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Tioga Inn public hearing Tuesday, October 13

Friday, October 9th, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

On Tuesday, October 13 at 2:00pm the Mono County Board of Supervisors will once again consider the Tioga Inn Specific Plan Amendment.

The Tioga Inn, if approved as currently proposed, would be visible from South Tufa in this world-class view looking toward the Sierra Nevada. Photo courtesy of Jeff Sullivan.

In addition to considering key issues surrounding safety impacts the project would produce, the Supervisors will review the new “Alternative 7–Hybrid Plan” with revisions that have occurred since the previous hearing on August 6. These revisions include more details on the Phase 1 site plan and a new Landscape Concept Plan, which includes a mix of native and non-native trees that offer some screening of project buildings.

The Mono Lake Committee encourages the interested public, and everyone who has closely followed and commented on the Tioga Inn project to tune in on Tuesday and comment again. (more…)

Tioga Inn project coming back around: Here’s a refresher

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

Editor’s note: The Tioga Inn project will be back before the Mono County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, October 13, 2:00–5:00pm, with the (likely) potential to continue the topic on Wednesday, October 14 at 9:00am if needed. While the item has not yet been agendized, two documents have been posted: the Alternative 7 Description + Concept Site Plan + Landscape Concept Plan and the Conceptual Grading Plan. For a refresher on this controversial development project we have posted here the article Bartshe wrote for the Fall 2020 Mono Lake Newsletter, which is being printed right now. Stay tuned for more on this project before next week’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

The largest project of its kind ever proposed in unincorporated Mono County, the Tioga Inn development project continues to transmute and persist despite nearly unanimous public objection to its significant adverse environmental impacts.

Without proper mitigations the Tioga Inn project would be highly visible from South Tufa, as demonstrated here with 2′ x 3′ piece of glass reflecting the rising sun from the project site. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

On three days of hearings this past summer (June 29, 30 and August 6), the Mono County Board of Supervisors navigated overwhelming public opposition to the project, considered project changes, posed questions to the developer, and ultimately delayed a final decision to (more…)

A star from the Mono Basin Scenic Area’s past retires

Thursday, September 10th, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

Deanna Dulen, Superintendent of Devils Postpile National Monument and former Director of the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area Visitor Center, retired in May 2020 after a four-decade career working for federal land management agencies.

Deanna Dulen at Rainbow Falls in Devils Postpile National Monument. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Deanna was the first director of the Mono Basin Visitor Center in 1991, and her nine years of dedicated work at Mono Lake shaped a world-class visitor center and interpretive resource for the recently established Scenic Area. Deanna rigorously sought (more…)

Point Blue Conservation Science highlights a four-decade partnership with the Mono Lake Committee

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

This year marks the 37th year of California Gull research at Mono Lake, and Point Blue Conservation Science has captained the monitoring effort to track the reproductive success of the gulls, a keystone ecosystem species.

The gull research began in 1983 and has tracked the gulls’ reproductive success annually, providing data that ties the birds to the overall productivity of Mono Lake. This science contributed to the body of evidence the State Water Board used to choose a management level for Mono Lake in 1994, and it will continue to inform that agency in evaluating lake level and public trust resources at Mono Lake. While the tools used to study the gulls at Mono Lake have advanced over the decades, the spirit of collaboration between the Mono Lake Committee and Point Blue has remained unchanged.

Both the Mono Lake Committee and Point Blue are committed to continuing this valuable and successful science partnership. You can read more about it in the recent issue of Point Blue Quarterly.

Firefighters close to containing Mono Lake’s Beach Fire

Wednesday, August 19th, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

While lightning-sparked fires spread across Northern California, at Mono Lake, the Beach Fire is nearly contained.

The Beach Fire burned between South Tufa and Navy Beach, scorching some tufa towers. The main tufa groves are undamaged. Photo by Rose Nelson.

Lightning ignited the sagebrush and rabbitbrush uplands of the south shore of Mono Lake on the evening of August 16 and as of August 19, a total of 3,780 acres had burned. The fire has burned between South Tufa and Navy Beach (more…)

Tioga Inn indecision

Friday, August 14th, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

The largest project of its kind ever proposed in unincorporated Mono County, the Tioga Inn project final decision continues on, yet again, to an uncertain date. The Mono County Board of Supervisors adjourned the latest hearing last week without making a decision on the project.

