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Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center turns 25

November 7th, 2019 by Rose, Education Director

Since 1994 the Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center has been connecting students from Los Angeles to the source of their water. Photo by Miranda Norlin.

“Where does your water come from?” This question has been asked to thousands of students visiting the Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center (OEC) from Los Angeles over the past 25 years. At the beginning of their week-long stay in the Mono Basin, some students are unsure.

By the end of the week, there is no question. They have played in high Sierra snow, traveled to the northern extent of the Los Angeles Aqueduct at Lee Vining Creek, pulled invasive plants along Mono Lake’s tributary streams, and pondered the total ecological destruction narrowly escaped at Mono Lake. Through these experiences, they learn where their water comes from, about themselves as … more »

Phalarope researchers and their muses flock to Mono Lake

November 4th, 2019 by Nora, Lead Naturalist Guide

If you’ve been to Mono Lake in late July, you may have been lucky enough to have seen the elegant aerial ballet of a flock of Wilson’s Phalaropes.

Phalarope surveyors counted birds through binoculars in a clockwise transect around Mono Lake. Photo courtesy of Ryan Carle.

This summer there were thousands of phalaropes along Mono Lake’s south shore, so visitors were fortunate to have the chance to witness these small shorebirds in magnificent flocks dancing above the reflective lake surface, turning on a dime, flashing their white bellies all at once before seeming to disappear in the dark mountain background when they turn their brown and gray backs in unison. This flocking behavior is a truly breathtaking sight to behold. It was a notable phalarope summer at Mono Lake in several other ways as well. … more »

Monitoring willow growth along Rush Creek

October 29th, 2019 by AnnaLisa, Mono Lake Intern

After tumbling out of the car following a jaunt down Forest Service roads to Rush Creek, fellow intern Meghan and I started the steep, sandy descent to a location known as Vestal Springs, weaving our way between fragrant sagebrush and rose shrubs.

AnnaLisa measuring a willow stem as Robbie looks on. Photo by Meghan Cihasky.

The springs are named for California Fish & Game Biologist Elden Vestal (1914–1998), an expert on Mono Lake’s tributary streams and a critical witness during the courtroom and State Water Board proceedings leading up to the 1994 Mono Lake decision.

Vestal Springs support a lush, grassy oasis separate from the nearby riparian habitat of Rush Creek. In addition to grasses and wildflowers, the area is scattered with large willow trees. It is these trees that Meghan and I came here for. … more »

New Inyo National Forest Land Management Plan released: Mono Lake tributary streams receive Wild and Scenic River System eligibility

October 24th, 2019 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

After more than five years of planning and public process, Inyo National Forest Supervisor Tammy Randall-Parker signed and released the Final Record of Decision for the Inyo National Forest Land Management Plan on October 23, 2019.

The new Inyo National Forest Land Management Plan includes Wild and Scenic River System eligibility for 15 segments of Mono Lake’s tributary streams, including Lee Vining Creek. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

The new Forest Plan replaces the 1988 version, and will provide much-needed and updated management direction for the Inyo’s two million acres. Included in the final plan are area-specific desired conditions for the Mono Basin. In addition to management direction for the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area (incorporating existing Scenic Area Management plan guidelines), the new plan includes additional Wild and Scenic River System eligibility for 15 segments of Mono Basin streams—something the Mono Lake Committee advocated for extensively. … more »

Calling Mono Lake photographers!

October 23rd, 2019 by Arya, Communications Director

Submitting images for consideration for the Mono Lake Calendar has never been easier, so if you have a beautiful shot, we’d love to see it! Now is the time—the deadline is next Thursday, October 31, 2019, and you can find submission information here.

2020 Mono Lake Calendar

We are looking for images of scenes within the watershed boundary of Mono Lake, and possible subjects include, but are not limited to: plants, geologic features, streams, … more »

“Naming Mt. Thoreau” reading at Bookshop Santa Cruz on November 6

October 21st, 2019 by Arya, Communications Director

Friends and fans of the book Naming Mt. Thoreau—edited by Laurie Glover and published by the Mono Lake Committee’s Artemisia Press—won’t want to miss this special opportunity for a reading by the book’s contributors in Santa Cruz.

