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Spring 2019 Mono Lake Committee staff migrations

April 17th, 2019 by Jessica, Office Director

While many Mono Lake Committee staff migrate with the seasons, sightings of senior staff in migration are rare. This year, we have two of these noteworthy migrations afoot.

After 17 years as Eastern Sierra Policy Director, Lisa Cutting is moving into a part-time role as Associate Policy Director. Lisa started with the Committee as an intern in 1999 and quickly developed a deep commitment to the protection of Mono Lake and restoration of the tributary streams. She then served as Environmental Resource Coordinator for two years before becoming Eastern Sierra Policy Director in 2002.

Lisa has seen many policy issues during her tenure—from shaping Caltrans projects to incorporate Mono Basin-specific revegetation techniques, to keeping the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve open, working with state and federal agencies to achieve goals in an era of diminishing resources, and accomplishing the daily work of implementing State Water Board-ordered mandates for Mono Lake and its tributary streams. But her passion has always been stream restoration—specifically bridging the gaps between restoration science, land management, and rules and regulations to achieve the most successful on-the-ground ecological health possible.

Lisa’s calm and deft approach to complex water issues combined with her ability to bring often-polarized parties together to garner positive results for Mono Lake has set the bar for navigating future balanced solutions. She is excited to have more personal time for fishing, backpacking, and exploration, but fortunately for the Committee Lisa will also continue to put her skills to work on focused projects with the policy team.

Taking over the Eastern Sierra Policy Director position is Bartshe Miller, who has been Education Director for the Committee since 1996. Bartshe developed the Committee’s fledgling education activities into the robust program we have today, giving him a deep knowledge of Mono Lake and experience with a broad range of local and regional issues.

Education programs have flourished under Bartshe’s careful watch, and his enthusiasm for learning, understanding, and knowing more about the Mono Basin has inspired visitors, students, experts, and staff alike. Securing a long-term home for the Mono Basin Outdoor Education Center program, expanding the Committee’s naturalist tour program, and fledging the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua were among his successes as Education Director. We are excited to have Bartshe in the policy department as someone who knows the Committee and Mono Lake well and is willing to stand on the shoulders of previous policy giants.

We bid farewell to three seasonal staff who stayed with us through last fall. Outdoor Education Instructors Savanna Deger and Ava Stavros finished the 2018 season with the Outdoor Education Center in October. As OEC Instructors they spent a week at a time with groups of visiting Southern California students, teaching them about the Mono Basin watershed. It was a busy summer with 26 groups comprised of 326 students and 80 chaperones—Savanna and Ava helped them become better acquainted with the Mono Basin and water-wise habits to take home.

We are grateful to have had Max Price, Mono Lake Intern, stay into December. He spent much of his summer traipsing around the Mono Basin—he read piezometers, resurfaced memorial benches, rebuilt our dilapidated staff picnic table, and made progress on the huge project of scanning items into our digital photo archive. We have the feeling that the magic of the Mono Basin will bring Max back to Mono Lake once he finishes his Master’s degree.

Farewell Edith Gaines

Edith Gaines, mother of Mono Lake Committee co-founder David Gaines, passed away in January. Edith was a staunch supporter of David, his work on behalf of Mono Lake, and the Committee. She enjoyed seeing the ongoing success of what her son started, stayed connected to the Committee’s work, and had a touching tradition of sending a contribution to the Committee each year on David’s birthday—including what would have been his 71st this past December.

Edith Gaines with grandchildren Sage and Vireo, and great-grandson Everett. Photo courtesy of Janet Carle.

This post was also published as an article in the Winter & Spring 2019 Mono Lake Newsletter (page 26).

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