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Calling Mono Lake photographers

Monday, October 19th, 2020 by Arya, Communications Director

Submitting images for consideration for the Mono Lake Calendar has never been easier, so if you have a beautiful shot of Mono Lake, we’d love to see it! Now is the time—the deadline is Saturday, October 31, 2020, and you can find submission information here.

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, mountains, weather, fall colors, and wildlife. Images of sand tufa (which are different from regular tufa towers) will not be considered due to the degradation affecting these features. Where possible, images identifiable within the context of Mono Lake’s and/or the Mono Basin’s unique scenic beauty will receive preference. In striving to represent the natural beauty of Mono Lake, images that are obviously or heavily filtered or manipulated will not be considered. (more…)

Tioga Inn hearing outcome: FSEIR certified, project approval deferred  

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020 by Arya, Communications Director

In a late-in-the-day development, the Mono County Board of Supervisors certified the Tioga Inn Final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (FSEIR) with changes discussed at today’s meeting but deferred approval of the Tioga Inn project itself.

Supervisors Jennifer Kreitz, John Peters, Fred Stump voted to certify the FSEIR. Supervisor Bob Gardner voted against the certification after highlighting the community impacts that remain unresolved. The Tioga Inn project is located in Supervisor Gardner’s district. Supervisor Stacy Corless was recused.

The Board held off on final project approval until the developer consults further with the Mono Lake Kutzadika’a Tribe and Caltrans on the project.

After another day and a half of hearings, we wanted to pass along this news to the dedicated Mono Lake Committee members and friends who have followed this issue, written countless comment letters, and commented before the Board on multiple occasions over multiple years. While many important issues were left unaddressed, some visual impact reductions have been incorporated, and today’s hearing made it very clear that your input has made a positive difference.

Unfortunately, by approving the FSEIR despite extensive community, public, and agency input and concern, the Supervisors essentially chose not to include provisions fixing the “significant, unavoidable impacts” of the project, including fire safety concerns and requests of the Lee Vining Fire Department.

We will post a thorough analysis soon on the hearing developments and clarification of what the decision means for issues of visual impacts, fire safety, pedestrian safety, community connectivity, and project phasing.

For context on this project, please read more, here.

Remembering Patrick J. Flinn, Defender of Mono Lake

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020 by Arya, Communications Director

Mono Lake lost one of its fiercest courtroom interrogators, and the Mono Lake family lost a very good friend and creative advocate with the death of attorney Pat Flinn to brain cancer. As a Morrison & Foerster attorney, Pat helped represent the Mono Lake Committee in Judge Terrence Finney’s courtroom and in the State Water Board hearings—the linchpins of protection and restoration for Mono Lake and its tributary streams.

From Storm Over Mono by John Hart: “The Mono Lake brain trust at the water board hearings. Left to right: Scott Stine, David Shuford, David Winkler, Bruce Dodge, Peter Vorster, Patrick Flinn. Water and Power attorney Janet Goldsmith (right) looks on.” Photo courtesy of Gerda S. Mathan.

Pat’s interrogations and boundless energy bolstered the Mono Lake case in the courtroom, and his behind-the-scenes political strategy and team-player approach bolstered the motley crew with much-needed planning and humor. With the news of Pat’s diagnosis (more…)

Happy September 28th! (Mono Lake holiday)

Monday, September 28th, 2020 by Arya, Communications Director

The wildfire smoke was merciful down at the lakeshore this morning as we marked this important Mono Lake anniversary with a live stream. Staff members Maureen and Robbie read the lake level, and Mono Lake Committee Board Member Tom Soto and Executive Director Geoff McQuilkin talked about what exactly September 28, 2020 has meant and will continue to mean for Mono Lake’s future. If you missed it live, you can see it here.

The lake measured in at 6381.47 feet above sea level, which is effectively 10.5 feet below the mandated healthy lake level goal of 6392. We’ve got a ways to go, but the fundamentals behind the State Water Board’s historic decision remain solid.

While it’s hard to muster celebratory cheer right now, a little time down at Mono Lake is always good for the soul.

Celebrate September 28th at Mono Lake with us

Thursday, September 24th, 2020 by Arya, Communications Director

This Monday, September 28th we will celebrate with a live stream reading of the lake level gauge at Mono Lake. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

  • What: Celebrate September 28th virtually with us at Mono Lake!
  • When: 9:00am, Monday, September 28, 2020*
  • Where: Facebook
  • Why: On September 28, 1994 the State Water Resources Control Board voted unanimously to approve Decision 1631, the mandate we often refer to as the decision to “Save Mono Lake.”

At that time, decades of excessive water diversions by the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power had caused the lake to decline precipitously, imperiling millions of migratory and nesting birds, causing toxic dust storms harmful to human health, and drying up miles of tributary stream habitat.