  • Where: Bookshop Santa Cruz at 1520 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
  • Day: Wednesday, November 6, 2019
  • Time: 7:00pm (Chairs for open seating are usually set up about an hour before the event begins.)
  • Cost: Free
  • The book: Naming Mt. Thoreau, edited by Laurie Glover with art, photos, and essays from Michael Blumlein, Dick Bryan, Darryl DeVinney, Hilary Gordon, Tom Killion, Paul Park, Kim Stanley Robinson, Carter Scholz, Gary Snyder, Christopher Woodcock, and David Robertson.

In the fall of 2014 this notable group of friends gathered to … more »

For the love of grebes

October 20th, 2019 by Robbie, Restoration Field Technician

In British Columbia Robbie assisted Dr. Boyd with telemetry studies to determine annual migration patterns of Eared Grebes. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

They’re not an endangered species, they’re not an invasive species, and they’re not a mascot for a sports team—according to a recent paper these are indicators that we shouldn’t expect Eared Grebes to start trending on Google anytime soon. In fact, a paper published in the National Academy of Sciences journal identified grebes as one of the least-popular bird groups in the United States.

I learned this not-so-fun fact while I was in Riske Creek, British Columbia, capturing Eared Grebes with Dr. Sean Boyd and his colleagues from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). While cradling a little one-pound grebe in my hands, the bird patiently waiting to be released, I felt baffled about why such a cool and unique bird was not more loved.

Eared Grebe aerial photo surveys at Mono Lake have been conducted almost every year since 1996, and the Mono Lake Committee has … more »

Fall 2019 Mono Lake Committee staff migrations

October 18th, 2019 by Jessica, Office Director

The 2019 Mono Lake Committee staff. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

In a blink, summer 2019 came to a close and another excellent group of seasonal staff headed out into the world, in one way or another changed by their time spent in the Mono Basin.

When not answering questions on the front counter, Information Center & Bookstore Assistant Kevin Brown also presented his talk, “Save the Pupfish! History, Water, and the Surprising Persistence of the Devils Hole Pupfish,” at our Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists lecture series.

Merryn Venugopal is sticking around the Eastern Sierra for the winter after a great summer as Information Center & Bookstore Assistant. We were fortunate to have her professionalism and experience with retail systems at the front counter all season. … more »

Mono Lake Committee intern program receives new support

October 17th, 2019 by Anna, Philanthropy Director

The Mono Lake Committee’s intern program is a bridge that connects passionate people to the Mono Lake story.

2019 Ruth Borun Intern AnnaLisa Mayer, right, on a field trip with members of the Committee’s staff and Board of Directors. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Internships allow individuals (young and old) the opportunity to be paid to work for a successful environmental organization and launch their own careers or propel them in new directions. Past interns fondly remember leading walking tours at South Tufa, answering challenging questions in the bookstore, guiding canoe trips with unbelievable scenic views, and recruiting new members to join the Committee.

In 2019, two families chose to honor family members with special contributions to support internships over the summer. This marks the first year the Committee made available the opportunity for memorial gifts in this manner. … more »

Fall 2019 Mono Lake Newsletter now online

October 16th, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

At the Mono Lake Committee we spend a lot of time thinking about inputs of water into Mono Lake. How much? For how long? In what patterns? From what sources? When will it arrive? Is it enough?

But during the recent windstorm-induced power outage (see page 17), I got to thinking about Mono Lake’s output. It powers the phalaropes (see page 6) on their long migration to South America after they have stopped here to gorge on brine shrimp and molt. On their non-stop flight to Chile, Argentina, Peru, and Paraguay, each new feather, each tiny digestive system is powered by Mono Lake. … more »

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The Mono Lake Committee is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.