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Moving toward a brighter future: Lee Vining begins construction of Pioneer Solar Pavilion

July 5th, 2018 by Max, Mono Lake Intern
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Exciting times are shining on Lee Vining early this summer with the groundbreaking of the Pioneer Solar Pavilion at Hess Park. The pavilion will provide protection from the harsh Eastern Sierra sun and wind, while providing solar power and free wi-fi, as well as a space for outdoor events. Visitors to the pavilion will find a unique blend of past and future, with panels detailing historically significant Mono Basin pioneer families juxtaposed against modern solar panels generating power for Mono County, which will own and maintain the pavilion.

A volunteer posing with the fresh dirt of the pavilion’s groundbreaking. Photo courtesy of Janet Carle.

As well as providing shelter, educating visitors will be a main function of the pavilion. Interpretive panels on a variety of topics such as renewable energy, the Mono Basin pioneer families, Mono Lake, and upcoming events near Lee Vining will be a part of the structure. Additionally, a monitor will show real-time data of the energy being generated by the rooftop panels and the reduction of carbon emissions achieved. … more »

Discover more on Mono Lake Mobile: monolakemobile.org

July 4th, 2018 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Have you ever been down at Mono Lake wondering: How many brine shrimp live in Mono Lake? Why do the tufa towers at Old Marina look different than the ones at South Tufa? What else can I do during my visit?

When you visit Mono Lake, pull up monolakemobile.org on your phone for a self-guided tour of South Tufa, directions, and more. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

You can find the answers to all of these questions and more by visiting monolakemobile.org on your phone. Designed to be mobile-friendly and used while visiting the lake, Mono Lake Mobile is the best way to learn about the lake on your own schedule and at your own pace. You can take a self-guided tour of South Tufa (complete with audio narration) and learn about other great sites to visit around Mono Lake including Old Marina and County Park.

You can also … more »

Evidence of high flows persists on Mill Creek: Restoration potential reaffirmed

July 2nd, 2018 by Lisa, Eastern Sierra Policy Director
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Almost a year after the epic 2017 winter and resulting record Mono Basin runoff, positive effects from the high flows can still be seen on all of Mono Lake’s tributary streams—including, notably, the beleaguered floodplain of the Mill Creek bottomlands.

During last year’s record runoff, long-dry side channels in the Mill Creek bottomlands carried water; some of the rewatered channels were still flowing this spring. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Last summer, long-dry side channels in the bottomlands carried water when Lundy Lake Reservoir spilled for almost the entire summer. Some of these rewatered channels are still flowing despite low-flow early springtime conditions, and evidence of lasting restoration benefits is abundant. Back eddies and ponded areas well away from flowing channels continue to hold water. Below the surface, recharged groundwater is once again available for vegetation, and fine sediment deposited across floodplain cobble is primed for new seedlings to grow. All of this is a glimpse into Mill Creek’s bright future. … more »

Fire restrictions to take effect July 2 on BLM land

July 1st, 2018 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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Beginning Monday, July 2, the Bureau of Land Management will implement fire restrictions throughout Mono and Inyo counties. These restrictions are put in place each year to protect local communities and our public lands from wildfire.

In 2016 the Marina Fire burned just north of Lee Vining. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Restrictions include: … more »

The logistics of canoeing on Mono Lake’s unique water

June 30th, 2018 by Alison, Canoe Coordinator
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As the new Canoe Coordinator, I arrived in mid-May to begin preparing for a summer packed with canoe tours on Mono Lake. My early season responsibilities included familiarizing myself with the area, reading all about the canoe program and how it functions, learning how to back up the canoe trailer, and taking inventory of all of the equipment before the first weekend of tours in late June.

A family enjoys a leisurely paddle on Mono Lake. Photo by Alison Kaplan.

To my surprise, the task that took up the most time out of all of these was the equipment inventory. I had read in the canoe program manual that some of the equipment had to be replaced every year due to damage, but I didn’t really understand the extent of that damage until I saw heavy-duty ropes and straps falling to pieces in front of my eyes.

