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A toast to Randy Arnold and 25 Barefoot years at Mono Lake

July 10th, 2015 by Arya, Communications Director
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Randy Arnold. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

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 »

Volunteer opp: remove invasive plants on Mill Creek

July 9th, 2015 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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This post was written by Matt Rice, 2015 & 2016 Mono Lake Intern.

An important piece of the Mono Lake Committee’s mission is to restore Mono Lake’s tributary streams and their riparian (streamside) habitats. These environments provide a lush area for many of the native plants of the Mono Basin to grow and flourish. Since the streams were damaged by years of excessive water diversions, they are in the process of recovering, and non-native invasive plants can sometimes encroach, outcompete the native vegetation, and slow the restoration process.

invasives - native cow clower - RDi IMG_0569

Native cow clover recolonizing riparian habitat along Mill Creek. Photo by Robert Di Paolo.

This summer the Mono Lake Committee is continues to focus on removing invasive plants along Mill Creek, the third largest tributary to Mono Lake located in the north Mono Basin. White sweet clover is the main target as this fast-growing weed  quickly dominates sections of Mill Creek and poses the greatest threat to native plants. Already this summer we have removed over 300 pounds of invasive white sweet clover and the native flowers and plants are noticeably establishing in the previously invaded habitat, which is both encouraging and beautiful to witness.

invasives 2014-08-04 high country plants seminar RD_1639

Botanist Ann Howald will join the restoration crew on July 21st to talk about rare plants and conservation issues. Photo by Robert Di Paolo.

Come join us this July on Tuesday the 14th and Tuesday the 21st to see for yourself and to help keep this important habitat healthy, beautiful, and diverse. On the 21st we will be accompanied by guest naturalist Ann Howald, a botanist who specializes in rare plants and conservation issues and who has lead the High Country Plant Field Seminar for the Mono Lake Committee for over a decade. She has an amazing wealth of knowledge of the Sierra Nevada and this will be a rare chance to pick her brain.

To join us: meet at 8:30 am at the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore,  located on the corner of Highway 395 and Third Street in Lee Vining. If you are interested in volunteering for either of the restoration events this July or if you have any questions about July or August events, please contact Robbie Di Paolo at (760) 647-6386 x122.

invasives 2015-07-01 OEC invasive activity MB_1666

Outdoor Education Center participants, Pacoima Beautiful, after a day of invasive plant removal. Photo by Melissa Boyd.

Special thanks to the California State Parks Foundation for their support of the Mono Lake Volunteer program this year. Special thanks to outdoor clothing company Patagonia Inc. for their support of the Mono Lake Committee’s restoration stewardship program.

Drought response in the LA–Mono Lake watershed

July 7th, 2015 by Geoff, Executive Director
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The word of the day, week, month, and year in Southern California water (as with all of California) is “drought.” How bad will it be? How warm will it be? How can Governor Jerry Brown’s 25% water use reduction be implemented? What about next year?

South Tufa, Negit and Paoha Islands, and the Bodie Hills beyond, after a spring storm. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

South Tufa, Negit and Paoha Islands, and the Bodie Hills beyond, after a spring storm. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Los Angeles and Mono Lake are two ends of a watershed, connected by the Los Angeles Aqueduct. The effects of the drought on Los Angeles—and the response plans—are critical to Mono Lake, especially in this dry year as lower water exports kick in to slow the falling level of Mono Lake. The good news is that LA is already working on achieving an aggressive set of … more »

The Mono Basin’s top ten June birds

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

The month of June has flown and it’s time to unveil the top ten bird encounters; birds seen within a half-hour driving radius of the Mono Lake Committee headquarters. It was a great month enhanced by the seasonal hatching and fledging young and by sightings at the 14th annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua held June 19–21.

A Mountain Bluebird with food for its hungry nestlings. Photo by Erv Nichols.

A Mountain Bluebird with food for its hungry nestlings. Photo by Erv Nichols.

1. Northern Saw-whet Owl—a cavity nest with several owlets was discovered in the Obsidian Dome area during the Bird Chautauqua
2. Mountain Bluebirds—nesting behind the gas station at south entrance to June Lake Loop … more »

Extreme precipitation amidst extreme drought

July 3rd, 2015 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist
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On the evening of July 1st, rain falling on Mono Lake during thunderstorms could be heard two miles away. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.

On the evening of July 1st, rain falling on Mono Lake during thunderstorms could be heard two miles away. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.

