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Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve Ranger, Dave Marquart, retires

October 5th, 2019 by Arya, Communications Director

In July, longtime Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve Ranger Dave Marquart retired after 36 years of service at Mono Lake. To say that Dave is an institution at Mono Lake, and within the Reserve, is an understatement—in his tenure he saw much change, and through it all, he served as a dedicated caretaker of the resources and a skilled interpretive guide, helping countless people learn about and become inspired by Mono Lake.

By the time he retired in July, ranger Dave Marquart had led countless bird walks at County Park during his 36-year career with the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. Photo by Elin Ljung.

The Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve essentially protects the central core of Mono Lake—the bed and waters of the lake itself and all state-owned portions of the lake’s 40-mile shoreline, including the majority of the tufa groves, for a total of approximately 49,000 protected acres. Dave’s charge was to keep a watchful eye on Reserve resources while protecting the experience of visitors, too. The consummate ranger, he was most often outside, talking to people at the lake and leading tours—knowing that giving people the opportunity to learn about and understand this place, and the opportunities it holds for quiet introspection and self-discovery, are important.

As Dave himself wrote, “Some of these lands are frequented by large numbers of visitors, while other more remote portions of the Reserve are seldom walked upon.” Dave has been key to maintaining that increasingly rare experience of popping out of your car to be greeted with all senses by a vast, open, and mysterious landscape unquestionably dominated by wild nature.

Dave has been with the Reserve since it was created—starting as a volunteer in 1982. Over this time he shared his knowledge of Mono Lake through countless tours and education programs for tens of thousands of visitors and school children. He trained and mentored Reserve, Forest Service, Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association, Mono Lake Committee staff, and Mono Lake Volunteers in the art and science of interpretation—helping us share Mono Lake effectively with visitors. As the liaison and monitor for scientists and the media he also facilitated the research and discovery that furthers knowledge and understanding of this unique place.

In Dave’s time the Reserve weathered many threats, notably several proposals to close it and other parks in tight budget times without regard for the resource damage that would result. In the spirit of a true partner agency, he kept watch over Forest Service facilities during government shutdowns—including checking on important visitor amenities like the bathrooms at South Tufa. Many visitors to Mono Lake don’t realize the tapestry of land management jurisdictions they cross in a simple walk to the lake at Old Marina, down the Reserve boardwalk below County Park, and at South Tufa. Dave worked deftly and methodically to keep all of the land management agencies and organizations that share an interest in Mono Lake working together to maintain a positive experience for visitors.

Many people know Dave through the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua—an event he helped create with the Committee that brings people together to connect with Mono Lake more deeply, and helps further the scientific research that provides critical insights into the ecological interworkings of the basin.

Dave witnessed many a rise and fall of Mono Lake, literally chasing the changing shoreline with boardwalk planks and trail signs at the lakeshore. His principled and thoughtful work at Mono Lake is on par with the legendary rangers who embody a conservation ethic and inspire a duty to protect the places we love. True to form, Dave has become an official Mono Lake Volunteer—putting to work his vast and deep knowledge and love for Mono Lake, and the people, agencies, and organizations working together to protect it. The Mono Lake Volunteer program is incredibly lucky to have him, and we are so glad that he and his wife Connie are staying here in the community so we can all experience the serendipity of getting to run into Dave down at Mono Lake.

This post was also published as an article in the Fall 2019 Mono Lake Newsletter (page 8).