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‘Natural History’ Category

Uncovering the hidden geologic history of the Mono Basin

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019 by Caroline Bottega

On a bright Sunday morning, perched atop an ancient glacial moraine in lower Lundy Canyon, I had the opportunity to see the Mono Lake landscape through a geologist’s eyes.

Guleed Ali points out glacial features in lower Lundy Canyon. Photo by Caroline Bottega.

Armed with topographic maps, Guleed Ali, Research Fellow at the Earth Observatory of Singapore and friendly face around the field station, began to build the story of Mono Lake and its relationship to the glacier that once sculpted the canyon. (more…)

You don’t need to be a weatherman … but it helps

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019 by Kevin, Information Center & Bookstore Assistant

April 16, 1988 will never share a place of honor alongside key moments in the Mono Lake Committee’s history—such as the date of the California Supreme Court’s public trust ruling (February 17, 1983) or State Water Board Decision 1631 (September 28, 1994). Yet this early spring day 31 years ago represents an important, if little known moment: on that Saturday the Committee started keeping track of the weather.

The first monthly data sheet collected by the Mono Lake Committee in April 1988. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

Recording a maximum temperature of 48°F, a minimum of 36°F, and no precipitation, this information formed the first set of observations submitted from the Lee Vining Station to the Cooperative Observer Program at the National Weather Service. (more…)

Refreshing ‘Ologists: History, water, and the surprising persistence of the Devils Hole pupfish

Saturday, July 13th, 2019 by Ellie, Mono Lake Intern

Join us on Wednesday, July 17 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists. Kevin Brown, environmental historian and Mono Lake Committee staff, will discuss the Devils Hole pupfish and water law. Please register here if you can attend this free event!

Devils Hole pupfish. Photo courtesy of Olin Feuerbacher, US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Kevin Brown at Devils Hole, a disjunct segment of Death Valley National Park. Photo courtesy of Kevin Brown.

The Devils Hole pupfish is one of the rarest species in the world, confined to just a single natural habitat in southern Nevada’s Amargosa Desert. Amidst a biodiversity crisis that some are calling the “sixth extinction,” it is worth exploring how is it that the pupfish survived the twentieth century when some of its close neighbors have not. This talk explores the ways that water law has both threatened and protected the pupfish from the 1910s to the present.

Kevin C. Brown is a historian of the environment and the US West. He is completing a book manuscript tentatively titled, Persistence: The Devils Hole Pupfish and Surviving Modern America. He wrote an environmental history of the Devils Hole pupfish for the National Park Service and later worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Environmental Studies Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He earned his doctorate in history at Carnegie Mellon University.

Devils Hole, as seen through the fencing at the viewing platform. Devils Hole is the smallest vertebrate habitat in the world. Photo by Kevin Brown.

Mono Lake in the news: ABC10

Friday, July 12th, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

There’s a new video out featuring two Committee staff—Lead Naturalist Guide Nora Livingston and Canoe Coordinator Alison Kaplan! ABC10’s John Bartell visited Mono Lake last month to bring its unique natural history and fascinating political history to viewers of his “Bartell’s Backroads” series:

Nora leads field seminars and custom guided trips on birds, wildflowers, history, geology, and more. Alison leads the Mono Lake canoe tours which are offered on weekend mornings all summer.

This video includes footage taken by a drone, which was obtained under permit. Anyone wishing to fly a drone at Mono Lake for any reason must obtain a permit ahead of time from the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve.

Refreshing ‘Ologists: A new detection of the threatened Sierra Nevada red fox

Sunday, July 7th, 2019 by Ellie, Mono Lake Intern

Join us on Wednesday, July 10 at 4:00pm in the Mono Lake Committee gallery for this summer’s first Refreshments with Refreshing ‘Ologists presentation. Brian Hatfield, California Department of Fish & Wildlife researcher, will be here to discuss recent detection of the Sierra Nevada red fox in California. Please register here if you can attend this free event!

A Sierra Nevada red fox detected by remote camera in Mono Creek. Photo courtesy of Brian Hatfield.

The Sierra Nevada red fox (SNRF) is a subspecies of red fox native to the high-elevation regions of California and Oregon. Until recently (more…)

Join us on a bird walk in Lundy Canyon

Saturday, July 6th, 2019 by Krista, Birding Intern

Lundy Canyon, with its stunning talus slope walls, waterfalls, and wildflowers, is brimming with bird life! Please join us there for a free bird walk every Saturday at 8:00am.

A House Wren removing a fecal sac from its cavity nest. Photo courtesy of Rick Spanel.

We meet in front of the Lundy Lake Resort and the walk lasts about an hour and a half to two hours. The walk begins in willow and cottonwood habitat, transitions into a mixed riparian woodland, and ends at a beaver pond (more…)

See chipmunks, kangaroo rats, and more up close on the Mono Basin Mammals field seminar

Friday, July 5th, 2019 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Small mammals like kangaroo rats, chipmunks, squirrels, and mice live all around us here in the Mono Basin, but it’s often tough to get a good look at them. If you’re interested in seeing the Mono Basin’s small mammals up close (you might even get to hold one!), sign up now for the Mono Basin Mammals field seminar.

Mono Basin Mammals • July 19–21 • $182 per person/$167 for members • view full itinerary here • sign up here

See the small, furry mammals of the Mono Basin up close during this field seminar. Photo by Joslyn Rogers.

If you have never seen the tuft on a kangaroo rat’s tail, been able to compare the stripes of different chipmunk species, or watched families of pikas busily gathering grass for the winter (more…)

Free bird walks at Mono Lake County Park have begun

Friday, July 5th, 2019 by Krista, Birding Intern

Anyone and everyone is welcome to join us for a free bird walk at Mono Lake County Park at 8:00am on Fridays and Sundays.

A male Northern Flicker in its cavity nest. Both sexes take turns with egg incubation. Photo courtesy of Rick Spanel.

The dawn chorus has been offering a beautiful mix of Western Meadowlarks, House Wrens, Yellow Warblers, Bullock’s Orioles, and many more feathered friends. Other exciting observations have included multiple Wilson’s Snipes and a few Wilson’s Phalaropes (MANY more phalaropes to come later). (more…)

Celebrating World Migratory Bird Day with local students

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019 by Rose, Education Director

World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) was established in 1993 to connect people who live in important migratory bird wetland habitats from across the globe. It is a celebration of these various ecosystems, the birds that inhabit them, and the people who are trying to help save these wetlands.

Lee Vining Elementary School students birding at the County Park boardwalk for World Migratory Bird Day. Photo by Rose Nelson.

This spring the Mono Lake Committee partnered with students from our local Lee Vining Elementary School to celebrate WMBD and discuss this year’s theme:  Protect Birds: Be the Solution to Plastic Pollution. The goal of WMBD 2019 is to (more…)

It’s the season for interpretive activities at Mono Lake

Sunday, June 30th, 2019 by AnnaLisa, Mono Lake Intern

Summer is a busy time in the Mono Basin, and the birds aren’t the only ones making the most of the warmer temperatures and longer days! Whether it is your first or fiftieth visit to the area, there are a variety of exciting interpretive programs for the whole family available at and near Mono Lake this summer.

Join a 10:00am or 6:00pm free South Tufa tour to learn about Mono Lake from a naturalist guide. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Gain an understanding of the ecology and history of the lake by stopping by charismatic South Tufa for one of the free, hour-long tours at 10:00am and 6:00pm every day, where you’ll have the hands-on opportunity to get to know the fascinating ecosystem and political history of the lake with the guidance of a naturalist. While the tours are free, South Tufa is (more…)

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