Mono Lake canoe tours aren’t wildly adventurous or extreme; we paddle close to shore at a relaxed pace, observing the birds and wildlife while discussing the lake’s natural and political history. How, then, does the canoe equipment take such a beating each season? The answer lies in Mono Lake’s unique chemistry. … more »

Aqueduct retrofit ensures export accuracy: Mono Lake Committee advocacy produces results

June 29th, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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One thing the Mono Lake Committee and the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) can agree on is that accurate measurement of water exported from the Mono Basin is important. One might assume that measuring water sent out of the Mono Basin through the Los Angeles Aqueduct would be fairly straightforward, but due to infrastructure complexities, DWP has historically used a calculation to derive the export amount.

Aqueduct improvements in 2009, shown here, added equipment to directly measure water exports, but the system was unreliable until recent repairs, thanks to the Committee’s persistence. Photo by Greg Reis.

Getting from calculation to measurement

To understand why DWP couldn’t simply measure its … more »

Looking back on the 2018 Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua

June 26th, 2018 by Nigel, Birding Intern
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A record-setting crowd of over 330 people convened in the Mono Basin for the seventeenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. Over the course of the weekend, participants enjoyed over 100 field trips, workshops, and presentations that covered the area’s tremendous diversity of birds and other wildlife.

Birders enjoy a spectacular view of the Sierra crest on a field trip to the Rush Creek Delta. Photo courtesy of Sarah Angulo.

This year’s Chautauqua participants racked up an impressive list of 171 bird species. For many, the avian highlight was a Grace’s Warbler that entertained birders all weekend along Bald Mountain Road east of the June Lake Loop. Other notable sightings included Indigo Bunting in Lundy Canyon (for the second year in a row!), Sandhill Crane and Common Grackle at Bridgeport Reservoir, and Common Loon at Crowley Lake. … more »

The future of Sierra Nevada snow: Dr. Alex Hall on the climate future of the Sierra

June 23rd, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director
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What will happen to the Sierra Nevada’s snowpack as climate change impacts accumulate through the 21st century? This question is vital to both the ecological health of the Range of Light and to water delivery systems throughout California. And, it matters a great deal to Mono Lake and its many miles of tributary streams, which depend on Sierra runoff for their vitality.

A view of the Eastern Sierra from Virginia Canyon to Mt. Conness, including Mono Lake. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.

Forecasts of the future rely on complex climate modeling, and I talked with Dr. Alex Hall, Professor of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences at UCLA, about the work he and his team have been conducting to produce actionable climate science. Dr. Hall heads the Center for Climate Science, where they have developed cutting-edge downscaling techniques to create geographically detailed climate projections for the Los Angeles area and the Sierra Nevada.

Geoff: Thanks for taking time to talk, Alex. You have just released a major report, Climate Change in the Sierra Nevada: California’s Water Future. What are the big takeaway messages?

Alex: Temperatures across the Sierra Nevada are warming … more »

Summer interpretive activities begin at Mono Lake this weekend

June 21st, 2018 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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Days are longer, evenings are warmer, and the Mono Basin is buzzing with activity. Summer is in full swing and when you visit there are many things to do: South Tufa tours, bird walks, Panum Crater walks, Stars Over Mono programs, and canoe tours!

Guests observe alkali flies on a free South Tufa Tour. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Join us daily for free South Tufa tours to learn about the political and natural history of Mono Lake. Tours last approximately one hour and your guide will lead you through towering groves of tufa, help you observe Mono Lake’s endemic shrimp, and if you’re lucky you may even catch a glimpse of nesting Osprey. Meet at the South Tufa kiosk, daily at 10:00am & 6:00pm. (Tours are free, however there is a $3 fee to visit South Tufa.)

The Mono Basin is a birder’s paradise. Free bird walks … more »

Screenings of “The Longest Straw” film at Mono Lake

June 19th, 2018 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist
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“The Longest Straw” plays June 22, July 6, & July 20 at the Mono Lake Committee in Lee Vining. Photo courtesy of Samantha Bode.

In 2015 we had the pleasure of meeting Samantha Bode. She had just finished hiking the length of the Los Angeles Aqueduct—338 miles from Los Angeles to Mono Lake—for a documentary she was making.

In Sam’s documentary, The Longest Straw, she talks to community leaders, residents, and advocates in Los Angeles as well as the communities most affected by the exportation of water south. The film premiered at the New Urbanism Film Festival last October and we are excited to be hosting three showings here in the Mono Basin this summer.

Free screenings will be held on June 22, July 6, and July 20 at 7:00pm at the … more »

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