Tuesday, August 4th, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy DirectorcloseAuthor: Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy DirectorName: Bartshé Miller Title: Education Director About: Bartshé works on Mono Basin policy issues such as protecting the integrity of the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, coordinating with regional agency staff, and working with the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and scientists on the ongoing restoration of Mono Lake and its tributary streams. He has been an Eastern Sierra resident since 1993.See All Posts by Bartshé (90) Contact Bartshé
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…)
Friday, July 31st, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy DirectorcloseAuthor: Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy DirectorName: Bartshé Miller Title: Education Director About: Bartshé works on Mono Basin policy issues such as protecting the integrity of the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, coordinating with regional agency staff, and working with the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and scientists on the ongoing restoration of Mono Lake and its tributary streams. He has been an Eastern Sierra resident since 1993.See All Posts by Bartshé (90) Contact Bartshé
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.
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…)
Monday, July 20th, 2020 by Lily, Information Center & Bookstore ManagercloseAuthor: Lily, Information Center & Bookstore ManagerName: Lily Pastel Title: Information Center & Bookstore Manager About: Lily was drawn to the Mono Basin by the beauty of the area as well as the Mono Lake Committee’s worthy cause, and now she can’t leave! She began as a Mono Lake Intern in 2014, fresh out of college. Since then she has held a handful of positions and has settled into her role as Information Center & Bookstore Manager. Lily loves reading, hiking, unicorns, and lipstick. Her summers are full of exploring the Eastern Sierra, ordering new and exciting books, and making sure that visitors leave the Information Center & Bookstore with a deeper understanding of and appreciation for Mono Lake.See All Posts by Lily (88) Contact Lily
While our Information Center & Bookstore remains closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can still support the Mono Lake Committee with the purchase of books and Mono Lake products online in our newly remodeled online store.
If you happen to be stopping in Lee Vining, you can even pick up your order right from our door on Fridays and Saturdays from 10:30am to 3:00pm (be sure to select the pickup option on the checkout page).
Wednesday, July 15th, 2020 by Claire, Office ManagercloseAuthor: Claire, Office ManagerName: Claire Landowski Title: Office Manager About: Claire first found her way to the Mono Basin in 2008 during a geology field camp and, after countless return visits, finally managed to stay for good in 2019. She is still a geology enthusiast, constantly geeking out over the fantastic setting of the Mono Basin and the wider Eastern Sierra. Claire supervises the intern and volunteer programs, oversees the Mono Basin Field Station, and generally keeps the office functioning smoothly.See All Posts by Claire (4) Contact Claire
A very quiet spring in the Mono Basin has given way to quite a busy summer, and there was a marked uptick in travelers in town leading up to the Fourth of July holiday weekend. With US Forest Service visitor centers closed, Yosemite National Park operating under restricted access procedures, and so many businesses working alternative operations, there have been many more questions from travelers than available answers.
Visitors can get answers to their questions at the Mono Lake Committee’s “pop-up” information station, Thursdays through Saturdays and some Sundays and Mondays. Photo by Claire Landowski.
So, although our bookstore space remains closed, the Mono Lake Committee has begun staffing a “pop-up” information station on our front patio to help address the myriad questions posed by the influx of visitors to the Eastern Sierra.
We’re calling it a “pop-up” station because we don’t have regular, set hours—we’re making the schedule week by week and adjusting as needed. We do plan to open the station on the weekends, likely Thursday through Saturday plus perhaps the occasional Sunday and Monday.
Wednesday, July 1st, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy DirectorcloseAuthor: Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy DirectorName: Bartshé Miller Title: Education Director About: Bartshé works on Mono Basin policy issues such as protecting the integrity of the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, coordinating with regional agency staff, and working with the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and scientists on the ongoing restoration of Mono Lake and its tributary streams. He has been an Eastern Sierra resident since 1993.See All Posts by Bartshé (90) Contact Bartshé
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.
Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 by Arya, Communications DirectorcloseAuthor: Arya, Communications DirectorName: Arya Harp Title: Communications Director About: Arya oversees the Committee's communications program, which includes the Mono Lake Newsletter and the Mono Lake Calendar. She loves her job because she gets to share the inspiring work of the Mono Lake Committee with members and visitors alike. Her favorite things to do in the Mono Basin include ice skating on nearby lakes, skiing the Mono Craters, and getting to smell the sagebrush when it rains.See All Posts by Arya (211) Contact Arya
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 projecton 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 against, the introduction of wholly new potential elements to the project from the developer, and wide-rangingquestions 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.