The Mono Basin is a land of extremes, and this year’s weather is no exception. Temperatures since January are the warmest on record. October–March precipitation in Lee Vining was the lowest on record. April–September precipitation, on the other hand, already is the highest on record—and we are only halfway through that time period! This water year (October 1, 2014–September 30, 2015) is the first time Apr–Sept precipitation has exceeded Oct–Mar. This reversal of the warm and cold season Mediterranean precipitation patterns has allowed invasive plants like cheatgrass to … more »

Come one, come all…. Summer tours are in full swing in the Mono Basin!

July 1st, 2015 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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This post was written by Tina Weedman, 2013 & 2014 Information Center & Bookstore Assistant and 2015 Mono Lake Intern.

Daily walking tours and weekend canoe tours are underway for the season! Come join us and learn the natural and political history of Mono Lake and the surrounding area, discover Panum Crater, look for birds, or explore the night sky. There is an activity for everyone….

Join Mono Lake Committee and State Park birders on Friday and Sunday mornings at 8:00am for a free guided bird walk at County Park. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Join Mono Lake Committee and State Park birders at County Park on Friday and Sunday mornings at 8:00am for a free guided bird walk. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Free activities:

South Tufa Walk: Daily tours at 10:00am, 1:00pm, and 6:00pm. Meet at the South Tufa kiosk.
Bird Walk: Sunday and Friday mornings at 8:00am. Meet at Mono Lake County Park.
Panum Crater Walk: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings at 10:00am. Meet at Panum Crater parking lot. … more »

Identity Unknown

July 1st, 2015 by tdomf_e48ef
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Date of sighting: Sunday 14th June 2015

Took this photo during a recent visit and it’s only when I’ve been reviewing my photos at home that I spotted this bird! Does anyone have any ideas what it might be?

Seminar spotlight: Insects & Plants—An Ecological Marriage for the Ages

June 30th, 2015 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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With the recent rain and hot weather the Mono Basin’s wildflower bloom is getting started! With the bloom come thousands of insects that rely on certain flowers for survival, and, in turn, the flowers rely on those insects as well. Sign up now for the Insects & Plants: An Ecological Marriage for the Ages field seminar to unravel the mysteries of these insect-plant relationships.

Insects & Plants: An Ecological Marriage for the Ages • July 17–19 • $165 per person/$150 for members • sign up here

The Insects & Plants field seminar will explore the complex relationships in this ecological "marriage," like between native bees and Calochortus species of lilies. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

The Insects & Plants field seminar will explore the complex relationships in this ecological “marriage,” like between native bees and Calochortus lilies. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

This seminar will explore the complex, intimate relationships and attractions between insects and plants that support and sustain life on Earth, including … more »

Book your guided canoe tour on Mono Lake for the summer

June 26th, 2015 by Lily, Information Center & Bookstore Manager
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Join the Mono Lake Committee on the lake for a guided canoe tour this summer!

Photo courtesy of the American River Conservancy.

Paddle among tufa towers, catch brine shrimp, see bubbling underwater springs, and taste alkali flies on a guided canoe tour with the Mono Lake Committee. Photo courtesy of the American River Conservancy.

Whether you are brand new to paddling or a seasoned veteran of the lake, you are welcome to participate in our guided programs. Floating in a canoe is one of the best ways to take in Mono Lake. Peer down into the water to see bubbling tufa towers and clouds of brine shrimp and enjoy the mountain views while migratory birds flock nearby. Our friendly canoe guides … more »

LA Times feature article on the drought at Mono Lake

June 25th, 2015 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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If you haven’t already read today’s Los Angeles Times article about Mono Lake over your morning coffee, take a look!

LA TimesMono Lake’s ecological crisis is a blow to wildlife, LA water supply

LA-Times-Mono-article

This drought is a crucial time for Mono Lake, as record high temperatures combined with record low snowpack have caused the lake’s level to drop steadily over the last four years. The falling lake level has exposed more of the landbridge between the mainland and Negit Island, and if the lake drops another few feet the nesting California Gull population will be in danger of coyote predation. In addition, Mono Lake’s tributary streams are also stressed by lower flows of warmer-than-normal water.

Of course, the drought affecting Mono Lake affect LA’s water supply in turn. This year water going to LA from the Mono Basin was reduced by two-thirds, according to the rules set out in 1994 by the State Water Board. If Mono Lake drops another few feet, LA will not get any water from the Mono Basin at all. These protections mean that Mono Lake is in much better shape than if full, unrestricted diversions had been allowed to continue, but now it’s up to the weather gods to bring us a rainy summer and a snowy winter.

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