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DWP attempts to undermine State Water Board mandates at Mono Lake

Thursday, October 8th, 2020 by Geoff, Executive Director

The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) launched a brazen strategy earlier this year to undermine the California State Water Resources Control Board mandate to protect and restore Mono Lake.

DWP is claiming that Mono Lake has “largely been restored” when it still has more than ten feet to rise to reach the State Water Board-mandated management level. Photo by Sandra Noll.

In the spring, DWP abruptly announced it wouldn’t fulfill certain obligations to restore Rush, Lee Vining, Parker, and Walker creeks unless it received new water export guarantees in the entirely separate matter of restoring Mono Lake to its healthy management level.

In response to this unexpected and alarming turn of events (more…)

Mono County Planning Commission disappoints; Board of Supervisors to vote soon on Tioga Inn project

Saturday, April 18th, 2020 by Geoff, Executive Director

Despite overwhelming opposition from the public, on Thursday the Mono County Planning Commission voted 4-0 to approve the Tioga Inn project with few modifications to the final plan and design.

Over 200 written and spoken comments were voiced to the Planning Commission regarding the Tioga Inn project and over 150 people attended the seven-hour-long meeting via Zoom video conference. Virtually every comment was in opposition to the permanent, damaging impacts of the project. Speakers ranged from local business owners and residents to the fire department and longtime visitors. After the large number of strong, clear, and respectful comments in opposition to the project—among the most the commission has ever seen—the commission deliberation and vote was a disappointment.

The Tioga Inn project now goes to the Mono County Board of Supervisors, which will make the final determination of whether the numerous adverse impacts of the project justify turning it down. The date of that meeting is yet to be confirmed, but is tentatively scheduled for May 19. Stay tuned here on the Mono-logue and in your email for more information regarding how to participate in this final round of public comment.

If you wrote in or spoke to express your concerns about the project—thank you! The outpouring of thoughtful, sincere comments was incredible to witness. A better result is still possible and public engagement will be critical to the final outcome.

COVID-19 update from the Mono Lake Committee

Saturday, March 14th, 2020 by Geoff, Executive Director

In response to the developing COVID-19 crisis the Mono Lake Committee is temporarily changing our operations in accordance with public health recommendations to limit exposure and spread of the virus to staff, community members, and visitors.

Bookstore

The Information Center & Bookstore will be closed until at least March 31. Visitors arriving at the bookstore can still access free wi-fi and can call us at (760) 647-6595 for answers to their questions. A sign and map on the bookstore doors directs visitors to the nearest public restrooms at the Shell Station and Hess Park. Visitors can access a self-guided South Tufa tour on their phones at monolakemobile.org.

Public programs

All our public programs are canceled until at least March 31. This includes weekend South Tufa tours, visiting school group programs, presentations, field trips, special tours, next weekend’s Winter Wander field seminar, and programs with the local schools. Prior to this decision, we canceled the Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Los Angeles that was due to take place March 11–13.

Office

Update as of 3/17/20: The Committee office is no longer open, and staff are working from home.

The Committee office remains open, and our goal is to keep it open throughout the coming weeks. We have implemented more rigorous cleaning procedures and social distancing practices so it can remain a productive place for us to work. We have made it possible for every staff member to work from home at any time, particularly if they feel sick, if they have come into contact with someone who has the COVID-19 virus, or if they want to reduce exposure of their family members to the virus. Work-related travel has been suspended. Whenever possible, group meetings are taking place via phone or video conference.

For now there are no known cases of COVID-19 in Mono or Inyo counties, but we know that is likely to change. We have operated as a strong team for 42 years, and as a team we will help and support each other in the coming weeks.

Revised water license for DWP on the horizon: State Water Board expects finalization in 2020

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020 by Geoff, Executive Director

Over the past year, the California State Water Resources Control Board has been effectively advancing the long-running project of revising the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power’s (DWP) water license to include a set of next-generation stream restoration requirements agreed to in the Mono Basin Stream Restoration Agreement with the Mono Lake Committee.

Mono Lake’s tributaries will get streamflows that better mimic natural runoff patterns when DWP’s water license is amended to reflect the 2013 Mono Basin Stream Restoration Agreement. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Signed in fall 2013, following 15 years of stream studies and three years of intensive legal negotiations, the Agreement was a significant milestone for Mono Lake. It marked the completion of a major area of study required by the State Water Board and the launch of a new period of restoration at Mono Lake in which the Los Angeles Aqueduct serves the new additional purpose of healing streams. In this new era, the important ecological, wildlife, scenic, and economic values of Mono Lake and its tributary streams will be recognized equally alongside the water needs of Los Angeles.

