountain Pride, Penstemon newberryi, in fresh snow, July 9, 2015. Photo by Bartshe Miller.
July 10th, 2015 by Robbie, Restoration Field TechniciancloseAuthor: Robbie, Restoration Field TechnicianName: Robert Di Paolo Title: Restoration Field Technician About: Robbie grew up in San Francisco and received his BS in Environmental Science from Humboldt State University. He first heard about Mono Lake in an environmental policy class, became a Mono Lake Intern in the summer of 2014, and hasn't left since! He is now responsible for monitoring Mono Lake's tributary streams, measuring the level of Mono Lake, coordinating annual aerial Eared Grebe surveys, leading the invasive plant removal program, and assisting with any additional restoration programs in the Mono Basin. In his free time you might find him fishing, hiking, skiing, or playing board games.See All Posts by Robert (39) Contact Robert
Caltrans has released the sixth road report for the Lee Vining Rockfall Safety Project on Highway 395 along Mono Lake just north of Lee Vining.
July 10th, 2015 by Arya, Communications DirectorcloseAuthor: Arya, Communications DirectorName: Arya Harp Title: Communications Director About: Arya oversees the Committee's communications program, which includes the Mono Lake Newsletter and the Mono Lake Calendar. She loves her job because she gets to share the inspiring work of the Mono Lake Committee with members and visitors alike. Her favorite things to do in the Mono Basin include ice skating on nearby lakes, skiing the Mono Craters, and getting to smell the sagebrush when it rains.See All Posts by Arya (178) Contact Arya
Randy Arnold, Barefoot Wine ambassador and Mono Lake champion. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.
In spring 2003, the Mono Lake Committee got an intern application that stood out—Randy Arnold, 13-year ambassador for Barefoot Winery and 20-year Mono Lake Committee volunteer and member, wanted to be the Birding Intern. We were probably as surprised as his employers—Barefoot Wine founders Bonnie Harvey and Michael Houlihan, who had just given their #1 employee a sabbatical to follow his dream of working for Mono Lake.
Fast-forward to 2015 and Randy is celebrating his 25th anniversary with Barefoot. He continues to make good on the promise he made at age 14 (when he first visited Mono Lake on his way to 4-H summer camp) to return to the Eastern Sierra as often as possible. … more »