Sunrise light on a grove of tufa towers emerging from the water of Mono Lake with soft green and dusty-red wild grasses in the foreground, Canada geese in the shallow water with reflections of the rocky towers, and desert hills in the distance.

Action Alert – Your phone call for wilderness needed!

Mono Lake needs your help!

Congress is preparing to act on historic wilderness and wild rivers legislation that will protect public lands near Mono Lake and in the Eastern Sierra.

Please phone your Congressional representative and express your support! A vote is likely within days, so please act quickly. It really is easy-in fact, I just made my call and it took less than two minutes.

What to do:

1) Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak with your Congressperson. (If you aren’t sure who that is, see below).
2) Tell them you support S.22, the Omnibus Public Lands Act and ask them to vote in favor of the bill—without amendment!
3) Explain your reasons for supporting the bill. For example, relate a brief story or experience that shows your enthusiasm for Mono Lake, the Mono Basin, and the protection of the surrounding public lands.

Need more information? Read on . . .

Who is my representative?
You can identify your representative by entering your zipcode on the House of Representatives website. Then call them at (202) 224-3121!

Can I write a letter instead?
The vote is approaching too quickly for a written letter to be effective. A phone call is best. If you can’t call, you can send an email via The Wilderness Society website.

Lands included in the wilderness legislation, near Mt. Warren and above Mono Lake. Photo by John Dittli.
Lands included in the wilderness legislation, near Mt. Warren and above Mono Lake. Photo by John Dittli.

Legislation Background
On Jan. 15, the Senate passed S.22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, which includes permanent protection for more than 750,000 acres of wilderness and 105 miles of wild and scenic rivers in California.

Included in this legislation is a wilderness and wild and scenic river bill authored by Mono Lake’s Congressman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon and Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. This bipartisan legislation, crafted with extensive local input, is poised to preserve critical Mono Basin lands for future generations.

In particular, the bill would add to the existing Hoover and Ansel Adams wilderness areas in the Mono Basin watershed. Public lands at the headwaters of Lee Vining Creek, including Mt. Conness, the Tioga Crest, and the Mt. Warren-Lee Vining Peak plateau, would be permanently protected from development and water extraction by being added to the National Wilderness Preservation System. The bill would also create new wilderness areas on public lands at nearby Granite Mountain, the Owens River Headwaters, and the spectacular White Mountains, and it would expand the John Muir Wilderness.

Maps of the specific lands covered by the bill are available on Representative McKeon’s website.

Additionally, the bill would designate the headwaters of the nearby Upper Owens River as a Wild and Scenic River; this is the only portion of the Owens River system that is not dammed or diverted and remains in a pristine condition.

Local hearings were held in Lee Vining last fall on the bill, leading to unanimous support from Mono County. A Mono Lake Newsletter article on the meeting and bill is available on page 8 of the Fall 2008 Newsletter.

Current Situation
The legislation is now heading to the US House of Representatives where we expect a vote within a matter of days.

The vote could be very close. And, if the House makes changes to the legislation, the bill would be sent back to the Senate where it could be stalled for months or longer. Every Representative in Congress will have a key vote on this very important natural resources protection bill.

Please call your Representative in Congress right now and urge her or him to support S.22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act. A vote could occur within days.

Thank you, and Long Live Mono Lake!