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Mono Lake’s California Gulls safe for the season

Thursday, May 25th, 2017 by Geoff, Executive Director
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A mile of citizen-funded solar-powered electric fence is up and running, protecting Mono Lake’s nesting gulls—one of the three largest colonies in the world—from mainland predators. The fence is the result of a year and a half of planning by the Mono Lake Committee and California State Parks along with other agency partners, a dedicated local installation team, and generous funding from Mono Lake supporters across the country.

The temporary electric fence stretching one mile across the landbridge has 11 motion-activated wildlife cameras with infrared nighttime flash capability along its length. In late April, camera #5 documented a coyote walking the fence line, confirming that the fence is functioning as a coyote barrier. Mono Lake Committee wildlife camera photo.

Why is the temporary fence—which will be removed when nesting is finished—needed? Five years of drought lowered Mono Lake seven feet, shrinking the protective moat of water between the lake’s north shore and Negit Island and adjacent islets—exposing a landbridge that allows coyotes access to the lake’s long-established nesting colony of California Gulls. Last summer signs were found on a few of these islets that coyotes had indeed walked the landbridge and then swum the remaining 500 feet or so of shallow water to prey on eggs and chicks, disrupting nesting and causing gulls to be suspicious of returning to these sites in future years.

Not a typical fence site

The electric mesh netting fence used for the project (more…)

Fence post: An update from Mono Lake’s landbridge

Friday, April 21st, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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The temporary electrified fence protecting Mono Lake’s nesting California Gulls has been up and running for about three weeks now. After a long and snowy winter the gulls’ calls signal spring’s arrival, and it’s gratifying to know that as they build nests and lay eggs out on the islands, they are protected from coyote predation.

Gull researcher Kristie Nelson works on one of the fence sections that extends into Mono Lake. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.

The fence stretches for about one mile across the landbridge, and is made up of five sections that overlap—an electrified long middle section, two shorter electrified sections at the ends near the water’s edge, and two passive sections at (more…)

April 1 Mono Lake level: 6378.3 feet above sea level and rising

Monday, April 10th, 2017 by Robbie, Project Specialist
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April 1, the beginning of the runoff year, is a particularly important day for Mono Lake. Each April 1 Mono Lake Committee and Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) staff walk down to Mono Lake and read the lake level, together. It is particularly important because it is the April 1 lake level that determines how much water is allowed to be diverted from Mono Basin streams to the City of Los Angeles for the year.

Brian Norris from DWP and Robbie Di Paolo from the Mono Lake Committee read the lake level gauge together on April 1, 2017. Photo by Bartshé Miller.

The first time I participated in one of these April 1 lake level readings was in 2015 when the lake had dropped to a level that triggered a 70% reduction of water exports. The second time, the lake narrowly cleared the level that would have halted water exports altogether. Years of drought lowered the lake and heightened concern over available exports, but this year was different. This year Mono Lake is on the rise. (more…)

April 1 Mono Lake level close to critically low threshold

Friday, April 1st, 2016 by Geoff, Executive Director
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This morning Mono Lake Committee staff met with Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) personnel to conduct the official annual April 1 reading of the lake level together. The consensus: Mono Lake stands at 6378.11 feet above sea level.

Mono Lake is now just 13 inches above the ecologically precipitous 6377-foot elevation at which the nesting islands become landbridged, lake salinity hits new highs, air quality problems worsen, and stream delta habitat conditions degrade.

Measuring Mono Lake's April 1 elevation

DWP’s Steve Rich and Robbie Di Paolo from the Mono Lake Committee read the lake level gauge together this morning. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

With those concerns in mind, the State Water Board rules are more nuanced this year for determining whether or not DWP can export water to Los Angeles. Not only does the lake have to be above 6377 feet for today’s measurement, it also has to be forecast to stay above 6377 every day of the coming year. (more…)

2016 Wild & Scenic Film Festival, LA: Do you have your tickets yet?

Monday, February 15th, 2016 by Robbie, Project Specialist
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https://www.instagram.com/jedidiahjenkins/

The Thousand Year Journey is showing in the 2016 Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of @jedidiahjenkins.