Last fall, the developer, Mono County staff, Mono County Planning Commission, and members of the public visited the Mobil Mart to walk the site of the proposed Tioga Inn project. Photo by Elin Ljung.

The developer advocated for the most recent “Alternative #7 – Hybrid Plan,” along with other last-minute project changes, and the public expressed overwhelming opposition and insightful and relevant comments regarding project impacts, hydrology questions, and CEQA concerns. Including the Planning Commission meeting last April, the August 6 hearing was the third time that the local community and the public had expressed consistent and near-universal opposition to the project.

There was no (more…)

Tioga Inn project: Changes get disappointing grades before final hearing on August 6

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

This Thursday, August 6, at 10:00am the Mono County Board of Supervisors will conduct a final hearing on the Tioga Inn project. After a lengthy hearing in June the Board gave the developer and staff direction to bring back significant design improvements to address visual impacts, fire concerns, and to add a safe pedestrian route between Lee Vining and the project site.

Community members speaking during the Tioga Inn hearing before the Board of Supervisors in June. Photo by Rose Nelson.

The revised project before the Board shows some progress on addressing visual impacts but falls woefully short on safety and fire protection. For example, the final proposal does not include a safe pedestrian route, isolating future residents from Lee Vining and providing no way for students to walk to school. The original five significant adverse impacts remain with the project, and Board must vote to accept these impacts without mitigation if they vote to approve the project this Thursday.

The developer’s new “Alternative #7-Hybrid Plan” is identified as the “Preferred Alternative.” How is it different from what the Board considered in late June? (more…)

Another public hearing on the Tioga Inn project: August 6, 2020

Friday, July 31st, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

The Mono County planning staff have released the agenda and Board Packet for the Board of Supervisors special meeting on the Tioga Inn project on Thursday, August 6 at 10:00am.

Belt of Venus, Mono Lake by Jeff Sullivan

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

The Board has the final authority to approve, modify, or deny the Tioga Inn project, which, at this time includes a new “hybrid” alternative that takes into consideration the board’s request for additional information on several aspects of the project that were the result of the last hearing in June.

This is yet another public hearing on this project. Despite board direction to modify the project, the project proponent is making a final attempt to (more…)

California Gulls return to nest on Mono Lake islet after prescribed burn

Sunday, July 19th, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

Thanks to a series of memorable weed eradication efforts last winter and spring, California Gulls have returned to nest in healthy numbers on Twain Islet in Mono Lake.

Photo courtesy of Point Blue Conservation Science.

This summer’s California Gull research, conducted by Point Blue Conservation Science, revealed healthy numbers of California Gulls occupying nesting habitat formerly covered by the invasive plant Bassia hyssopifolia.

Through a combination of prescribed burning and (more…)

Mono County Supervisors tackle the big picture on Tioga Inn, direct major fixes

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy Director

After two lengthy days of public meeting and deliberation, the Mono County Board of Supervisors sent the Tioga Inn project back to the developer and staff for major improvements to the design and content.

In September last year, the Mono County Planning Commissioners and members of the public visited the Tioga Inn project site. Photo by Elin Ljung.

The Board affirmed its commitment to protect the long-term best interests of Mono County and its residents and visitors. Supervisors recognized the project will set a precedent for large development throughout the county and frequently noted the need to get the Tioga Inn project right, especially in light of its prominent location and size relative to the existing community.

Supervisors are expecting significant project design improvements that will reduce visual impacts, resolve fire concerns, and add a safe pedestrian route between Lee Vining and the project site. The Mono Lake Committee continues to work closely with the Lee Vining community and looks forward to engaging with Mono County staff to craft significant changes that will produce a project that respects the local community and the scenic Mono Basin.

The Board tentatively scheduled a July 20 special meeting an August 6 meeting when they can consider the improved project.

Eleventh-hour project changes

On Monday, thoughtful input from (more…)

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