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Enter the Free Drawing … you could win a Cali4nia ski pass!

August 21st, 2015 by Ellen, Membership Coordinator
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Free-Drawing-graphic

We recently mailed tickets for our 2015 Free Drawing to Mono Lake Committee members. You must return them to be entered to win one of this year’s great prizes. We suggest that you include a $5 donation for each ticket you return, but you do not have to make a donation to enter.

You could win an iPad mini, a GoPro Camera, a Cali4nia Ski Pass, or a tempting vacation package in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Death Valley and, of course, the Eastern Sierra! Take a look at the full prize list and then send in your tickets today.

If you’re not a Mono Lake Committee member, you still can enter the Free Drawing. Send an email with your name and address to me, Ellen King, and we’ll send you ten tickets (or more, if you ask!). Be sure to return the tickets in order to be entered into the drawing. Or, if you’re planning a visit to Lee Vining, you can fill out tickets in our Information Center & Bookstore.

Tickets must be received by December 10, 2015. Remember—you can’t win a prize if you don’t enter!

Walker Fire update: Potential evacuation alert for Lee Vining is lifted

August 20th, 2015 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Great news from the agencies fighting the Walker Fire today—the CodeRed Emergency Alert for Lee Vining has been lifted, which means there will not be evacuations! This applies to everything north of the Double Eagle Resort & Spa in June Lake, including the Silver Lake and Grant Lake areas. However, campgrounds in lower Lee Vining Canyon will remain closed through the weekend.

We are immensely grateful to the firefighters and agency personnel who arrived in Lee Vining quickly after the fire started, jumped right on it, fought it tirelessly, and who continue to put out spot fires and work towards full containment. In light of yesterday’s news of the three firefighters who lost their lives in northern Washington, we hope more than ever that everyone stays safe.

The current Walker Fire perimeter. Map courtesy of the Inyo National Forest.

The current Walker Fire perimeter. Map courtesy of the Inyo National Forest.

Walker Fire update for Wednesday: 35% contained, Highway 120 open

August 19th, 2015 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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A view east toward the Mono Craters from the Walker Fire on Tuesday, August 18. Photo courtesy of incident fire crews.

A view east toward the Mono Craters from the Walker Fire on Tuesday, August 18. Photo courtesy of incident fire crews.

After several days of intense firefighting, the Walker Fire is now 35% contained at 3,715 acres. The fire crews and supporting aircraft have made good progress and as a result, Highway 120 west (the Tioga Road) has been open consistently since Monday afternoon, although no stopping is allowed on the eastern six miles of the road. In addition, the upper Lee Vining Canyon campgrounds were reopened on Monday afternoon, and remain open. The lower Lee Vining Canyon campgrounds remain closed, but from 9:00am until 3:00pm law enforcement will be escorting campers into those campgrounds to retrieve any gear left behind during evacuations. The fire has been determined to be human-caused. … more »

Walker Fire continues, road conditions changeable

August 17th, 2015 by Bartshé, Education Director
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The Walker Fire continues and Highway 120 west has been open and closed periodically with a Highway Patrol escort. Please check road conditions before you travel. Lee Vining remains under alert for possible evacuation, but we remain optimistic that an evacuation will not be necessary. Highway 395 remains clear and open without restrictions at this time.

Afternoon winds can change fire conditions dramatically as they have throughout the life of this fire, and road closures can change. Click here for up-to-date conditions reports.

Helicopter drops water from Walker Lake on spotfires near Williams Butte on August 17.

A helicopter drops water from Walker Lake on spotfires near Williams Butte on August 17.

Walker Fire boundary at the end of August  16, 2015.

The latest mapped fire boundary, now at 3,700 acres.

View of Waler Fire looking north on August 17 at appr. 11am.

Looking north across to the Walker Fire burn area at about 11:00am on August 17, conditions looked encouraging at this time. Photos by Bartshe Miller.

Walker Fire travel and road condition resources

August 17th, 2015 by Arya, Communications Director
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Conditions continue to evolve with the Walker Fire just south of Lee Vining. The two main highway arteries in the area, Highway 120 west into Yosemite and Highway 395, may need to be closed at times for fire fighting and safety. If you are traveling in the area, watch conditions carefully and plan ahead. We have gathered the resources we are using to get up-to-date information:

We will post major #walkerfire updates on:

Fire crews are based in Lee Vining and are working hard to get this fire under control, please help them be safe out there!

The good news is that you can still visit Mono Lake! Smoke conditions are variable around the Mono Basin, and continue to change as winds shift, so use your good judgement…. Places like South Tufa, the Old Marina, and County Park are easy access points to the lake, tufa towers, birds and wildlife, and interpretive activities, and these places are open to the public. For more information on where to go and what to do, you can always stop by the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore in Lee Vining and our helpful staff can help you get where you want to go.