Saturday, June 27th, 2020 by Robbie, Restoration Field TechniciancloseAuthor: Robbie, Restoration Field TechnicianName: Robert Di Paolo Title: Restoration Field Technician About: Robbie grew up in San Francisco and received his BS in Environmental Science from Humboldt State University. He first heard about Mono Lake in an environmental policy class, became a Mono Lake Intern in the summer of 2014, and hasn't left since! He is now responsible for monitoring Mono Lake's tributary streams, measuring the level of Mono Lake, coordinating annual aerial Eared Grebe surveys, leading the invasive plant removal program, and assisting with any additional restoration programs in the Mono Basin. In his free time you might find him fishing, hiking, skiing, or playing board games.See All Posts by Robert (46) Contact Robert
“The significant and unavoidable adverse impacts that were identified in the DSEIR will remain significant and unavoidable if the proposed Tioga [Inn] project is approved, even with modifications proposed in this FSEIR.”
Of these five impacts, impacts to scenic views were the hardest for me personally to fully comprehend since no 3-D models were provided to demonstrate what the project would look like after grading and construction were completed. Notably, the FSEIR acknowledged that project impacts to aesthetic resources were the most common and frequent concern from comment letters. To better understand what the final project as proposed in the FSEIR would look like I conducted a 3-D visualization and viewshed analysis using ArcGIS. (more…)
Friday, June 26th, 2020 by Elin, Communications CoordinatorcloseAuthor: Elin, Communications CoordinatorName: Elin Ljung Title: Communications Coordinator About: Elin's job consists of some of her favorite things: finding typos, experimenting with layouts, and figuring out how best to communicate the Committee's work to the world. She also oversees the Field Seminar program. Elin grew up in on California's Central Coast dreaming of the two weeks each summer that her family would spend in the Eastern Sierra, and as soon as she graduated from St. Olaf College in 2005 she moved to Mono Lake full-time. She prefers to travel at high speed on either telemark skis or a mountain bike, or be completely still, immersed in a good book.See All Posts by Elin (377) Contact Elin
The deadline to email comments to Mono County about the Tioga Inn project has been extended from 5:00pm tonight to 9:00am on Monday morning, which is when the hearing begins.
In addition to emailing your comments, you can attend the hearing online via Zoom and speak as well. Thank you for making your voice heard!
An example of one of the project’s significant adverse visual impacts: This reflection from a small piece of glass at the Tioga Inn project site is clearly visible at South Tufa, marring the dawn view. Photo by Bartshe Miller.
Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020 by Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy DirectorcloseAuthor: Bartshé, Eastern Sierra Policy DirectorName: Bartshé Miller Title: Education Director About: Bartshé works on Mono Basin policy issues such as protecting the integrity of the Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area, coordinating with regional agency staff, and working with the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and scientists on the ongoing restoration of Mono Lake and its tributary streams. He has been an Eastern Sierra resident since 1993.See All Posts by Bartshé (90) Contact Bartshé
The reflection from a small piece of glass at the Tioga Inn project site is clearly visible at South Tufa, marring the dawn view. Photo by Bartshe Miller.
This is a critical moment for public comment. The Tioga Inn project threatens to bring a host of significant adverse impacts to the community of Lee Vining, the scenic Mono Basin, and the gateway to Yosemite National Park.
Since the scoping process for the project began four years ago, over a thousand comment letters and hours of testimony from residents, agencies, and the public have offered suggestions about, mitigations for, and solutions to the project impacts. However, the developer has rejected meaningful changes to the project, and the significant adverse impacts remain.
As a result, the Supervisors now have to consider a project that damages the scenic nature of the Mono Basin, compromises the safety of motorists, pedestrians and cyclists, stretches the capacity of local schools and the volunteer fire department, and saddles the Lee Vining community and Mono County taxpayers with impacts and financial burdens that should be the responsibility of the developer.
Thursday, June 18th, 2020 by Andrew, Digital Engagement CoordinatorcloseAuthor: Andrew, Digital Engagement CoordinatorName: Andrew Youssef Title: Digital Engagement Coordinator About: A graduate of Vanderbilt University and a native of Atlanta, Georgia, Andrew came to the Sierra to volunteer in Tuolumne Meadows in 2014. He fell in love with the area and began working at the Committee as a Mono
Lake Intern. Today he combines his passions for education and the environment by working in all of the Committee's program areas on everything from organizing the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua and Field Seminar programs to creating social media and video content to editing the
Mono Lake Newsletter. In his free time, he enjoys relaxing at Lee Vining Creek, paddling on Mono Lake, hiking in the High Sierra, and skiing wherever there is snow.See All Posts by Andrew (74) Contact Andrew
It’s strange to imagine that right now, in a typical year, the Mono Lake Committee office would be abuzz with activity in preparation for the arrival of hundreds of Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua attendees—assembling participant packets, finalizing schedules, and making the last Chautauqua buttons.
Although we won’t be able to gather in person this year, we have a few videos for you to enjoy from home. First, a short message from the Chautauqua organizers:
On Saturday, June 20, we will also be premiering two videos on Facebookand YouTube. Both videos will also be available to watch after they premiere. (more…)