Persistence pays off

In the years since signing the Agreement, the Committee has maintained constant pressure on (more…)

Every drop counts—make a 2019 donation now!

Monday, December 30th, 2019 by Geoff, Executive Director

Photo courtesy of Robb Hirsch

Year-end donations help us do what’s best for Mono Lake all year long. Please consider making a donation to the Mono Lake Committee before the year is over so we can keep saving Mono Lake!

Even as we celebrate progress made, we are constantly working on new land and resource management challenges and protection issues. Including:

Our full slate of protection, restoration, education, and science support work—building on the successes of the past and laying the foundation for a sustainable future for our favorite lake—is ongoing. We are grateful your support is too.

Please send a year-end gift today to help the Committee prepare for the challenges and opportunities ahead in 2020.

A bountiful year at Mono Lake

Monday, September 30th, 2019 by Geoff, Executive Director

If you wanted to summarize this past summer at Mono Lake in one word it would be this: phalaropes.

Phalaropes flocked in spectacular formations at South Tufa this summer. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

The dainty Mono-loving migrators put on spectacular displays at South Tufa for many days, dipping and weaving in tight flocks of thousands. Visitors stopped in their tracks and canoes floated in place to watch the aerial acrobatics. Mono Lake Committee staff captured one dramatic episode on video and it quickly became our most-watched video ever; you can see it for yourself here.

The phalaropes have now headed to points south for the winter, but like many things at Mono Lake, their summer displays were possible thanks to protection work behind the scenes (more…)

Retired Mono County Superior Court Judge Edward Denton passes

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019 by Geoff, Executive Director

Judge Edward Denton, April 24, 1926–July 12, 2019. Photo courtesy of the Reno Record-Courier.

Judge Edward Denton, who played an influential role in re-watering Lee Vining Creek, died on July 12, 2019 at age 93.

During a heat wave in May of 1986 the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP) was forced to release water down the previously-dry Lee Vining Creek—water that brought trout with it. The Mono Lake Committee quickly went to court to keep water flowing in the creek for the trout, and it was Mono County Superior Court Judge Denton who granted the temporary restraining order that forced DWP to release enough water to keep the fish alive until the case could be tried. While it was just ten cubic feet per second of water, it was a significant decision to the Mono Lake Committee.

In a recent issue of the local paper, The Sheet, retired Judge Stan Eller recounted his memory of (more…)

This year’s deep snowpack will raise Mono Lake

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019 by Geoff, Executive Director

Today it is once again possible to see the sky out of the windows at the Mono Lake Committee office—instead of a wall of snow—but the wet and snowy 2018–19 winter will continue to affect Mono Lake and its tributary streams throughout the summer and well into fall.

With 157% of average snowpack by April 1, it was an impressively wet winter in the Mono Basin. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Storms rolled into the Sierra this past winter and temperatures stayed cold, allowing for a large snow accumulation in Lee Vining and along the shore of Mono Lake. In February one noteworthy storm sequence dropped nearly four feet of snow in town and turned the entire Mono Basin into a snowfield. Another (more…)

Vorster Center tackles critical hydrology questions

Monday, May 6th, 2019 by Geoff, Executive Director

For over 40 years, the Mono Lake Committee has pursued the best scientific understanding of Mono Basin hydrology. Last year we created the Vorster Center for Mono Basin Hydrology (see Fall 2018 Mono Lake Newsletter) to address new questions in an era of climate change and to serve as a hub for data collection, modeling, analysis, forecasting, and real world hydrology applications. The Vorster Center is not a physical space, rather (more…)

Improving stream restoration and lake monitoring in 2019: Temporary measures sought while license revision slowly advances

Monday, April 1st, 2019 by Geoff, Executive Director

The effort to restore Mono Lake’s tributary streams is poised to reach new successes when the drawn-out process of authorizing new science-based streamflows and associated infrastructure improvements finally concludes.

In 2010 State Water Board-appointed Stream Scientists submitted a report recommending new, more effective flow regimes for Mono Basin streams. Photo courtesy of Robert Vestal.

While that date remains frustratingly uncertain, the Mono Lake Committee is advocating for immediate implementation of currently-feasible restoration measures to take place in 2019 while continuing to push for the rapid completion of the revision of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power’s (DWP) license to divert water from the Mono Basin.

Why wait?

Twenty years ago the California State Water Resources Control Board charted a scientific study process led by (more…)

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