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Important opportunity to protect Mono Basin bighorn sheep

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

If you’ve ever seen an endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep in the wild, you know how amazing they are. Now is your chance to support these animals with a letter or a call to the Mono County Board of Supervisors.

Photo courtesy of the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation.

Next Tuesday, February 21*, Mono County Supervisors will consider whether or not to renew expiring domestic sheep grazing leases for Conway Ranch, a property that is located close to bighorn sheep territory in Lundy Canyon. Domestic sheep and goats can transmit bacteria to the bighorn that causes pneumonia and eventually death (up to 90% of animals in a bighorn herd can die). The only reliable way to prevent disease transmission is by geographically separating the species. Currently, state and federal wildlife agencies have determined that the domestic sheep are too close to the Lundy bighorn herd. (more…)

Tioga Inn project at the Mobil Station moves forward after 23 years

Monday, November 14th, 2016 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

A significant development project at the junction of Highways 120 and 395 is moving forward—the Tioga Inn project.

tioga-inn-site-map

After a 23-year hiatus, Mobil Station owners Dennis & Jane Domaille have recently begun to work with Mono County to secure the necessary approvals to add components to an already-existing specific plan, which was approved in 1993. The specific plan already allows a two-story 120-room hotel and a 100-seat restaurant. The Domailles are proposing to change the plan to allow a three-story 120-room hotel, two large restaurants, and other details. The existing Whoa Nellie Deli would remain in operation. (more…)

Caltrans quickly shifts gears from Rockfall Project to addressing Marina Fire impacts

Thursday, July 14th, 2016 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

Caltrans-rockfall-update-graphic

Phase 2 of the Lee Vining Rockfall Project was originally scheduled to begin this past Monday but now Caltrans must stabilize the areas affected by the Marina Fire before the Rockfall Project can begin. Emergency funds, work plan, and a contractor have been secured and work is scheduled to begin within days as soon as materials arrive.

Caltrans crews are working to make motorists on Highway 395 safe from falling rocks and debris after the Marina Fire. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Caltrans crews are working to make motorists on Highway 395 safe from falling rocks and debris after the Marina Fire. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Key components of the emergency plan include: (more…)

Mono Lake Committee’s ecological monitoring program at 38 years

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

Type the word “monitoring” into the Mono Lake Committee’s website search bar and 673 results appear. To say that scientific monitoring and environmental advocacy work go hand in hand for the Committee is an understatement.

The Committee collects streamf ow and water diversion data for Mono Basin streams monthly all year, and weekly in summer. Photo by Erv Nichols.

The Committee collects streamflow and water diversion data for Mono Basin streams monthly all year, and weekly in summer. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Ever since the Committee’s founders conducted the fundamental and pivotal ecological study of Mono Lake in 1976, scientific research and monitoring have been the basis for all of the work that has followed. In crafting policy positions, all aspects of an issue must be analyzed and understood, since arriving at a balanced (more…)

Breaking news: Drones prohibited from flying over Mono Lake’s State Park

Thursday, May 5th, 2016 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

California State Parks has issued a decisive and progressive special order just in time for summer: Unmanned aircraft—“drones”—are now prohibited from flying over land and water in the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. No longer will birds, wildlife, and visitors need to endure the buzzing disruption of drones along Mono Lake’s shore.

Specifically, Order Number 683-16-018 states, “Unmanned aircraft, also known as ‘drones,’ ‘quad-copters’ and similar are hereby restricted from non-permitted operation over the state lands and water under the operational control of California State Parks.”

The special order comes in response to last summer’s myriad drone disturbances—drones flying over nesting Osprey, flushing foraging shorebirds, and hovering over people on walking tours. Working hand-in-hand with the State, Mono Lake Committee staff documented incidents over the last year and based on these observations it became clear that recreational drone use was a problem at Mono Lake. With this new order Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve now joins the ranks of Yosemite National Park and designated wilderness areas as “no-fly zones” for drones.

Increasing recreational drone use at Mono Lake has been disrupting wildlife, like these nesting Osprey. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Increasing recreational drone use at Mono Lake has been disrupting wildlife, like these nesting Osprey. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Rush Creek dodges another setback: Mono Lake Committee action prompts flow adjustment

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

Despite some snow on the peaks and forecasters still calling for an El Niño weather pattern, Grant Lake Reservoir remains at a precariously low level. With three Southern California Edison (SCE) reservoirs upstream, and four years of drought to catch up from, Grant will be the last reservoir to benefit from this year’s runoff. Since lower Rush Creek is dependent on Grant Lake Reservoir for its water, and because special water management rules are triggered when Grant drops to a certain level, the Mono Lake Committee was busy in December ensuring that the best possible situation was secured for Rush Creek for the remainder of the winter.