The routine is the enemy of time; it makes it fly by.”
—Jedidiah Jenkins, The Thousand Year Journey

Step out of the routine and join us for the 2016 Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Los Angeles March 10 & 12. You will be transported around the world and everywhere you look will bring a new and different perspective. We will take you skiing, skateboarding, biking, kayaking, surfing, slacklining, and freerunning, to wild places that otherwise go undiscovered. Each film is (more…)

2015 Mono Lake Committee Annual Report

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 by Arya, Communications Director
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The Mono Lake Committee’s 2015 Annual Report is now available online.

The 2015 Mono Lake Committee Annual Report is now available online. Cover photo courtesy of Phil Lindsay.

The 2015 Mono Lake Committee Annual Report is now available online. Cover photo courtesy of Phil Lindsay.

It is chock-full of photos of the Mono Lake Committee in action in our focus areas of protection, restoration, education, and (more…)

April 1 lake level means reduced water exports to LA, more protection for Mono Lake

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 by Geoff, Executive Director
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This morning Mono Lake Committee staff met with Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) personnel to conduct the official annual April 1 reading of the lake level together. The consensus: Mono Lake stands at 6379.01 feet above sea level.

DWP's Brian Norris and Greg Reis from the Mono Lake Committee read the lake level gauge together this morning. Photo by Elin Ljung.

DWP’s Brian Norris and Greg Reis from the Mono Lake Committee read the lake level gauge together this morning. Photo by Elin Ljung.

The lake has declined to a level at which water exports to Los Angeles are, by the terms of the State Water Board’s rules, automatically reduced by 70%. DWP will be limited to 4,500 acre-feet of water export, a lake-protecting restriction that no one, until recently, thought would ever be activated again. It was a solemn, though not unexpected outcome, given that California’s drought is entering its fourth year and the Mono Lake watershed is officially classified as being under “exceptional” drought. (more…)

Lee Vining community member Don Banta has passed

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 by Arya, Communications Director
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This morning we received the sad news that Don Banta has passed away. Because he knew so many people we felt compelled to post this short note and to offer our condolences to the three generations of the Banta family in our community. Don Banta was a beloved fixture in Lee Vining—a dedicated family and community member, avid birder and photographer, wild storyteller, the unofficial Mayor, town historian, and a friend to anyone who knew him for more than 10 seconds.

There is so much to say and know about Don and his life here at Mono Lake that we will be compiling a more complete tribute to him in the near future. In the meantime, we wanted to leave you with this transcript of an oral history interview with Don, and this fun little video too.

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Don Banta seen here leading a field trip at the 2007 Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Los Angeles tickets on sale!

Thursday, February 5th, 2015 by Arya, Communications Director
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The Mono Lake Committee is once again bringing the Wild & Scenic Film Festival to Los Angeles in March and tickets are on sale now.

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This year’s festival will feature engaging environmental and adventure films with a focus on water issues. Seating is limited, so be sure to buy your tickets soon.

Be sure to check out our event website and follow Wild & Scenic LA on Facebook and Twitter for more information on the festival and the unique films we will be offering this year. We look forward to seeing you in Los Angeles on March 5!

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The Old Town Music Hall is a cultural and historical landmark in El Segundo, CA not far from the Los Angeles Airport. The theater usually features vintage silent accompanied by live performances of the Mighty Wurlitzer, a massive, wind-powered, pipe organ built in 1925. The Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Los Angeles will open with a special live performance and vintage film show. Photo by Arya Degenhardt.

Mono Lake lessons from a muddy pond

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 by Mono Lake Committee Staff
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This post was written by Erik Lyon, 2013 Project Specialist.

Turn off Highway 395 a few miles north of Mono Lake, and drive a few minutes down a dusty dirt road. You’ll pass a small pond on your left, opaque with mud. You probably wouldn’t notice it. That is, unless you are a geologist.

The unobtrusive mud pond, where deer have crept to the water’s edge to drink. Photo by Erik Lyon.

“Everything going on at Mono Lake is going on in this pond,” says Guleed Ali, a geology graduate student from Columbia University. He shows a handful of coworkers and me winding channels where sediment was eroded, and the sprawling delta where it was deposited. At Mono Lake, the Rush and Lee Vining creek deltas have been forming and changing for millennia, and (more…)

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