Court rulings regarding the lake and stream supported taking action, which is exactly what the State Water Board did. Storm Over Mono author John Hart writes, “At Mono Lake in 1994, for the first time ever in California, water was removed from the grasp of an anointed appropriative user and assigned, not to some rival diverter, but to an environmental purpose: the restoration of the lake and its feeder streams.” (more…)

2022 Mono Lake Calendar call for photo submissions

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020 by Arya, Communications Director

The Mono Lake Committee invites you to submit photographs for the 2022 Mono Lake Calendar—we are seeking photographs of the highest caliber that capture the spirit and reflect the unique qualities of Mono Lake, its tributary streams, the high country, and wildlife of the Mono Basin.

Find the submission guidelines and forms here. The deadline for submissions, as always, is October 31.

We are looking for images of scenes within the watershed boundary of Mono Lake, and possible subjects include, but are not limited to: (more…)

Tioga Inn project decision kicked down the road

Thursday, August 6th, 2020 by Arya, Communications Director

Following eight hours of presentation, public comment, and deliberation on the Tioga Inn project, today the Mono County Board of Supervisors decided to continue gathering information on the project details and outstanding questions, and postponed a decision until a later, unspecified, date.

Belt of Venus, Mono Lake by Jeff Sullivan

The view from South Tufa towards Tioga Pass, and the site of the proposed Tioga Inn project. Photo courtesy of Jeff Sullivan.

This action comes as yet another twist in what has been an extremely lengthy process. We will report with further information and analysis of this new situation, here, shortly.

Click here for more background information on the Tioga Inn project.

2020 Lake level forecast report: Mono Lake to drop over a foot this runoff year

Wednesday, July 8th, 2020 by Arya, Communications Director

We wouldn’t blame you if you missed the April 1 start of the 2020–2021 runoff year this year. Since it’s such an important date for Mono Lake, we made sure to read the lake level gauge with Los Angeles Department of Water & Power staff (physically-distanced, of course), and the lake measured 6382.6 feet above sea level.

On April 1, 2020 Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and Mono Lake Committee staff safely read the lake level gauge. The result: 6382.6 feet above sea level. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

With this number in hand, both the Mono Lake Committee and DWP look at snowpack numbers, similar past years, and a veritable river of other hydrological statistical data, and each come up with a lake level forecast for the runoff year.

While DWP’s forecast is for only a 0.6-foot drop in lake level, there is evidence that its runoff forecast based on the April snowpack is too high, making the lake level projection too optimistic. Unfortunately, the Committee’s forecast is for a 1.2-foot net fall in lake level, which means that on April 1, 2021 we expect Mono Lake to be 1.2 feet lower than (more…)

Tioga Inn project hearing continues into day two

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 by Arya, Communications Director

After nine hours of presentations and public comment yesterday, the Mono County Board of Supervisors decided to hold deliberations and their vote to approve, modify, or deny the Tioga Inn project on the planned second day of this special meeting.

Highlights and surprising moments from the meeting thus far include 51 in-person and by-Zoom two-minute-limited public comments, with 3 in support and 48 againstthe introduction of wholly new potential elements to the project from the developer, and wide-ranging questions from the Board.

In an effort to assess the effects of reflective surfaces at the proposed Tioga Inn project site, Mono Lake Committee staff brought a 2×3-foot mirror to the site and photographed the reflection from South Tufa. This photograph was presented to the Board. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Mono Lake Committee staff comments focused on the unmitigated significant negative impacts in the Final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report—scenic impacts to South Tufa, the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, and throughout the viewshed, impacts to the dark night sky, and issues in direct conflict with the Mono Basin Community Plan, including pedestrian safety, impacts to schools, feasibility of a trail to town, fire safety, and more.

By far, the most impressive part of the day was the wide array of thoughtful and heartfelt comments from the public.

You can follow the proceedings starting today, Tuesday, June 30th at 9:00am online by Zoom, telephone, or live stream (click here for instructions for each).

See you there.

Looking west towards Tioga Pass from South Tufa. Photo courtesy of Jeff Sullivan.

Tioga Inn Final SEIR released

Saturday, February 29th, 2020 by Arya, Communications Director

The Final Subsequent Environmental Impact Report the Tioga Inn project has been released. It is available on the Mono County website and at the Lee Vining Library.

To learn more about this project, and to have the opportunity to ask questions, please come to the Mono County Planning Department’s public workshop on the project on Tuesday, March 3 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at the Lee Vining Community Center (296 Mattly Avenue).

The Tioga Inn Final SEIR was released on February 28, 2020.

What’s next?

The Mono County Planning Commission meeting on the Tioga Inn development project is tentatively planned for March 23. The Planning Commission meeting (more…)

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