A snow-covered Grant Lake Reservoir at the lowest it has been since 2009, showing the current low volume of water (approximately 11,000 acre-feet) and exposed banks. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

A snow-covered Grant Lake Reservoir at the lowest it has been since 2009, showing the current low volume of water (approximately 11,000 acre-feet) and exposed banks. Photo by Santiago Escruceria.

Grant can only go so low

In 1994, the California State Water Resources Control Board, by way of Decision 1631, had the foresight to protect flows in Rush Creek from scenarios in which Grant Lake Reservoir gets abnormally low. (more…)

More delays for Mill Creek: Administrative technicality delays return conveyance construction

Friday, November 13th, 2015 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

Unfortunately, the saga continues for the lawful return of water to Mill Creek.

The Mono Lake Committee has been monitoring Mill Creek water in the Mono Basin since 1999. Photo by Sara Matthews.

The Mono Lake Committee has been monitoring Mill Creek water in the Mono Basin since 1999. Photo by Sara Matthews.

After Mono County denied Southern California Edison (SCE) an easement necessary to rehabilitate the existing Mill Creek return conveyance, SCE was forced to file for an extension from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to explore other pipe routes. Over the summer, FERC denied the request on the grounds that it did not demonstrate that the submitted proposals were within the scope of the originally authorized construction. Fortunately, this technicality can easily be resolved by (more…)

“Steps for Snow” event at Mono Lake

Thursday, November 12th, 2015 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

Steps-for-Snow-kids

On Saturday, November 21 at 10:00am, Lee Vining community members will gather at the Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center and walk to Mono Lake to show support and hope for positive global climate progress at the Paris Climate Summit. Join us to support a renewable energy future and a commitment to care for our planet with personal action in solidarity with concerned citizens around the world. (more…)

Mono’s streams fare better than expected: Record summer precipitation spared streams worst of the drought

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director

A surprising thing happened this year in Lee Vining: record-breaking spring and summer precipitation which, thankfully, minimized drought-related stress on vegetation and trout in Mono Lake’s tributary streams. Instead of the brown-gray colors of drought, we saw unusually green vegetation for most of the summer—even the wildflowers were surprisingly robust. The rain was mostly
associated with thunderstorms, when twenty-degree drops in ambient air temperature weren’t unusual. This cooling effect, in the form of rain and air temperature, helped keep the creeks cool enough for trout.

But as soon as the effects of the precipitation dropped off in August, vegetation immediately responded to the extremely dry conditions—an indication that the plants had been living off surface moisture and not a healthy groundwater system.

Trout monitoring on Lee Vining Creek happens annually to track the health of individual fish and population numbers. Photo by Lisa Cutting.

Trout monitoring on Lee Vining Creek happens annually to track the health of individual fish and population numbers. Photo by Lisa Cutting.

Committee expands monitoring program

In an effort to better understand the effects of the drought, the Mono Lake Committee added bi-monthly monitoring of (more…)

Mono Basin Solar Walk: Celebrating steps toward a renewable energy future

Thursday, September 24th, 2015 by Lisa, Associate Policy Director
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Lee Vining students with their Solar Walk poster. Photo courtesy of Janet Carle.

On Sunday, September 27 the community of Lee Vining will host a Solar Walk to celebrate and learn from businesses and residents that have installed solar systems as a renewable energy source. We will visit several local solar installations in Lee Vining beginning at the Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center at 1:00pm. From there we will make stops at the Lee Vining Community Center, Channel Shell gas station, and the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore.

“Solar Pioneer” tokens of appreciation, made by local schoolchildren, will be presented in appreciation of leadership in using the renewable power of the Eastern Sierra sun. After the walk, local solar installer Sierra Solar will display solar panels and information on incentives and the process in front of the El Mono Motel & Latte Da Coffee Café. Mono Basin homeowners who have installed solar panels will share their experience and cost savings as well.

We hope you will join our community in celebrating the potential of solar as we move into a future of renewable energy.

To join the walk, simply meet at the Forest Service Scenic Area Visitor Center in Lee Vining at 1:00pm and plan on walking about 1/2 a mile. Children are encouraged to attend!

Sierra Solar staff installed 33 panels on the Committee's bookstore roof in October. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Sierra Solar staff installed 33 panels on the Committee’s bookstore roof in October 2012. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

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