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Two readings with author David James Duncan at Mono Lake

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

This weekend author David James Duncan will share reflections on friendship, writing, and remembrance here at Mono Lake. We hope to see you here!

Saturday, October 19 • 3:00–4:30pm • Mono Lake County Park
Sunday, October 20 • 3:00–4:30pm • Lee Vining Community Center

On Saturday, David will share reflections and remembrances gathered along the creative path walked with his friend, celebrated poet Tom Crawford.

On Sunday, David will offer a pre-publication preview of One Long River of Song: Notes on Wonder for the Spiritual and Nonspiritual Alike, a forthcoming book of essays by his friend, renowned author Brian Doyle.

David James Duncan is the author of (more…)

Rush Creek advocate Dick Dahlgren passes

Thursday, August 1st, 2019 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

Dick Dahlgren, a successful advocate for stopping the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (DWP) total diversion of Rush Creek, died on July 9 in Boise, Idaho near his home.

Dick Dahlgren fishing on Crowley Lake Reservoir. Photo courtesy of Jim Matthews.

In 1984, Dick, an avid fly-fisherman, found a population of healthy brown trout in lower Rush Creek—a finding that was more surprising than it may initially seem. Historically a blue ribbon fishery, Rush Creek ran dry after the LA Aqueduct was built in 1941 and (more…)

Following Mill Creek water rights

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

Mill Creek, Mono Lake’s third-largest tributary, is unique in the Mono Basin because it was never diverted to Los Angeles. Mill Creek is also the heart of one of the Eastern Sierra’s natural treasures, Lundy Canyon, where it flows from the Sierra crest through waterfalls, fields of wildflowers, and beaver dams, into and out of Lundy Lake Reservoir, and through rare wooded wetlands before it reaches Mono Lake.

Mill Creek and the Wilson system flow through the north part of the Mono Basin. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Upper Mill Creek is healthy as evidenced by streamside forests and flows consistent with other Eastern Sierra streams. But downstream of Lundy Reservoir—especially in the (more…)

Major changes to fishing regulations possible

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

Just a month before this year’s fishing season opener, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) threw out a lunker of a proposal—a potential change to existing fishing regulations to allow year-round inland trout fishing throughout the state of California, including the Eastern Sierra. According to DFW, the motivation for the change is to simplify fishing regulations statewide.

The California Department of Fish & Wildlife has proposed that year-round inland trout fishing be permitted throughout the state, including on Mono Basin streams. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Since the announcement, DFW has hosted a series of meetings around the state. Locally, the topic has sparked much interest—not only among anglers and fishing guides, but also business owners, seasonal resort owners, and public officials, all of whom (more…)

Wading into stream restoration: A conversation with the State Water Board-appointed Stream Scientists

Thursday, April 4th, 2019 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

The 2017 spring snowmelt runoff was over 200% of average. It was also the single largest peak flow event since the stream restoration ordered by the California State Water Resources Control Board began in 1998 (see Fall 2017 Mono Lake Newsletter).

During the peak of the 2017 record spring runoff, Mono Lake Committee staff and hydrology experts monitored the physical changes happening in Rush Creek. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

Now, almost two years later, conversations and field observations continue to reflect on what is technically called an “Extreme-Wet” year type, validating the principles adopted by the State Water Board and restoration parties over 20 years ago.

The State Water Board appointed two independent experts, the Stream Scientists, to study Mono Lake’s (more…)

Evidence of high flows persists on Mill Creek: Restoration potential reaffirmed

Monday, July 2nd, 2018 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

Almost a year after the epic 2017 winter and resulting record Mono Basin runoff, positive effects from the high flows can still be seen on all of Mono Lake’s tributary streams—including, notably, the beleaguered floodplain of the Mill Creek bottomlands.

During last year’s record runoff, long-dry side channels in the Mill Creek bottomlands carried water; some of the rewatered channels were still flowing this spring. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Last summer, long-dry side channels in the bottomlands carried water when Lundy Lake Reservoir spilled for almost the entire summer. Some of these rewatered channels are still flowing despite low-flow early springtime conditions, and evidence of lasting restoration benefits is abundant. Back eddies and ponded areas well away from flowing channels continue to hold water. Below the surface, recharged groundwater is once again available for vegetation, and fine sediment deposited across floodplain cobble is primed for new seedlings to grow. All of this is a glimpse into Mill Creek’s bright future. (more…)

Mill Creek return ditch passes test: Possible solution to returning diverted water back to the creek

Thursday, April 5th, 2018 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

In an effort to explore ways to return water to Mill Creek and therefore satisfy its legal obligations, Southern California Edison (SCE) released water from the Lundy hydroelectric plant into the Mill Creek return ditch last September, successfully returning water to the creek (see Fall 2017 Mono Lake Newsletter). The return ditch has been part of the hydropower system for a century. SCE was motivated to do this flow test because of the languishing problem of how to comply with Mill Creek water rights.

The Mill Creek return ditch carried flows of up to 16 cubic feet per second during a 61-day test last fall, returning water to the creek consistent with long-established water rights. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Prior to releasing water into the ditch, SCE evaluated the system and did routine maintenance to stabilize the earthen banks. SCE staff were on site during (more…)

Lundy Canyon development proposal

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

Mono Lake Committee staff are constantly looking out for activity that conflicts with agency management plans or that threatens the Mono Basin. At the end of last year, one such thing caught our eye: a development inquiry for a remote, undeveloped, 49.3-acre inholding in Lundy Canyon.

A 49.3-acre private parcel in Lundy Canyon, located on the talus slope pictured here, will ideally become part of the Inyo National Forest. Photo by Elin Ljung.

The inquiry was listed on the public meeting agenda for Mono County’s Land Development Technical Advisory Committee (LDTAC), which provides early coordinated technical review of development projects and educates applicants on Mono County regulations and requirements.

Too good to be true

The LDTAC inquiry was made by a potential buyer who was lured into the purchase of the property under the assumption that it would be possible to build a cabin on the site. For someone who has never been to Lundy Canyon, the concept of a remote inholding probably sounded appealing (more…)

Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep disease risk eliminated

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

Yesterday the Mono County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 with one recusal not to renew a grazing lease for domestic sheep on Conway and Mattly ranch properties owned by Mono County. The current domestic sheep grazing lease expires in November 2017 so after this grazing season domestic sheep will no longer be grazed in the north Mono Basin.

Photo courtesy of the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation.

The California Department of Fish & Wildlife and US Fish & Wildlife Service presented extensive scientific evidence that laid out the case for terminating domestic sheep grazing within one mile of endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep habitat because domestic sheep are known to transmit a deadly pneumonia to bighorn sheep. With Sierra bighorn residing in and around Lundy Canyon close to Conway Ranch, the scientists determined the risk of wild sheep contracting pneumonia from domestic sheep was simply too high.

As US Fish & Wildlife Service representative Lee Ann Carranza said, “We have been trying for nearly 20 years (more…)

Important meeting for Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep protection

Saturday, March 4th, 2017 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director
Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep

Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep. Photo courtesy of Chris Cleveland.

Please help protect Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep by attending the Mono County Board of Supervisors meeting this Tuesday, March 7 at the Bridgeport County Courthouse. Originally this was on the agenda for the February 21 meeting, but that meeting was cancelled due to weather.

On Tuesday, the Board will consider whether or not to renew domestic sheep grazing leases for Conway and Mattly ranches in the Mono Basin. The Mono Lake Committee is urging bighorn sheep supporters to express their opposition to (more…)

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