Walker Fire update: Highway 120 (Tioga Pass road) and Highway 395 affected

August 17th, 2015 by Bartshé, Education Director
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The Tioga Pass Road, Highway 120 west into Yosemite National Park / Tuolumne Meadows, is currently closed. Campgrounds remain closed in the lower canyon as firefighting efforts on the Walker Fire continue. There is also a threat to Highway 395, with anticipated closure this afternoon, so be sure to check the latest road conditions before traveling.

The Walker Fire on August 16 at 1:00pm, looking more subdued compared to the smoke and flames the day before.

The Walker Fire on August 16 at 1:00pm. The situation looks more subdued compared to the visible smoke and flames the day before. Well done fire and air crews! Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Walker Fire 7% contained

August 16th, 2015 by Bartshé, Education Director
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Fire crews worked overnight to stop the Walker Fire spreading east to Highway 395 and north toward Highway 120. The fire is currently 7% contained, and more fire activity is expected today. Lee Vining is currently under a precautionary notice for potential evacuation in case fire activity spreads. Highway 120 west remains closed from Highway 395 to the Blue Slide (just east of Warren Fork). Highway 120 is unlikely to open today. The cause of the fire, originating at Walker Lake, is currently under investigation.

Walker fire burns in Bohler Canyon.

The Walker Fire burns during the night of August 15, just west of Highway 395, in Bohler Canyon. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Highway 120 (Tioga Pass) closed temporarily due to Walker Fire

August 15th, 2015 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Highway 120 west, Tioga Pass, has been closed until further notice due to the Walker Fire, which started last night just north of Walker Lake in the Mono Basin. Sheriffs’ deputies are stopping westbound traffic near the Mobil station on Highway 120. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The Walker Fire at approximately  3:30pm on August 15. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

The Walker Fire at approximately 3:30pm on August 15. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Wildfire west of Mono Lake: 150-acre Walker Fire

August 15th, 2015 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Smoke from the Walker Fire was visible from the Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center this morning. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Smoke from the Walker Fire was visible from the Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center this morning. Photo by Elin Ljung.

According to the Inyo National Forest, the Walker Fire started last night and has grown to approximately 150 acres this morning. It is located just north of Walker Lake in the Mono Basin, toward the north end of the June Lake Loop (Highway 158). Firefighters from local departments and agency crews responded quickly, and about 150 firefighters and one helicopter are on the scene.

The Walker Lake Resort has been evacuated, and the dirt road along the base of the mountains (road 1N17, known locally as the “aqueduct road”) is closed. The Mono Pass trailhead at Walker Lake is also closed. Highway 120 west to Tioga Pass and the entrance to Yosemite National Park is open. Highway 395, the June Lake Loop, and all Mono Lake access points are also open.

Visitors will see smoke from Highway 395, the June Lake area, the Mono Lake area, and the town of Lee Vining. Right now in Lee Vining the air is clear with a few small white ashes falling.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. However, after four years of record drought, and with 17 wildfires currently burning in California, it bears repeating that fire restrictions are in effect. In the Inyo National Forest and on local BLM lands, this means no campfires, no barbeques, and no stoves outside of designated campgrounds. When in doubt, get a California campfire permit from the Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center.

The Walker Fire, shortly after it ignited late on Friday, August 14. Photo courtesy of Todd Robertson.

The Walker Fire seen from Highway 395, shortly after it ignited late on Friday, August 14. Photo courtesy of Todd Robertson.

Caltrans Rockfall Project work suspended for the rest of the year; no more traffic delays north of Lee Vining

August 14th, 2015 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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As of Wednesday, August 12, the contractor completed Stage 1 of the Lee Vining Rockfall Safety Project and all equipment, including one-lane traffic control signals and barricades, have been removed from the project site. Since early May, Highway 395 north of Lee Vining had been reduced to one-lane to allow the crew room to maneuver—scaling rocks off the slopes, installing anchored mesh, and applying blends of soil amendments and seeds for successful revegetation.

The completed work on Slope 6 of the Lee Vining Rockfall Safety Project: rocks scaled away, anchored mesh installed, and mulch, soil amendments, and seeds applied. Photo by Sandra Noll.

The completed work on Slope 6 of the Lee Vining Rockfall Safety Project: rocks scaled away, anchored mesh installed, and mulch, soil amendments, and seeds applied. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Stage 1 is completed and four of the six project slopes are done. Stage 2 will address slopes 3 and 4 and will begin in spring 2016 as soon as weather conditions allow for work.

The project was originally planned to take two seasons to complete and although it appeared for a while that the entire project would be finished this year, the contractor is playing it safe by not transitioning to the next phase and allowing an entire season for Stage 2. Traffic delays are done for now and all of us—including the contractor—will know what to expect next spring.

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